It's A Go!
Volume 5, Issue 7 - September 6, 2001
I spent Labor Day hanging out in the treehouse, drawing, thinking, spying the occasional deer nibbling leaves - oblivious to my presence, at first, perched 10 feet above them - then darting through the woods at the slightest sound. Lucky for them the only wildlife shooting I do involves a Kodak digital camera. It was a good day - perfect weather, no hassles, and the faint scent of possibilities in the air...
As the subject heading indicates: we made it! As of midnight, Saturday, September 1st, I received pledges for the 'limited edition' CD totaling $25,565. That's the initial amount, 50% of the $50,000 album budget, I needed in order to commence recording. And there's still more rolling in from people just returning from vacation. I still need to raise the rest, but I'm confident now that it will all fall into place. Confident, because you guys came through.
So, what that means is - it's a go!
Of course, now comes the hard part. Once, I complete this email, launching the actual pre-order phase, and then process all the pre-orders and send out email confirmations and certificates... then the real work begins - I've got to sit down and record a new album.
Well, I asked for it. And, amazingly, incredibly... you responded with an enthusiastic 'yes'!
It's true, you know. Just for the record, whether you realize it or not, something significant has happened here, something worth mentioning: through the democratizing power of the internet, a gathering of virtual strangers were able to join together, as a group, and decide for themselves whether an artist, whose music they cared about, should be allowed to go back into the studio to make another record for them to enjoy.
You did this without benefit of a record company, or A&R men, or flocks of lawyers, or distributors or PR agents or radio station or programming consultants or MTV or VH1 or any of the thousands of record industry middlemen who typically stand between a recording artist and their listening audience.
You actually by-passed the record industry! No small feat. You succeeded in cutting them out of the process. Think about that - you exercised freedom of choice instead of being force-fed, by some multinational conglomerate, only that particular musical content they want you to hear. Imagine that!
There are some precedents for this type of venture, as some of you pointed out in your emails - the bands Marillion and Dodgy have done something similar, as have a handful of people in the folk and alternative genres. The point is, this type of effort is still relatively rare.
Even so, I'm convinced that it stands as a viable model for how more and more music, as well as all the other arts, is destined to be supported in the not-too-distant future; nurtured by the audience that it is intended for and not subject to the creativity-killing priorities of a business conglomerate.
Anyway, I just wanted you to realize that. Consider yourself true pioneers!
(Now, if we can only figure out a way to get some airplay! ;-))
O.K., so, here's the deal - the results of the survey were as follows:
1. 99.9% of you thought this was a cool idea and said you'd be willing to pre-order the Next CD. Only one person said I should stop all this foolishness and go out and get a 'real' job. (I think it might have been my brother, Aram).
2. As far as a desirable price for the Next CD, the results broke down this way: 60% said $25 / 25% said $50 / 5% said $75 / 5% said $100 / 5% said Other $15-$1000.
3. Now, as to whether you thought it was 'crazy' to let each of you decide on your own price for the CD there were very strong feelings on both sides of the issue. Most of you thought it was not 'crazy' but expressed some concern over the potential for people to underpay. Some of you were enthusiastic about the idea and several people mentioned a successful restaurant in the UK that allows people to pay whatever they feel their meal is worth. And then there were more than a few of you that were quite un-enthused about the idea and disliked the notion that someone down the hall from them might have paid less than they did for the same CD.
I'm glad I asked and I'm grateful for the valuable feedback. As a direct result of your responses, I've come up with what I hope is a fair and equitable formula which addresses everyone's concerns and different circumstance. After much consideration, and as suggested by a number of you, I've arrived at a tiered pricing structure. This formula attempts to accommodate those of you who have opted for the lower $25/£18 price while, at the same time, providing a structure, and some very modest incentive, for those of you who are willing and able to pay higher amounts, in the knowledge that it will require all these types, combined, in order for this effort to actually succeed. The tiered pricing is based on the 'numerical' order of the 2,500 signed and numbered 'limited edition' CD's. It looks like this:
CD # COST
· #1501 - #2500 $ 25
· #1001 - #1500 $ 50
· #501 – #1000 $ 75
· #101 - #500 $ 100
· #11 – #100 $ 250
· #2 – #10 $1,000
· #1 Auctioned off to the highest bidder
So, in other words, the more you pay for your CD the higher your number. And for those of you who thrive on being at the head of the class, CD #0001 will be reserved and auctioned off to the highest bidder. (Details on the website). The Auction of CD#0001 will begin today and close on midnight November 30, 2001. For all other price categories, the highest numbers will be assigned on a first-come basis, beginning with the launch of this email.
I hope this doesn't sound more complicated than it is. It represents a genuine attempt to satisfy all your concerns as expressed in your email replies while providing a workable formula for financing the 'Next CD'. I didn't want to make it too expensive and risk precluding those of you that wanted to participate, but might not have been able to afford to, and at the same time, I wanted to provide some mechanism for justifying a varied pricing structure and to be able to accommodate those of you whose circumstance and enthusiasm allow you to contribute even more to this effort. I hope it works for everybody and that you consider it fair.
4. Oh, and as for those of you who have already tried placing your orders for homegrown 'bubble-gum' seeds, I'm sorry to report that I am currently all out of stock and don't expect to have any on hand for the foreseeable future. I will keep you posted, though, as I plan on cultivating a brand new crop in the Spring.
By the way, just to clarify an important point, I'd like to stress that your replies to the survey, which I've loosely been referring to as 'pledges' are, of course, absolutely non-binding. I was only asking what you would be 'happy to pay', not whether you were ready to commit to sending that exact amount then and there. In other words, I don't consider those replies a hard and fast promise or commitment on your part, merely an indication of what you might all be able to contribute. The practical reason for this is that I didn't want to start processing orders until I felt there was a reasonable chance that this venture would succeed. Based on your answers, I am now confident that it will.
So, now I'm asking for real:
If you'd like to play a crucial role in helping finance the next Dean Friedman CD, you're invited to pre-order a signed and numbered 'limited edition' (2,500 units) copy - right after you finish reading this email, in fact - via the 'pre-order' link on the website at http://deanfriedman.com
[ Obviously, even though, as I said, your 'pledges' were non-binding, it would be helpful if everyone ordered a CD in the same price range as what they originally 'pledged' (or higher). As you can imagine, if too many of you opt for a lower price, it could jeopardize the whole effort. I don't really expect that to happen but thought I'd mention it.]
Well, that's it, for now. Our first group foray into collective, audience funded, independent music production. Pretty neat, huh? Now, I've got my eye on this tiny island resort off the coast of South Carolina...
By the way, this little 'survey' generated the highest and most enthusiastic email response of any newsletter I've ever sent out. Not only that, but a very large number of you included detailed and extremely creative suggestions for how to pull this off - such as, auctioning off song titles, or the chance to sing on the record, or a studio visit etc.. I've tried to keep this plan as simple as possible, but some of your ideas were pretty cool and I may still consider including them in the equation. Ironically, the same growth in numbers that has made this effort possible is also making it next-to-impossible for me to reply individually to every one of these great ideas, as I've often tried to do in the past. I'll do my best, but hope you'll be patient and understanding if you don't hear from me right away.
So, that's it. And I guess this means I'm going to have a very busy autumn. But I'm not complaining.
Anyway, if I haven't expressed this clearly enough, by now, I'll try once again:
Thank you all for your support. It means a lot.
Now, as soon as you've had a chance to PLACE YOUR ORDER, you should go outside and have a great day hanging out in your treehouse, or wherever it is you like to be.
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