I promised to give this playlist a permanent home, so here it is!
This public document has a record of the songs I played on May 8th 2013 when I got to be DJ for a day at KRNN, during the 7-9pm Wednesday Friends and Neighbors show. KRNN is my local NPR affiliate that plays sweet sweet music. When I first created the playlist I had 9 hours of music I wanted to share — it got trimmed down to a little less than two. Mike Sakarias ran the board for me and I was oh so happy to share my favorite songs.
Juneau is lucky in that we have three stations, even for a tiny populace — KTOO is mostly talk and some Classical and Jazz, KRNN is acoustic/pop and hosts tons of guest DJ’s across many genres, and KXLL is one of those amazing tastemaker stations that plays all sorts of crazy music in EVERY genre and always happens upon things first.
I had so much fun playing the songs — and chatting with you guys on Facebook and Twitter while they played — that I am seriously considering doing a LOT more of that this winter. It felt so fun and connected to you. I can’t even do that during a live streaming concert, because I’m busy singing, so I can’t really interact with you! This was wonderful.
Finding out now re. whether we can get audio of the full two hours posted online somewhere. If we can, I’ll link it here.
There is so much music out there that you don’t yet know you can’t live without. You know that record, the one so powerful you can’t remember your life before you had it? Go find another one! It’s on the list!
Broadcasting from Juneau AK, in my home, with tea and oranges and honey. I have a short thing to say that I’ve been meaning to say. Just sharing some love.
As an aside, I’ve been moving over the past couple of weeks, and now I have a home. Like a Home home. This is kinda big for me, because I have been living in I would consider “other people’s space” since mid-2008. I’ve been pretty happy and perky about it, but it’s been strenuous, and I can’t say what a revelation it is, to have a place to live that’s mine. I can leave shampoo in the shower — I can play the music I want, when I want it — I can buy food at Costco because I’ll be here long enough to eat it — I can invite people over and cook dinner. It’s stirring up crazy emotions, this nesting after years of perching. But I’m a fan. Home is nice, however long I get to have it.
Since I’m nestled in here, recording and editing music and making tons of things for you guys (and sleeping), I am Not On Tour. Sorry. A girl’s gotta stop sometime. I’ll be here in Juneau for a couple of months, trying to forget how to drive. I’ll hit the road again in late spring/early summer.
For now I think it’s way past time I pointed you toward some of the incredible people it’s been my pleasure to work and play with. THEY are on tour. THEY are also making new music. You should know about them. In no particular order:
–> Scott Barkan will be touring NC, PA, NY, and NJ very soon, and you are likely to catch him a lot more in the Northeast over the next few months. I recommend you hunt him down and listen to him play. Join his e-mail list, especially if you’re in the NE sector of the U.S. His guitar work will leave you breathless. Don’t take my word for it; see this video of his performance of “I Got No Reason” at CERN — yes, that CERN — cuz Switzerland will be talking about it for years. The audio is not perfect but I will never forget how it felt to hear him on this particular night.
His most recent album is called “Little Days,” and it’s wonderful. Scott also plays with kickass costumed comedy/rock supergroup Fortress of Attitude. They are brave enough to let Scott play electric guitar. I am still afraid he will blind the audience with rainbow lasers shooting out of his hands if we try that on my tours.
–> Seth Boyer somehow got loose in the Lower 48 unsupervised, and he’s tweeting up some chaos down there. On his way back north he’ll play with me in Juneau, but he does his own thing too, and lots of it, mostly in Alaska and sometimes Outside.
Seth sings the songs that inspire the angels to have three too many shots of whiskey and weep. From his bio, and it’s true: “Seth’s music has been described as having the enthusiasm of Josh Ritter if the knife that killed Elliott Smith had stabbed it in the chest. At once heartbreaking and optimistic, bourbon and anti-psychotics fuel its unflinching candor.” I love it.
“Lie to Me” is one of my favorite songs by anyone ever.
Seth’s one of those guys who exposes the limits of the dumb categories we assign people, because he’s everything; he is Alaskan flannel shirts and Viking beard through and through, he loves sportsball, he listens to All The Podcasts (and he makes some), he knows everything about nerd lore and films — seriously, Seth’s brain is a ridiculous filing cabinet of facts protected by spiky opinions sharpened with wit. He’s a wit porcupine. You should get his album and you should catch him at a show, especially a show in a quiet room where you can hear his pretty voice.
–> Molly Lewis and the Doubleclicks are the people I wish I could play with way more than I do. I miss them. They are an inspiration to me and I loved playing a few shows as a superpowered girl group — even though all our acts are very different. They are CURRENTLY IN THE BAY AREA and heading down to L.A. Catch them in the next few days if you’re there! They are often in the Northwest and occasionally in other parts of the country. They are a perfect joint girl power tour, like pears and brandy or spicy pickles and stout (it’s true, try it!).
The Doubleclicks sort of write songs in haiku. I mean, they’re not haiku, but they are short and nicely self-contained like tiny very funny presents with bows. Once I gave them thirty minutes to perform, and I think they got through ten songs. Here are some favorites of mine at w00tstock 4.0 with awesome sound:
Molly Lewis’s stuff is heady in the way I like heady, and her rhymes are those of a badass verbal contortionist. I love the topics of her songs, from Peeps to Abraham Lincoln to bioluminescence. She makes great songs and they are smart and sometimes very moving. You can find her stuff on sale here, and her solo tour dates there. She is also big on the Youtubes.
This is my favorite song by Molly because I prefer beards so very very much and because the Doubleclicks let me play their keyboard cat this one time.
–> Bryan Ray played a bunch of the 49>50 Tour with me and met bunches of you guys. But he is smarter than me, so he decided to stay in one place more, and now he lives in Austin TX. He still mixes and masters studio work for me sometimes, because that is his particular genuis. And I hope we can do my next project together, whatever that may be.
I’m excited that Bryan is now doing the kind of studio work he told me he wanted to do back in 2010 — thrilled in fact. But his solo work, when he has time to make some, is really gorgeous and otherworldly, and worth a listen. He’s releasing tracks under the name Lonely Child. Bryan has created rich, layered tone poems about childhood and growing up. They’re stream of consciousness sound journeys, showcasing his personal tastes and production prowess. I completely love this film he made with Timmer O’Phelan.
–> Jordan Shindle holds down the fort back in Anchorage. He has been playing with me since he was in high school. We’ve toured a bit, but mostly he takes care of my Alaska hometown needs and protects Anchorage from boredom. He’s too Rock Star for me anyhow.
Jordan’s latest project is a new band called Giants Make Way. Yup, it’s metal, and it totally fits him — he finally gets to use All The Pedals that I seldom let him break out. He’s pushing himself to new heights technically, the band’s music is getting popular at home in Anchortown, and they just released a new EP (it’s en route to iTunes, you can listen to it now here). I don’t know squat about metal. But this is better than a heckuva lot of the metal I’ve heard. I love young excited bands, and I really love it when they push themselves to technical excellence, not just increasing decibels. So rock on, guys — I hope this year’s a good one for you.
SO GO CHECK OUT one or more of these good folks. Drop a dollar on a track. Go to a show or get on a single mailing list so we can find you when we ARE playing near you.
Or, heck, go hear whoever you can hear near you. Live music can really change your life, and I mean that. It flips your whole perspective around — sometimes for a couple minutes, sometimes for months. Do it.
I support and wish luck to TONS of other musicians I love and folks I’ve worked with — these are the people I’ve toured with the most extensively, but there are tons more I could mention who have played with me. People like Joel Hermansen (who co-wrote Love & Harmony with me), Johnny Giedosh, Vixy & Tony, Colter Lemons, Eric Rodgers, Nathan Levine, and more and more and more. If they get back to me with links I’ll add them.
But now it’s time to sleep in my house. Where I live. Where I get to stay tomorrow and the next night and the next night and my suitcases are all finally unpacked. My best to all of you, especially you on the road –
Tags: building community, diy, diy music, indie music, marian-call, something fierce
I leave for my first Europe tour (as a singer-songwriter) in a matter of hours. I cannot believe it. It still stuns me when I come up with a crazy idea and somehow it works and then here I am doing it. There is one million more work before me, for the plane I suppose, but I’ll call it quits now and sleep. It’s just mountains beyond mountains. I’ll see you tomorrow, Boston and Reykjavik and Amsterdam.
But before I collapse, I just stumbled on this little poem-ish treatise I wrote last year in a late-night fever dream for the digital liner notes of Something Fierce (which comes out on November 13th, 2012). I never posted these thoughts here on the blog, and I very much need to. Because fresh off an incredible exhilarating singalong all-request concert at Tommy Doyle’s, bound for a bigger scarier tour than I’ve attempted before, these are the thoughts pounding in my head, begging to be let out at 5am:
A lot of people refer to my music, and to the music of other such unsigned new media upstarts, as D.I.Y. …Do It Yourself.
And there’s comfort in that description — it’s a security blanket — it explains the haphazard website, the production and logistics flaws, the little transparent studio mistakes, the off notes.
But D.I.Y. is a misnomer. I have never been more reliant on people than I am today. When the audience buys directly from the artist, we are as interconnected as we can possibly be.
I have never been so acutely aware that I could not do this myself.
Every person who decides to listen, to buy, to attend, to say good or bad things about the art to their friends — my career is all tied up in them, for better and for worse.
Mostly for better in my case because I want to learn to live in gratitude.
It’s not as if listeners own artists — it’s just that we’re entangled now. [We can't help it.]
The once-formidable middle men are reduced to mere 1’s and 0’s, and we are no longer insulated from our interdependence.
SO we need a term for our new reliance, our new leaning on each other.
Some clever acronym or sound bite.
I don’t know how to name it, but I know we need to.
Because this is not D.I.Y.; it’s quite the opposite.
It’s a barn-raising and a fire brigade and a potluck with extra desserts.
This is not art by committee,
This is art through community.
I don’t have unmitigated good feelings about the artist relying completely on the audience like I do. It can be exhausting, and it has the potential to water down the art. Really the fact is that doing art for a living is hard, and it has always been hard for some reason, and it probably always will be. And this is the new landscape and the modern challenge.
But let’s not frame it as a question of independence, of “indie”-ness (not in the “social media musician” sphere anyway). The questions now are about how to cope with our interdependence — how to still make arresting, interesting art when our all-important audience might react badly — how to ask for funds when everyone else we ever knew is also asking for funds — how to find genuine honest community, even as the word “community” is losing its meaning through corporate buzzword overuse. These are the issues I’m confronting as I make art and as I consume it.
I love the new frontier. I love the future of music. I loved the crowd at my concert tonight more than words can say, and I felt very free during the show. But it’s not a solo sprint and it never was. It’s truly a barn-raising, complete with splinters and strong personalities and barnyard smells. Going it alone is not the new world. Learning how we work together is.
Tags: album release, american songwriter, aol, diy, green light go, indie, indie music, mad mackerel, marian-call, Music, new album, npr, paste, something fierce, songwriter, spinner, vocalist, world cafe
November 13th, 2012 #somethingfierce
This blog is for those of you who are already fans of mine, as we’ll go behind the scenes a bit:
Gather ’round, O Best Beloved, because I have something very important to tell you. This is kind big news in the Marian Callisphere, and it involves both a game and a party.
So! Last October I self-published a double album called Something Fierce. I worked on it for years, and I’m proud of it and it’s awesome. And because it’s sort of my magnum opus to date, I decided to push it out of the nest.
We’re gonna try for some bigger press now thru November. You guys have said for years: “Get on All Songs Considered Marian! Get on World Cafe! Get on Mountain Stage! Get in Paste and Spin!” This is how we try, and you are all the gatekeeper and the keymaster.
Something Fierce has a new global RELEASE DATE.*
November 13th, 2012 #somethingfierce
And you’re invited. We’ve already put out two singles. Here’s where you come in, O Most Beloved.
You guys ask me all the time how we can get to NPR-Paste-etc. We now have a way. And it really ALOTALOT depends on you. I’ve told the press that you, the fans, are super engaged, and now I need you to prove me truthy and not lieful.** When a music publication, big or small, posts about an artist, how do we tell them we want more of this artist in the press?
I mean comments, mostly, and referring to articles in other articles. Say you’re a little music blog, and you post a song by an unknown artist every day, and mostly you get a few hundred hits, but suddenly hordes of people visit & comment on & share an artist’s page for a day. How would you think about that post and that artist? You’d think you struck gold. And what would other music bloggers think? That they’d better not miss the bandwagon and be late. And what will big media outlets think when that artist crosses their desk and they’re deciding who to review?
Let’s make them think it. Let’s DO THIS!
I am going Adventure Questing in Europe next month, but wherever you are in the world, I invite you to go Adventure Questing with me. No money required; these are riddles and puzzles to solve, small tasks to complete, a little Golden Fleece journey for you that will hopefully create a little buzz.
November 13th, 2012 #somethingfierce
- is when my album drops again. This just became a list, poof.
- Starting November 1st, I will be issuing you one task per day for 13 days on Twitter and at MarianCallAdventureQuest.com.***
- Your task might be to post a comment on an article in haiku, or to draw a doodle of a lyric and post it hashtagged on Twitter, or to write a comment where each word starts with the letters of the last word in the before you (remember our limerick contest guys? Peter Sagal announced the results). They will be small internet tasks, little 2-minute treasure chests and dungeon crawls, and will involve lots of Us Guys rewarding media outlets that feature the record.****
- If you complete every Adventure Quest task by November 13th and send me screencaps by email, you will be entered to win some sincerely excellent and very real prizes, digital and physical, with shipping anywhere in the world.
- Yes, you can do them all on the last day if you want, Procrastinatey McJones. It doesn’t matter if you’re right on the nose with your dates. Just finish before midnight on the 13th Hawaii time to be part of the crew.
November 13th, 2012 #somethingfierce
Is the date sticking for you yet? I will spend my morning in Amsterdam and my afternoon/evening in Dublin, and guys, we are going to HAVE A PARRTY! By which I mean GOOGLE HANGOUT AND TWITTER PARTY! I’d like to invite you to have brunch with me in Amsterdam, then pub fare and Guinness or Killian’s or Harper with me in Dublin, no matter what your time zone. When I’m not flying, I will be online several times through the day talking with you guys, answering any and every question, doing goofy things on camera, potentially drinking a little too much, and celebrating this awesome record that ate several years of my life. I will try to get some special guests to join our Hangout and say hi, I will draw prize winners, and I will definitely sing for you in public places which will probably be embarrassing.
You guys, American Songwriter has already agreed to feature the album on their site all day on NOVEMBER 13TH, and so has AOL/Spinner. OMG OMG OMG. We released two singles to the media to promote, and for some reason “Dear Mister Darcy” is taking off at over 3000 downloads; we can’t even figure out why. We will get more media on the hook if we can only deliver the audience. With building momentum World Cafe and Paste and NPR might be someday be within reach. THIS IS BIG.
But only you can make it happen. So join me Adventure Questing if you wish! For all those times you guys have told me to get on NPR, now you have the power to Make It So!
November 13th, 2012 #somethingfierce
Do you want to do something now? Here are further action items if you want them. But only if you want them. I don’t expect this sort of involvement, I’m grateful for you guys beyond belief; but I do want to focus those of you who have asked to help.
- Go download a track here and leave a comment: http://madmackerel.org/2012/09/11/marian-call-readies-something-fierce-for-release/. They’re free on purpose. If you already have the music, send the track to a friend — surprise them. Send the link to this article to a local radio station or DJ.
- Here are some articles that need some love. Comment or share real quick, and I dare you to do it in Subtle Haiku (no line breaks, but a clear haiku structure that other readers will recognize): post 1 post 2 post 3 post 4. Tweet me links or send me screencaps if you want to show off your handiwork!
- If you have a blog, write a teeny review of your favorite song or concert experience. Include a link to the blog above, or some other blog, since that really helps. If you don’t know what to say, just post lyrics and then tell a nice story that seems tangentially related, like this.
- If you posted a blog about me ages ago, circulate the link one more time now, or post a follow-up, gloating that you were in on the ground floor of something awesome. Tell everyone you were right.
- Comment on iTunes or Amazon or listen on Spotify, which shows up on Facebook. (Note that my preferred listening/purchase link to actually benefit me is Bandcamp.)
- If you are allowed to play music where you work, spin the album a couple times before November 13th. Tell people you are cool enough to have gotten this record before the global release because you’re that hip to new music. You don’t need it with you, you can just listen online. (Don’t annoy anyone please.)
- Pester your local DJ — most can play the music from the web now, so bother them with the link and say the album’s coming out soon. And hey, pester your local weekly paper’s music reviewer, and your local NPR affiliate too, along with the national tastemaker stations (KUT, KEXP, KCRW, WGBH, WBUR, WHYY, WNYC and more). If you need a press release for singles 1 and 2 or a bio, we have them.
- I could use a little web help November 1st-14th, because obviously I will be running around Europe when I need to be posting stuff and answering questions. If you’re interested, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Adventure Quest-keteer.”
Any volunteer work that you feel like doing, I will equip you for. Any questions you have, I will answer. A few answers from the asterisks above are below.
I owe all of this to you guys, and that’s why I work so hard and run so fast. I want to do my best for you, and I want to do the most for you. I am excited to see all of you I can see in the Northeast of the US, the Southeast of Canada, and Europe. And I’m super super super excited to raise a Guinness to all of you on — what date?
NOVEMBER 13TH 2012!!!
*Why release your album again? This is very normal for indie albums actually, in part because media outlets have almost no interest in reviewing an artist unless a Big Album Release is coming up. So I have an awesome publicist, and they’re trying to get some media attention, so the Big Album Release is coming up!
**We are pitching me to media outlets as a social media musician with an engaged fanbase. So woe is me if my fanbase stays silent when Paste finally gives me an article. We have to prove that my press releases are true! Mostly I don’t post articles about me (it’s rude) but for the next little while I’ll need to, and I’ll be hoping and wishing you guys will show them you’re listening.
***That site is not ready yet. Sorry. I was getting this site ready. November 13th.
****I promised you once, after my first Shortys encounter, and I’d like to reaffirm my promise: I will never ever ask you to “vote for me” in any sort of internet competition. I have some dignity at least.
Tags: activities, bad astronomer, children, concert, event, family, field day, geek, george hrab, Joseph Scrimshaw, Ken Plume, kids, Labor Day, marian-call, molly lewis, NASA, nerd, phil plait, rocket, rocketfest, science, science education, skeptic, skeptics, space camp, w00tstock
I am doing a very special thing this week. I have been excited about it for months. But I have not communicated my excitement to you guys yet.
ON LABOR DAY I AM GOING TO SPACE CAMP.
I am taking with me some of my favorite people: Molly Lewis, Ken Plume, Joseph Scrimshaw, Phil Plait, George Hrab. We are trucking over from Dragon*Con Monday morning. We are there going to present the live audience in Huntsville, AL with a variety show of terrifically geeky sciencey entertainment, and we will be streaming the show LIVE FROM SPACE CAMP TO YOU.
Here’s the why of this event. It’s a fundraiser for the U.S. Space & Rocket Center Scholarship Foundation. That’s a fancy way of saying we’re raising money to send more kids to Space Camp. There will be stuff you can order, special goodies from Thinkgeek and Space Camp, and everyone who donates $10 or more online during the live stream will be entered to win a bigger prize from Thinkgeek. (Thank you Thinkgeek!) Of course you can just donate too, that’s an option anytime at http://spacecamp.com/rocketfest. But I hope that during this livestream we can flood the gates a little. I want to demonstrate to the folks at USS&RC that the internet is full of people who want to support them.
When I was young, I was totally the scholarship kid at horse camp. I begged and begged my parents, but they couldn’t afford it. When I finally got to take my swim test, saddle up for early morning trail rides, and take my first crack at archery, it was thanks to anonymous strangers who helped to provide scholarships. So there’s a big soft spot in me where summer camp is concerned. It’s not just camp, it’s a big deal for a kid. It’s CAMP.
And this is not just CAMP, it’s SPACE CAMP.
Science has been on my mind this year. I know, I’m a liberal arts nerd, I don’t have much right to step into the science nerd realm. [Insert rant about the overstated divide between "fuzzy" and "techie" and how early a girl is forced to choose.] But in light of Curiosity’s landing, our little Mars invasion — and in light of the shuttle’s last landing and Sally and Neil leaving us — I feel more and more urgency about science education.
No, not education, excitement. Science Excitement needs to become a national priority. We need a tiny bit of moon landing feeling back. A few of us experienced an incredible thrill as Curiosity landed. I want to know how to spread that feeling, to make it more universal and less niche. Because that sentiment is what would help to reorient the U.S. toward invention, discovery, research and development as a public prerogative.
I feel strongly about this (and I’m late to the game, I know, a lot of you have been fighting this fight for decades). And I don’t know how I can do anything to change national sentiment as an individual. But this seemed like a good little place for a singer-songwriter to start. So here I go.
On Labor Day I hope you’ll tune your computer to SpaceCamp.com at 2pm Central and watch our little show, have a look at Rocket Park, even if it’s just on in the background while you barbecue on the deck.
And if you are within driving distance of Huntsville, I’m talking to you Dragon*Con attendees, consider bringing the family out for the day — Space Camp is throwing a field day from 10am-5pm, complete with rocket launches and bubbles and science demos. The price of admission gets you our show and everything else in Rocket Park. How cool is that? Come sit on the lawn and have a picnic among rockets and be entertained. We definitely need a live audience, so bring the kids and come play. Make a pilgrimage to Space Camp! Especially if you’ve never been. You know you want to!
Last: please, tell everyone. Tell the whole internet. This is just a little tiny thing but let’s get some eyeballs on it. I’ve worked hard to pull it together and I really hope it will be half as beautiful as in my head. Point people to info at http://spacecamp.com/rocketfest, and RSVP or share the Facebook event here. If you can possibly blog about this or otherwise publicize it — DO. The official press release is below.
Stars and stars and stars to all of you — writing from Cincinatti at 3am between concerts –
P.S. If you are in Huntsville or Atlanta, and you could Minion for me and the other entertainers, we need two volunteers to come along and help out for the day. We can provide round-trip transport from Atlanta, and lunch. Write to email@example.com if you are interested in going to Space Camp to help. Sound/web/social media skills a plus, we’ll need some of that. Loving Space Camp a double plus.
LABOR DAY 2012
When: Monday, September 3, 2012, 9am – 5pm, entertainment at 2pm Central
Where: U.S. Space & Rocket Center, Huntsville, AL, streaming live at http://spacecamp.com
What: Rocketfest, a fun filled day of music and family entertainment
On Monday, September 3, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center will host ROCKETFEST. With your paid admission to the Space Center on Labor Day, the whole family can enjoy a fun-filled day. There will be family activities on site like rocket launches, bubbles and science demonstrations; attendees can win prizes from Thinkgeek and enjoy a special concert and variety show in the park.
The entertainment lineup (2pm) will feature nationally renowned musicians George Hrab, Molly Lewis, and Marian Call, along with science and geek culture icons Phil Plait the Bad Astronomer, Ken Plume and Joseph Scrimshaw. All entertainment will be exciting and family-friendly. The festival performance will be streamed LIVE on the web at http://spacecamp.com.
The event is a fundraiser for the U.S. Space & Rocket Center Scholarship Foundation. For more information or to donate, check out http://www.spacecamp.com/rocketfest.
The USSRC is home to Space Camp, Aviation Challenge, The Davidson Center for Space Exploration and world-class traveling exhibits. It is also the official visitor’s information center for NASA – Marshall Space Flight Center. To learn about all of the exciting programs and activities at the USSRC, go to www.rocketcenter.com. The U.S. Space & Rocket Center is a Smithsonian Affiliate.
Press Contact: Tim D. Hall, firstname.lastname@example.org (256) 701-0916
Tags: art, artist, crowdfund, crowdfunding, crowdsource, crowdsourcing, diy, diy music, fundraising, kickstarter, marian-call, Music, tour, tour fundraiser
It’s the middle of the night in Juneau. My hair is still all curly from being in a wedding today. I have a lot of thank yous to say, and a lot of explaining to do.
THANK YOU to all of you folks who contributed to my crazy Kickstarter. You are mighty when you pull together! Just look what you’ve done, it’s incredible! And by that I mean barely credible! I mean, I knew you would fund my asking amount, but I did NOT anticipate becoming a poster girl for Kickstarteriness. More on that in a second. I’m busy trying to keep up with your messages to me and get the survey stragglers in the database and get necklaces mailed out. But first –
THANK YOU to the people who forged the Kickstarter and who are even now working on making and fulfilling the rewards. Thank you Chris Cushman who made the armor — Valette who shot the photos — Adam Levermore who designed the graphics — Patrick who made the website and shot the video — Katie who helped build the back-of-house infrastructure (there’s TONS of it) — Annie who will soon have handmade over 150 necklaces — Dammit Liz who is even now helping to book shows in Europe.
If you missed the excitement — I’m sorry you did, because it was terribly exciting. In short, I decided to fund a Europe tour, because my European fans have been patiently waiting for a tour which I could not afford. I conjured rewards and a sort of game to try to fairly determine where in Europe I would book shows. Then I asked for $11,111 with some stretch goals reaching up to about $18k, at which point my tour would be funded to several countries.
We raised the first $11,111 within about 3 hours of my first announcement. Holy hand grenades, Batman!
I was shocked. I knew we would raise the funds, but I don’t think anyone who has been tracking me closely would have anticipated the speed — or the fact that, for the first couple days, the average pledge was around $79 (the Kickstarter overall average is $25, and while I love my fans, I know they aren’t all rich, so I was blown away by the level of support per person.)
I set some stretch goals, because we blew past the $20k mark within the first two days, if I remember correctly. I caught a lucky snapshot on my phone of this moment:
Things slowed down awhile in the middle of the fundraiser, but toward the end Patrick told me I should offer cover songs for higher levels. I decided to choose songs that were classics to me, songs from my musico-cultural desert island list, like the Muppets and TMBG and Tom Lehrer and Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (I wanted to be Julie Andrews when I was little). The internet responded that yes, they wanted those cover songs, and they funded us all the way from $40k to $50k, and then up to $60k, where I threw up my hands and decided to just lie prone on the floor in surprise for awhile.
Now I am happier and wiser and very very very very very busy girl. I have used up my all caps quota for the year several times over. Now I’m just piled high in more work than anyone can manage; if you’re still waiting on something, sorry, working on it. Fulfilling rewards is no small task, and I have laid out for myself a nearly impossible amount of recording by the end of the year. But in my family we have a saying: “That’s impossible. Let’s do it.”
Guys. Guys. We did it. Thank you!
In the middle of the work, though, I thought I should take a minute to talk about the whole experience, because I am getting asked lots and lots and lots of things about Kickstarter, and I’ve gotten letters of all kinds, from very nice and admiring to sort of slimy and advertisey to very mean (only one of those though). And I get asked tons of questions about the music business in general that I wish I could answer better. So without any particular order or editing, because it’s 1am, here are some of my thoughts.
- I am being asked quite a lot about what I did to make the Kickstarter go boom like that. I have a lot of specific techniques and ideas (most covered below), but seriously, the biggest thing is do your art. Do it a lot. Make the art good. Make it good enough to turn heads. Then make it better. Nothing else comes before that. Because if you’re asking other people to put up money for it, it needs to be really good, and there’s a lot of really good art out there right now (yay!). I’m not trying to say my art is so amazing, I’m just saying that the REAL first step of my fundraiser was studying and performing music intensively for 20 years. And that was hard, and it mostly didn’t earn me anything, and it still doesn’t earn me much more than a secretarial job. But that’s where it starts, not with a smart fundraising strategy or clever video.
- The second biggest thing is to know your audience. Duh, you’re saying, and I’m like, that’s so nineties of you to say Duh. But here’s what I mean: know in advance how much you can fundraise, and how fast, and who is likely to fund it. I knew the amount I proposed was a doable amount, because I fundraise sort of quietly in the background all the time, little poster sales and things, and I have an auction once a year. After fundraising slowly for my album Something Fierce, I had a very clear idea what a reasonable minimum would be. I can’t tell you how painful it is to see Kickstarters for bands asking for $50,000 for their first ever album — with stretch goals already listed for $100,000, which is just embarrassing when their funding is stalling out at $10k. Where will the money come from and how much will it really be? If you don’t know this in advance, wait. Do some other experiments first. Test the water. You might have a lot of fans or followers, but that doesn’t translate to money. How and what people purchase is something you really only find out by selling them your things. No model works but your own, don’t use other people’s numbers. We all sell differently and we all sell something unique in this market.
- When I say know your audience, I mean something else too, something more important: love your audience. Respect your audience. I spend time with my fans more days than I don’t. I’m definitely not perfect with them (there is just never enough TIME, guys) but I like them. I like you. And I like spending time with you, and I just wish there was more time to spend. I kind of want the same things my fans want; I get excited by what excites them, so putting together a silly website gamey thing they might enjoy was fun for me. I can’t tell you how many hours I puzzled over the Rulebook and the Coins and the FAQ’s and the ridiculous minutiae, because I knew some nerd out there would care as much as I do. When I was coming up with the rewards, I just asked my Twitter stream: what do you want from me out of a Kickstarter? What are other people doing, what have you liked, what bores you, what’s meaningless? And I got exactly the answers I needed, within minutes. (Here’s what’s meaningless, according to the survey: movie credits. I kinda have to agree. The glamour went out of that ages ago since every person I know has been part of a movie recently. I don’t need a movie credit, guys. I need a cookie.)
- Now that I’ve typed it a bunch, I kinda dislike the word “fans.” It seems weird to me. Beyoncé has fans. I have ………um………my people. The people who live in my phone and sometimes materialize at concerts, and then I sleep on their floor and meet their pet tarantula or hedgehog or what have you. I really really like and respect them, and I am convinced their time and money is precious, and it’s awesome when they spend some on me. They have so many other options. If you don’t like and respect your fans, if they’re not the folks you want to be hanging out with, well, bummer. (I get sad when I see artists who sort of secretly scorn the people who support them, because that means they secretly scorn people who like what they do. I hope they try making different stuff or marketing it different ways.)
- Two things I’ve had to tell a lot of different people, in a friendly fashion, trying not to hurt their feelings: 1) If your music doesn’t turn the heads of strangers on the street, don’t have a fundraiser yet. 2) If you can’t immediately list 10 specific subgroups that describe your demographic, if you don’t know who your fans are — then you shouldn’t have a big fundraiser yet. You should make/meet more fans. Or have a tiny discreet fundraiser appropriate to your audience base right now, and use the thing you make as a stepping stone.
- Make a spreadsheet. Patrick forced me to make a spreadsheet, and I spent as much time fussing with and fretting over it as I did on the rest of the Kickstarter. Why? Because when you look at your chunk of money, and you deduct 10% for Kickstarter/Amazon and then 15% for taxes, and then you really add up the cost of fulfillment, you might be earning only $2-3 at your reward level that seems to profitable. The thing most people forget in their spreadsheet is worth looking at if you’re gonna kick some start, it’s on the second NUMBER SMASH page of my public budget. I calculated what each reward level would cost me, and then I wondered how many people would go for higher-return vs. lower-return rewards. What would people buy the most of? If everyone went for necklaces & USB drives, could I still actually afford to do my trip? I worked through a couple different scenarios to get a good estimate of what rewards would cost me — and how much I would need to ask for to wind up with $7,000 to make it to Europe & back (the answer is about $11,000, so $4000 would go into fees & fulfillment). The extra math saved me much grief. I frequently see bands offering physical CD’s or vinyl at reward amounts that ensure they will be losing money. Please do the extra math and give folks the physical CD for $25 instead of $15 if you’re raising funds for anything besides just duplication.
- Be prepared for both failure and success. I had a solid plan if funding wasn’t going well. I was prepared to pound pavement if the pledges were not coming in, and I knew exactly what pavement to pound and how to pound it. Turns out I didn’t have to. But success brought its own problems — I had to completely redesign my website and Kickstarter page on the first day when we funded so quickly. I had to come up with more rewards at certain levels. Local jewelry suppliers ran out of the silver we needed to finish the necklaces. Fulfillment got to be a huge job, much bigger than we thought, not to mention the pure administrative effort involved (thank you Katie!). So plan ahead. I thought I was overthinking absurdly, with all my FAQ’s and blathering, but it turns out it was very good I thought through all the questions carefully just in case of success.
- For heaven’s sakes, don’t list tons of stretch goals until it appears you will certainly fund ahead of schedule. Chickens, counting, hatching.
- I have a rude question. Does anyone want you to make the thing you want to make? Are people clamoring for it? Because — this is an important distinction — there is art you make because other people want you to make it, and there is art you make because you must make it. The latter is more pure, in some ways, personal and vulnerable and sometimes revolutionary (and occasionally both sorts align). But you only want to crowdfund something people want and need and get super excited about. Before you start *any project,* ask a ton of people whether they want it, or what they want. Don’t ask your friends, ask strangers and fans. Would they pay for it? Do they really want it to exist? If they’re not responding, that means it doesn’t compel them. I’m not saying don’t make it. I’m saying fund that thing in another way. Get a grant. Invest in it yourself. Produce a more popular in-demand thing to fund the Art You Must Make That Nobody Demands. Don’t let the crowd decide the fate of that kind of art — it’s too personal and it doesn’t need thousands of voices in on the process anyway, people who feel like stakeholders.
- Don’t do a Kickstarter thing just to raise some extra money. People can tell and it’s weird. Do it when you have a project you really really care about. Kickstarters, like Hansel, are so hot right now. And for good reason — what a great model! You won’t believe me, but I wrote those two sentences without initially seeing any connection between them. But the thing is, everyone’s got a Kickstarter or Indiegogo cause lately. They’re like belly buttons. I get requests to retweet them every day (sorry, I mostly can’t, the volume of requests is absurd). So let’s pretend you are only allowed to do one Kickstarter for the next two years, just one. What will it be about? Why is it bigger and more special than your everyday business? (Because your normal business should be able to fund itself — you shouldn’t need a Kickstarter to just do your job.) A Kickstarter is fast and big and dramatic and public, moreso than the mellower kinds of fundraising that go on all year. So don’t do one just to do one. Do one when you have a real project or a real vision that moves you. If it moves you, if it’s exceptional and exciting for you, it will be for other people too.
- Since you asked or assumed: I am not rich now. I don’t know if you saw Amanda Palmer’s blog entry re. “where did all that money go,” but my budget looks very similar; the business itself eats the money. I put a big chunk of money towards debt, I replaced some failing equipment, and the rest is all getting folded back into touring and business expenses and fulfilling the promises I made. After sweating over the budget quite a lot, I realized there was no tropical vacation in it for me, and not even really a shopping trip. I might get crazy and spring for a doctor and dentist visit, but that’s about it. Upgrading my infrastructure and doing a ton of recording and touring and being a little less in debt will be my reward. (And for someone who love love loves her business, that’s a huge reward.)
I guess what I’m really wanting to say to you is this. The groundwork for a successful fundraiser is not having the right strategy or the right gimmick or the perfect combination of currently popular things (Ooh! Zombies and steampunk and rhythm gymnastics! A hit!). It’s about knowing yourself and knowing the people you’re connecting with. To thine own self be true. Know what you want, know what your supporters want, and make them align.
I hope I didn’t say anything wrong but I’m too fall-asleepy to discuss anymore. So I’ma add links, publish, sleep, and spend tomorrow working on getting all you survey stragglers into the Kickstarter fulfillment spreadsheet I made, and fulfilling your rewards, and booking Europe. Then I’m gonna disappear into the Alaskan wild for a couple nights to do something that’s not Kickstarter.
Next up: I play Juneau on 8/17-18, I tour the Midwest thru the end of August and then go to Dragon*Con, then I play at SPACE CAMP on Labor Day, then Auburn, then I’m desperately seeking a concert in Nashville, then playing DC and the Northeast U.S./CAN including 3 shows with Molly Lewis & the Doubleclicks, then I go to Europe, then Anchorage, then home for the winter to sleep for months.
Love you all. G’night!
Tags: armor, fashion, illustration, marian-call, photography, portrait, wearable art
HAPPY KICKSTARTER EVE!
In celebration, I’m thrilled to unveil the complete set of photos I shot with +Valette Keller for the Kickstarter: http://www.flickr.com/photos/valette/sets/72157630338274326/show/. Click through for the whole slideshow, it’s amazing!
This is an amazing wearable art piece from the Anchorage fashion show “Object: Runway,” designed by Anchorage armorer & smithy Chris Cushman of Penguinarms (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Penguin-Arms/172408626146626). It won third place overall in the wearable art show! And made me scareder than I’ve been in a long time as I walked up and down the catwalk with no backstrap securing the halter top. But hey, it’s for art!
Chris made the gorgeous steel rose and the jewelry too, both of which will be making an appearance in my fundraiser.
Yes, these will be available during the upcoming fundraiser in some form.
KICKSTARTER EVE HOORAY
To be sure you don’t miss the Kickstarter details, get on the e-mail list here: http://mariancall.fanbridge.com.
P.S. Thanks to all the many first- and second-wave feminists who worked so hard to ensure that I could do a project like this and just find it a fun and empowering art project, a tribute to classic high fantasy. It’s not a commentary on anything, it’s just for fun. You are welcome to think about it whatever you like, but creeper comments are subject to deletion so they can stay in your head. I really enjoyed doing a project like this with a very normal-sized healthy girl body instead of a wasp waist.
Tags: bandcamp, digital music distribution, experimental, free music, illegal downloading, Music, music distribution, piracy, scholarship, unemployed
(Obligatory artist marketing message: you should buy some copies of my album for the holidays, by the way, or for future all-purpose gifts, or for yourself! At Bandcamp.com you get an instant DRM-free download even if you order the physical CD, at Amazon.com you can get super saver shipping. Plus it’s on iTunes and CDBaby and other places. Help an indie artist out and DO IT!)
And now that my album’s released I’m confronting this problem that I think a lot of artists face. Other artists might not know they face it, but since I talk with my fans all day on social media I’m acutely aware of it. Here’s how it goes:
ACT I SCENE I
Longtime Devoted Fan: OMG MARIAN I LOVE YOUR NEW ALBUM! It’s everything you promised!
Marian: Here, buy a copy! I made it for you since you’ve been so supportive and friendly and awesome!
L.D.F.: Um…..well….I am gonna do that FIRST THING when I get a job again. Or pay off my ridiculous health care costs. Or get my kids shoes that don’t hurt their feet. Or I’ll beg for it for a gift. Because…. [L.D.F. switches to private message or e-mail] …..I kind of really can’t afford it right now. Or anytime soon. At this time my money is for food, not music.
Marian: But……but I made it for you. Take it for free! You’ve always been there for me!
Chorus of the Ghosts of Indie Musicians: But isn’t that devaluing your art? Not to mention contributing to this awful Race To The Bottom that will undermine our economy and bankrupt hardworking artists? Where will this end? With all of us giving up our dreams and becoming insurance adjusters? Shaaaaame ooooon yoooooou.
Credit Card Company + Hospital, in unison: Hey, Marian? About these monthly bills –
L.D.F.: They’re right! Your music is worth money and I support you! So I refuse to download it like a piratey pirate! Also I’m gonna go cry into my ramen now.
Marian: Me too. Into my ramen though, not yours.
EXEUNT L.D.F., Chorus, Bill Collectors. Marian is left alone; she crosses DSC. Lighting cue: follow spot.
Marian: [heavy sigh] If only I could give away my music to folks who are out of work or strapped for cash – without contributing to the problematic modern mindset that art for free is OK!
ENTER Donors’ Circle, fast & awkward, Kramer-style, wearing superhero costume. D.C. Leaps into follow spot with a flourish.
Donors’ Circle: I’m here to help with that!
It’s a fact that a lot of people I love are struggling financially right now. And asking them to buy my music feels kinda crass. But withholding music from people I love also feels yucky. I have been there, and I needed music then more than ever to get through it. Some of the most important albums of my life that helped me survive is stuff I ripped from friends when I had nothing BUT music.
SO! On the recommendation of a brilliant member of the Donors’ Circle, I thought I would try something a little different. Below you’ll find an application for a sort of scholarship program — I’m calling it the Pseudo-Scholarship Fund, since I’m not sure what the legal ramifications of actually calling it a scholarship might be. This program means you can get a legit digital copy of the album for free if you can’t afford it — but an anonymous donor will be paying for it. SO! Free to you, but still paid for, and therefore not without value.
Does this make sense?
I hope it works, at least for a few of you. We’ll run it through December 31st, 2011, and if there’s more interest, possibly longer. We’ll need two groups of people: folks who want to get/give the album but can’t afford it, and folks who want to fund the project. [Note, April 2013 : it's still running! Just be sure to email us if you fill out a form!]
If you apply, you’ll get the music & liner notes at no cost to you, but I will ask you for something — I’ll ask you to join the mailing list, tell someone about the album, leave a review, or come to a concert. And I’ll try to make it really easy to do that.
*Note: you are welcome to apply and give the album as a gift. I know some of you said you would give the album as a holiday or birthday gift, but you can’t afford to buy it (or buy an extra copy). And you’re too honorable to rip & burn it for free — you blessed few — so here, this is your chance. Get the download code, write it on a paper heart, put it in a little origami box made out of brown bags and gold stars, and give it to someone for a holiday/birthday/specialness present. (Ooh, and use googly eyes. You can never have enough gold stars and googly eyes on a present. It’s all about presentation, and good presentation can be cheap.)
I’m into solutions and this seems like a solution. Thank you, Donors’ Circle, for coming up with this one. And thanks to you who are funding it, either one album or dozens – this is the coolest thing ever.
DETAILS AND STUFF:
If you’re interested in applying for an album, to keep or to give away, just fill out the Pseudo-Scholarship Fund form below — you can also find it at this link here. You should hear from us within 2-3 business days to either give you your download code & congratulations, or to let you know you’re on a waiting list. [Update from April 2013: send us an email if you apply at email@example.com, so we know you have entered your info!]
If you’re interested in funding an album for someone like L.D.F., you can send money via Paypal to firstname.lastname@example.org and make a note that it’s for the Psuedo-Scholarship Fund. $15 pays for one album; you can send that amount right now if you want by clicking here. Or send an e-mail if you want to pay by some other method than Paypal, I’m more than happy to arrange that. We’ll be in touch within two or three business days to confirm we’ve applied the money where it’s supposed to go, and to express our thanks.
Acceptance of applicants will be at our discretion, but if you apply (and you’re not rude and you answer all the questions) you’ll probably be accepted, and if you’re accepted and there are funds in the account, you’ll be sent a digital download of the album, which includes a PDF of the gorgeous liner notes. And we’ll add you to the Marian Call e-mail list, and possibly ask you to share/review the album or do some other small thing like that to pay it forward.
Let us know if you encounter any hitches (the most common involves our messages to you going to a spam filter). Questions & observations can go to email@example.com.
Go to it!
Tags: geek girl, geek girl con, marian-call, Music
I never would have called myself a geek as a kid. I was just a girl who spent every waking hour reading and exploring computers and drawing and learning and buried deep in the land of imagination. I was just a girl who spent every recess in the library or the counselor’s office, who was socially awkward around people, who fantasized about being a robot or an alien to explain my differences from my peers. I watched TNG every week with my Dad and wrote Star Wars spinoff stories. But I would have been deeply confused if anyone had described me as a geek.
Because boys got to be geeks and nerds. Thirteen-year-old me knew this from movies, adults, my peers, and especially from cartoons, ads, and shows on TV. Boys got to have comic books and LEGO and play D&D and video games and wield plastic lightsabers. And the truly geeky boys got beat up and ostracized and mocked for it (like my little brother), so they formed small outgroups proudly identifying more and more deeply with the activities they enjoyed. Me, I admired those groups from afar – and retreated deep into books, drawing, writing, the land of imagination, where I could write my own adventures.
I quickly learned not to bring up the things I loved, or how much I loved them, around other girls. I definitely learned how uncool it was to like my homework and my teachers and computers. I grew practiced at hiding my talents in spelling and math, hiding my love for tests, so as to have any friends. (It’s still damn near impossible for me to say out loud, “I went to Stanford,” because it’s alienating. (But I can tell you, because you’re the Internet.)) So childhood was a wonderful but solitary journey. I have no complaints about this — I don’t see it as a serious problem — it was just my formative experience. A lot of people nurtured me and my interests, especially my family and certain teachers, and for them I will always be grateful. But this part of my childhood defines me, it’s my central narrative: hiding my books and my drawings and my test scores. That was me. And I wouldn’t change that.
Fast forward to 2006. I came to Myspace (a little late). And as I filled out my “interests,” as an adult, with no peer group watching and no pressure to edit myself, I found that the list looked very, very geeky indeed. And when I started meeting my very first few online friends — through Nathan Fillion’s Myspace page, of all places — I was surprised. Surprised out of my shoes. SO MANY OTHER GIRLS LIKED THE STUFF I LIKE. Including old friends of mine with whom I had played Barbies when I would have rather built pirate ships. We had been hiding from each other when we were young. And here we were, all exposed by social media. And I learned just how many other girls had also secretly been having an experience like me growing up. I learned how many other girls are embarrassed by their academic accomplishments and love of sci-fi.
I cannot tell you how amazing it feels to find you belong to a community when you thought you were alone.
By joining the “geek” community I have met female friends who enjoy what I enjoy, and who had childhood experiences like mine. I’ve also met plenty of awesome women who were unafraid to be themselves all along, who boast about their accomplishments and their nerdiness, and I admire the heck out of them. Geek girls are nothing new, but our openness about it is. Lightsaber battles are not just for the boys anymore. And I’m so happy to finally be able to join in the fun as an adult.
These days, geek girls are finding one another and showing up at conventions and comic shops, faster and more vocally than the boys were prepared for, I think. And it’s a good thing. But it’s tough. In a way we’re invading a safe space that once belonged to boys who, at least in their youth, were most comfortable away from those bizarre female aliens. And I know what it’s like to have a safe space, and to have that space invaded by people who make me uncomfortable (not because they’re evil, but because I’m socially awkward around them, and I’m suddenly a little less free to be myself, bound by awkwardness). So I can empathize with the confusion of this new world for the boys and the suspicions that accompany it. I’m not surprised this demographic change comes with its rubs and scrapes.
And honestly, certain parts of geek culture are slow to catch up to the fact that we’re here — women have suddenly altered the makeup of the audience, but women are only beginning to become a significant percentage of content creators. So there are lurches and bumps and internet flame wars along the way to learning to live in a larger community, a community that was a male-dominated outgroup and is now much larger and more diverse than existing social constructs are prepared to grapple with.
GeekGirlCon this weekend in Seattle aspires to be a positive, open, fun celebration, inclusive and accessible to all types (men welcome! kids under 10 free!). I look forward to seeing how it goes. I have reservations, but I have a lot more hopes. I especially hope it empowers people to be who they are and like what they like — perhaps some young girl like me who feels she’s alone in loving school work and Star Trek will learn there’s a larger community she can grow into. Perhaps some young boy might learn it’s OK to invite that cool tomboyish girl to his D&D table even if he feels pressure not to. Perhaps we can empower younger folks to reach across the gender divide and find pride in who they are.
The practical stuff: GeekGirlCon passes are very accessible, starting at $20 if you pick them up in person at local businesses. The con will address some serious issues, like cattiness and sexiness and gender in comics and gaming — but most of the panels and topics are just the same geeky fun you find at any convention. It’ll feature amazing guests like Jane Espenson, Bonnie Burton, Amy Berg, and Chase Masterson. And me! I’m on a Sunday panel about creating community.
And I’m playing in the awesome kickoff event! It’s open to all, not just con attendees! YOU SHOULD COME! I recommend tickets in advance as we’re close to sold out/standing room. BUT IT WILL ROCK.
Seattle, WA // Fri. 10.07.11 – Geek Girl CONcert with Molly Lewis & the Doubleclicks
Tickets now on sale! Molly Lewis out of Seattle, and The Doubleclicks out of Portland. This very special concert will be held at the Great Hall in Green Lake at 8pm – it’s an all ages show and younger folks are more than welcome. Tickets $10-15, reduced for students and GeekGirlCon pass holders. Facebook event here.
I have lots of thoughts about the various geek/gender battles that have broken out on the web lately, but mostly, I see all of it as a sign that we’re undergoing the birth pangs of creating a better community. I want real discourse, healthy discussion, some education and hard listening, and that’s damned difficult to come by (especially on the internet). But it’s beginning to happen. We’re learning to play together. It’s better than it was, not as good as it will be. For my part, I want to stay positive and I want to hear some of the opinions that are difficult for people to voice. I want to hear personal stories more than diatribes that generalize about gender. There’s a lot of gunk we have to just get out of our systems (and out in the open) to make this community work, and let’s face it, it’ll probably be rocky. I see myself as a peacemaker and an artist generally. So I’m reluctant to get too deeply involved in controversies, myself.**
Because mostly? I just want to have fun. I want to get back to geeking out about awesome stuff. And I want a safe community to geek out in. That’s possible. We can make it happen.
**Odds on the comments/response to this post winding up in controversy are entertainingly high. I will be taking bets as to the topics that will inflame people about a relatively non-inflammatory personal narrative.