A Little Help, Please: The Something Fierce Pseudo-Scholarship Fund

12/09/2011 at 9:15 am | Posted in How to this-or-that, Music, News & Explanations | 10 Comments
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So I made this new double album and it rocks.  I am totally proud of it. You can be listening to it for free while you read the rest of this blog by the way, just click here and hit play.

(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

Int. Marian’s computer, glowy and full of JPG’s of gingerbread AT-AT walkers.  A fan is chatting with Marian on Twitter.

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!

END SCENE

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 admin@mariancall.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 mariancall@mac.com 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 admin@mariancall.com.

Go to it!

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Something Fierce this way comes

09/03/2011 at 12:13 pm | Posted in How to this-or-that, Music, News & Explanations | 10 Comments
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**Update: the autographed CD’s are now sold out, but you can still pre-order the CD — it’ll come shrink-wrapped and all ready for you to get signed at a show sometime!**

 

IT’S HERE IT’S HERE IT’S HERE!  AFTER TWO AND A HALF YEARS SOMETHING FIERCE IS HERE!

I’ve been yelling about this a lot so I’ll try to calm down, quit spinning, and give you all the details.  And I’ll briefly stop saying thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you.  (Though I can never ever be grateful enough for your patience and support.  I’m gonna make like an NPR station during pledge week pretty soon and compulsively send you all tote bags out of gratitude.)

The record will drop on OCTOBER FIRST TWO THOUSAND ELEVEN!   According to Google, October first is also Julie Andrews’ birthday, the anniversary of the creation of Mensa, and the Texarkana Egg Fest.  An auspicious day.  The record will be available to download on that day, from anywhere in the world, through Bandcamp.com.  Physical CD’s will start shipping that week, so you should receive them shortly after that.  If you pre-order the album, digital or physical, you’ll get an e-mail the moment it’s released with the entire record as a download all ready to go!

Wanna know how it sounds?  The tracks “Anchorage” and “Good Morning Moon” have already been released as singles, and I’ve posted some samples of a few more on Soundcloud for your listening enjoyment.  And I’ve written a few vulnerable artsy thoughts about the record, too.  I hope you like it so much!

Here is how you can pre-order Something Fierce.  And you should, so that I can afford to print it for you.

Digital pre-orders!  For you modern types.

If you pre-order your fabulous digital double-album through Bandcamp, you’ll get a little bit of music now — if you like — and on the first of October you’ll automatically receive your tracks and shiny digital album art to download!  So go ahead and pick it up now.  Price is about $15.00 or whatever you feel beyond that.  If you have any issues at all, e-mail me or Katie at mcminion42*at*gmail.com.  Thank you!

CD pre-orders!  For you who need something to play frisbee hold.

I’ll be signing 500 copies of the physical CD for you early birds!  So if you order now, your album/s will come autographed (no dedications, sorry.  Bring it to me at a show and I’ll sign it to you).  If you buy the CD, you’ll also get the album as a download that will be delivered on October 1st — so however long the postal service takes to your corner of the world, you can still join the CD release party that day!

The double disc costs $25 autographed, a little less ($20) if you want to wait until the release and get a not-autographed copy.    I’m absorbing a little of the cost of international S&H because I really want to keep overseas shipping affordable for my friends across borders!

I’m a CD person still — I buy physical discs and play full albums in my car and in my house.  But I know there’s an environmental cost, and I’d like to minimize that where I can.  So this is a carbon-neutral run of CD’s, or as close as we can get to it — they’re printed with soy ink on post-consumer recycled materials; the trays are made of recycled water bottles, and carbon credits are purchased to offset manufacturing and shipping.

**Donors’ Circle Members:  remember that you’re entitled to two free copies of the record if you like!  There are other goodies for you as well.  Be sure to fill out the form I sent you in order to receive your benefits.  But if you want to order more copies, these links above are for you.  Any questions, just e-mail me or Katie at mcminion42*at*gmail.com!

And thank you thank you thank you thank you for your order.  I fantasize about this all going very smoothly.  (But it never seems to go completely perfect.  So if you have any issues along the way, just let me know, mcminion42*at*gmail.com, and we’ll do our very best to get it sorted.)

Bounce bounce bounce bounce bounce.

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If you want to know more about the record itself, here are some details. Something Fierce is a double album with two parts — vol. I: Good Luck With That and vol. II: from Alaska.

I announced the album and formed the Donors’ Circle in March 2009, and I began writing songs and booking musicians for the project around that time.  Recording began in November 2009 and has continued up to last week — at intervals between touring — we did studio work in Seattle, Los Angeles, Brooklyn, Austin, and Anchorage.  About thirty people made noises for the record, and over a hundred fans helped to fund it.  I did all the editing myself before, during, and after the 49>50 Tour, and this spring I even added some songs written on that journey.

Here’s a track list so you can see if your favorite song from the live shows is on Something Fierce (track order not necessarily finalized):

Something Fierce, vol. I:  Good Luck With That

  1. Good Morning Moon
  2. The Avocado Song
  3. Highway Five
  4. Dear Mister Darcy
  5. All New (Heart Shut Tight)
  6. Temporal Dominoes
  7. Press or Say Three (your call is important to us)
  8. Ina Flew the Coop
  9. Free Bird

Something Fierce, vol. II:  from Alaska

  1. Whistle While You Wait
  2. Early Is as Early Does
  3. I Wish I Were a Real Alaskan Girl
  4. The Underground (One Bird at a Time)
  5. Coffee by Numbers (Faon’s Song)
  6. Equinox
  7. E.S.B.
  8. Perilous Road
  9. Aurora Borealis
  10. Anchorage

Things I’d love for you to know about this record:

  • Some lines and songs are in fact inspired by friends on Twitter and Facebook.  Usually they know if/when they’re to thank.
  • I consumed enough fruit snacks while editing this record to feed a crowded day care center for a month.
  • For this record my mother played the turkey baster, my sister banged on her cello all over like a drum, my brother clicked a mechanical pencil and played his trumpet valves with his nose, my stepdad played the harp and jaw harp, Brian Adams shot his Hasselblad, and I played goat toenails and shook my dead cat’s ashes in a tin.
  • You can perhaps hear a number of musical and lyrical compressions honoring Zelda, Dr. Horrible, Elizabeth Bennett, and a number of other fictional characters.
  • I dare you to figure out which songs I wrote before, during, and after my divorce.  You’ll probably be wrong.  But there’s a lot more relationship stuff in this album than I’ve previously included, and it’s more vulnerable than what I’ve written in the past.  I take a lot of musical/stylistic risks and I hope they pay off and move someone.
  • One of the songs sounds like it’s about a breakup or an unhealthy relationship, but it’s actually an ode to a beer I fell completely in love with on first taste.
  • There are really a lot more drums and a lot more noisy hollering of the sort I do on tour.
  • The typewriter and rainstick can be heard on about half of the tracks, though they’re subtler than in the past.
  • Several members of the Donors’ Circle sang and whistled along with the chorus of “Good Morning Moon” from their homes all over the world, and their voices are part of the record.
  • Some songs and characters and scenarios were completely fictional, as in “Dear Mister Darcy,” until they came true to the letter.  Spooky.

The physical product will be very pretty, I think.  The two discs will come in a carbon-neutral matte digipak, and it will include a 16-page book with all the lyrics and gorgeous photos by my friend Brian Adams and illustrations by my amazing Mom, Karen Luke Fildes. My favorite part:  no UPC code on the outside of the artwork.  When the disc is sold retail (very very seldom), we’ll put the barcode on a sticker outside the shrink wrap — so once you open your music it will be simply that, music, with the UPC business hidden away in an inside corner with the credits and copyright information where you’ll hardly see it.  Fans funded this project, and fans are mostly buying it straight from me, so the economic scope of this project is a little too simple to merit interfering with the artwork by adding a barcode to the outside.  Somehow that feels right to me.

Here are some of my thoughts on the record from a little earlier this year.  It’s a little different than what’s come before.  The vocals sound a lot more like what you might hear at a live show, because I’ve done hundreds of live shows since I last went into the studio.  Something Fierce is truly my own voice, and the voices of my community (including you guys!).  And it represents a lot of growth musically and personally since Got to Fly, my last full-length album.  It’s less overtly nerdy (remember Got to Fly was a commission about Firefly and BSG) and yet still laced with geekiness throughout.  I hope hope hope hope hope that you like it.  I hope it makes you feel something once in a while.  I hope it’s art worth loving for a few of you, and worth enjoying for the rest of you.

Okay Marian, quit talking and get some rest.

P.S.  If you think you’re going to like this, tell the world to get on board.  http://mariancall.bandcamp.com/album/something-fierce is the link to share around the web.

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