Working Artists Unite!
Risk-taking plus talent does not guarantee success. Nor should it. There are many other variables that have to be taken into consideration. Things like market demand, competition, and return on investment are only three in a long list of variables that should be interacted with and considered prior to embarking on a business venture. But, I may be one of the last people that should write anything about keys to successful entrepreneurship. You see, several years ago, I took a risk and realized my dream when I opened my own experimental theatre. I had the training, the talent, the theatre experience, and the requisite reputation in the community to make it happen. Except a year later, after possibly the most artistically fulfilling year of my life, my theatre went dark for good.
What happened? Well, I learned the very hard way that my talent, hard work, and even my connections weren’t enough to overcome the fact that I knew/know almost nothing about business. In fact, while writing the three variables above, I listed “market demand” and then had to Google the rest. My theatre failed because the market doesn’t reward artistic courage in a vacuum. I’m afraid that one of my family’s favorite bands, Grace & Tony, are facing a similar experience with their latest album Phantasmagoric.
I want to be careful about drawing too straight and sharp of a line between Grace & Tony and my ill-fated theatre. And, I also don’t want my navel-gazing whining to detract from the band’s thought, hard-work, and execution of the album and its accompanying Pledge campaign. Accountant and business friends warned me and my theatre partner that we needed a legitimate business partner. My failures are not the band’s failures. Even though I’ve had the privilege of sitting with Grace and Tony White and listen to their passionate description about the new album and their excitement at the songs they were in the process of writing for it, I do not know what contingency plans the band has if the Pledge campaign falls short; I’m not even completely sure how Pledge works if the goal isn’t reached. I do know that with just a few short days left, Grace & Tony, as I write this, sit at 72% funded for their upcoming album.
I’ve heard a few of the songs off of Phantasmagoric, and I look forward to writing a review, but, for now, the imaginative risk that Grace & Tony are taking is worthy of highlighting. Taking a few hidden 19th century, true-life, Gothic tales and setting those stories to the lively and, at times, macabre punk-grass music that the husband and wife team have crafted together, Phantasmagoric may very well be the musical storytelling album of the year. Many of the readers of this article will undoubtedly download the album after it’s released. A mere $10 pledge has the reward of a digital download. Why not going ahead and pay upfront for an album that you’ll not only enjoy, but will probably buy anyway?
Everyone knows that the music market is not only glutted, but the gatekeepers to success have basically locked the doors. If you’re not already inside the gilded musical mansions, good luck and have fun on the house-show circuit. Don’t misunderstand, I love house-shows, but I also want talented musicians to be able to focus on making music and not have to stress about paying rent, buying food, and keeping wheels under them to get to the house-shows. Grace & Tony are talented musicians who are working hard to carve out a space for themselves in a crowded musical marketplace. They are also doing that without compromising themselves and their music. Grace & Tony are part of the 21st Century’s DIY movement, and that’s exciting. Music lovers should root for them and contribute to their success, not only for the opportunity to add great music to their music libraries, but also so that Grace & Tony can help blaze a trail for other struggling musicians and artists.
Find more information about Phantasmagoric here.