Last Sunday I posted in praise of New Amsterdam Records, who will be releasing our debut recording. I also posted a link to the NewAm Artist Agreement, which details, in plain English, the financial arrangement I have with them. As you can see, it is extremely artist-positive — I retain full copyright of the recording and proceeds from album sales are split 80/20 in my favor until the recording costs are recouped.
The flip side of this, however, is that the artist does not get an advance to pay for recording costs. However, since in a traditional record contract, the "advance" is often a one-way ticket to perpetual indentured servitude, the NewAm terms are ultimately much more favorable. But it does mean that the responsibility of raising the necessary capital to make the recording in the first place is 100% on the artist. And recording a big band in the studio is a crushingly expensive proposition — which is why I have avoided it thus far.
What happened to change my mind? Well, on top of the offer to sign with New Amsterdam Records, whose generous terms make breaking even at least a theoretical possibility, I also received a commission from the Jazz Gallery’s Large Ensemble Commissioning Series, an invitation to make this recording a WBGO Studio Session, and the SOCAN/IAJE Emerging Composer Award. The combined proceeds are still several significant digits short of a MacArthur, but they are enough to get the ball rolling.
However, in order to actually complete this recording, I need your help. It’s donations from people like you that made our January 2008 tour possible. Thanks to your generous support, we were able to raise over $1000 towards our travel costs and make good on our invitation to appear at the 2008 IAJE conference. Were it not for you, we would never have played in Montreal or Toronto, and we'd never have gotten these rave reviews for those shows. We would not have had the chance to collaborate with Tim Hagans (check his unbelievable solo on “Ferromagnetic”). And in all likelihood, we would not be headed into the studio this fall, either. You came through when we needed you, for which I am abidingly grateful. But now, for this recording, we need your support more than ever.
I understand that this is the single worst time to ask for money in living memory. Unfortunately, we don’t have the luxury of waiting out the current financial meltdown. This recording is — seriously — a make-or-break proposition for us. The choice was stark: either I thank everyone in the band for their time and call it a day, or I book us some studio time and double down on the album being a success. Secret Society has gotten as far as we possibly can without the benefit of a proper studio recording. That’s a lot farther than was once possible, but there is definitely an upper limit and we have reached it.
The reality is, we cannot make this album without your help. But the upside is that thanks to the fine people at Fractured Atlas, your contributions are all tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. It’s easy and secure to make an online donation — just click the button below:
For this project, I considered offering various levels of support, just like your favorite Large Arts Institution. You know, tiered categories like "Friends," "Notables," Patrons," etc. But honestly, that didn't feel quite right. I mean, we are grateful beyond belief to everyone who contributes. Small internet-based donations have transformed politics, and they have the potential to transform the music scene as well. Trust me, the contributions of ordinary people kicking in a few bucks makes an enormous difference to the success of a recording like this. Small donations help us do the little-but-crucial things — like making sure the band gets fed and properly caffeinated during our marathon 12-hour recording days.
That’s why all donors at every level will be listed on our Thank-You Page (unless of course, you wish to give anonymously) -- no matter how much you give, you have our undying gratitude. But there was one thing I thought might be a nice incentive for those of you who are able to contribute a bit more — I’m offering you the opportunity to sponsor one of the musicians who appears on the album.
If you contribute $500 or more via Fractured Atlas, you'll be underwriting a musician’s appearance on the album, and you will get a credit in the liner notes for doing so — e.g.: "Erica vonKleist appears courtesy of [YOUR NAME GOES HERE]." You’ll also get a one-of-a-kind autographed glossy photo from the recording session, and a personalized handwritten thank-you letter from the sponsored musician. Plus, naturally, you'll get a listing on our Thank-You Page and our undying gratitude.
There are only 18 of these sponsorship slots available -- one per musician -- so when you make a donation of $500 or more, please also send me an email letting me know who you would like to sponsor. For an up-to-date list of which musicians are still available for sponsorship, please check here.
Alternatively... if you contribute $5000 via Fractured Atlas, in addition to personally sponsoring ten(!) musicians, you will also get the coveted Executive Producer credit for the recording. (Only one person can be Executive Producer.) Plus you will receive an invitation to Bennett Studios in Englewood, NJ to watch us record in person. And, it goes without saying, a listing on our Thank-You Page and our undying gratitude.
Just to be clear, one thing I can’t do with these online donations is to offer anything of tangible monetary value as an incentive. So much as I’d personally love to send donors who give X amount a free copy of the CD and a Secret Society T-Shirt, I can’t. If you want swag — and it is fine, fine swag — you will have to purchase it separately. Sorry.
But remember — all donations made via Fractured Atlas are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. If your employer has a matching gift program for charitable contributions, in most cases Fractured Atlas is eligible for that — just shoot them an email and they will give you further instructions.
If you like to kick it old-school, we can also accept donations by check -- please email me in advance and I will let you know how this works.
I don’t need to tell anyone reading this how important this recording is to me and to all of the musicians in the band. I can’t wait to finally have the opportunity to document this music properly and get it out there to a wider audience. But we can’t afford to do it alone. I truly hate asking for money, especially at a time like this, but the bottom line is that we absolutely need your help. If you’ve enjoyed seeing the band live or listening to the live recordings I’ve given away over the years, please donate. If you’ve enjoyed reading this blog, please donate. If you want to encourage the survival of independent, creative, unreasonably ambitious music, please donate. Your support means the world.
Yours most sincerely,
— Darcy James Argue
Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions in behalf of Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society may be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.