News and notes from Fredericksburg's entertainment scene
Letter From Nashville: Kickstarter
BY ANDREW LEAHEY
FOR THE FREE LANCE-STAR
I’m still waiting for my “That Thing You Do” moment.
You know the moment I’m talking about, right? The scene in the movie where Liv Tyler hears her boyfriend’s song on the radio and starts running down the street, screaming her head off with delight? For whatever reason, the entire band winds up inside the family appliance store, where much dancing and high-fiving ensues.
It almost happened to me. I was in Richmond last month, getting ready for another Andrew Leahey & the Homestead show at The Camel, when I started getting calls from some friends back in Nashville.
“We were getting into the car,” one of my neighbors said, “and I thought my husband had left your CD in the stereo. Then I realized that you were on the radio. They were playing your song on the radio!”
Lightning 100, my favorite radio station in Nashville, has been playing “Virginia” for several weeks now. One of the DJs even came to my last Nashville show and introduced herself, promising to give the tune as much support as she could. Lightning 100 played “Virginia” as recently as last Wednesday, but I was on tour and didn’t have the chance to hear it.
It’s all about being in the right place at the right time, isn’t it? I’ve had a number of jobs since college—journalist, grant writer, music critic, video production coordinator—but none of them have relied so heavily on chance. In the music industry, you could write the best song of the 21st century, but if the right people don’t hear it, you might as well have written a total flop.
Let’s be clear: I don’t think I’ve composed the best song of the 21st century. I’m very proud of this band’s progress over the past year, though, and I’m excited about the new songs that we’ve been recording. We’ve got the goods; all we need is the perfect timing.
Last time we recorded an album, I rented out an old movie theater in Richmond’s Lakeside district. It was a wonderful place to work—cavernous, vibe-y, and most definitely haunted—but it was expensive, too. I’m still trying to work off the debt I incurred during those three days.
For our next release, the Homestead will try something different. We’re big fans of Kickstarter, a fundraising website that allows all sorts of creative people—artists, musicians, scientists, writers—to raise money for new projects. Whoever backs a project by offering a donation will receive something unique in return. The more money you pony up, the cooler your gift.
In the Homestead’s case, we’re asking for help with the recording process. We’ve decided to release a new EP, as a well as a split 7-inch record (which will feature two songs from our new friends, Mason Brothers, as well as a pair of Homestead tunes), and we need more than three days to do everything. The expenses—utility costs, engineering fees, packaging, manufacturing—pile up faster than you’d expect.
I’ve donated to several Kickstarter campaigns in the past, but running my own campaign is a humbling experience. It’s the electronic equivalent of going door to door, asking people to stuff dollar bills into my pockets. In an age where music is more or less free, relying on the kindness of strangers (and I hope we do get some strangers to take an interest in this project) is either very brave or totally foolish.
I believe in these songs, though, and I believe in the symbiotic relationship between a band and its audience. Kickstarter is the 21st-century patronage system. It’s a reminder that musicians cannot survive without the support of interested, generous listeners.
But it’s all about timing. I’m ready to do this thing now. Who wants to be my Liv Tyler?
Andrew Leahey has some great music to listen to at andrewleaheymusic.com