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$5,363 pledged of $13,700 goal
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By Michael Rachap
$5,363 pledged of $13,700 goal
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About this project

What is this? Who is it for?

Readeez are music videos that teach all sorts of things in fun, original ways. People of different ages and backgrounds really like the songs, which makes me feel good since I write them. 

The end-product of this project will be both a DVD/CD set and digital video and audio downloads of an all-new Readeez collection.

I’m making this project with two groups in mind: People who love music and people who love children.

Volume Four

Through seven years and seven collections, I’ve produced all the music and played most of the parts. But this time around I’ll be working with a top-notch producer (Grammy-winner Dean Jones) and some superb musicians.

The Volume Four cover. Julian and Isabel are back!
The Volume Four cover. Julian and Isabel are back!

The videos are going to be awesome as well, and I’m introducing a new music literacy component called Noteez which I’m really excited about.

The Songs

I’ve been a serious songwriter for about nine years and have finished maybe 120 tunes. There are a dozen songs in this new collection that feel to me like the best things I’ve written. And I want to share them with you, and with everyone, in the best form possible: with top-notch recordings, imaginative production and great musicians.

Several of these songs came about at the suggestion of parents looking for ways to help their kids deal with emotional challenges such as making transitions gracefully and accepting unexpected change. These songs have the potential to help countless kids and their families. 

The Songeez CD and MP3 collection: Twenty-eight great tunes, plus a 32-page color lyric book.
The Songeez CD and MP3 collection: Twenty-eight great tunes, plus a 32-page color lyric book.

The Producer

Dean Jones is basically the George Martin of family music. He is a creative, playful soul, gleefully at home in his wonderland of a studio. Plus he's a heckuva musician and a truly nice person. 

The recording sessions, slated for mid-March, are going to be insanely fun. I’ll be sure to post photos and videos for backers.

The Stories

This past January 18th I was in Brooklyn at a theater called Jalopy, performing Volume Four’s title song, “Musicians,” at a sold-out gathering of family-music artists. Hearing the assembled crowd sing along with the chorus confirmed my suspicion that the song's a keeper. A huge thank-you to Stephanie and Bill and everyone else who made that night so memorable.

Onstage at Jalopy, playing "Musicians" for musicians. Photo: Matthew Mayers
Onstage at Jalopy, playing "Musicians" for musicians. Photo: Matthew Mayers

In the Updates section of this Kickstarter, I’ll be sharing the stories behind the other songs that make up Volume Four, plus the origins of some earlier tunes.

Introducing Noteez

I’m really psyched about this. Noteez are little 10-second segments between songs where I play the "main note" (the tonic) from the previous song on the piano or guitar and tell kids the name of that note, plus show them how it’s notated on music paper.

To me this seems a natural, intuitive way to teach pitch recognition, much in the same way that Readeez teach word recognition. I'm excited to see how it plays out in the real world. I believe that the main reason I have perfect pitch is because I began musical training before age five.

Noteez teach four things in 10 seconds: The note's name, its sound (pitch), how to play it on an instrument, and how to notate it. All in the context of an entertainment video.
Noteez teach four things in 10 seconds: The note's name, its sound (pitch), how to play it on an instrument, and how to notate it. All in the context of an entertainment video.

Your Part

Whether you're already a fan of Readeez or not, I think you’re really going to enjoy this set. And if you back the Kickstarter, you’ll get the goods WAY before anyone else. I have no plans to put this stuff on YouTube or Readeez.com before 2017. In time I will share the songs to YouTube, where they can be watched for free (and ad-free) by our 5,000+ subscribers. 

The general public will have a chance to buy Volume Four in early August. But YOU, Kickstarter backer and dear friend, will have your copy as soon as it's done -- six weeks or so before the rest of the world. 

Your Rewards

I’ve lined up a large and varied menu of thank-you gifts for people who back Volume Four. The rewards I’m most excited about are the ones that bring me together with people, especially kids, whether it’s a house concert or a one-on-one Skype session with a child (or maybe the whole family)—talking about your favorite songs, even teaching you to play them. 

And I'm quite chuffed that Mr. O. himself, the artist who draws Julian and Isabel, has agreed to donate three original artworks to lucky Kickstarter backers. 

Kickstarter 101

New to Kickstarter? Here's something cool: Your pledge to back this project will only be collected if the project meets its funding goal. All-or-nothing funding is a core part of Kickstarter and has a number of advantages.

Where will the money go?

The lion's share of the budget goes to music production and mastering ($5,500). The other main expenses are manufacturing, artwork and promotion. There is also money budgeted for the fees of Kickstarter and the payment processor (about 8-10% of the funding total).

Handling publicity for this project will be Portland's own Sugar Mountain PR, a firm I've always wanted to work with. Several of my friends are on their client list, which reads like a Who's Who in the field of kids' media. 

In addition to Gerry O'Neill's fine illustrations, I'm delighted that artist Erin Palovick has agreed to create some paintings for the "Change Song" video. Check out her work—she's awesome.  

How I do business 

The Readeez Company is not a large organization. In fact it's just me. I guarantee everything I sell for 25 years. If a DVD breaks, if you scratch it two years after you buy it, if it falls behind the sofa — I’ll send you a new one. 

Same with downloads. If your hard disk crashes or you lose an email and you need new links, just tell me and I'll hook you up.

I am grateful to everyone who cares enough to buy what I make. And I don't take it for granted. So thank you, to everyone who’s ever bought anything from me. And thanks for taking the time to read this.

The mushy stuff at the end 

Speaking of gratitude, it's difficult to express my appreciation for the incredible contributions of everyone who has helped Readeez, and me personally, to get to this point.

In particular, thanks are due to our superb distributor, Burnside Distribution Corp. of Portland. An indie's best friend! Also, I am forever indebted to a wonderful school, Atlanta's Eclectic Music, for their unfailing friendship and support of Readeez through the years.

To my family and friends—you know who you are—thanks, and I love you.

Most of all, my thanks go to every parent who's ever sent me an encouraging email or told me of your family's affection for my work or sent me pictures or videos of your kids singing my songs (I love those)—thank you for allowing me into your lives. 

Michael Rachap
Founding Father
Readeez  

Risks and challenges

Since 2008 I've produced seven collections of Readeez music and videos. At this point I more or less know what I'm doing. Having said that, I hasten to add: There are always surprises. And always new things to learn.

The main risk I see is the possibility of missing our forecast June delivery to backers and the media prior to wide release in August. But I believe I've got a realistic production timetable and I'm going to do my best to be sure we hit our dates.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    EMOTIONAL SUPPORT. This matters! Tell me and the rest of the world you love good music and you care about kids' media. You'll get access to all project updates, including behind-the scenes video. And your name (or your child's) will grace the Readeez.com Wall of Fame!

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    Pledge $3 or more About $3

    ISABEL STICKER. The new Readeez sticker is awesome! It's bright, full-color vinyl, perfect for decorating your laptop, lunchbox or notebook. You'll be showing your support for Readeez, plus you'll get access to all project updates, including behind-the-scenes video. And your name (or your child's) will grace the Readeez.com Wall of Fame!

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    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    DIGITAL PACKAGE. Includes downloads of both video (.mp4) and audio (.mp3) of Readeez Volume Four, weeks ahead of the official August release. You also get all project updates, and your name on the Readeez.com Wall of Fame!

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    SIGNED COPY + DIGITAL PACKAGE + YOUR NAME IN THE CREDITS. You'll get the Readeez Volume Four DVD/CD set, signed by me, weeks ahead of the August release. Your name (or your child's) will appear during the closing credits. Plus you get the digital versions and the sticker.

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    Pledge $45 or more About $45

    BIBLE READEEZ DELUXE. Everything in the $25 level above, plus a signed copy of the Bible Readeez DVD/CD set, plus digital audio & video versions thereof.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    YOUR CHILD'S PICTURE IN THE "MUSICIANS" VIDEO. Everything in the $25 level, plus I'll include a photo of your child with a musical instrument (or singing or dancing) in the video for Volume Four's title song. They'll be famous!

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    GIVE A GIFT OF READEEZ. I’ve corresponded with dozens of parents of children with Down syndrome. Many have told me their kids love Readeez songs and videos. They watch the free ones online and wish they could buy the DVDs or downloads. (Parenting a child with special needs frequently entails large medical bills.) You can help out such a family by gifting them some Readeez. I’ll send a Mega Bundle (it sells for $59.99), plus everything at the $25 level, to a child with Down syndrome who likes Readeez. This is a really special gift — if you’re considering getting this reward, please know how grateful the recipient family and I will be.

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    Pledge $65 or more About $65

    GLITTER POSTCARD FROM ISABEL OR MICHAEL. Everything in the $25 level, plus your child will receive an oversized Hawaiian glitter postcard hand-written by Isabel or Michael (your choice).

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    MEGA BUNDLE. Everything in the $25 level, plus everything in the Readeez Mega Bundle (that's 3 DVDs, 1 CD and 6 digital downloads). Details at http://readeez.com/mega

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    HAVE A BUSINESS CHAT WITH ME. Are you a musician or artist who's thinking about how to fund projects you envision? I'll share with you everything I learn from this Kickstarter experience, including financial details not publicly available. We'll discuss why I chose Kickstarter over other platforms, plus the things I did right and wrong. A 30-minute phone or Skype chat with me, plus supporting stats, gives you access to some of my hard-won experience with independent music/video production and distribution. Includes everything at $25 level.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    SKYPE LESSON OR CONCERT WITH MICHAEL. Readeez creator and multi-instrumentalist Michael Rachap (that's me) will happily give you a 45-minute personalized lesson on piano, guitar or ukulele. If you'd prefer, I'll do a private Skype show for you. Or perhaps you or your kids would like to chat with me about music, or Readeez or life in general -- it's your time! Also includes everything at the $25 level.

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    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    ORIGINAL READEEZ ARTWORK. The man behind the magical Readeez illustrations, Gerry O'Neill, will create by hand an image of Julian and Isabel, suitable for framing, just for you! Talk about a special keepsake! Includes everything at the $25 level.

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    DONATE A HOUSE CONCERT WITH MICHAEL. See the description of "House Concert with Michael" below. The difference is that instead of coming to your house, I'll do a show at the home of a Readeez fan with special needs such as autism or Down syndrome. And I'll do the show for half my usual fee. You will receive everything at the $25 level.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    HOUSE CONCERT WITH MICHAEL. Want to make an event like a child's birthday really special? Have Readeez creator Michael Rachap (that's me) come to your house and play a 1-hour show from my vast repertoire (and you can help choose the songs). You pay transportation, limit 20 people per house concert. Also includes everything at the $25 level, plus 5 signed copies of the DVD/CD set.

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    I'LL WRITE A SONG AND MAKE A READEE JUST FOR YOU. What would you like your song to be about? A child you love? Your favorite ripped old t-shirt? We'll work together on the concept for the song and the video. NOTE: I will not do songs that espouse political or religious positions or promote commercial enterprises. Just about anything else is fair game. Also includes everything at the $25 level.

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    Pledge $2,000 or more About $2,000

    PERFORM ON A READEEZ SONG. Yes, that's right. You'll join us in the studio in Rosendale, NY during the week of March 14 (transportation your responsibility) and, depending on your skill level, either sing, play an instrument, clap your hands or all three. You'll be credited as a performer in the spoken/written video credits. You'll have your picture taken with me and the rest of the band. You'll be immortalized as part of the amazing Readeez Volume Four. And you'll have a memory you'll cherish forever. Includes 5 signed copies of the DVD/CD set.

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Funding period

- (18 days)