What is Titled?
Titled is a concept album of instrumental music that could range from the ethereal, ambient sounds of Brian Eno to massive noise walls. Honestly, how it sounds is largely determined by you, because we're crowdsourcing inspiration.
Yup! While we have some strong ideas about the direction of the album, we have yet to write a note of music. We want you to give us the song titles for the album, and your submitted titles will be the inspiration for the album.
Oh. Hence "Titled."
Right on, buddy.
Start at the beginning.
We are Sam Cooper, Michael Stettes and John Middleton, members of the band Sam Cooper & the Sleepwalkers. We're huge fans of music, gear, and Kickstarter, and we became intrigued by the idea of a community-driven album. There was another Kickstarter project that had a great idea of allowing contributors to submit names to different parts of the final project and we thought, "What if we allowed people to submit song titles and be the motivation for the music on the album?" And Titled, the idea, was born.
How is Titled Going to be Made?
The first step is yours! Via the Kickstarter Backer Rewards, fine-smelling, spiffy individuals such as yourself have the opportunity to contribute track titles to Titled. Once the campaign is over, we'll take your titles and let them marinate in our minds, and create a special piece of music for each and every one. Once the campaign is over, you'll receive en email through Kickstarter asking you for the title and other info, but (see Submission Guidelines below) we would like you to shoot us a message to run your title by us before the campaign ends!
We will be recording all music at Boy Downstairs Studio, which is where we record most everything we do. It's Sam's home studio, where our band (and a few others) have recorded before.
We will be recording some of the music straight into a vintage Tascam 388 8-track directly to 1/4 inch tape for added warmth and vintagey goodness.
We have a rather extensive and varied collection of instruments, amps, and effects, both vintage and modern, that we'll be using for the album for an incredibly dynamic sound. Learn (and see) more!
To keep costs down, we will be handling the engineering and mixing ourselves, something each of us has several years of experience doing. All music will be professionally mastered by Jason George at Nice Package Productions in Towson, MD for both digital and limited vinyl distribution.
Digital and Vinyl? Nice.
The digital version of Titled will comprise 50 tracks, totaling over 150 minutes of music, and backers can download the album as MP3s, FLACs, or just about any other format your blood pump could desire. The vinyl versions of Titled will be abridged. Nice Package will hand cut and press a limited run of 7" vinyls (only 25 will be made) called Titled [Singles From] that will contain one A side and one B side chosen by us. They will also hand cut and press a limited run of 12" vinyls (only 10 will be made) called Titled [Selections From] which will contain up to 36 minutes worth of tracks, specially mastered for vinyl. These selections will be made by the band, except for, of course, the 5 tracks named by the people at the I WANT IT ALL! Backer Reward tier, whose tracks are guaranteed to be on the 12" vinyl!
Also, for any detail-oriented folks or gear nerds, we'll be posting updates on our project blog (http://titledalbum.wordpress.com/) regularly, talking about what song we're currently recording, and detailing exactly what gear we used on each track.
Where Are The Funds Going?
Hey, great question. 2k is a pretty small amount of money to create an album of this quality & size...so how are we pulling it off?
First, as stated, we're doing this in a studio we own, so using it costs us nothing but time, gear wear, and electricity. Second, by avoiding the medium of CD, and keeping our vinyl run limited, we're saving a great deal on distribution. Third, 2k is the bare minimum we need to make the album we want. More funds would, of course, make the album even better.
So here's the breakdown:
- Mastering: This is where the bulk of the money is going. For the uninitiated, mastering is what allows an album to tighten into a unified form. In basic terms, mastering balances sound levels among tracks for a smoother listening experience, raises the overall volume to professional listening levels, and it affects the equalization of frequencies to give the album a very specific tone. For those interested, we will not mastering in the fashion favored by modern rock producers in which everything is compressed to the max for volume thereby crushing subtlety and dynamics. Jason refuses to master that way, and we're proud of it! Mastering ain't cheap, and is paid for in labor hours. Titled is 50 tracks long. Yup.
- Vinyl & Packaging: While we could have kept this a strictly digital album, we're nostalgic for the tactile thingnessof things, the smell of plastics, vinyls, and glues, and the physical nature of the medium. So we opted for vinyl. The labels, inner and outer sleeves, and jackets are included here.
- Total of Above: $1,645.00, plus tax.
- The rest of the 2k covers a reel of 1/4" tape we need to record, possibly a piece of additional gear like an extra mic or pedal we need, Facebook advertising, and the percentages paid to Kickstarter & Amazon. More details will be available on the project blog (http://titledalbum.wordpress.com/), as we think transparency about the money is important!
What Do I, the Insightful Backer, Receive As My Reward?
The deets are along the right side over there, but here's a truncated, bulleted list of some rewards that might pique your interest:
- Download of the entire album,Titled. Over 50 tracks (over 150 minutes of music) for all tiers $5 and up!
- Name one of the tracks on the album and be credited as the titler in the liner notes!
- Get the limited 7" vinyl, Titled [Singles From]!
- Get the limited 12" vinyl, Titled [Selections From]!
- Get YOUR VOICE on a track!
- And more! GO LOOKIT!
As Far as Naming a Track Goes...
Hold it right there, tiger. We know where you're going with this.
First off, yes. You can name it whatever you like. Within reason. So sure, go for random, make it a tribute to your pet ferret, or snarkily condemn that mean kid who never shared his Dunkaroos. But don't be a jerk.
- No hate speech. You know what we mean.
- Nothing too long. There's no limit per se, but we'd like it to be able to fit the vinyl sleeve in case we wanna put it on there, you know?
- No blatant advertising. You want to name a track, "Addicted to Coke Zero"? Fine. But no one wants to listen to "Make Your Rook Cook and Your Pawns Prawns at www.MakeYourOwnChessPiecesFromFood.net." Well, maybe Michael would, but most wouldn't. Don't do it!
- Don't be obnoxious. We're not anti-vulgarity, but if your submission is simply an incoherent string of profanity and heinous acts, it's not getting used, ok?
- If we find a problem with your title, we'll contact you and try to work with you to get it to be something we can both agree on.
All backers who will be submitting a title must contact us before the campaign closes so we can review your title!
Also, while the composition of the song is totally up to us, feel free to offer insight on your title to help us out. If, for example, your title is "I Remember Jacob Tenlyman" and it's an homage to your grandfather who's passed away, and he used to play the banjo or something, let us know! We can't guarantee we'll incorporate every suggestion, but knowing your feelings about the title is extremely helpful to the writing process!
So You Yak the Yak, But Do You Back the Back?
Stretch Goals? Got Any?
Do we! We made this total the bare minimum to get this album done and into your hands, but the fact is, there are some pieces of gear we'd love to have to make this album sound how we're imagining, namely, a looper, a ribbon mic, and a few other upgrades. We'll go into greater detail when we get to that bridge!
However, we have decided to Kick It Forward!
Click on the link to learn more, but essentially, we're committing to invest 5% of any funds we collect OVER the goal right back into Kickstarter projects to keep the circle of giving going.
Man, This Was a Lot to Read
It was a lot to write, chief.
Oh, I Forgot To Ask, Are You Guys Any Good?
That's for you to decide, sports fan. Feel free to audio-browse these embedded musicks:
"What Was I Thinking?" by Archisms, written by Sam Cooper & Chris Sies
"Wandering Stars" by Sam Cooper & The Sleepwalkers, written by Sam Cooper
"Bathyphobia Music" written by Sam Cooper
Is That What The Album is Going to Sound Like?
Maybe, maybe not. Titled is geared to be a bit of a departure from the Sam Cooper & the Sleepwalkers sound, but as you can hear, it's not unfamiliar territory for us whatsoever. But again, we won't know exactly what it'll sound like until we get your titles! We'll be putting it out under our individual names, not under the Sam Cooper & The Sleepwalkers brand.
Thank Me For My Time Already!
Thanks for checking us out! If you have any questions, let us know!
Risks and challenges
Our risks are minimal. We are a band with years of music writing, recording, and mixing experience in both home and commercial studios. We've each had our own successes individually, writing music for award-winning independent films, paid commercial use, as well as for musicals, plays, and dance performances. The studio where we'll be mastering the album is one we've worked with before on several occasions and is run by a guy we trust implicitly. Furthermore, we'll be sitting in on the mastering session so it sounds just right.
But that's not to say there are no risks and challenges. Here they are:
1. Writing 50 tracks is difficult and will require much of our time. While we can definitely do it, we are concerned about completing it on time due to the happenstances in our lives and the sneaky demon known as writer's block. To combat this, we're going to arrange a schedule so we're always taking time out of our lives to write, write, write, and get you an awesome album on time.
2. The Tascam 388 isn't a spring chicken, autumn pheasant, or any other kind of season/bird combination. While they're not impossible to repair, any breakage will cost us additional time and money, and there's a chance we may have to find a supplemental means of recording, which would throw our vision of this album off a bit.
3. We want our backers to be happy with the album and the idea of disappointing you makes us sad.
4. We're concerned that some people may abuse the title-naming aspect of the project, and submit egregiously foul things for the sole purpose of being disruptive to the project.
5. We're a bit nervous about shipping vinyl! But we'll take every shipping/packing precaution possible to ensure a shiny product upon arrival.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (31 days)