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The Masters’ Apprentice is a story of resilience—of enduring rejection, toil, and injury to create an album of amazing piano music.
The Masters’ Apprentice is a story of resilience—of enduring rejection, toil, and injury to create an album of amazing piano music.
161 backers pledged $14,553 to help bring this project to life.

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The Masters' Apprentice

$14,553

161

UPDATE: We're still going! Keep supporting the project to reach $18,000 for radio promotion.

The Premise

The Masters' Apprentice is a story of resilience. It's a story of triumph over rejection, toil, and injury in pursuit of creating something beautiful. It's also my sophomore solo album, and is almost ready for you to enjoy.

The album features eleven jazz piano solos that I meticulously listened to, wrote out into my own sheet music, then learned to perform. (None of those steps were easy.) Here's the track listing, with the original pianists in parentheses:

  • Makin' Whoopee (Oscar Peterson)
  • Carolina Shout (Fats Waller)
  • My Blue Heaven (Teddy Wilson)
  • On the Sunny Side of the Street (Erroll Garner)
  • Tiger Rag (Art Tatum)
  • Snowy Morning Blues (James P. Johnson)
  • Erroll's Bounce (Erroll Garner)
  • Blue Moon (Art Tatum)
  • Hammerhead (Carl Sonny Leyland)
  • My One and Only Love (Donald Ryan—that's my dad)
  • Blues Etude (Oscar Peterson)

I've already recorded all the music, so now it needs to reach listeners' ears. Let's do this.

Game face on.
Game face on.

The Vision

Besides spreading a message of resilience, my ultimate goal with this album release is to increase my exposure as an artist and ultimately perform more often and extensively. With that in mind, I constantly return to one question when strategizing for this album release: What would wild success look like? Here's my response:

  • Articles and reviews in national publications like The New York Times, Rolling Stone, and Vanity Fair
  • Radio play and interviews on NPR and jazz stations across the country
  • Performances for music industry professionals in New York, Los Angeles, and Nashville
  • Attracting a powerful agent
  • Distribution through an established label
  • Really satisfied backers

Ambitious, I know. But I think we're up for the challenge.

The Plan

While such wild success isn't entirely within our control, here's how we can best set ourselves up to achieve it.

An Extraordinary Kickstarter Campaign

I don't want this campaign to just be successful, I want to blow the doors off of it. Why? Because then people will start to notice that there's oddly strong support for some Tulsa, OK-based pianist playing jazz. Let's reach the base goal of $10,000 as soon as possible to make way for the 'stretch' goals (more on that later).

A Beautiful Album

The album needs to communicate its story through every possible facet: design, photography, sound, and manufacturing. I've assembled a team of astoundingly talented people to make each of those aspects impeccable. More on them later too.

Engaging Videos

Additional videos are critical to spread the word about The Masters' Apprentice. You can expect short documentaries and showcases of my playing to be just as engaging as this campaign's video (since the same company will be making them).

Effective Promotions

Getting the attention of the New York Times or NPR is no easy task, so funds raised in excess of the $10,000 stated would allow for a well-connected public relations firm and radio promoter to be brought on as part of the release team.

Backer Communication

You'll be informed (and maybe even directly involved) every step of the way, from campaign pre-launch to after the album release. I want you to feel that you're getting even more out of this campaign than you're putting in.

Patience

Then we wait and see what happens. And who knows? There might even be some pleasant surprises along the way.

You'd better believe I'm working with this photographer and design team again.
You'd better believe I'm working with this photographer and design team again.

The Team

Management: Jim Halsey Company

The reason I can (somewhat) realistically have high aspirations for this album is because I'm working with one of the best managers in the business: Jim Halsey. He has the knowledge and connections to transform a great CD into a raving success.

Photography: Nathan Harmon

Nathan Harmon is a wizard behind a camera. As loathe as I'll be to phase out his famous 'footgrab' photo of me (pictured above, obviously), I can't wait to see what he captures for this album.

Design: Moncrief + Rains Design Group

This design duo has completed multiple projects for me over the years, and is already strategizing for this one. They're a complete joy to work with and produce stunning work.

Video & Marketing: Charles Patrick & Co.

This company is my own, so I'll skip the part where I praise it. But if you liked my campaign video, you're going to love what's coming next.

More partnerships soon to be formed.

It's business time.
It's business time.

The Ask

And now to the heart of the matter. I'm asking you to help by backing this campaign and spreading the word. Here's what your support will provide.

Funding

The base $10,000 goal will allow for a modest yet impactful release, complete with full album production, marketing videos, and a concert in Tulsa, OK. An additional $8,000 would fund a full radio promotion campaign, and $7,000 more would go to dedicated PR for print media and strategic performing for music industry professionals. Further funds would enable me to go even further to connect with new audiences through this and my next project.

Sharing

Please share this with everyone you think would be interested and  through every medium you use. Examples include:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Snapchat
  • Email
  • Text
  • Phone call
  • Actual in-person conversation
  • Morse code
  • Carrier pigeon

The End

Thank you for learning about this story, and I hope you'll join me in writing the next chapter!

Thanks for your help, friends.
Thanks for your help, friends.

 

 

 

 

 

Risks and challenges

With the experience of a previous album already released and the music for this one having already been recorded, the risks are few. There is that of failure, but I've failed before and things eventually turned out pretty well. There's also the risk of bigger success than I'm hoping for, but that will be a pretty good problem to have.

One significant question waiting to be answered is that of the album release date. That will depend on the amount of promoting to be done in preparation, which will depend on the funds raised by this campaign and the personnel I can hire for the promoting. I anticipate release by early in the second quarter of 2017, which is why most rewards' delivery is set for April. I appreciate your understanding as that date remains flexible for now.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 1 or more About US$ 1.00

    THE SHOUT-OUT

    Get both a shout-out on my Facebook page and my enduring gratitude!

    Includes:
    • Facebook shout-out
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    3 backers
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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 5 or more About US$ 5

    THE SINGLE

    Download of 'Tiger Rag' as performed first by Art Tatum, then by me.

    Includes:
    • 'Tiger Rag' download
    • Facebook shout-out
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    0 backers
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    Pledge US$ 10 or more About US$ 10

    THE DOWNLOAD

    Download all eleven tracks of The Masters' Apprentice.

    Includes:
    • Album download
    • Facebook shout-out
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    19 backers
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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 15 or more About US$ 15

    THE TICKET

    One ticket to my Tulsa, OK album release concert. Do I know when it will be yet? Not exactly, so select at your own risk. (At least one ticket is also included with all rewards at and above $25).

    Includes:
    • Tulsa, OK release concert ticket
    • Album download
    • Facebook shout-out
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    Limited 17 backers
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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 25 or more About US$ 25

    THE ALBUM

    Physical copy of The Masters' Apprentice, complete with beautiful album artwork and all.

    Includes:
    • Physical album
    • Tulsa, OK release concert ticket
    • Album download
    • Facebook shout-out
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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 41 backers
    $
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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 50 or more About US$ 50

    THE ALBUM + SIGNATURE

    Personalized copy of the physical album. Oh yeah.

    Includes:
    • Signed physical album
    • Tulsa, OK release concert ticket
    • Album download
    • Facebook shout-out
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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 35 backers
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    Pledge US$ 100 or more About US$ 100

    THE COOKIES

    One dozen of my famous chocolate chip cookies. Trust me, they're delicious.

    Includes:
    • One dozen chocolate chip cookies
    • Signed physical album
    • Tulsa, OK release concert ticket
    • Album download
    • Facebook shout-out
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    Ships to Only United States
    Reward no longer available 10 backers
    $
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  8. Reward no longer available

    Pledge US$ 125 or more About US$ 125

    THE COOKIES (Round 2)

    Whoa, these were popular! Get a dozen of my famous chocolate chip cookies.

    Includes:
    • One dozen chocolate chip cookies
    • Signed physical album
    • Tulsa, OK release concert ticket
    • Album download
    • Facebook shout-out
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    Ships to Only United States
    Reward no longer available 4 backers
    $
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    Pledge US$ 150 or more About US$ 150

    THE COOKIES (Round 3)

    Get 'em while they're hot!

    Includes:
    • One dozen chocolate chip cookies
    • Signed physical album
    • Tulsa, OK release concert ticket
    • Album download
    • Facebook shout-out
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    Ships to Only United States
    Reward no longer available 4 backers
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  10. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 175 or more About US$ 175

    THE COOKIES (Round 4)

    And another one.

    Includes:
    • One dozen chocolate chip cookies
    • Signed physical album
    • Tulsa, OK release concert ticket
    • Album download
    • Facebook shout-out
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    Ships to Only United States
    Limited 0 backers
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    Pledge US$ 200 or more About US$ 200

    THE GIF

    Collaborate with me on a custom GIF! (Look at this campaign's updates if you don't know what I'm talking about.)

    Includes:
    • Custom GIF
    • Signed physical album
    • Tulsa, OK release concert ticket
    • Album download
    • Facebook shout-out
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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Reward no longer available 0 backers
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  12. Reward no longer available

    Pledge US$ 250 or more About US$ 250

    THE CREDIT

    Executive Producer credit in the actual album. That's right—your name in the liner notes!

    Includes:
    • Executive Producer credit
    • Signed physical album
    • Tulsa, OK release concert ticket
    • Album download
    • Facebook shout-out
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Reward no longer available 8 backers
    $
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  13. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 300 or more About US$ 300

    THE CREDIT (Round 2)

    Get it while it's hot! Due to popular demand, the Executive Producer credit is back for more.

    Includes:
    • Executive Producer credit
    • Signed physical album
    • Tulsa, OK release concert ticket
    • Album download
    • Facebook shout-out
    Less
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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 3 backers
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  14. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 500 or more About US$ 500

    THE TRANSCRIPTION

    Signed copy of my 'Tiger Rag' transcription. Then you can learn to play it yourself!

    Includes:
    • Signed 'Tiger Rag' transcription
    • Executive Producer credit
    • Signed physical album
    • Tulsa, OK release concert ticket
    • Album download
    • Facebook shout-out
    Less
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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 2 backers
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  15. Select this reward

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

    THE POSTER

    Signed and framed copy of my Tulsa, OK album release concert poster. Hot dog!

    Includes:
    • Signed and framed copy of the album release concert poster
    • Signed 'Tiger Rag' transcription
    • Executive Producer credit
    • Signed physical album
    • Tulsa, OK release concert ticket
    • Album download
    • Facebook shout-out
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    Ships to Only United States
    Limited 0 backers
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  16. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 1,500 or more About US$ 1,500

    THE SPONSORSHIP

    Sponsor one of the marketing videos made for The Masters' Apprentice. Your name will be featured on screen—wow!

    Includes:
    • Video sponsorship
    • Signed 'Tiger Rag' transcription
    • Executive Producer credit
    • Signed physical album
    • Tulsa, OK release concert ticket
    • Album download
    • Facebook shout-out
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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 0 backers
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  17. Select this reward

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

    THE TOUR + MINI-CONCERT

    Tour of my Tulsa, OK practice room/storage unit PLUS a mini-concert for two. Refreshments might even be involved!

    Includes:
    • Tour + mini-concert (available any time after campaign)
    • Signed 'Tiger Rag' transcription
    • Executive Producer credit
    • Signed physical album
    • Tulsa, OK release concert ticket
    • Album download
    • Facebook shout-out
    Less
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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 0 backers
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  18. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 2,500 or more About US$ 2,500

    THE CONCERT

    You provide the piano and people; I'll provide the music (travel expenses from Tulsa, OK not included).

    Includes:
    • Private concert (available any time after campaign)
    • Signed 'Tiger Rag' transcription
    • Executive Producer credit
    • Signed physical album
    • Tulsa, OK release concert ticket
    • Album download
    • Facebook shout-out
    Less
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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 0 backers
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Funding period

- (18 days)