It's true, I will release 3 albums with a total of 21 songs (27 counting instrumental interludes) in a nine month period starting this fall...but I can only do this with YOUR help.
(Fun fact: I'm obsessed with the numbers 3 & 7 and their multiples. It's borderline crazy, just watch...)
Over the next 70 days I am partnering with this site, Kickstarter.com, and will attempt to raise $7,500 to release these three albums, complete with string ensemble, band, choir, and other interesting surprises, all telling the story of the two young lovers in London during the Second World War (more on that below). Your support will give me enough financial backing to pay the musicians (this economy has been really rough on my poor string players and musicians, they need it!). I also need to pay for record engineering, PR and marketing, visual artists and in the end have professionally produced and digital and CD (maybe even a vinyl release...) works of art. And as a thank you for your donation you will get rewards! You will also be able to watch the whole thing unfold from special video updates I'll be making throughout the whole process and possibly even able to participate yourself. YOU will be my record label.
$7,500 may sound like a lot of money but this is a drop in the bucket compared to what most albums cost to produce, especially one with this amount of depth. Plus I've already and will continue to put up much of my own money to make this happen, but I'm only one guy, I can't do this by myself, I need you. I wouldn’t take on a project of this magnitude unless I thought we could make this happen! I just need everyone's participation. The songs are WRITTEN, the string parts are nearly FINISHED, everything ready to GO! This is the next step! However, if we don't raise $7,500 in 70 days, your donation will be returned to you, I will get nothing, and the albums may never be made!
So why do it this way? Things in the music business aren't like they used to be. Big record labels are dying out. For artists like me, the positives are more creative freedom, more avenues for us to be heard, and the ability for us to make a living from our music (I'm not there yet!) The negative of this, however, is that fewer and fewer labels are willing to fund the recording sessions for artists, and nobody so far has wanted to take on this concept. Believe me, I have stories. Here's one: I was invited out to a fancy meal in L.A. by an industry exec, we'll call him Mr. M, who seemed really interested in and excited by what I'm doing. Once we finished eating our fancy meal, he promptly told me that he loved my songs but this concept of multiple albums and a story would never make it in this day and age and that I should be writing 'hit' singles for myself and his artists. I kindly thanked him for the meal.
I disagree with Mr. M, I know these albums can definitely work, especially these days! Think of all the in-depth, multi-part things we're into these days: television shows (Lost, Mad Men), books (Harry Potter, Dan Brown books), and movies (many of the new 'franchise' movies), yes these are 'pop' examples, but you get my point. And music no different. Sure, simple 'hit' singles have their place and always will, but so do in-depth, multi-part albums. Help make this happen, and make them as big as I hope they can be, so I can send them to Mr. M and show him that the record industry doesn't have to be just one way.
So the album's story. Well I don't want to give too much away, but it all revolves around a love affair between a young American man and English girl during WWII. The songs tell of their meeting, falling in love, unfortunate separation, their emotions ups, downs, triumphs and struggles all while trying to stay alive in one of the darkest times in history. Parts of the story are actually taken from or give a nod to actual stories of Americans in London, WWII, and classic seemingly star-crossed love stories. Ok, that's all I'm going to say right now.
The first album did quite well and I did that one for $2,000. I was WYEP's Pittsburgh Artist of the Year, lots of favorable album reviews and I toured US colleges from one coast to the other, playing with their string sections along the way (pretty cool). Now it's time to do something bigger, and I can only do this with your help.
As I said, with every donation there is a reward in return, look over to the right and see. This can range from advanced copies of the albums (so you can hear it before anyone else does!) to having your name in the albums themselves, to a private performance with myself and the Symphony for you and your friends! There are different levels of donations, a lot of really cool rewards, and the more you donate the more you will get in return! However, if we do not raise the full $7,500 by September 3rd, I will get nothing, your donation will be returned to you, no rewards will be had and the story of the lovers in London will never be told (sad!).
I believe in you! YOU are my record label and together we can make this music and break new ground in the music industry. Let's make our mark!
Thank you, thank you, thank you,
Ben Hardt (and the Symphony)
- (70 days)