Clearing The Air
Hey guys, I wanted to clear the air about some things.
You may or may not know, but there has been a lot of speculation and hearsay about what will happen to the money we raise over our 30k goal to put this record out. Some of that speculation has been hate-filled, and some of it has been legitimate concern, so I wanted to address this issue and move on.
Our band has had a tough year. For the first time since 2005 we found ourselves without a label, we lost a guitar player (for good reason, he wanted to make a living for his wife and new daughter and realized that music wasn't going to do that for him), and we were left wondering if it would be feasible to continue The Classic Crime. Then we saw a few old label-mates (Showbread, Thousand Foot Krutch, Project 86) successfully fund records using Kickstarter. It gave us hope. We really wanted to continue the tradition of putting out great sounding records with thoughtful production that people could take new and different things from with each listen. For us to do that, we needed a decent budget. We couldn't skimp, because we believed our fans deserved our best. While on Tooth & Nail, we were blessed with record budgets over double what we asked for in our Kickstarter (30k), but we believed we could get similar quality, as well as print the T-Shirts, CD's, get the album art designed, and send all the stuff out within that 30k budget.
We were blown away when we received the full funding in 24 hours. I felt so energized by our fan base. We'd given the project 35 days, in hopes that it would be enough time to get what we needed to bring the best record to our fans. But here we were, with 30k in a day, and 34 days left to raise money. Suddenly we were at 35k, and I was excited. I wanted to give back to our fans who were supporting us, so I proposed on Facebook that if we broke 40k we would go on a two week tour. We need to fix up our van (about $2500) and buy a new trailer (about $2500) and we wanted to make a video and do some marketing to, so we figured that would take care of the extra 10k. My attempt to give back with touring was blown out of context. A group of people who were not our fans started posting lies on our Facebook, saying things like, "40k for a two week tour? You are a F'ing ridiculous and you're taking advantage of people" etc, among other terrible things. They wouldn't stop, and at this moment they continue to conspire against us. They questioned our recording budget, questioned our touring costs, and claimed that we were simply trying to line our pockets and take advantage of people.
It was an all out smear-campaign. I can honestly say that I've never felt so elated from the success of our Kickstarter yet so bogged down by the negativity at the same time. I felt like some of these rogue haters were trying to convince our fans that our motives weren't pure, that all we wanted to do was take advantage of them. I got really angry. I tried to fight back, to address every insult, and I realize now it was the wrong thing to do.
It all started from one guy who claimed that our Music Lovers Package was ludicrous, that it was a "slap in the face" that we would charge $100 for a vinyl. He apparently runs a vinyl record label, and he said it should only be $15. I told him it was a collectors item, that we were only printing 200, and that those 200 people would get their names in the vinyl packaging as "Executive Producers" (on top of that they would get a signed CD, 7 old demos from before Albatross, and a digital copy of the album 2 weeks before it's release date). I thought it was a cool deluxe package, and at the time 55 people had purchased it, thinking the same thing. I said if he wanted just the music, it was $10, and he was welcome to not support us if he felt the packages were unfair. He continued with a slew of insults, and I disengaged with him. He then went on to rally all of his friends (apparently some people in a band called "Mixtapes"?) to post hateful comments in an attempt to sabotage our campaign. He even went to the greatest length, pledging to purchase our 10k (ridiculous and hilarious package) in order to visibly boost our overall funds raised, so that people would assume we were going to do a 4-week tour and stop backing us. His goal is to cancel right before the campaign is over. I've attached proof of a twitter conversation with one of his friends, discussing the in's and out's of their plot. Can you imagine what these dudes could for good if they put their energy into it? They're wonderful organizers... it just seems like such a waste.
I want to say that part of me finds this pretty funny. Why would someone hate us for having fans that love us? If a fan sees a package and wants it, then purchases it, why would somebody hate that? It's ridiculous. This isn't charity, nobody is giving us anything. People are purchasing products. If my favorite band told me for $100 I could have 1 of 200 custom vinyls of their new record with my name in it, I would jump on that deal, but I do agree that you have to be a fan to find value in it. These people aren't fans so they don't see the value, I get that. But to hate on us because of it? That's just... beyond anything I can comprehend.
I truly believe that whenever you try to do something for good, the forces of evil will rise up against you. The greater the thing you attempt to do for good, the greater the opposition. All of the greatest things happen out of extreme conflict. I'm not saying that a few trolls raining on our parade is extreme conflict, but I take comfort in the fact that if the forces of evil want to destroy this project, then it has to have the potential to do something for good. Our music has always been on the side of good. Not on our own accord, but because we've been blessed in that regard. I just read a great book by Steven Pressfield called "The War of Art." In it, he says that whenever you try to take a risk and do what you're supposed to do, your calling, Resistance is there to meet you. I consider this episode as a bout of Resistance.
For those who think we haven't jumped through the right hoops and don't deserve such a successful Kickstarter campaign. I'll offer you this:
We did our first tour in 2004. It was a DIY tour, in Montana. It was awesome. From 2004-2007 we slept in Wal-Mart parking lots, took wet-wipe showers in truck stops, lived on nothing, and amassed tens of thousands in debt, all for the sake of bringing our music to the few people who would listen. Then we got smart, built bunks into the back of our van, learned to live on $10 per diem per day, and we did Warped Tour 2006 in a van. If you know anything about Warped Tour, you know you don't do it in a van. I remember the guys in Emery saying, "Don't do it in a van, dude, it'll break up your band." We did it, and we almost broke up, but we made it. Sweaty, sleepless nights in 100 degree weather, driving 8 hours through the night to make it to the 9am load in, only to spend all day in the blistering sun, pack up around 11pm and do it again. We went a little crazy, but in that struggle I believe we were formed into better people. The idea that we need to sleep at The Hilton and are trying to live some posh lifestyle is ridiculous. 95% of the tours we've ever done have barely broke even. The most we've paid out from a 6 week tour is $500 per member for the entire tour. I remember getting that cash at the end of the tour and saying, "Sweet!" I felt rich.
Point being, for us to leave our jobs and our families and head out on the road again, we're going to need some assurance that if the tour barely breaks even (which we expect it to) that we will not come home completely empty handed. We want to budget in some sort of payout. Not to line our pockets, but to supplement the $500 a week we could have been making in our restaurant and catering jobs at home. I especially need this, because I have a wife and child that are COMPLETELY dependent on me. I just can't tour for free anymore, and I think I speak for all of us when I say: Been there, done that, don't want to do it again.
Demystifying the money: So to explain my FB post about when we hit 40k we can do a two week tour, 50k we can do a four week, and 60k a six week, this is what I meant: For the two week tour, we need to fix our van and get a trailer, thats at least 5k. We also want to spend some on marketing and making a video, thats the other 5k. We'd essentially do a two week tour and break even, just to show our gratitude to our Kickstarter backers. The next 10k would be for a 4 week tour. That means 20 shows. Assuming we break even again, we'd be able to split the 10k at the end of the 20 shows, that's $500 a show between 4 people. That's $125 a show. This is assuming we don't have to pay a merch guy or a tour manager probably around $500 plus a week, which we'd probably want to do anyways. Basically, at the end of the month, we'd be able to come home with $2500 a piece, maximum, if all other expenses break even. Now lets say we stayed out on the road all year at that rate, we'd end up taking home, for a years work full time, $30,000 a piece BEFORE taxes. Now, we know we'll never be able to tour for a year at this rate, but after the government took it's 15%, we'd be looking at $25,500, which is right above the federal poverty line for families. So if all went absurdly well, and we were able to tour all year round based on our Kickstarter model, we'd still be making pretty close to the poverty line. Not exactly lining our pockets.
I know people will argue with that, and that's fine. People will say we can cut costs, be more streamline, or that it's a lot of money etc. We get that, but realistically, we've decided we can't tour in good conscience for free anymore. It needs to suppliment the income of our lowly day jobs. If that bums out our critics, we're sorry. I know our backers think otherwise.
I want to end this with our fans. You guys have stuck with us through thick and thin for almost 10 years, and you have been a constant blessing in our lives. We love you, and we're sorry that this thing has stirred up so much drama. Like I said, I take refuge in the fact that this record obviously has value for good for Resistance to want to squash it so badly. We will press onwards towards our goal. We will complete the mission for which we are called. You will all be rewarded for your faith and support. We love you more than you know,