Mulling over money

So, as mentioned in much earlier posts - I'm hoping to complete the Gallay Trilogy with a recording of the Gallay opera fantasias, more about this anon I'm sure...

In a way I've been working through these discs in an economical fashion - starting with the solo works which is probably the cheapest place to start, this though was made a lot easier in having the support of the wonderful Finzi Scholarship which didn't finance the disc but did finance the preparation for it. The next disc involved co-opting my marvellous friends and colleagues in Les Chevaliers de Saint Hubert for the quartet and trios. This got slotted in amongst other work we had in France near a very good venue recommended by our top notch sound engineer

Throughout these other projects, at the back of my head was the possibility of recording some of the Gallay opera fantasias. These works are hardly known of as much of the music is not available or even known about. Much digging in archives and libraries around the world plus many hours work in producing new editions of all these works have meant that a new wealth of nineteenth century works for horn and piano have been rediscovered.

These works are typical of both Gallay's compositions and style of horn playing, mixing incredibly virtuosic music with beautifully lyrical melodies deeply influenced by his position as solo horn of the Parisian Theatre Italien. In many ways these works represent a "missing link" in today's repertoire for horn illustrating a sizeable body of works that come between the classical concerti and sonatas of Mozart/Haydn/Beethoven and their contemporaries and the later nineteenth century Romantic tradition typified by Franz and Richard Strauss.

These charming and entertaining works are still capable of captivating audiences in the 21st century and by recording the music and publishing editions of the works I hope to help renew interest in this important period of musical history.

To date we've got an excellent team together, both with musicians, the producer/engineer and technician for the piano plus a great venue and perfect instruments for the period. Period pianos can be hard to source, tune and move. Venues with good acoustics and no risk of external noise don't come cheap. Accommodation, travel, food to eat, all mount up. All this means that to do this last disc is going to cost a far bit when all is added up. We'll be looking at the region of £10,000 and that's with a number of people giving their services for free (controversial at the best of times).

Recently, many artists have turned to crowd funding to raise the much needed capital for projects such as recordings. At the moment a fabulous Australian ensemble, Ironwood, are in the middle of such a campaign on Pozible. This group is doing really innovative, ground breaking work, especially in 19th century performance practice. I was lucky enough to work with them recently and part of the funding they're trying to raise will be to support a recording project with them so I'm keeping everything crossed that they reach their target.

I'm currently investigating running a Kickstarter campaign. I've spent the last few days coming up with the bumpf and the all important "rewards". Actually this part I've found quite fun - I've divided the rewards into four categories:

  • Thanks! (quite self explanatory, a donation of £5 gets a thank you email and a track of music working up to donations of £100 getting a thank you in the sleeve notes.
  • Hear the music Various options giving donors advance downloads or advanced copies of the new recording through to snazzy "deluxe" boxed editions of the three Gallay CDs plus the Bate Collection recording. I'm a real sucker for elegant packaging so I'm having great fun playing with ideas for this. Ribbons? Deluxe boxed set would also come with a personal thank you in the sleeve notes.
  • Play the music. Having done all the research, found all the source materials, made all the editions so that we have the dots for the recording, it would be great to share the music with other musicians. So there are various options to buy sheet music of these works. Like the boxed editions above I've been looking at the various options of getting the music properly printed as it'd be nice to have good editions rather than something dashed off on the home printer. I'm also contemplating getting a small factory line going at home and making some really good hosepipe horns (in F at A440) - inspired a little by the success of the P-bone so people can buy the music then have an "instrument" to try it out on!
  • Meet the artists. This has been a fun one to plot! Need to check a few logistical things but we've got options from horn lessons, drinks with the musicians after one of our concerts in 2015, attending one of the recording sessions, through to a private concert at the donors house. But my favourite one here is a possible event involving the wonderful Bate Collection and afternoon tea...
Having dreamt all that up (and gone through to make sure none of the rewards cost so much that they end up negating any donations) I've now spent some time playing with the Kickstarter website plus a bit more time coming up with a emailout for it.

But the big question is this - Kickstarter and their ilk work on the premise that the campaign only gets money if the target is reached. I'm hoping that this is a campaign that will attract the horn playing fraternity and hopefully other music lovers. But with more and more people running these sorts of things have we reached saturation point? Is it like the frequent emails we all receive from our very well meaning, athletic, friends and colleagues running another marathon for a deserving course? It looks like social media and "reach" (how many people you're connected to on Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn etc etc) play a big part in crowd funding - but is it not like a lot of social/political/fundraising things you see on social media i.e. people are trigger happy clicking "like" for things but rarely follow through with a real life action? 

Either way - it's been a long day of beautiful Mozart in Copenhagen, teaching an enthusiastic Masters student, and then looking at a computer screen for way too long trying to figure out funding. At the moment I'm going to sleep on it a bit but in the meantime would be fascinated to know of other's experience with crowd funding - either as artists themselves running a campaign or as potential philanthropists!