Since I recorded “Song for Bradley Manning” on my iPhone less than two weeks ago it has been viewed many thousands of times. This is a lot more than usual for a song that was recorded badly and has received no radio airplay or media attention aside from the occasional blog. I've been getting emails from lots of people I don't know, which is a very good sign.
I have noticed that the songs and videos of mine and other people's that tend to go viral like that, without the help of conventional media, usually share certain things in common. One is they're songs that speak to people. The other is they're professionally recorded with a good band and they have a professional-quality video to go with them. Also, though independent music is never heard on the commercial airwaves and rarely on the “public” or on syndicated “independent” programs either, if there's any hope of a song breaking that sound barrier, it needs to be professionally recorded.
My business model, such as it is, is to write topical songs, make some kind of recording of them, release them on the web for free and hope that some of the people who hear the songs will want to organize a gig for me when I'm in their area. This model allows me to make a decent enough living, though I can't afford some things like health insurance and, since my daughter was born, I have not been able to afford to make any recordings with a band.
If you go to www.soundclick.com/davidrovics, where I have 248 songs up for free download, you can see that most of the songs to make it into the“Soundclick Top 50” or “Soundclick Top 10” are from the last studio CD I recorded that involved a band, which was in 2006.
I'm happy to live within my means and continue to make inexpensive, generally solo-guitar-and-voice recordings that I put up on the web.
Given the obvious interest in this song, however, I thought I'd put it out there, come what may, that I would be even happier to make a high-quality studio recording of the song with a great bunch of professional musicians and then make a music video to go along with it.
I can't pay for it, though, and there aren't any record labels approaching me about it either, and there won't be. I know that probably half of you reading this also don't have health insurance.
But for those of you with any disposable income, be it $10 or $100 or more, here's my offer, take it or leave it:
Any donations that come in via the “donate” button at www.davidrovics.com (where you can also hear the song in question) by the end of this month will be used next month to make a high-quality recording of the song. This email will be the only effort I will make at raising this money. Here's what I will do with it, depending on how much people donate:
$500 I'll rent an award-winning studio for the day and make a high-quality solo recording
$2,000 I'll rent the studio for two days along with several amazing studio musicians and make a recording of the song with a band
$4,000 I'll hire the studio, the band, and a team of professional cut-rate videographers to make an MTV-quality video in the process
In the unlikely event of more donations than that, I'll hire a publicist to try to get the song some conventional media attention. To make the concept more interesting, anybody who contributes $500 or more gets a complementary house concert next time I'm in your country or region.
Obviously, feel free to share this email with whoever you want to.