Phoenix Rising

Note: The following is a compilation of several posts and some new updates intended for newer readers of this blog.  Much has been written about our new project, Goin’ Home.  If you’ve been following all along, you may find some redundancies here; however, if you’re somewhat new to the project, you’ll find here a summary of events and thoughts that will bring you somewhat up to date.

What if today you could go over to your neighborhood grocery, grab that cart and shop for anything your little ol’ heart desired, then, instead of getting into the checkout line, skip that and just head home with your groceries – steak, shrimp, Haagen Daz, throw in a little Kobe Beef, some chocolate truffles and perchance a tin or two of Almas Caviar.

When you got outside with your overflowing shopping cart, the police would be there, but would just look the other way as you passed by chuckling gleefully, licking your chops.

What a great idea!  Why don’t we do this?  Food should be free!  I think most of us would agree that life would be a lot easier if food were free.

Trouble is, after very little time, maybe the next time we went back to the supermarket, the aisles would be empty, the shelves bare.  “Hey, all the food is gone!” you might cry.  “Well, let’s go back to the farmers and get more,” the store manager would say.

So we’d go to the farmers and say, “Hey farmers, make more food!”  They would respond like this:  “Without getting paid, it’s just too hard.  Sorry, but there’s just no more food.  We’re gonna go do something else.”

Well, essentially that’s what just happened to the music business – except for one problem.  Of course the farmers equal the artists in this little analogy and the artists, who love to make music, are still saying, “Oh cool, you like my music? You actually want to listen to my music?  OK, I’ll give it to you for free!”

So it’s gonna take a little time before this situation is righted.  Give the starving artists a chance to really starve.   Then they won’t be able to make any more music no matter how much they love to do it.  Cuz we all gotta eat!

We are, today, living in that era of empty aisles and starving artists.  The music business has collapsed under the weight of horrible leadership. (The four majors ignored the power of the Internet for so long that now they’ve missed the boat.) File sharing and outright stealing have become the norm for millions of young people.

The unfair treatment of artists by the companies has long been legendary (the companies themselves would always make back all their investment before the artists ever saw a cent of their royalties), and now development money has completely dried up as both the major record labels and the indies struggle for survival.  Where would the pharmaceutical industry be without research and development?  Nowhere.

That’s the old record business.

But all is not lost.  Never before in the history of the world has music been more proliferate.  Everywhere we turn, there is music.  “The day the music died” is a virtual impossibility.  Music is simply that much a part of the human consciousness.

So, as part of the natural order of things, a new world emerges.  Out of the ashes of the old one rise new ideas, a more fair treatment of the artists by now paying royalties on first dollar earned, and a cutting edge approach to new ways of approaching fans and customers.

It is a renaissance time in which the artist is now asked to be both business person and artist.  Not only must he be able to play his guitar, but he must also be able to understand the constantly changing evolution of the Internet and its powers.

In most cases today, the artist must be his or her own investor, marketing department, graphics designer, videographer, accounting department and retail store.  Selling from their own websites, many artists have almost been able to accomplish the near impossible.  Where most fail is on the all-important level of promotion.  By the time the new music is finished, mastered and manufactured, there usually just isn’t enough money left to promote the product.

So the music sells to a few friends and family and sits quietly on a website among millions of other sites that perhaps receives a hundred hits a month, if they’re lucky.  And the music languishes on a virtual shelf.

One thing we know for sure: Acts who tour, sell.  Acts who don’t, don’t.  So we must tour.  Touring is expensive, however, and the money is gone.  Often, many artists don’t even get to this point, running out of money before the CD is actually completed.  It’s a frustrating scenario.

However, now there is the hope of companies like Kickstarter.com and Indiegogo.com, on-line companies where artists and entrepreneurs with creative projects can raise money through crowd-funding from leagues of possible friends and supporters from around the world.

We are exploring this very real possibility right now with a new CD, Goin’ Home – On Heaven and Beyond to be released in November of 2011 and promises to be an in-depth look at a subject that many of us spend most of our lives avoiding.  Here is a joyful, sometimes funny, sometimes poignant, exploration of the transition from this world to the next.  It’s really a celebration of eternal life.

The CD’s purpose is to open our eyes to the timelessness of our future.  The vision is to take an open-eyed look at an eventuality we all will face one day and face it head on.

The music is drawn from both original compositions, and also from the rich tradition of beloved Spiritual songs and Gospel lyrics from the past hundred years of the American songbook.

Great traditional songs like In Dat Great Gittin’ Up Mornin’, When The Saints Go Marchin In, the title song, Goin’ Home, with Antonín Dvo?ák’s timeless melody, and even Spiritual classics, I Ain’t Gonna Grieve My Lord No More and I Got A Robe all receive new fresh approaches and orchestrations and tremendous performances by a powerful cast of New York session vocalists and guest artists.

The choir alone is worth the price of purchase.  Led by double gold album R&B/Gospel vocalist, Jenny Burton, it’s performers comprise an ‘A’ list of world-class back-up singers who have sung with just about every major star in the music business – from Celine Dion to Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Sting, Bobby McFerrin and even Luciano Pavarotti.  The list goes on and on.

They are flawlessly organized by vocal arranger, Margaret Dorn, (Bette Midler, Jennifer Lopez, Carly Simon, Michael McDonald, Garth Brooks, Diana Ross) and together create a sound that blends with both a rich meticulous warmth and also can get up and shout down the rafters when needed.  They are: Angela Clemmons, Keith Fluitt, John James, Kevin Osborne, Catherine Russell, Vaneese Thomas and Darryl Tookes.

Guest artists joining this gathering of superb talent include: Julia Wade, who with seven Inspirational solo CDs under her belt is Watchfire Music’s best-selling recording artist, Tom Tipton, who served for 29 years as a soloist at Reverend Robert H. Schuler’s internationally famous Crystal Cathedral and has sung for four U.S. Presidents, Barry Danielian, one of New York City’s most in-demand session players recording with such pop notables as Celine Dion, Paul Simon, Bon Jovi, Ricky Martin, and James Taylor, and AHMIR, the #1 most popular R&B group on YouTube with over 50 million views.

We also close the CD with a new song recently penned by Grammy award winning songwriter, Julie Gold, best known for Bette Midler’s version of her song From A Distance which won the Grammy for Song of the Year in 1991.  Come To Me As A Bird is a heartbreakingly beautiful new song that is sure to capture the imagination of millions.

Watchfire Music, www.watchfiremusic.com , an Inspirational music company and on-line store, will release this CD and be the machinery behind the product.  Without the machinery, it’s pretty much a dead end road no matter how talented you are.  That machinery is almost in place.  The company is now in the black and running off earnings and no longer investor monies.

However, we’re not a rich organization.  We have to find special funding for special projects.  This new Kickstarter concept is most interesting to us because we have such a loyal and appreciative customer base.  We receive letters every day from people around the world expressing their gratitude.

With the projected Kickstarter money we will hire an Internet publicist, who knows these new and far less expensive ropes very well.  We have little overhead.  We run our company from virtual offices in four cities across the country over Skype, the Internet and email with a little telephone thrown in.”

It’s a different world, but I truly believe we’re on the cutting edge of it.  The Internet is the new way and we’re using it and understanding it.  It’s an exciting new Phoenix rising that fascinates me every day.”

So, once again we mount another CD, another show, but with a stronger machinery behind us.  With the success of Watchfire Music over these past 6 years during the roughest period in the history of the music business, we have been able to put together a strong on-line presence, a smoothly working delivery system to tens of thousands of loyal customers and have an Inspirational record company and on-line store to back this project.

Let’s be honest here, however.  The future of the music business, with all the file sharing and “free music” concepts, is a very tough road ahead.  The Internet is the new Tower Records and the hope is that this new and challenging world will provide a new start and a better way.

We’re small, but nimble – perhaps not yet a supermarket, but rather an elegant deli finding it’s way through this new world.

A three-city tour and subsequent Internet webcasts of the live performances are in the planning stages for 2012.

To find out more go to:

http://kck.st/o9vUvR

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