Welcome to The West Coast Jazz of George Kahn
The "Cover Up" Recording Session
Mark Berndt is an amazing photographer and graphic artist - he has
designed and/or done the photos for many of my CDs (Out Of Time,
…Compared To What
and Cover Up).
Here is a wonderful collection of rare photos from the
Cover Up sessions, featuring Brian Bromberg, Alex Acuna,
Justo Almario, John Fumo and Courtney Lemmon.
Cover Up! session photos
Deep In The Kickstarter Trenches - Part 6
Posted: 15 July 2014, 7:05 am - SECRETS FROM THE JAZZ GHETTO
The Jazz & Blues Revue 40-day Kickstarter campaign ended on Friday July 11, at 2:00 PM. It was a resounding success: we hit our goal of $18,000 on Monday July 7, and by Friday we ended up with 250 backers pledging $19,818. I am still a bit in awe of the accomplishment - we were able to raise almost $20,000 to create an album of jazz and blues music that would never be considered by the major record labels - and I didn't even have to call in my "rich uncle" at the last minute.
This is Part 6 of a blog I started to document the actual process of going through a successful Kickstarter campaign. There are countless guides you can find that teach you how to create a crowd funding campaign, but I think this may be the first one that carries you through the process. In the end we hit and actually exceeded our number by 10%. The dust has finally settled a little. It is time to reflect on what I actually LEARNED from this experience
1. Set a goal that is a stretch, but is doable.
Kickstarter gives you very good stats before and during the process. One thing I read is the average Kickstarter donation comes out to be around $75. So I figured that to hit our goal of $18,000, we would need at least 240 backers. I felt certain that, between my fan base and the singers fan base, we must have 240 people that would step up to the plate. In the end, we had 250 backers that pledged $19,818 or an average pledge of $79.27 each. Creating a viable and realistic financial goal lets you finish strong.
2. Timing is everything
In researching crowd funding, I knew that the dates we chose for our campaign would matter. It had to fit the schedule of the band. It had to end on the right day, and not get clobbered by holiday weekends. We all had to be available for a final push during the last week. I wanted to schedule parties and events during the campaign. Nothing can be left to chance.
3. Create scarcity
Limiting the number of people that can get certain rewards make then more valuable. This especially helps with the large rewards - big backers want to feel special!
4. All or nothing works
There are other funding sites that are not date specific, and others that let you keep part of the money, even if you don't hit your full goal. Kickstarter's "all or nothing" approach is scary, but very effective. It creates urgency. It let's people know you are serious, and if you don't hit your goal they get their money back and don't get stuck with a credit card bill for an inferior product. And people love to be heroes - people wanted to be the one to help us hit $10,000, or be the one to push us over the $18,000 goal.
5. Set aside time to do the work
Don't let anyone tell you otherwise - fundraising is hard work. I probably averaged 2-3 hours a day to make this happen. It was challenging, exhausting and so rewarding, not just financially.
6. Make it fun
If it ain't fun, then why do this? We created some really fun rewards, we scheduled Kickstarter parties during the 40 days, and we even scheduled a club gig the last night of our campaign. Talk about commitment! I figured we would both hit our goal and have an incredible celebration, or we would have a gig that was very depressing - and no one wanted that to happen!
7. Give Thanks
Keeping in contact with all the backers during the campaign was important, but now it is even more important to touch base and thank them for making our dream a reality. We really could not have done this without their support. The final project is months from completion, but now is the time to thank them and keep them in the loop. These 250 people are going to be our advocates when the final album arrives!
54 hours to go - Momentum is on our side now...
Posted: 9 July 2014, 7:57 am - SECRETS FROM THE JAZZ GHETTO
Success often happens when you just lean into it
when you leave yourself open to opportunities
without a contract or any expectations.
Like the snowball that continues to grow as it rolls downhill,
leaning into it creates momentum.
Momentum is that unseen energy force that brings more opportunity
more people who can help you on your path as it unfolds.
38 years ago I threw my electric piano and all my belongings into a Dodge van,
and drove to Los Angeles to be a professional musician.
I had no job, no contract
I just leaned into the dream
I did not know then that my real purpose
was to help people with my knowledge, creativity and organizational skills
to build better lives
and that leaning into my dream
would lead me to a successful banking career
8 self-released jazz albums
a published book
and a wonderful wife and family.
You lean into it
You see how it feels
The journey will take you where you want to go - or even someplace better.
We Made It! Still 3 days left to pre-order the Jazz & Blues Revue CD
Posted: 8 July 2014, 8:39 am - SECRETS FROM THE JAZZ GHETTO
"You can never learn less; you can only learn more. The reason I know is because I have made so many mistakes."
Many people fail to take action because they are afraid to fail.
But if we look at each mistake as a lesson to learn,
then the failure is really just part of the learning process.
Mistakes are just opportunities for learning something new
and if I continue to
if I am willing to fail and learn
then success will come eventually.
Deep In The Kickstarter Trenches - Part 5
Posted: 6 July 2014, 2:27 pm - SECRETS FROM THE JAZZ GHETTO
The Jazz & Blues Revue is now 35 days into our 40-day Kickstarter campaign: Four days left. We just hit $15,891. It feels like an amazing achievement, but we still have $2,109 to go to meet our goal. And, since Kickstarter is an "all or nothing" fundraising site, we have to still hit the $18,000 number or it all turns to dust.
I remember having a discussion with the band members months ago, when we were planning our launch. How high should we set our target? When I ran the numbers, I felt it would be realistic to set the target at $18,000, since Amazon and Kickstarter take almost 10% of the total in fees. So our $18,000 goal is really only a $16,200 budget, and I knew that producing and manufacturing the album of 13 songs would cost at least that. I did not want to short-change the process in the hopes of hitting a lesser goal. We set it at $18,000, and I am still confident that in the next 5 days we can raise $18,000.
Are there moments of panic? Absolutely. Is there fear and embarrassment? You bet. But there is no time to waste on doubt and false evidence that appears real. It is time for action.
By the time you read this, our project will be ending (it ends on Friday July 11,2014 at 2:00 PM in the afternoon), and I know it will be successful. Why do I know? Read these last lessons I learned during the process:
1. Stay Positive
I am not a big fan of positive affirmations - I think there is a fine line between always being positive and being delusional. But I think it is important to surround yourself with positive, like-minded individuals, so at times like this listening to Brian Tracy, W. Clement Stone or Jack Canfield can't hurt. My favorite book to listen to this week is "The Success Principles" by Jack Canfield, the founder of the "Chicken Soup For the Soul" Books. I listen to it while I drive, and I always come home with a new idea to promote our campaign.
2. It's Time To Delegate
We are the smartest. We are the best. We are unique. Only we know how to talk to our fans.
Time is running out - it is time to lose this lie. A lot of what you do to promote yourself (emails, tweets, Facebook posts) could easily be delegated to a minimum-wage employee with some simple directions. So what are you waiting for?
What is your highest and best use during the next 5 days? (HINT: It is item #3 on this list). It is time to hire a friend or a high school or college student to work for minimum wage, sending one last email to everyone in your database that has not donated to the campaign yet.
3. The 10 Most Likely People
If you are like me, you have been putting off the difficult "fundraising" phone calls. Time's UP! People want to get on board your project, and they are just waiting for a little nudge from you. Look at the "backer report" from Kickstarter, and compare it to your list of best/most financially well-off fans. Who's missing? Make a list of the 10 most likely people to donate at a high level to your campaign and then call them first thing in the morning. The missing money is just waiting for you to ask.
4. Everyone can use a "rich uncle" to help out.
Everyone needs a "Plan B". You don't want to get to the last day and be a dollar short. My attitude from the very beginning was if we could get close, I would make it happen. I can't disappoint the 175+ people that believe in our project and already donated money. I believe in the album to the extent that, if need be, I will beg or borrow the money to get across the finish line (I draw the line at stealing). In my case I have a "rich uncle" I can call if I need to at the last minute, ready to help. If you don't have an uncle like that, and you believe in your project, you might want to check your credit card limits, and see where you can borrow the money from to get it done. *NOTE: This is not the opinion of Kickstarter, or anyone else - Kickstarter does not allow you to donate to your own project to reach your goal. Just sayin'...
I still love the Kickstarter platform - I feel like we would not be where we are today without the help and support of the people at Kickstarter.com. Next week, when the dust settles and we total up our winning tally, I will post one more blog to wrap up this adventure.
Play Big! - 7 days to go on Kickstarter...
Posted: 3 July 2014, 6:53 am - SECRETS FROM THE JAZZ GHETTO
Bigger is not always better.
Sometimes bigger is just bigger.
Look at GM. Look at Chrysler.
Look at Six Flags - this company grew to be the biggest operator of amusement parks in the US. They declared bankruptcy a couple of weeks ago.
There is a difference between getting big and playing big.
You can buy things to get big -
- Playing big is an internal game.
You can consume things to get big
- Playing big is a state of mind.
You can acquire things to get big.
- Playing big builds on your unique ability.
Today I choose to play big. I was not put on this earth to play small.
Playing small does not serve me or others. I can shine my light, turn on my high beams. I have so much to give!
I love to play big, surrounding myself with people that help pull me up to the next level.
Marianne Williamson said, "And as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same".
And if I can't play big here, well it must be time to find a better playground!
Deep in The Kickstarter Trenches, Part 4
Posted: 28 June 2014, 9:37 am - SECRETS FROM THE JAZZ GHETTO
The Jazz & Blues Revue
is now 27 days into our 40-day Kickstarter campaign
. Yesterday we crossed the $11,000 mark on our way to the $18,000 goal.
We are 62% funded, and with only 13 days to go the pressure is on.
My back is aching from too many hours on the Internet, sending emails, posting blogs, sharing in groups. But I feel a sense of calm. The events of the last week have made me more certain that we will reach our goal in the next 2 weeks.
Part of actualizing the result is having a complete vision of the final product. This week I interviewed (and booked) a Grammy-award winning studio in Los Angeles for the recording session, started confirming the musicians and the album art. As they say, "What you think about you talk about, and what you talk about you bring about." The more complete the picture, the easier it is to bring it to reality.
Four weeks in, and more lessons:
1. Engage - engage - engage
Remember that people are not just buying a product; they are participating in an experience.
Our job is to engage people in the process of creating the project, raising awareness of WHY we are doing what we are doing.
Continuing to write this blog, sending a personal thank you email to each backer, and posting regular updates on Kickstarter are all part of that process.
The most "out of the box" idea: Posting short videos on YouTube, answering people's question about the project (Here is one I posted, answering the question "What ARE you going to do with all this money?" http://youtu.be/ven1RG2yFak
Next week's video is going to be a visit to the recording studio!
As Captain Pickard on Star Trek says "Make it so - ENGAGE!"
2. One more time to go wide, and then we have to go deep, and ASK
I had read that when you do a Kickstarter project there is usually a lull in donations in the middle of the campaign, and we have experienced that this last week. Next week is the first of the month, so it is time to send out my monthly newsletter to the whole database - one last blast to remind people to get on board. After that, with 10 days left it will be time for the final push. This will involve real targeted marketing.
There are people in our database that we know planned to donate, and they have not done it yet. Some people are waiting until the end, so they can be the "hero" and come to the rescue. That time is now!
There are people that we know that have the financial capability to donate at a sizable level if they choose to. Its time to reach out to them, and actually ask them to pledge at one of the higher levels - as an executive producer or to hire the band for a future event they may be planning. Someone really famous once said, "Ask and it will be given to you", and my Uncle Moe once said, "If you don't ask, you don't get!"
3. Keep the energy up
We have a new slogan, posted on the refrigerator:
"All I ask of you is to greet each day with a level of exuberance never before witnessed by mankind."
Deep In The Kickstarter Trenches - Part 3
Posted: 22 June 2014, 12:12 pm - SECRETS FROM THE JAZZ GHETTO
Lessons learned in the middle of a Kickstarter Campaign
By George Kahn
The Jazz & Blues Revue
is now 21 days into our 40-day Kickstarter campaign
. We have reached the half-way mark, and we are basically on track, having raised almost exactly half of our $18,000 goal.
We are close enough that I am confident we are going to hit or exceed the mark, and make our album. I am now starting to finalize plans for the completed project. This is the fun part: scoping out recording studios that we can use for the album, and interviewing people to do the album and poster design.
We are not there yet, and the energy needed to make it to the finish line on July 11 is daunting. This last week brought some new revelations, as well as some lessons that you may find helpful in your crowd-funding adventure. Here are the four biggest "A-Ha"s of this week
1. Keep people involved in the experience
Now that we have over 100 backers, it is important to keep these people involved and committed to the project. Kickstarter gives you a really simple system to send updates to your backers, either as a group or individually. Each week I have sent individual thank you messages to new backers. Now I am also sending out group emails as I research the studios, and add new "rewards" for people who support our project. Remember - people aren't just pre-ordering a product. They are buying an EXPERIENCE, not just a disc of songs.
2. Keep the web page fresh
This week we added two rewards by special request. One was a way for people outside the US to order our music, and the second was a chance to have the Jazz & Blues Revue sing you a "Happy Birthday" message. People who visited the site requested both of these, so I knew there was a need that I could fill. Adding rewards, or posting more pictures or answers to FAQ's (frequently asked questions) keeps the site fresh, and gives you a reason to tell people to visit again. The master of this idea is Muertos (Dayof the Dead Playing Cards) . Throughout his campaign, Steve Minty kept adding product, photos and videos as they hit new targets. His original goal was to raise $13,000, and in the end he had 2,793 backers and raised over $159,700.
3. Keep people engaged OFF the internet, as well
Our music (a living history of Jazz & Blues music from the 1940's to the 21st Century) attracts people of all ages, but honestly, a lot of our fans are older and not as plugged in to Facebook and the Internet. This week has been a lot of outreach into the "physical" world - passing out flyers at networking events, meeting people for lunch and asking them to participate, etc. Today we have another house party where we will play our music and have iPads set up for people that want to donate. I have also found that many people love our Kickstarter site, but do not feel comfortable pledging money on the Internet, even when Amazon.com handles the "back office". So I have set up alternative ways that people can donate without having to create a Kickstarter log in, or deal with the Internet at all. We keep a log of the donations, and a list of their respective rewards. Then one of our band members "pledges" the money, so it shows in our Kickstarter totals.
4. There is no "Magic Bullet"
Somehow I had the belief that "crowd-funding" and "viral marketing" meant that I could post a great project, tell a few key people, and then somehow the Internet would work its magic and suddenly hundreds of total strangers would be throwing money at us. Guess what? If that sounds like a dream, it is. So far about 10% of the backers have come from discovering us on Kickstarter. The rest have come from our databases, our outreach and our hard work. There is no "magic bullet". Like in any business proposition, it is whom you know, and knowing when and how to ask for help. We can dance around the subject, but in the end we are FUNDRAISING, and it is challenging and rewarding work.
I still love the Kickstarter platform - it gives credence to our project. People recognize the brand and are willing to check it out. The systems they provide make running the campaign easy. But I can't forget - it is a campaign and I am running it - it won't run itself.
Horace Silver dies, 85 years young
Posted: 18 June 2014, 8:48 pm - SECRETS FROM THE JAZZ GHETTO
One of my heores in Jazz piano, Horace Silver, died today. He was the source of a lot of my jazz inspiration over the years.
Here is the LA Times OBIT
And here is a sample of his music
Deep In The Kickstarter Trenches - Part 2
Posted: 16 June 2014, 6:53 am - SECRETS FROM THE JAZZ GHETTO
Lessons learned in the middle of a Kickstarter Campaign
By George Kahn
The Jazz & Blues Revue is now 2 weeks into our 40 day Kickstarter campaign. Although I have released 7 albums on my own, using my boutique record company and CD Baby for distribution, this is the first time I have used crowd funding to finance a project. Here are 4 tips that I have learned this week that can help you have success with Kickstarter
1. It starts with a sprint, and turns into a marathon
Last week I spoke about "first followers". It is important to have key people lined up to get your project off to a fast start. Getting traction, and being "in the race" is important to attract others to join your vision and goal. We had a very successful launch, and after 2 weeks we are 33% to our goal of $18,000 to fund our new album. Now the strategy shifts - we are in a marathon, and perseverance and endurance will be more important than speed and flash.
2. It takes a village
Hillary taught us that it takes a village to raise a child. In the same way, it takes a village to raise money on Kickstarter. You need to get a "buy in" from the members of your group, so that everyone is involved in promoting the project and asking people to get involved. Each person will have their own strengths they can bring to the project. One band member may be great with viral marketing, another with writing copy, and another with having a rich uncle. Find each person's strength, and let him or her bring it to the table. Everyone in the group needs to own the project for it to succeed.
3. Use different platforms
When it comes to Internet marketing, the more the merrier. Social media continues to evolve, and the more places you show up the more likely it is that people will notice you. Posting on Facebook is the obvious place to start, but you can also post to your groups, and send individual requests to your friends. Over the last year I joined every LinkedIn group I could find related to music, jazz or blues. I am now sending these Kickstarter blog posts to these groups. I also manage four other blogs, and am using them to spread the word. In a similar way, Twitter has various levels of involvement. I don't do Pinterest or Tumblr, but the more you can be on these various platforms, the better your chances for people to find your project.
4. Time to ask
Now it is time to not just go wide, it is time to go deep. This is the hard part for many people. Picking up the phone and asking for help brings up feelings of fear and rejection, and may even bring up concerns about self worth and your relationship with money. Remember, this is no time for "paralysis of the analysis". You have already sent the mass emails. Now is the week to send personal emails to the people you know most likely to support your vision. Then, if their pledge does not show up in a couple of days, a follow-up text message or phone call is appropriate. Time to put on your Nike shirt and shoes, and Just Do It.
Get On Board with our Kickstarter Campaign!
Posted: 8 June 2014, 4:47 pm - SECRETS FROM THE JAZZ GHETTO
We are one week into the campaign, and we want you to join us for the ride!
Just click here!