Everything you need to know about holding songs for ransom

May 9, 2013

This is yet another section from the page on my website describing “The Hostage Situation” project.  If you haven’t heard about it yet, the over-simplified version is this: I’m releasing my new songs one-at-a-time, but not until a fundraising goal has been met for each song.  Then, once the goal is met, no individual will have to pay to download that song ever again.

The webpage is long and detailed and has intimidated many, who have asked for shorter, more bite-sized pieces of information more suited to the modern attention span.  I am happy to oblige, and so here are the newly updated answers to the Many Inevitable Questions that my supporters have had and will have about this groundbreaking/asinine (depending on who you ask) idea.


So you’re asking us to donate our money… but there’s a chance we won’t get any music back in return?

Funny — that’s actually the inverse of the risk a musician takes — we release our music, though there’s an ever-increasing chance we won’t get any MONEY back in return.  Think of this as standing in my shoes, if it helps.
Really though, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy: if you stop worrying about “what everyone else will do” and simply donate a few bucks… and I mean, if ALL of you do that… then it’s a non-issue.  There are enough of you out there that there would be 8 songs released in no time at all. Heck… if everyone donated the equivalent of just one US Dollar, there’d be one song released and another on the verge.  So this is very, very doable.
It’s when you start trying to outsmart the system that it ends up biting you in the ass.  “Oh, I’ll wait and see…” is the phrase that kills things like this.  If everyone waits to see what everyone else does, nobody does anything.
So what we’re looking for here are forward-thinkers; risk-takes; pioneers…  and above all, FANS.

How many songs will you release this way?

I have six songs ready to mix right now (which would require a total ransom of $12,000), and I have enough songs in the demo stage to ensure that the collection could ultimately contain as many as a dozen songs or more.
So YES: if you crazy kids somehow raise twenty grand, I will deliver a 10-song collection.

Wait… you really expect over 3000 of us to give you seven dollars each?

I don’t “expect” anything.  But yes; I’m asking, and hoping, that you do something along those lines.
Maybe a thousand of you donate one dollar and then some wealthy philanthropist picks up the rest of the tab; I won’t get involved in that. Feel free to come together as a community of like-minded fans and coordinate however you want to, but don’t try to negotiate with the bad guy — I mean, I’m holding HOSTAGES, remember?

What if I just wait for others to pay the ransom and download it for free anyway?

You could well do that.  But consider that a lot of other people might be thinking the same thing.  And so maybe the ransom doesn’t get paid.  And the lot of you would wait, smug and righteous, and…  without any of my new music.  Boy, would you be proving your point then.  Or you could just pay the same amount of money you spend at Starbucks for a couple of lousy lattes, encourage others to do the same, and watch how fast the music comes into your life.

What if you get $1,900 and then the money stops flowing in?  How long would you wait before just releasing a song anyway?

Think of this as a way for you as a fan base to let me know you still think I’m valid.  If I can’t make my living off of my work, I shouldn’t consider myself a professional artist, and I should just retire from it and teach full time.  If you want me to do that, then allowing this scenario to happen would be just the thing I need to re-evaluate my life – you could really stick it to my sense of self-worth if you want to.

How will we know when we free a hostage?

I’ll post updates on Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress, and if we get a particularly exciting boost all at once, I’ll definitely send out an email announcement.  This whole thing could take awhile to get rolling… or the goal could be reached in 24 hours.  It’s entirely up to you.

I don’t have a Paypal account.  How can I contribute?

There are a number of ways to contribute without using Paypal. I can take cash, checks, and credit/debit cards.  If you’d rather do it that way, you should SEND ME AN EMAIL and we’ll sort you out.

Will you ever press a CD version of this album?

This has crossed my mind, but it allows people to give “conditional support” (i.e. “I’ll only donate if you make a CD”) and that is not the point of this.
So what I’ll do is this: as they are released, all the songs will be added to the same download page (on Bandcamp, most likely) – and the liner notes & lyrics for each song will be included as downloadable PDFs. Once we have released four (4) songs, I’ll update that to become an album booklet, complete with artwork, which I’ll keep updating as more songs are released.
Anyone can burn a CD, and anyone can print a PDF file, so it’s no longer a question of whether I will create a physical version of the album… the question is, will YOU?

How do we know we’ll even like your new songs?

That’s a fair point.  Whoever demanded a ransom without allowing the hostage a few seconds on the phone to let the world know they were okay?
It seems reasonable that you’d want to know what I’ll be setting free into the world, so here’s a sneak peek at rough mixes of a few tracks.  
(Muso fans have asked, and so it bears clarification: these are *rough* mixes, and sound quite muddy and squashed compared to the way they’ve evolved since I threw this together. The point isn’t to wow you with the sound quality – it’s to give you a taste of the SONGS.)
Once we build a little momentum, perhaps I’ll cobble together another preview of some other songs, but this is the last you’ll hear of these particular tunes until the ransom is met.
So that’s the situation.
You know what to do.

Release the Hostages

(or EMAIL SETH DIRECTLY to pay by check, credit, or debit card)


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