With 30 hours left in the campaign, I officially exceeded my $700 goal by $1! Thank you! Thank you! Thank You! THANK YOU!
That was the short version! Here’s the long one:
I’ve been making music for almost 20 years. I started rapping in October of 1992, and in 1993 I gave a cassette I made with a friend of mine to a talent agent. She responded “rap is on its way out, and you should do something that’s you.” That same year, I sent my music into 102 Jamz in Orlando in hopes of some local airplay. No luck. Being 14 and knowing nothing about anything, I sent them a low quality home made recording. We had a tape deck with a built in mic that we rapped into while the music was playing. I have no idea what happened to those tapes we made. I’d love to hear them now.
Ever since then, I’ve been trying to make a living from my music because it’s what I truly love to do. In 1994, my mom passed away from cancer, and music literally saved my life. I used it to sort through some very dark emotions and numbing pain. It gave me a reason to keep going.
Less than a year later, I started college, at the age of 16. My first two years in college went by pretty uneventfully. I handled things better than I could have expected from myself, given that I was 16 and surrounded by legal adults, so soon after losing the most inspirational person I’ve ever met. At the age of 18, I dropped out of school after making some bad decisions. I thankfully never turned to drugs, and aside from trying a sip of dark beer when I was 8 (which I thought was disgusting at the time and still do), I didn’t drink for the first time until I was 22. I’ve only drank about 15 times in my life, and haven’t had any alcohol since January 19th, 2010, my 31st birthday. My decisions were simply poor choices based on life circumstances. Ironically, I was skipping my own classes at Miami University in Oxford, OH to drive my friend to his classes at Southern Ohio College in Cincinnati. Because I didn’t officially withdraw from the university until 2 weeks into the semester (even though I stopped going during the first week of classes), I still owed Miami for half the semester, making it difficult to get back into school.
I once again used music to get me through the process of working my way out of the debt I owed so I could go back to school. Originally, I was a computer science major, and switched to business when I went back to take classes to help me run my music career better. I knew what I wanted to be, and was willing to work very hard to get there. I worked full time while going to school full-time because my aid barely covered my tuition and I still had to pay rent, car insurance, car expenses, and all of my other bills. All to follow my dreams.
When I graduated from college, I tried to open a music studio, but didn’t have any collateral, so I kept delivering pizzas so I could focus on my music. I sent out over 200 demos and booked 9 shows, ranging from Ohio to Pittsburgh to Jacksonville, Florida. I was willing to play anywhere that anyone would have me in 2002 and 2003. I tried for years to book a show in my hometown of Oxford, Ohio, but the bars wanted cover bands that would bring in 200 people. That wasn’t me.
I finally booked a happy hour show in the fall of 2004, at Stadium in Oxford. I went in to find out the details one day so I could make fliers, and they told me the night had been double booked and because the other artist had played there before and brought a crowd that the night was his. They told me to try the open mic night instead. It took me about a month, and I was reluctant, but I finally did. It was a defining moment for me as I’ve played probably hundreds of open mics since then.
The open mic experience was amazing! You can read the details in a different post, but I went from no fans for 6 weeks to 40 fans within 4 weeks after that, to playing a show for 120 people 2 months later. That is still one of my favorite moments of my entire life. I thought it was the beginning of what would be a wildly successful life of touring and making music. Since Miami draws students from all over, I thought they’d tell their friends back home and I’d have good crowds in Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus and various other places. Unfortunately, the vast majority of my fans graduated and moved on. Within a couple of years, my crowds were sparse again.
This prompted me to move to Chicago, because I had always loved the energy of the city and because I thought it would be the spark I needed to really make a serious move on making music my career. Unfortunately, this backfired, a lot. Everything that could go wrong in Chicago did, culminating in me getting robbed at gun point. I left Chicago, and lived out of my car for 3 months, going on the Do What You Love tour. Getting music back into my life that much allowed me to lose 40 pounds in 3 months, and be truly happy. I went back to delivering pizzas when I was down to my last $5 in cash, with all of my credit cards maxed out, and 73 cents in my checking account. I was also homeless, but a few friends let me crash on their couch for almost a month until I could save up money to be back on my feet.
I have spent the last 3 years performing as much as I possibly can, starting over completely. I focused primarily on open mikes in Dayton and Cincinnati to rebuild locally for about 3 years, and went on tour to promote the release of “liberty island” last summer. The tour was a blast, but expensive. I knew I had a lot of work to do to get back to where I was, and even more work to get to where I want to be.
This past year, I’ve performed in either Dayton or Cincinnati almost every week at open mikes, sometimes 3 or 4 times per week, doing everything I can to strengthen my local fan base. It has worked to some extent. People know who I am, but it’s still very difficult to book my own show in Cincinnati or Dayton. I’m thankful for a few bands that have been willing and/or excited to have me perform with them, and some amazing people within the music scenes in Dayton and Cincy who are really starting to talk about me, and have watched me every step of the way.
Now, all of that is really coming together. An amazing documentary was released about me recently, which you can watch on YouTube, and now I have a bunch of regional shows booked. With the combination of things going on, I’m confident that I’m going in the right direction. In October, I’ll be releasing M”, and hopefully will have about 10 CD release shows that month, and go from there.
The success of my Kickstarter campaign does several things. First, it tells me I have some pretty amazing fans! Within 12 hours I had two different pledges of $100 each, even though my highest reward was $50. They are 2 people who believe in me enough to pledge a very significant amount of money. Since then, everyone else who has pledged is a part of something very special to me.
Secondly, it means I’ve had the most financially successful month of my music career, both from a sales level and profit level, which is tremendously encouraging!
It also means that I now have t-shirts available for my shows, which will lead to more sales and increased virality. This feels like a major step towards making music my career. After almost 20 years of passionately following my dreams, rising, falling and getting back up, I still believe and it’s because of you.
Many of you have verbally supported me for years, and that also means the world to me. The financial support means I still have a chance to make a living from my music, and I will continue to work as hard as I can to achieve my dreams. When I get there, it will be very worth every moment along the way, the good, the bad, the unbelievable!
Thank you for getting me one major step closer to living my dreams!