My name is Josiah Mann and I am the lead singer and founding member of the band Sufficient Cause. Our goal - ambitious or irrational as it may seem - is to become fully supported by our music, recorded or performed, within 12 months from today. We plan to do this without signing to a label (outside of a new type of record deal being made just for us…). We do not have a fan base. We have never released any music and we’ve never played a single show. We’re nobody.
Let me explain. From day one, I’ve done things differently than other musicians. Four years ago, after I had written my first couple of songs, I started out like many other musicians. I booked a gig at a little coffee shop and invited all my friends. I had played guitar for about a year and had played classical piano competitively, but singing and performing my own songs was a different story. The first show was pretty rough. I was extremely nervous and my voice quivered uncontrollably. I had never really heard my voice loudly in a speaker so I could hear how poorly I really sang, causing me to shy away from the mic. I couldn’t even hold my friends’ attention. It made it somewhat less stressful that everybody was talking over my music, though… Everybody told me “You just gotta keep doing it,” and “You’ll get used to it eventually,” but I didn’t see the point. After I’d played about 5 or 6 times at the same coffee shop, I threw in the towel. Not because I was scared; in fact in a former life I was a Heavyweight Golden Gloves Champion and National Chinese Kickboxing Champion. There was very little I was afraid of. But after a few performances, I knew I wasn’t ready.
I knew from my experience fighting that when someone steps in the ring against a professional fighter without proper training first, that doesn’t mean he’s brave. This is where I was different from other musicians. I knew that I needed to study.
So I trained. I became a student of music that is universally considered to be “classic”. I studied the music of bands like U2, Coldplay, Eagles, and Sarah McLachlan.
I also studied business. On one hand I saw Major Labels signing talent just to control the market and limit product choice and on the other I watched people like Trent Reznor and Corey Smith making a good living outside the established system.
Along with all this study, I also studied myself. I studied to know how I was different from these great musicians. I learned what my strengths and weaknesses as an artist and as a business person were and worked relentlessly to balance them.
About a year ago, after three years of recording the same songs on my Macbook Pro, I decided it was time to put together a band. But again I did it differently than most other musicians. I knew that to be successful for any meaningful amount of time we had to have the right team, a definite vision and message, and clear leadership. Otherwise we would fall apart over time like so many other bands before us. So I watched and waited for the right people. And once I knew I had the right people, we spent time getting on the same page and clarifying our purpose and mission.
From day one, we planned for success. We’ve built a foundation and now we are ready. Without playing a single show, we are competent musicians with good music. We have a self hosted website that is geared toward delivering consistent content and acquiring fan data. We have enough content to continually connect with fans and when the time is right we will give them a reason to buy. We have both a local and online strategy and are ready to put it in high gear.
All of these elements do not guarantee our success and we know that. We might die tomorrow. But we believe we have something valuable to offer and we will continue to enjoy the process regardless of the outcome.
We are doing a couple of things to chronicle our journey. First, here on MTT we will post monthly updates showing our stats and progress. We will also be blogging heavily one our site. In addition we plan to film the whole process for a documentary at the end of the 12 months. So without further ado, here are some of our current stats and the starting points as of (Aug 21, 2010).
Total Shows Played : 0
Here is the basically the first stage of the plan, keeping in mind that opportunities are fluid and changing.
First Stage – Local Buzz
First off, we have recorded a free demo EP which is designed to get email addresses and help us start a local movement. We’re going to start gigging heavily immediately and our goal is to give away 5000 CD’s primarily at shows. Ideally, we would get an email address for each CD, but we might use other creative methods to give them away and get an email address on the back end… We’re going to build and leverage relationships with local media outlets as well as radio hosts and other local tastemakers in order to get coverage and build a buzz. While we are giving away this demo we will also be in studio recording our first full quality EP preparing for the next stage – blog coverage…
We are continuing looking to build our team, and if you listen to our music and want to be a part of what we are doing, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
To be continued…
P.S. We just put up the first song from our EP here on Music Think Tank. You can listen here.