A letter from Marian to prospective members of the Donors’ Circle:
Welcome! Thank you for coming to visit my music studio! I know it doesn’t look much like a music studio, since it’s full of typewriters, books, and used teacups. So many teacups.
But it is my studio, and I’m happy to have you here. Tea? Coffee? Cocoa? Let me get the kettle on. Uh, and wash a few mugs.
I’m honored you want to talk about joining the Donors’ Circle — it’s a wonderful group. How do you join? It’s easy — just tip at the $200 level or above. If that’s a bit steep, I’m happy to set up monthly installments for you: 10 x $20 or 10 x $50 are popular. That’s how most people have paid for their membership. Then they get access to the Donors’ Circle Treasure Chest.
And there’s the kettle. Honey? Lemon?
I founded the Donors’ Circle in early 2009, when Something Fierce was my life’s work. That album consumed me for years, all through the 50 States Tour and then some. I had a vision, I knew exactly what I wanted the album to sound like. And I wanted to get there without letting the whole world in on the process.
So I shared it with you guys instead, the inner circle of fans who most wanted to hear it. And I could never ever have made the album without my Donors. After Something Fierce, they stuck with me through a massive Kickstarter, a live album, several more national and international tours, and four more albums! All the work I’ve generated over the last ten years is thanks to my Donors’ Circle.
See, the Donors’ Circle makes it financially possible for me to stop touring long enough to Make Art.
My greatest need and my rarest resource: time at home to sit in one place and create. Being Home is the most expensive part of my life, but paradoxically the cornerstone of my career. Support from the Donors’ Circle frees me up to research, create, collaborate, rest, and try new things, and I must stop traveling to get that work done. In fact whenever I am traveling, despite all the concerts and fun and connection, I get almost nothing done at all, not even email. Travel is all-consuming.
I’m so grateful for this support. As thanks, Donors get a lot of special benefits. Sometimes the rewards flow fast and frenzied, other times there will be months of quiet. But the collection of material now available to the Donors’ Circle (and nobody else) has grown vast. During and after the Something Fierce years, Donors received:
- Free copies of all my albums and singles to date, as DRM-free MP3 as well as optional uncompressed audio
- A private production blog during writing, recording, & editing, complete with some recordings of tracks in progress
- First-print autographed copies of CD’s and physical merch, plus exclusive limited stuff and lots of free bonus physical goodies
- Guaranteed merch after items are sold out (within reason) and early purchasing
- Online thanks in the virtual liner notes for Something Fierce (and future projects TBA), and for those who give $500 or above, a thank you in the printed liner notes
- Bonus tracks, alternative mixes, and an audio blooper reel from the recording booth
- Access to livestreams and full-length video that the rest of the world doesn’t get to see through a Dropbox for members
- Recordings of unreleased songs that didn’t make the final cut
- For those so skilled and so inclined, the opportunity to send me clean audio clips of found sounds to use in the album — or the ability to request native ProTools files to remix (some donors did both of these; you can hear the voices of folks in the Circle in the chorus of “Good Morning Moon,” “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life,” and “Standing Stones”).
- First dibs on the coolest stuff when I do fundraisers
- As of this writing, Donors’ Circle members are the only people allowed to commission new songs, except during special occasions
In 2012 and 2013 I didn’t really have a project. I mean, I made a helluva lot of *stuff,* videos and live records and Kickstarters and commissions and Sketchbook and tours unending. It’s a good life, and it’s a hard job, and I earn my keep singing for my supper. But there was no vision, no grander dream, just the churn of being a working musician. So the Donors’ Circle has been a little quiet.
But now I have a project again. There is art clawing at me. I have a much bigger long-term dream again, like Something Fierce. I can’t Patreon this, it’s too big and slow; I can’t spend 75% of my time and money on promo and logistics and fulfilling rewards. I just need to hole up and read and write and get mad scientist hair and yell “Eureka!” And that’s what I’ve been doing all winter and spring. That’s what I’m doing right now.
I’m making a new album called Standing Stones. It will be epic.
And the Donors’ Circle has been my brain trust as it takes shape.
I will share pieces of what I’m working on with you guys all along the way. You will be the only ones who hear this new material outside of a couple exclusive live shows. A little patience will be involved, but I am very very excited about the songs, and I think it is going to be amazing. This record is bigger and more serious and more mature than anything I’ve done before. It has lots of voices, tons of overlapping harmonies, and a million drums.
The things that are inspiring my work right now: Anaïs Mitchell’s Hadestown, Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods, Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, Adam Guettel’s Myths and Hymns and Floyd Collins, the musical Ragtime, the masks made by young Alaskan artist Drew Michael, the photography of Brian Adams in his new book I Am Alaskan, the album Brimstone Lullaby by Anna & the Underbelly, the music of Laura Marling and Shakey Graves, Firefly, the true story of Soapy Smith, the gold rush, the oil rush, the renaissance sacred text The Book of Hours. You get the idea.
I have some hollering in me. I have a primal cry ready to escape.
Here, let me refill that teacup for you. Honestly I feel kind of vulnerable letting you guys in on this process, even more than last time. I felt pretty comfortable in my skin making Something Fierce, but now I am stepping WAY outside of my expertise. It’s embarrassing sometimes inviting you guys into my studio with evidence of missed deadlines, work half-finished, and dirty mugs on every horizontal surface.
But you have all been awesome in the past. And no one is reading this long letter who doesn’t want to be. I’ve accomplished so much thanks to you, in my haphazard way — most recently a holiday album, a new EP, more cover songs, re-releases, and massive nationwide tours. So I thank you for coming this far.
My fans have been really supportive and taken some crazy risks on crazy me before. Now I’m asking you to join the Donors’ Circle — or renew your commitment if you joined a long time ago.
And I’m gonna ask you to keep checking in on me as I pound away at this new art. When I’m closeted at home with my chisel and marble, I need neighbors to occasionally knock on the door, share some tea, and tell me to eat.
So thank you thank you thank you for coming to this page. To my house.
Let’s start an adventure.
Join the Circle
To join the Donors’ Circle, please e-mail me, firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can tip with Paypal (no account required) and add a note that you want to join. Marian can set up installments for you if you like; $200 (silver), $500 (gold), and $1000 (mithril) are recommended amounts that you can break up into 10-15 payments (links at the top of the page for that). If you need help paying without using Paypal, we can arrange that over email.
Mille grazie! A thousand thousand thanks!