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Earwig Music Patreon Program

The motivation behind Earwig Music

Earwig Music founder Michael FrankHi. My name is Michael Frank.  I’d like to share a brief history of Earwig Music and details about our Patreon Program.

I founded Earwig Music Company in October 1978 in Chicago as a record label and artist management company. The label grew out of my love of the blues and my desire to help African-American blues musicians further their careers.  Before that, I had been informally managing the careers of Mississippi born, Chicago based blues guitarists David ” Honeyboy” Edwards and “Blind Jim” Brewer, both of whom I had met at a Chicago blues bar in late 1972. During those early years, I was also playing harmonica with Honeyboy Edwards in duo and quartet formats, locally and on tour, while simultaneously working as a social worker in child welfare.

Once I started the label, I had distributors for the albums, but otherwise I was a solo-preneur in the music business. During those early years, I saw firsthand that many of the musicians who I knew about from collecting blues lps, reading blues literature and hanging out in lots of blues bars, had few decent gigs and few new recordings to help them gain new fans and get better gigs in more territories.

Mission

So I started Earwig Music to record and book under-represented blues musicians and to assist them in furthering their careers. During the label’s first decade, I also met various storytellers, jazz musicians and gospel groups from outside Chicago, and recorded some of them. I realized that their music was part of a continuum of the African-American oral  tradition and merited a bigger audience. Since the label’s inception, Earwig Music has released 74 blues, jazz, gospel and storytelling recordings and produced others for other labels. Earwig Music also has acquired unreleased recordings from other defunct labels and produced sessions yet to be released.

History

Our first records were for the Mississippi Delta trio of Frank Frost, Sam Carr and Big Jack Johnson, known as the Jelly Roll Kings. Their Earwig recording Rockin’ the Juke Joint Down (1979 (has been acknowledged as the quintessential electric juke joint band album. We then went on to record those artists closest to home — Honeyboy Edwards and his contemporaries, on a classic Chicago blues album Old Friends (1981, and Jim Brewer’s Tough Luck (1983), a masterful study in acoustic Mississippi blues guitar.

Starting in 2003, Earwig Music also began releasing albums, many self-produced by white musicians who had played with African-American musicians and in the process had become outstanding blues musicians. It became apparent that these younger protégés had similar challenges in sustaining a music career. Earwig Music stepped in to fill their distribution and marketing void. During the past 25 years, Earwig Music expanded its documentation and promotion of working blues musicians by taking down their oral histories, shooting documentary videos, producing shows and expanding into social media promotion.  In addition, the label was an early adopter of digital download platforms to distribute Earwig music.

Earwig Music AlbumsToday

Today, Earwig is known for its many outstanding historical recordings by noteworthy elder musicians from Chicago and Mississippi, such as the Jelly Roll Kings, Sunnyland Slim, Homesick James, Little Brother Montgomery, Honeyboy Edwards, Louisiana Red, Dennis Binder, storyteller Jackie Torrence  and others, and for generating international exposure for Earwig Recording Artists including Honeyboy Edwards, The Jelly Roll Kings, Big Jack Johnson, Johnny Drummer, Liz Mandeville, Rob Stone, John Primer, Chris James and Patrick Rynn, Dennis Binder, and Les Copeland.

Earwig Music CMO Steven HausheerIn 2017, I brought Steven Hausheer in as my partner and chief marketing officer to help me expand Earwig’s use of digital technologies in social media branding and marketing.  Steve has been a digital marketing leader since the beginning of the web in the early 1990s. He is a musician who lives and breathes music and marketing. Over the last 15 years Steve has pursued his passion for music, though his deep commitment to helping bridge the gap between labels, musicians and fans in this rapidly changing era of digital streaming and music promotion. Modern recording technology and internet distribution have leveled the playing field for independent musicians in some ways, but fans have many more choices within the entertainment realm than ever before, so it is harder for musicians and labels to get them to buy music.

Improving the Fan Experience

What is crucial to an artist’s success nowadays is differentiation through personal storytelling, building and maintaining a fan base and leveraging technology to rise above the din of a over-crowded marketplace. The current focus of Earwig Music Company is to bring our touring artists and our legacy artists direct to fans, by engaging with fans to understand their individual tastes and to meet their expectations with accessible, exceptional music, both contemporary and traditional.

Earwig Music ArtistsHelping Artists Grow

Together Steve and I continue Earwig Music’s original mission to record and book underrepresented blues and roots musicians, and to assist these artists in furthering their careers. We like to say that Earwig Music is a platform that helps artists grow their careers and helps fans get excited by and engaged with a wide swath of blues and related styles of music .

You may ask, how do we do this? Well, we do so very diligently with a lot of energy and passion. We craft an artist’s story from step one. We create or assist with the development of promotional assets for the artist. We distribute their music though the proper channels. We help them connect the dots around the world. And we become an integral part of their team, devoted to helping them each step of the way.

Current Artist Projects

We have a variety of projects in various stages of development. We now have 6 artists under management. We have just released two albums and have two more in development, due to release in the late summer and fall. All four albums need marketing support, publicity and radio drives.

We are building The Earwig Archive, an exciting project editing and producing videos we’ve shot over the last 40 years. We need to enhance our Mobile App, complete a historical box set, produce broadcast onserts, update our databases . . . just look at our list of 2018-2019 projects:

•    Les Copeland – acoustic and electric blues, jazz and Americana guitar and slide guitar wizard, quirky, craggy songwriter from Vernon, British Columbia, Canada:
One More Foot In the Quicksand album release campaign, fan base building, setting up Canadian and European tours
•    Donald Kinsey – electric guitar master and charismatic singer/songwriter of blues and reggae, a member of Bob Marley’s The Wailers:
artist management, solo show development, booking, tour support, merchandise development,  fan base building,
•    Liz Mandeville – Chicago- based blues, soul and swing singer/songwriter/bandleader : compilation album, fan base building, booking and tour support
•    Andy Cohen – Memphis-based, constantly on the road, acoustic traditional blues and old time music, master of finger style guitar:  tour, Clarksdale video series social media marketing campaign, development of acoustic guitar instructional videos, tour expansion from house concerts to festivals and international touring, development of a new show concept
•    Earwig Music Company archival project: Bea and Baby Records Definitive Collection – a 4 cd box set: album art, manufacturing and new release media campaign
•    Earwig Music: fan base development, playlist, podcast, patron program development, promotion
•    Earwig Music Archive: editing and streaming performance videos and un-released songs across multiple platforms
•    Earwig Mobile App: function enhancements, playlist and streaming, social integration, download campaigns
•    Earwig Database exploitation on behalf of artists: music supervisor database, booking agent database, festival database

 

Earwig Music Patreon Program

To keep the momentum going we need your help. We’ve got a massive amount of talent and energy to build upon.  So, we decided to use Patreon, a membership platform that makes it easy for fans to support musicians, producers  and record labels making the music they love.

How does Patreon work?

With Patreon, fans pay a few dollars per month to support projects they love, such as Earwig Music, on an ongoing basis. It’s similar to a crowd-sourced fundraiser, except that we want to forge long-term relationships with our valued partners in music. It’s a way for Earwig Music Company to build a community of dedicated and meaningful support around the music we make.

What do you get from becoming a patron?

First and foremost you get the satisfaction of knowing you’re supporting us in a sustainable way.  Second, you get the satisfaction of helping our artists get their music and stories out. And third, you get exclusive access to your favorite artist’s content.

We open the door to our creative practice — by sharing our process, notes from the field, in-progress previews, and other rewards, not the least of which is access to our private vaults of music and other related content not available to the general public. We also provide our donors with new releases ahead of the public release, or with additional content.

To entice you, we have some really exclusive donor premiums and perks — please click here

A little help from you will make a big difference at a critical time. By supporting Earwig Music with a monthly donation, we will be able to provide listeners great music, and help our musicians share that music with the world. You’re able to make a real impact on emerging artists and on perpetuating the legacy of classic artists— by contributing money every month. The more supporters we have, the more money we’re able to pay towards each album we release and offer up more services. Things like PR, video creation, photo shoots, social media distribution of content, etc.

Earwig MusicBe a part of the Earwig Family and help us bring even more amazing music to the world.

Thank you so much for your continued support.

Where Your Money Goes

If you support us with $5/month, here’s a rough monthly breakdown of how this money is used:

Artist promotion & content development— $2.50 (50%)
New release marketing campaigns — $0.75 (15%)
Events and tour support — $0.75 (15%)
Earwig archive content development — $0.50 (10%)
Mobile App & enhancements — $0.25 (5%)
Website hosting & services — $0.15 (3%)
Pledge processing fees — $0.10 (2%)