Crowded is our series on artsy crowd-sourcing campaigns. Although we've seen our fair share of Kickstarters and Indiegogos, Violinist Rhett Price's Kickstarter campaign stood out. The words “intimate” and “considered” come to mind. He is in it for his supporters and fans, it seems, in addition to his dream of making his first album.
CG: You got your start on YouTube and playing in the subway?
RP: Yeah! The videos started when I was touring with a country band and looking for an outlet to play the kind of music I actually enjoyed playing. Country just wasn't for me. I was living in Texas at the time and would get home and record a quick video on my laptop—pop or rock songs. One day I'd do a Timberlake song and the next day I'd do Nirvana. I was just showing them to my parents until eventually I got a few thousand views (on YouTube) and started sending them to the people I was covering. Evenutally I moved back to Boston full time and started playing in the subway to pay rent. I'd always wanted someone to film my videos but I was just trying to survive. One day my laptop crashed and I thought, "Okay, now I've got to get someone to record these videos." So I did and the first one was the Taylor Swift cover that now has over 1.3 million views.
CG: You're very active on social media—how do those relationships with fans influence you and have they changed how you approached the Kickstarter?
RP: The coolest thing is that all the people who watch my videos and see my shows are not people just watching and not saying anything—they always come up to me after shows and tell me stories or I'll get messages on Facebook or Twitter. I know who they are and can get to know them because of social media.
CG: You have some really interesting perks for your Kickstarter supporters (hand picked key necklaces, artwork...). They seem really personal and meaningful.
RP: The number one thing I kept in mind is that this is not a donation—it's not a charity. I'm giving them something in return—the big thing will be my album (when it comes out). I didn't look at like, "Okay, how much profit will I get to go towards the album?" I looked at it as if I were the person pledging money and would it be worth it to me? So I picked things I would want, things that are me—like the key necklaces. My fans know I have this skeleton key necklace I wear pretty much everyday.
There's work from a local Boston artist, Mae Chevrette. She has a permanent piece in Madison Square Garden and has been in Oprah magazine—she's got a lot of cool things happening. She did a painting exclusively for my Kickstarter and we're selling limited edition prints. I actually bought the painting from her just to have because it's super cool, so again it's something that I would want.
My father is an impressionist painter, an amazing artist. He and I are doing this thing (it's sold out) where you can send him your picture and my dad will draw your portrait and then I'll draw your portrait. It'll be varying levels of artistic integrity!
CG: That's awesome—you're collaborated with other artists and are supporting them while others are supporting you. You're allowing other people to learn about their work.
RP: Yeah! I met Mae when I was playing in the subway. One day she stopped and took some pictures. Suddenly all these people started following me and I wondered where they were coming from. I figured out that she had tweeted and Instagramed the pictures- just because she liked the music. So when I needed help with exposure people like Mae were the ones who made that happen, that got me out of playing in the subway. That's how the arts community works. We support each other. Everyone has different people paying attention to them. Maybe after seeing my Kickstarter new people will look into what she does and follow her.
CG: So what's next for you and the campaign?
RP: Right now the plan is to get the album made. Then this fall I'm doing a thing with the Boston Ballet—I'm playing with them for their last show of the season. Me and three of my friends, we're a string quartet, will be up on stage with the dancers! It's going to be crazy. Then hopefully I can get out on tour, meet everyone, and just play! And have my album with me.
Make it happen! Check out Rhett's Kickstarter and be his label (ie support with as little as $1). The last day to pledge is April 24th. To see Rhett in action visit his YouTube channel and pay it forward by checking out Mae Chevrette’s work.