It’s a variation on an age-old theme.
“You’re an independent artist,” posits music business veteran Dan Beck. “You go, ‘Gee. I’m working for the door, and it’s $5 to get in–so how come they give me $28 at the end of the night?'”
Now managing indie songwriter/artist Will Gray, the former Epic Records marketing executive Beck holds up Gray’s new documentary Broke* as offering help to other indie artists who are likewise navigating the difficult if not treacherous waters of today’s music business.
“What happened with Will is that he’d get something going with someone at a label–and then it would all change,” says Beck, who now manages Gray and is executive producer of his film.
“People would leave or get laid off or whatever,” Beck continues. “He finally got kind of awestruck by all the problems, and got a friend and started interviewing experts in the business–managers, agents, lawyers and a whole bunch of major label and indie artists–about their circumstances. He had footage of what went right and wrong, and we folded it all together and made the film out of it.”
Broke*, which will screen Oct. 19 at the Clearview Chelsea Cinema as part of the 17th Annual CMJ Film Festival, merges Gray’s own experiences as an artist during the past 18 months with reflections from major label artists John Legend, Kelly Clarkson, and Isaac Slade from The Fray, as well as fellow indie artists Reva Williams of Gretel, Emily Hope Price, Hymns, Damien Horne, Joonie, The Fieros, J Bling, Will Dailey, Trent Dabbs and Ben Kesler.
Additionally, marketing author/entrepreneur Seth Godin forecasts the future of the music industry.
Produced and directed by Gray, the film ends with a Nashville showcase performance by him, which features a guest appearance by guitarist/producer Buddy Miller and also focuses on the challenges of putting such a show together.
“We hope the film helps the audience relate a little bit more to the process of being an independent artist,” says Gray. “Our goal is to spark a dialogue between audience and artist through additional interviews, music, and information on the Broke* website.”
Beck says that Broke*, which in keeping with indie do-it-yourself methodology was largely financed through crowd funding and the sale of Broke* logo t-shirts, will be cross-promoted with a digital-only soundtrack, available now at the Broke* website and featuring most of the indie artists in the film.
“We are still exploring a variety of distribution opportunities for the film,” says Beck. “We plan to integrate film festivals, music industry screenings, a limited collegiate theatrical release, video-on-demand, and cable exposure as a means to expand the exposure for Broke*.”
Sponsorship opportunities are also pending, adds Beck.
“It’s just a really sweet little film,” says Beck, who was formerly a songwriter himself. “It’s mostly about friends helping each other to create and achieve sustainable careers, and I had a ball working with Will and helping get it made.”
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