To raise funds and awareness for his debut CD, Brent Ryan pledged to play 30 songs in 30 days. Photo by Phil Houseal
30 songs in 30 days
by Phil Houseal
One of the good things about the music industry today is that anyone with a song, a computer, and the internet can get their music out.
One of the bad things is that anyone with a song, a computer, and the internet can get their music out.
The challenge therefore becomes “how do I stand out from all the other musicians with a song, a computer, and the internet?”
Brent Ryan faced that conundrum when looking for funding to record his first album. So he had an idea–to do 30 songs in 30 days.
“It just popped into my brain,” he told me after one of those mini-concerts. He decided to perform a song a day for 30 consecutive days around town in private or public settings.
“I’d try to record as many as possible and post them,” he explained. “The idea was to make some of them funny, some serious, some just to create buzz and to try to get people talking about it.”
So in addition to his regular gigs at the usual places, he added random performances. Like at Tubby’s during Taco Tuesday.
“I asked the guy at the counter, can I play a song for your customers? Everyone was so nice, they turned their chairs to listen.”
At Rustlin’ Robs on Main Street, he attempted to sing one of his songs after putting extremely hot sauce on his tongue. Across the street at Clear River Pecan, he mounted the 50-cent horse out front and sang his song “Cowboy With No Horse To Ride.” He posted these crazy attempts on his Facebook page.
“It was silly stuff, just to get people to take pictures on their phones and post them,” he said. “Getting out with people is what makes it fun.”
The silly stuff had a serious purpose. Ryan is trying to raise the $3500 to cover the cost of recording his first CD, “Cinnamon Pass.” The fund is set up on Kickstarter. It may be over by the time you read this, but supporters can go to his web site and click the link to kick in anytime.
So, how has it gone? Well...
“At this point, the campaign is grossly underfunded,” he said. “The crowd funding was probably destined for failure, but I will succeed because I expected that and kept a reserve of personal savings to fund it to a certain amount.”
Ryan’s blunt assessment probably is a result of his personal story. By his own admission, he spent 15 years “chasing paychecks,” wandering from sales to restaurant work. Music was always part of his life (his father is Rick Burgess, longtime band director and musician), but only when he was pushing 40 did he begin believing it might be a viable career.
“I started writing songs, and people responded,” he said. “People were telling me my songs were as good as other musicians, so why not do what they are doing?”
The whole venture has taught Ryan, who went to school to go into ministry, several lessons.
“The first word that comes to mind is humility,” he said. “It is a strange thing to say I believe in the talent God gave me, but I can’t do it without your help. There is something programmed into us as Americans to achieve. Part of what I wanted to convey is that if I am going to ask you to give me money, I have to demonstrate that I am willing to go out and do the work rather than sit on the couch.”
Secondly, he learned a “hell of a lot of gratitude.” Because even though he didn’t reach his goal, he gained many followers and fans.
“The fact that some people got excited were some of the gem moments that happened for me,” he said. “I am grateful that anyone takes the time to find out what I am doing.”
The album is on track to get finished in February or March. He still will accept funds, and has set up tiers that have levels of rewards, from free download of the finished works up to having him do a private concert or write a song for the contributor.
Whatever the outcome, Ryan knows he is on the right path. Literally.
“This is the first thing that feels right. I don’t know if it will be a lifelong career. If it ends tomorrow, I’ll accept that. God has put the sidewalk out in front of me; my job is to follow it.”