I've come to a bummer of a conclusion.
But before I get to it, I'll tell you a bit about this gig I did last night. It was at the Chelsea Club, a stunning mansion built in 1883. Somehow, despite living in Ottawa for most of my life, I had never noticed it just sitting there on Metcalfe. I had walked by it a million times, but it's one of those things you take for granted living in a pretty city with a bunch of really gorgeous old heritage buildings. This place is beautiful. The inside is perfectly maintained, with antique furniture and decorations everywhere. It has odd little staircases and sprawling rooms. Quite a sight - and a cool place to have a gig.
We set up in the front dining room with a little PA system. Ana Miura had kindly invited Lynne Hanson and myself to play for some of the club members - apparently they had been wanting to hold shows there for a while. The songs were well-received, and MAN did I ever enjoy Lynne's set. I'm not sure how I hadn't seen her live until last night, but when people say she's a mix of Gillian Welch and Lynn Miles, they aren't kidding.
The kind folks at the Chelsea Club also fed us, which is exciting, because they had a gourmet vegan chef on hand. Great for me, since I have a list of eating restrictions longer than my arm. We ate very well, as you can imagine. Pressed tofu in an orange teriaky sauce with sesame rice. Mmmm.
But it was in chatting over dinner that I came to my bummer of a conclusion. We were all talking about the costs of self-funding an album, and about how it can be tough to break even on the best of projects. It was so good to talk to other songwriters about it, because they understand exactly what I mean when I say I've started skimping on groceries. And fuck, I work a good job, and I pay decent rent. I shouldn't need to be cheaping out on nourishment. And yet...
So, I explain that I planned on giving away an album with each ticket at the CD release party in the fall. I say that I just want people to have a copy of the CD, and that I will make the money up somehow. And then Lynne says, "You know, people expect to buy an album at a CD release party. It's part of the night. They get to see a great show at the NAC, and then they buy the disc. They are usually happy to contribute."
Uh, right. Good point. But what about my brilliant plan to give out copies to the masses?
"Well, it's an awesome idea, except that you are in debt, and a CD release is a great place to sell your album."
Ana nods in agreement. "People won't mind, you know."
And then I blubber about how I didn't want to charge that much for tickets, but that since I had to, I figured I would add a free disc into the mix.
They both nod. "Right. Except that you need to make back at least some of what you spent. What better place than your CD release?"
I come to my bummer of a conclusion. I don't think I can afford to give away that many albums. Boooo.
So I drag my feet home and pass right out. I really wanted to give away copies of the album. I really wanted to. And now I can't. Argh. The only good thing that has come of this decision is that I am no longer having as many panic attacks when I look at my expenses.
Which, admittedly, is pretty nice.