Max Garcia Conover is currently hosting a crowd funding campaign to raise money for the recording and release of his second full-length album, which is named after his hometown, Ellery.
Many artists have created crowd-sourcing campaigns that have successfully served as a platform for the release of their original content, including Jamestown's very own 10,000 Maniacs. In 2013, 10KM released its first album in 14 years, "Music From The Motion Picture," after raising funds via www.pledgemusic.com, which is a website similar to www.kickstarter.com or www.indiegogo.com. Tom Filsinger, founder of Filsinger Games, is also currently utilizing www.kickstarter.com to fund his "Champions of the Galaxy: The Live Event."
The crowd-sourcing method is tried and true, but doesn't guarantee a project will meet its goals. That's why Conover has decided to host his crowd funding campaign via his official website, maxgarciaconover.com. The homepage of his website has transitioned from a blog-like news feed to a simple, yet elegant, pitch for "Ellery." The website is complete with live video demo previews of tracks from "Ellery," as well as a promo video explaining the campaign.
Max Garcia Conover, a Bemus Point native, is pictured performing at Southern Tier Brewing Company in Lakewood during the summer of 2013. Conover is currently hosting a crowd funding campaign to raise money to cover the expenses related to recording and releasing his second full-length studio album entitled “Ellery.” Conover is currently living in Portland, Maine, but he’ll return to Western New York to perform at the Great Blue Heron Music Festival in July.
P-J file photo by Dusten Rader
According to Conover, the reason he decided to avoid an already established crowd-sourcing website is because he was hoping to create a more intimate experience for his fans - one that connected him directly to campaign itself.
"A big part of it is that I feel like if I have an opportunity to speak or work directly with people, instead of using some other service, I want to take that opportunity," Conover said. "I also didn't feel that I'd be able to do things like release weekly videos or send free copies of the album out to people. I've been reluctant to do one of these campaigns because you do see them so much, and it seems like people are asking for charity to do their work. But, it's the reality of the music business at this moment - it's how money changes hands in music right now- from people to artist and not to some big company. So, it seemed like it was something I had to do, which is why I wanted to do it as originally and creatively as I could."
SOMETHING TO WRITE HOME ABOUT
The name of Conover's campaign, "Honey We've Been Trying," stems from lyrics he wrote for one of the songs that will appear on the album, "The Start of Fables."
"I think this is true for a lot of things, but in order to make it as a musician - at least I'm hoping - is persistence," Conover said. "Doing it, doing it and doing it, trying and trying and trying - eventually you start making the art you really wanted to make all along. Eventually people start to really pay attention, and that's sort of what the song is about. But, it ends up being that your life was really about the trying, because the trying is what mattered. The trying is the good stuff too, even if it doesn't always feel that way. The reason it's the title of my campaign is because its a new way that I'm trying to make this work, and is a celebration of the act of trying."
The name of the album, "Ellery," is based upon Conover's hometown in Western New York. Ellery is a town with lake frontage on Chautauqua Lake, and has a population of less than 5,000. In addition to the village of Bemus Point, Ellery is also home to the hamlets of Maple Springs and Greenhurst. According to Conover, the majority of the songs on "Ellery" exhibit a similar theme of home or the idea of belonging in some way.
"Naming it after my hometown seemed appropriate, but it also felt like the most personal and autobiographical piece of work that I've done," Conover said. "I didn't feel right to do a self-titled thing, so 'Ellery' is a way of accomplishing that."
Conover said he'd love it if listeners were transported to Ellery, or that they'd want to visit the town as a result of his album.
"A lot of the landscapes in the songs are reminiscent of Ellery, or are inspired by Ellery," Conover said. "It's funny because I never really thought of Ellery as my town while growing up because I always felt like I was from Bemus Point. But, there's a lot more poetry in Ellery than in Bemus Point."
Conover has released several live video demos of tunes that could end up on "Ellery," and the decision will be based on listener response. So far, "You're the Farthest I Go" has received the greatest amount of attention and praise.
"I've been blown away by the general response because people have been really kind and receptive - it's been awesome," Conover said. "But, the best response by far was about 'You're the Farthest I Go,' which is a song that I did as a duet with Sophie Nelson. It's sort of a sparse love song, and is probably the only love song that I play. We recorded one duet on 'Burrow,' and for a lot of people that was their favorite song, and it was also sort of the most accessible song."
According to Conover, a lot of the songs on "Ellery" will be duets with Nelson in some way. Nelson also grew up in Bemus Point, and she's been a big part of his life for a long time. She played a critical role in developing Conover's interest in music, as well as in the creation of "Ellery." She's currently studying for an MFA in creative writing at Stonecoast University of Southern Maine. Conover hopes that she'll also be able to join him on his fall tour to promote the album.
While recording the album, Conover spent much of his time at the Signet House of Harvard University with artist-in-residency Ben Cosgrove, who is producing "Ellery."
"I'm so psyched," Conover said. "I feel like I'm making the sort of thing that I really want to make, which is how I feel every project, but it's the most fleshed-out my songs have been. There's a lot of other instrumentation, and there's a lot more that brings you into the song."
The album is likely to include at least a dozen tracks, but that could change depending on the response to the live video demos. Conover said he would like to at least have an album with 10 tracks, and anything that doesn't make it to recording will still have a live video demo. The album's artwork hasn't yet been finalized, and Conover would be willing to take suggestions on its direction. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Conover is currently living in Portland, Maine, but he'll return to Western New York to perform at the Great Blue Heron Music Festival in July. He hopes to have copies of the album available during the festival.
Anyone who supports the campaign, monetarily or not, will be sent as many copies of the completed album that they want. The projected date of release for those who contribute is early summer, and for the general public it'll be at the end of the summer.
Those interested in offering support only need to visit www.maxgarciaconover.com to pledge $10 for an early release digital copy of the album in addition to unlimited copies of the physical CD. There are also options to donate anywhere from $20 to $5,000, each offering their own reward, which range from signed copies of the album to house concerts, a vintage guitar and more. Those who do not wish to offer money can also request copies of the album for distribution purposes by filling out a form.
"The reason I'm doing that is because for my last album, 'Burrow,' I sent out thousands and thousands of free copies to the press, publicity companies, radio DJs and such. While some of that led to some really cool things - I think most just sat on desks," Conover said. "So, this time I figured I'd do the same thing, but they'll go to people who are excited to get them. So, I'm putting my faith in those people rather than in the publicity machine."
Conover looks not to profit from the release of his album, rather he hopes it will result in the word-of-mouth spread of his music. Ultimately he'd like for the music to serve as a catalyst for interest in his live performances. Conover credits Joe Pug, a musician from Chicago, as one of the major inspirations for the idea. For more about Pug, visit www.joepugmusic.com.
"I'm looking to make enough money to make the album, and make it as good as I can make it - but, shows are where I make all of my money as a musician," Conover said. "I'm trying to make a recording that stands on its own, and that people really want to spend time with so that it becomes a small part of their life. Outside of me even, I want the songs in the recording to exist by themselves. But, definitely the product that I worked really hard on creating is my live performance."
Conover's debut album, "Burrow," as well as several EPs are available for free streaming at maxgarciaconover.bandcamp.com. For more information, search for "Max Garcia Conover" on Facebook.