Paul Cantrell’s music blog & podcast
Piano music old and new from a devoted amateur,
all free to listen to, download, and share.

How can I keep this project afloat?

As any of you who have ever learned a piece of music or made a recording know, what I’m doing here is a lot of work. It’s amazing how much time it takes to post two recordings a week. Just the mechanics of recording, editing and mastering are a chore for single person — even a simple improv ends up taking at least an hour or two of work to record, prepare and post. The compositions of others often take many dozens, hundreds of hours to learn, polish, and get a good take; my own compositions take many hundreds of hours more to write before I even start learning to play them in earnest.

This is not meant as a sob story — it’s work I love doing! — but it does raise the question, “How on earth do you find all that time, Paul?” My secret is that I’m jobless: I quit my last job in May, and have been living off savings since. (I also do a little freelance writing for MPR, but it doesn’t pay much.) The months since May have been some of the most enjoyable I’ve ever had, but all good things must end: my savings are running out.

This means that, as things stand now, there there are only a few months of In the Hands left. When I’m finally “down to me last few coppers,” as Wallace puts it, I’ll have to get a job. When I get a job, I’ll have very little time for the piano.

It’s too bad. I’m having fun with this! (I hope you are too.) So I’m wondering: what can I do to keep this project going?

I am interested in your ideas: how can I raise money? Would you be interested, for example, in buying CDs? Classy “In the Hands” T-shirts? Having body parts signed? (I would draw lines with that one.) I want to keep the recordings themselves free to download — that’s part of my unwritten mission statement for this site — but perhaps there are other creative things I could do. Or perhaps not enough people are genuinely interested enough in what I’m doing to keep it going. I really don’t know, and I’m open to opinions. What do you think?

As a first step, I’m now accepting donations. The era of wealthy patrons is gone, but I wonder: can an online audience of ordinary people do today as well as the nobility did in the 18th century? Can all of you together be a patron? I don’t know. You might at least help stretch the lifespan of In the Hands: by my estimate, if every single regular reader / listener contributed a mere $10 right now, it would pay for another month of music; if some people went beyond that, In the Hands could almost be sustainable. If you have been enjoying following along with my experiments, if there was one recording you found particularly moving, please think about what the music is worth to you and consider a contribution.