Hey everybody, Michael here. With only 24 hours remaining for your chance to get in on this One Wild Life journey that a bunch of us are embarking on together, I just wanted to personally write to you to tell you a little more about this project and why I hope you will join us in it.
We have been making music professionally for more than a decade now, and I have learned a few things along the way. One of which is that a lot of the ways in which the music industry operates tends to incentivize artists to focus on celebrity, brand marketing and hype than it does for them to focus on making good art.
For those of you who don’t know much about the music industry, here’s how it works: there’s this thing called an 'album cycle.’ A single album cycle usually lasts a couple of years. The idea is that the artist makes an album (hopefully as quickly and cheaply as possible), then the artist gives that music to the label in order to market it and build a brand with. The music often ends up becoming part of the marketing for the brand. This is the argument that the streaming proponents often use. They say to stop thinking of music as the product and instead use the music to get more fans for the brand, and then sell merch and concert tickets to those fans.
For a lot of people, that works really well. They spend a month or two writing and then maybe a few weeks in the studio, and then they are back to the main part of their work--building the brand--doing things like interviews, videos, photo shoots, concerts, social media…etc But here’s the issue with having a music industry built on fame and personality rather than the art: the art tends to suffer. Imagine if Bach would have had to take 80 or 90 percent of his time away from his composing and instead spent it doing press interviews and traveling around Europe on a horse trying to get new fans... What could the world have missed out on? What art is the world potentially missing out on with the primary systems in place for the music industry often being more built on fame and branding than the creation of exceptional art?
I wonder how many musicians in our world right now are not living up to the fullest measure of what they could become as artists from the simple practicalities of needing to pay their rent and put food on their table. If you want to make a living in the music industry, all of the current systems lead you towards that typical album cycle model of making music that places the brand above the music.
That’s largely what we’ve had to do with our career up to this point as well. Of the time we’ve spent on our career, the vast majority of time is spent on things other than the actual crafting of the music. But over the last year or two, something has been stirring in us to question that status quo. We found that much of our creative energy was being spent on things like “how can we get to Omaha from Denver with 10 people for a thousand dollars?” rather than focusing on doing what we feel like we were created to do which is to craft music that opens the human heart.
Then I met a guy named Ryan, also known as ‘Sleeping at Last.’ Ryan is this amazing singer songwriter and composer who has been releasing a staggering amount of beautiful work over the last few years. I began to ask Ryan questions to figure out how he found time to make all of that, and I found out that he had simply opted out of the system. He had stopped spending 90 percent of his energy on touring and branding and all of the business and marketing stuff, and instead just focused on making music full time. And what he found was that his fans came alongside him and supported him in that endeavor. And somehow he was making it work! And now all of us who are fans of Sleeping at Last have all of this amazing music that we would not have if Ryan would have spent the last few years doing photo shoots rather than carving out thousands of hours in his studio.
We decided that we wanted to give something like that a try. And One Wild Life was born.
So we moved to Los Angeles and rented out a little space a couple of miles from our house where we could set up our studio gear. And so this year, every weekday (and many weekends), I wake up and ride my bike to my studio to make this music. And let me just say, I LOVE IT! I get to spend so much more time on the music and saying what we want to say! I feel so much creativity being set free from not focusing so much on selling t-shirts, but instead just focusing on making the best possible music that we can.
And so far, it seems like our mission of making music that opens the human heart is actually happening more effectively! Those who have purchased this season pass so far have been raving:
Here are just a few of some of your comments:
'I'm so happy I'm almost crying. Other artists entertain and are enjoyable to listen to...but you are the only ones that I've really connected with, that really get it, that feed my mind and soul. Your music is so thoroughly authentic.' -Kathryn Elizabeth Gillespie
'I myself have recently been aware of having developed a constricted and claustrophobic heart, and this album has proved opening and refreshing.’ -Mike West
"Soul" might be my favorite Gungor album so far. It is incredibly creative and bold. - Jonathan Le Shana
While we are extremely honored and humbled by such comments, it really makes me want to figure out how to keep spending the majority of our time crafting this music rather than trying to become more ‘famous.’ But to do that, we sincerely need the people like you that care about this music to be patrons of sorts. The reality is that we are going to eventually release One Wild Life: Soul to the public, and everyone will have easy access to it. Streamers will stream it. And we are happy for them to be able to experience the music. But for us to be able to focus on making this music that opens the human heart like we want to, we need other people to want us to do that as well. If it’s left to the standard music industry models and outlets and where it seems to be heading, the music will continue to be devalued into nothing more than a marketing tool for a brand rather than the primary work product of an artist. And that’s why we wanted to extend this season pass opportunity to you.
With this season pass, not only do you get the music early; not only do you get extra music and bonus materials and sales that nobody else will get, but you will literally be a crucial part of making this art. You will be paying for the studio that we rent in Los Angeles that I ride my bike to every day. You will be paying our rent so that we don’t have to spend all of our creative energy figuring out how to get people to Omaha for a thousand dollars. When you buy this season pass, the money goes right into making this art. It doesn’t go to Spotify. It doesn’t go to Apple. It goes to us and the creation of the art, and for those of you who believe in this music like we do, it literally means you are a part of making it. You are part of the stories that we constantly hear of people who have been inspired and changed with this music during difficult times of doubt or pain in their life.
So, today’s the day! The last chance for you to get in on the creation and enjoyment of the One Wild Life journey! What sort of art can we create together? I hope you’ll join us to find out. Listen to the tracks and consider being part of this alternative way of creating art together! Thank you so much; much love!!