Quantum Leaping and Sharing our Songs

The decision to drink electrically-charged waters to try to shrink my big ole’ thyroid nodule is a quantum leap I’m making - from accepted Western medical practices to little-tested alternative therapies.


I’m looking at Quantum Leaping in other parts of my life as well - working on blockages in any way I can that might be contributing, on a psychic level, to the blockage in my thyroid.

I have a sizable perfectionist block. Who doesn't, right?


It keeps me from completing and sharing work I’ve done - the songs and shows I’ve created. It keeps me doing endless rewrites, the latest not necessarily any better than the one that came before, just different.

It also keeps the work of my collaborators locked in the electronic file cabinet. Not fair to them. 

Take the first song I created for Hope Sings No one has ever heard it (my husband doesn't count) (don't tell him I said that).

I went to tremendous lengths to create the song “Blanca.” I brazenly buttonholed Latin music stars, worked and reworked the lyric, traveled to Panama twice to collaborate and record the demo.

And there “Blanca” sits, in its electronic drawer. 3 years, it sits.

I have let all the lovely work of my collaborators - composer Romulo Castro and musician/producer Luis Thomas – go unheard.

I have let the inspiring story of Blanca from Barcenas - a woman who raised her family from poverty, thanks to FINCA microloans and delicious bread – go unsung.

Because -

  • It doesn't sound "pop" enough (I'm embarrassed of my musical theatre roots)
  • I don’t like my singing voice (I sang the demo) (I'm such a soprano!)
  • I ran out of money to produce it (an excuse).
  • It’s not perfect.
  • I’m afraid others will be even more critical than I am.
  • It's not perfect

In the book "Do It Wrong Quickly" e-marketing guru Mike Moran writes:

“Music is now a conversation, and feedback from your fans helps you adjust what you do every day.”

Actually, he wrote “Marketing,” not “Music,” and “customers” not “fans.” Creative license.

Seth Godin says the same thing. Ship, ship, ship. That’s the only way to improve the product.

Rodgers and Hammerstein got a musical on stage just about every year, and that’s how they became – Rodgers and Hammerstein. They shipped. Not every show they wrote was a hit. Ever hear of Pipedream

In our world of $100 (min) tickets to a Broadway show, consumers demand perfection. What a shame. Sometimes one glorious moment in an otherwise mediocre enterprise is worth the price of admission.


Let It Go

Like you have to let a child be who they are.

Let It Go.

Like stress. Insecurity. The laundry.

Let It Go

LIke this song.

Let Blanca Go

(shades of the Wizard of Oz)

To Romulo and Luis: my heartfelt apologies. Here is your song. And a promise: I will produce it with a better voice than mine. it will be a big part of Hope Sings the Musical. (more on that soon!).

What “songs” are you hiding? Share them with me. Please. Let your babies out.

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Dartmouth Aires - and Hope Sings?

The Dartmouth Aires, the a cappella singing group, has a chance to WIN NBC's Sing Off - but we all have to vote.


I intend to ask them to perform a Hope Sings song!

Remember how the Dartmouth Women's group, the Decibelles, arranged and performed our song, "Hope" last spring?

So that song is ready and waiting for them to perform and raise awareness of/funds for microfinance.

So help MF - and vote! Up to 10 times per email address.



Is it the impossible dream...

...to make money in the music business?

At Hope Sings, we're looking at all the different ways - all the potential revenue streams, time/energy cost/benefit analysis - to make enough money to make a difference (ie donating to our MF partners).

I don't recommend reading the following scree by Courtney Love if you're thinking of entering the music business and actually paying your rent. It's very lucid and very funny in a terrifying way. 

Here it is - how the label makes 11 million and the artists end up with nothing. Even with a $1 million advance.

Here she goes:

What happens to that million dollars? 

They spend half a million to record their album. That leaves the band with $500,000. They pay $100,000 to their manager for 20 percent commission. They pay $25,000 each to their lawyer and business manager. 

That leaves $350,000 for the four band members to split. After $170,000 in taxes, there's $180,000 left. That comes out to $45,000 per person. 

That's $45,000 to live on for a year until the record gets released. 

The record is a big hit and sells a million copies. (How a bidding-war band sells a million copies of its debut record is another rant entirely, but it's based on any basic civics-class knowledge that any of us have about cartels. Put simply, the antitrust laws in this country are basically a joke, protecting us just enough to not have to re-name our park service the Phillip Morris National Park Service.) 

So, this band releases two singles and makes two videos. The two videos cost a million dollars to make and 50 percent of the video production costs are recouped out of the band's royalties. 

The band gets $200,000 in tour support, which is 100 percent recoupable. 

The record company spends $300,000 on independent radio promotion. You have to pay independent promotion to get your song on the radio; independent promotion is a system where the record companies use middlemen so they can pretend not to know that radio stations -- the unified broadcast system -- are getting paid to play their records. 

All of those independent promotion costs are charged to the band. 

Since the original million-dollar advance is also recoupable, the band owes $2 million to the record company. 

If all of the million records are sold at full price with no discounts or record clubs, the band earns $2 million in royalties, since their 20 percent royalty works out to $2 a record. 

Two million dollars in royalties minus $2 million in recoupable expenses equals ... zero! 

How much does the record company make? 

They grossed $11 million. 

It costs $500,000 to manufacture the CDs and they advanced the band $1 million. Plus there were $1 million in video costs, $300,000 in radio promotion and $200,000 in tour support. 

The company also paid $750,000 in music publishing royalties. 

They spent $2.2 million on marketing. That's mostly retail advertising, but marketing also pays for those huge posters of Marilyn Manson in Times Square and the street scouts who drive around in vans handing out black Korn T-shirts and backwards baseball caps. Not to mention trips to Scores and cash for tips for all and sundry. 

Add it up and the record company has spent about $4.4 million. 

So their profit is $6.6 million; the band may as well be working at a 7-Eleven.


Big Gulp, anyone?

Mother's Day gifts to help women through microfinance

Every Mother's Day we pay tribute to our own mothers through dinners, gifts, phone calls, cards or fond memories.  

This year, celebrate all mothers everywhere - especially those mothers living in poverty, working hard, but not earning enough money to feed their families or send their children to school -  with Hope Sings and our partners.

Today, why don't you visit HS partner Kiva.org –

Kiva is offering Kiva Cards that help mothers around the world who lack access to basic opportunities in life - like financial services.  "Mothers nurture, love, and support us, and every year we take a day to celebrate this, yet not all mothers around the world have the ability to provide for their children and families as they wish they could.  Kiva works to help give Mothers around the world opportunities to succeed."  

Another thing you can do in honor of Mom's Day? Buy a Hope Sings song.  Profits from our songs go to our partner microfinance organizations to help fund small loans to individuals  -- many of them women -- to start small businesses and begin the journey from poverty to prosperity. Direct donations are great, but songs have the potential to reach thousands of ears and create thousands of new donors – that’s the Music Multiplier Effect!

Shout out for HS partner MicroPlace from social enterprise bigwig

Kevin Jones, one of the fathers of social enterprise must-attend conference SOCAP, gave an interview on social enterprise. He gave kudos to MicroPlace and how it allows investors to make loans as small as $25. Lots of other interesting thoughts as well, for people fascinated by social enterprise (as we are at Hope Sings).


Baby with the Bathwater

There's been a big backlash against microfinance recently, which many of you probably know. No, it's not a panacea. And no, it's not the devil.

And now political gripes in India are threatening to get Dr. Yunus ousted from the bank he founded (Grameen). 

It's nice to see fellow microfinance folk standing up for his rights. See the letter below, signed by several partners to Hope Sings. 


An Open Letter In Support Of Dr. Muhammad Yunus

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Washington D.C., March 8, 2011 - Muhammad Yunus has diligently served the poor for decades. No one has done more to inspire generations to work to reduce poverty.

We are increasingly concerned and dismayed with the troubles Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus is facing in Bangladesh. As we understand it, the Government of Bangladesh is resorting to technicalities to remove Dr. Yunus from the Grameen Bank, without presentation through legitimate and transparent legal processes of any evidence of wrong-doing.

We deeply deplore this lack of justice and unproven allegations that not only impugn Dr. Yunus' character and the integrity of his flagship bank, but reach much further. Forced removal creates unnecessary risk for the more than 8 million borrowers-owners of the bank. The Government of Bangladesh previously had respect for the bank's independence as a majority client-owned microfinance institution; it is our sincere hope that a return to the status quo can be made quickly.

Dr. Yunus has played a seminal role in the development and recognition of microfinance — the provision of small, working-capital loans and other financial services for the entrepreneurial poor. He has our strong support, and our wishes for a just and speedy resolution to this sad turn of events.


Calvert Foundation
Co-operative Bank
Deutsche Bank 
Freedom from Hunger
Grameen Foundation
Grassroots Capital
Microvest Fund
Opportunity International
Pro Mujer
Triple Jump
VisionFund International
Women’s World Banking