In 14 days, the ChantCafe and CMAA pulled off the first ever commissioning of liturgical music using digital micro-patronage, raising fully $5000. Every bit after technology fees goes directly to the composer and the resulting product given to the world for free.
What can we say but: this works! And thank you to all patrons of the arts who made this possible. They stand in a long line of art patrons dating back to the ancient world. Most of the people who gave never imagined that they could become a patron of liturgical music. They figured that this was something that the super rich can do, but it is not a role for regular folks. For years I’ve looked at programs at the symphony or theater and seen the names of people who gave to make it possible. We can’t but be grateful to them but it always seems like something they can do but we cannot do.
Not so now. Many of the patrons gave $10 gifts. This was the driving energy. They were equally generous as those who gave much larger amounts and put the campaign over the top. What was beautiful to see was the cooperation between all the groups (small, medium, and large donors) toward a common goal. This is the magic and energy.
The music that results here is given not only to the patrons, without restrictions on copying or distribution, but also to everyone else in the world as well, and not just for now but forever. In short, these patrons were doing something to benefit the whole Church, the faith, and the cause of beautiful art. As for the printed version, thanks to print-on-demand services, it will be made available at direct cost of the paper and ink. You can look forward to buying your complete set in the future, as the project continues toward completion.
It is interesting to compare this approach with the usual commercial approach. The composer is paid very little but promised royalties that rarely if ever arrive in any serious amount. And yet the publisher restricts the results, so that you cannot copy it. They threaten us with fines, lawsuits, investigations, and coercion for doing so. The consumers pay and pay and pay again, for sheet after sheet, year after year, essentially forever. Even when the music is not available, the publishers demand a fee for photocopying old music. The music itself is never free of shackles, not even for the composer, and the paying never stops. Who benefits from this system? It is not the composer. It is not the customer. You can do the math and draw the conclusion.
When you think about it, there is a fantastic amount of bloat and belligerence embedded in these conventions. How can they last in a digital age? They surely cannot.
You have shown that a new, humane, and charitable solution can work when people of faith come together and join their energies to a common cause. We can’t overlook a serious tip of the hat to digital media and the entrepreneurs at ThePoint.com that made this whole campaign possible with just a few clicks. Their technology is easy and empowering. This is what made it possible for anyone to realize a dream of being an arts patron. Speaking for myself here, I never imagined I would be able to make a contribution in this way.
Of course I’m most excited about the resulting music, which will be the first in-print book of simple, chanted English propers for every Catholic parish. Yes, it should have been done 40 years ago. But what matters is that it is being done right now, and it won’t be too long before we can hold this book in our hands and say: this is music for Mass.
Thank you again to everyone, and especially to Adam for having faith that this could work.