Can't donate but still want to help? No problem! Go to austinchronicle.com/bestof and vote for us as "Best Locally Produced TV Show" in the "Media" section! We're huge underdogs in this category but we firmly believe that we should at the very least be a part of the conversation. Let's give it a shot!
Click here to watch the trailer for the season premiere!
I'm so thrilled to be kicking off season 2 with Yum, a post-surf band that's making unique, moody, hypnotic music. I can honestly say that their episode is shaping up to be one of the best we've ever made. It is as personal, moving, and beautiful as anything we've ever done.
We deal with what it's like to grow up as an Asian-American, how to overcome shame, and how to deal with profound loss - all with the humor, insight, and honesty you've come to expect from Hardly Sound. Look for the premiere episode of season 2 soon!
Our friends over at Austin's Pizza have generously donated two $25 gift certificates to give away to our fans!
Here's how it's going to work: if you've already donated, you're automatically entered into this sweepstakes so don't worry.
For everyone else: enter TODAY or TOMORROW (that's 7/10 and 7/11) for a chance to win! Anyone who donates after that is out of the running (but, of course, you still get your awesome gifts for donating).
You know we love you. Here's yet another brand new video for you of The Gary performing at SXSW!
More goodies! We just got in 20 limited-edition bumper stickers. Check them out!
We're going to pick 20 random donators at the end of our campaign and then include one of these in their care packages. Donate for a chance to win one!
I told you, didn't I? When I told you we'd be posting new content all throughout our campaign, I wasn't lying.
Here's a new Ralph White video. Bam.
This is from our SXSW showcase earlier this year. Enjoy!
Oh man, check out this super awesome article over at Pop Press International!
Choice quote: "The series immediately transcends music by carefully crafting narratives surrounding musicians who become characters in stories woven by series co-creator and director Chris Kim."
Be sure to watch the video interview, too, in which I talk about how music shows are almost universally boring (and how we're attempting to buck the trend) and how death has a way of intruding on our show. Thanks, Pop Press International!
Check out our Season 2 Trailer! I'm pretty damn proud of it.
Our t-shirt designs are finally ready for you! Check it out! As you can see, it's got the trademark Alex Woolston playfulness that we've come to expect. As mentioned, these will be printed by our good friends and sponsors over at Kong Screenprinting.
Okay, so the plan was to only update this page with new content that we've created but this was just too cool. AllYourScreens.com just named us their Crowdfunding Project of the Week!
Choice quote: "Since Austin City Limits has been the coolest music series on PBS since it premiered in 1976, it seems fitting that the second coolest also comes from Austin."
Hey, he's talking about us!
Want to learn a bit more about our philosophy behind making the show? Why, of course you do! Everyone loves philosophy! You're in luck. Over at our blog, we've just released the uncut interview we did with Tribeza Magazine earlier this year. Check it out here!
To celebrate our Indiegogo campaign, we'll be releasing some cool new content throughout the next month! First up is a previously unreleased track from our recording session with Royal Forest! In it, they cover Willie Nelson's "I Never Cared For You" and The Flying Burrito Bros' "Hot Burrito #1." Click here to go watch it!
What Is Hardly Sound?
Hardly Sound is a music documentary series that airs on PBS. With its unique and personal brand of storytelling, it strives to illuminate the mysteries of the creative process and to connect the creative community as much possible.
The stories of Hardly Sound are told through first-person narration (think No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain or the documentaries of Werner Herzog). It eschews the anonymous, purely observational style that is so common among other documentaries in favor of a personal and specific point-of-view.
Why Do You Make Hardly Sound?
The goal of this show is simple: I want to make people feel less alone. We creative types are prone to feelings of crippling isolation. The more of you I meet, the more I see that people like us need to hear from people like us.
There is a void of genuine, vulnerable, personal, and good storytelling in the world. Hardly Sound is our small contribution; it is our way of trying to tip the balance to the other side.
We’d love it if you helped.
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"[Hardly Sound] explores the musician's story as an emblem for the universal struggles and triumphs of artists of all media." -Tribeza Magazine
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Why Should I Give To Hardly Sound?
Just like Season One, we are going to make 5 half-hour episodes for Season Two.
We paid for the majority of Season One’s production out of our own pockets. Though we air on KLRU (and many other PBS stations across the country in the near future) we are still an independent production. In other words, though KLRU has helped us in innumerable ways, we are not a KLRU production and therefore do not receive funding from them.
And yes, this season we have been lucky to have some generous sponsors but the reality is we are once again poised to pay for the production of Hardly Sound mostly out of our own pockets. Make no mistake, we love this show too much to let it fade away without a fight but financial realities are financial realities.
It's also worth noting that we are under the umbrella of the Austin Film Festival's 501(c)(3) classification as a non-profit organization. In other words, your donation to us is tax-deductible as a charitable donation.
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"[Narrator Christopher Kim] adds a layer of storytelling that's both funny and imbued with a vulnerable charm." -Culturemap Austin
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Where Does The Money Go?
Travel costs, equipment rentals/purchases, studio time, and of course hiring crew. But there's more to it than that.
Ask any artist you know. At some point or another, regardless of experience, regardless of talent, regardless of expertise, we are forced to do free work. Making a living off of your art is nearly impossible.
Season One’s production was possible because the creative community here in Austin is incredibly generous with their time and expertise. Everybody volunteered their services - studios, audio engineers, camera operators, Randy and myself, and many, many other amazing people. (Including, once, a pilot.)
The truth is, we could probably do it again. We could probably call in a few more favors.
But no. I don't want to do that. The creative community of Austin is too damn talented and brilliant to continue to do unpaid work. I want to be able to hire camera operators and production assistants and editors. Hire them, not ask for their help. Hire them and pay them the wages they deserve.
Because we've all been there. We've all been the artist who willingly offers their services for free because maybe it'll give us a little more exposure, maybe we’ll connect with the right people, maybe eventually someone with money will come along.
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"Written with humor and conveying deep respect for the musicians it documents Hardly Sound shouldn't be missed." -Pop Press International
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Are You Going To Lecture Me About Giving Back To The Community Now?
I think our creative community as a whole has - whether we realize it or not - collectively agreed that being unpaid or underpaid is something we should all expect and accept. Frankly, I think that's a poisonous way of thinking.
No one's going to step in and wave a magic wand and make that stop. We have to change the way we view ourselves and our work. It is our responsibility to change this attitude.
That's what your donation helps us do. Believe it or not, I'm not making an embarrassingly personal heartfelt music documentary series about local bands for the fame and fortune. I do it because it's the art I need to make. Your donation helps fund that art, and more importantly it helps us give back to the creative community.
I have seen how tremendously generous the creative community can be. I've see them flat-out refuse money from us, I've seen them drive out to a tiny airport to film a band in a tiny plane, I've seen them spend hours in the studio to help us record a handful of songs. They give and they give and they give.
Call me sentimental but I think it's about time we returned the favor.
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"[The] creators are looking for stories of invisible people." -Seesaw Austin
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That’s Great, That’s Great. Very Moving And Junk. Do I Get Cool Gifts?
Well, duh. You know we're going to hook you up. I’m honestly damn excited about the perks we’re offering. You’re getting a lot of bang for your buck. We’ve priced everything as fairly as we could because it's important to us that our fans be rewarded for their generosity.
Every donor - whether you donate $5 or $1000 - becomes a member of the exclusive Hardly Sound Alliance.
What does that mean? It means you get early access to ALL of our content. Every single frame. That includes our full episodes, our trailers, our performance videos, and our new web series “Side Notes.”
I'm also going to be creating some Script Books this season. These will be PDF files that feature full transcripts of every episode along with tons of gorgeous photos, commentary, an occasional essay, behind-the-scenes stuff, and little bits of earlier drafts. Basically, it's an inside look at how we go about creating the show. Anyone who donates $10 or more will receive these as each episode airs.
I'm probably most excited about our awesome T-shirts. Custom-designed by Alex Woolston (who did the amazing layer cake poster for our SXSW show)...
...and printed by Kong Screenprinting, these shirts are a confluence of some of the best artists this city has to offer. Here it is in all its fanciful glory:
We'll post some pictures of us modeling it as soon as we get our hands on them. This can be yours for only $25. Plus you get the Script Books AND become a member of the Hardly Sound Alliance which gives you early access to all of our content!
Oh, and for the first time ever, we're also offering DVDs!
Season 1 DVDs will contain all five episodes of the first season and will feature audio commentaries by yours truly. These will ship out as soon as this campaign ends.
Season 2 DVDs will contain all five episodes of the second season along with all sorts of special features that we'll reveal in the future. These will ship after Season 2 finishes airing (early 2014).
Anyone who donates $35 or more will also receive DRM-free digital downloads of every episode of Season 2 as it airs. I know some of you cool kids aren't into physical media these days (okay, I'm kind of one of them) so this is for you!
Now all of this amounts to some of the best merchandise we've ever offered but we've saved the most unique stuff for last.
We're offering up some amazing paintings by none other than former Hardly Sound guest Emcee Eats. We've only got 3 of these so get one now!
It's cool enough that we're going to feature lo-fi alternative legend Jad Fair of the seminal band Half Japanese in Season 2, but it's even cooler that he was generous enough to offer nine signed paper cuttings to our fans. Jad's unique, joyous art has been featured all over the globe, and we're excited to be able to share that with you. We only have nine of these so get one quick!
We wouldn't have come this far without our amazing sponsors this year. As if they haven't already been insanely generous to us, they're also offering some great gifts for our fans.
Kong Screenprinting has created all of Hardly Sound's T-shirts, and we're excited to work with them again this season. I've been to their facility and met all the awesome people that work there, and I can tell you that they do some great work. One thing all our sponsors have in common is passion for what they do, and Kong Screenprinting is no exception. And now you get to see for yourself! They're offering up custom-made T-shirts with YOUR design.
Real Ale Brewing Company is offering up a tour of their brewery. I've been on this tour myself and it's pretty darn cool. This is a great company filled with passionate people. When we met them, they told us all about how this company basically started with a couple of people who had decided to pour their lives into making something they were truly proud of. (Sound familiar?) Oh, and their beer is damn good, too. Don't miss your chance to witness the creation process for some of the best beer in the world!
And remember, most of these perks are cumulative (see the sidebar for exceptions) so the more you donate, the more you get!
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"Imagine if Werner Herzog had directed Minutemen doc We Jam Econo." -Austin Chronicle
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That’s All Well And Good But Your Videos Are Available Online For Free. Why Should I Bother?
Yes, Hardly Sound is free and available to everyone. Nothing frustrates me more than when I fall in love with a TV show but can't find it anywhere legally and/or easily. If someone wants to watch our show, they can go to HardlySound.com or our Vimeo or our YouTube, and, boom, there's every video we've ever made without any paywalls or hoops to jump through.
That will never change. So the question remains: why bother donating then?
I’m not trying to toot my own horn here but we’re making something that isn’t common. Making a TV show costs a lot of money and takes a lot of time no matter what but our particular brand of storytelling can be especially resource intensive. Instead of opting to do quick 15-minute interviews, for example, our interviews this season have been running up to two hours long. Making an episode of Hardly Sound quite simply takes a lot more time than the average documentary series. On top of that, we are always constantly pushing to make Hardly Sound one of the best looking and sounding shows in the world and that means always finding the best people to hire and using the best equipment we can afford.
And also think about where this money is going. Right now, this is a TV show literally made by two people. We are not serving some giant corporation. We're not cogs in some big machine. This show exists because Randy and I put our heart and souls into it every single day. Our only major goal is to make something we're really damn proud of, and either through sheer luck or grim determination we've managed to hit that mark on more than one occasion.
Your donations go towards that - towards helping a couple of guys make the very best TV show they can. What exactly does that mean?
That means when I want to rent out a microphone for the weekend to record my narration, I don't have to use my own credit card. That means when we travel to Denton later this year to film RTB2, we don't have to pay for gas or food with our own money. That means when I need to an assistant editor to help me manage six months' worth of footage, I can pay them. That means if everything works out (cross your fingers) and we're able travel to Athens, GA, to film Half Japanese opening for Neutral Milk Hotel I can rent out a Canon C100 and some better lenses and some better sound equipment and hire a camera operator or two. And on and on and on.
But here's the greater impact your donation has: When I was, say, 15 years old, I was a weirdo. I was an outcast. I didn’t know where I belonged and I was angry and sad and had just the absolute worst acne in the world. Do you know how comforted I would’ve been if I could watch a show about people who had been through the same thing and had come out the other end as musicians...
People who, even if they’re not like everyone else, found a way to be themselves without shame or fear? Do you know how much more connected to the world I would’ve felt?
This is what we're trying to do with Hardly Sound.
We ask only that you give whatever you are capable of giving. I get it. I don’t have much money, either. If you can’t give, that’s okay. I understand. But if you can spare $5 for a show that is trying to put some good into the world, then please do.
And if you can’t give, please consider sharing this campaign with your friends and family. It makes a big difference.
The fact is, yes, if you don’t donate you can still watch all of our content for free. But we have always and will always get by on the kindness of people like you.
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"...doesn't sound like the typical music documentary..." -Austin American-Statesman
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Okay, Geez, With The Guilt Trip. What Else Do You Have To Say?
If this show has ever moved you or made you laugh or given you a single moment of entertainment or upliftment, well, this is a great way to show your appreciation.
If you can give, please give. If you can’t give but want to help, please help us spread the word about this campaign.
Thank you so much for your support. I love you all.