New York City renown jazz pianist/composer Kevin Hays offers fans a unique opportunity to learn about the songwriting and recording process behind his 2007 release, The Dreamer through his label, ArtistShare (www.artistshare.com). Fans can participate at different levels including a personal correspondence lesson with Hays, 2 online lessons, a Q & A session, CD download and more. His album, The Dreamer is a lovely contemporary jazz assortment that includes the intriguing track "A Question," which demonstrates Hays' skill as an equally evocative vocalist. "A Question" describes a soldier's encounter with an apparition in the middle of the desert, a poignant track that resonates with a world audience.
Kevin Hays has now recorded nearly a dozen CD's as a leader, including 3 critically acclaimed recordings for Blue Note Records. Over the past 10 years, Kevin has performed extensively with his Trio which includes bassist Doug Weiss and drummer Bill Stewart. One of Hayes most highly acclaimed CD's, Seventh Sense was recognized as one of the "Top 40 Jazz Releases of the Year" by Musician Magazine and praised by The New York Times.
Hays also records and tours frequently with his group Sangha Quartet, which features tenor saxophonist Seamus Blake. The last 3 years have been productive for Hays whose recent recording activity includes the Solo Piano CD, Open Range released on the ACT label, the launching of PinonDisk Records, his own label on which he has released his Trio recording What Survives along with his own compositions and features arrangements of classical works by Johannes Brahms, Robert Schumann and Anton Webern.
2006 saw the release of a new Trio CD for Hays devoted to Jazz Standards and The American Songbook entitled For Heaven's Sake, which received the prestigious Coups de Coeur Award in France and was chosen as "The Best of 2006" by The New Yorker Magazine and awarded "Four Stars" in JAZZMAN Magazine. His 2007 release, The Dreamer features a new set of Jazz compositions and songs that include vocal performances by Hayes.
Hays' relationship with ArtistShare is fairly new. It is a label which began in 2001, when jazz guitarist and Artist Share Founder, Brian Camelio observed major changes taking place in the music industry and concluded that traditional record companies were in serious trouble because piracy and online sharing of music files had become increasingly harder to prevent. Camelio also felt that traditional labels were being increasingly unfair to artists, and he launched ArtistShare with the goal of creating an environment that was both kinder to musicians and less vulnerable to the effects of piracy by providing fans greater access into the creative process. ArtistShare, as envisioned by Camelio, would be a major departure from traditional labels in that CDs would be funded by artists' fans, distribution would be strictly Internet-based, and artists would maintain full ownership of recordings and keep 85% of an album's profits.
Camilio tells in a press release, "I started ArtistShare with the vision that the music industry was rapidly changing from a retail industry to a service industry." He perceives, "The one thing that cannot be downloaded is the creative process, and ArtistShare's business model has been based on the creative process."
After being in a developmental stage in 2001 and 2002, Camelio's new business model fully went into effect when critically acclaimed bandleader/arranger/composer Maria Schneider (www.mariaschneider.com) released her fan-funded album Concert In The Garden through ArtistShare in 2003. The CD made history by becoming the first Grammy-winning album that was sold online exclusively, and Schneider won another Grammy when her song "Cerulean Sky," from her second ArtistShare-affiliated project Sky Blue, was named "Best Instrumental Composition" in 2008.
Since 2003, a long list of well respected jazz improvisers have released fan-funded albums through ArtistShare, including Chris Potter, Bob Brookmeyer, Eddie Palmieri, Billy Childs, Jane Ira Bloom, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Eden Atwood, Rachel Z, Brian Lynch and Kenny Werner. Schneider isn't the only ArtistShare-associated artist who the Grammies have recognized; along the way, projects released through ArtistShare have resulted in eleven Grammy nominations and four Grammy wins, including Childs for his composition "Into the Light" in 2006 and Palmieri and Lynch for their Simpático album in 2007, proving that projects based in fans-artists interactions are duly respected by their peers.
Camelio notes that when fans fund ArtistShare-affiliated projects and offer their input and feedback, this inevitably encourages a stronger bond between artists and fans that is beneficial on both a creative and a business/marketing level. In terms of marketing, it is beneficial because ArtistShare-affiliated artists are better able to gauge what fans are willing to pay for, and on a creative level. Camelio says, "The fans' feedback encourages artists to really go that extra mile."
"The old way of making records and selling them in stores was kind of an insular experience for the artist," Camelio explains. "Breaking down the wall between the artist and the fan has been the foundation of ArtistShare's business model, and we have found that when that wall is broken down, artists do some of their best work. The quality of the work I have seen at ArtistShare has been astounding."