Bridge Music to Tower Music

After launching Bridge Music I needed some time to decompress before embarking on Tower Music. Sampling the Mid Hudson Bridge’s sounds, writing the music, hearing the finished product and sharing it with others was fantastic, but that made up about only 10% of the work I did.

Most of my time was spent drumming up support and waiting for official approvals to come through; remember this was done on a bridge, so everything I did had to conform to three different sets of governmental regulations, i.e.: the New York State Bridge Authority for the bridge itself, plus the Town of Lloyd on the west shore and the City of Poughkeepsie on the east. You haven’t lived until you’ve sat through over a dozen meetings on the protocols for posting signs…

Then there was the challenge of raising funds.

Originally proposed as a series of live (and televised) concerts, after which a physical sound installation would remain as legacy of the event, the cost for such an endeavor was high, but not so much that a major corporation couldn’t logically budget it as part of their annual advertising, promoting some new product in return for the national and international visibility this project would bring. I presumed that the Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadricentennial Commission would produce a celebration on the scale of the 2007 Jamestown, Virginia Quadricentennial events, which were indeed magnificent. I was massively incorrect as to New York State’s intentions, it turned out. In the end, the global economic meltdown of 2008 mooted all questions of corporate sponsorship.

The Commerce of Art – a Digression
My research revealed that generally speaking, most corporations commit their advertising dollars a year in advance, by quarter. This is for discretionary spending of course, long range marketing campaigns often have multiple-year arcs.

Anyway, since I was shooting for the third quarter of 2009, I’d have to get my proposals on their dockets by the second quarter of 2008 so the proposal could be reviewed in time. January through June of 2008 was spent canvassing companies, media partners, individual patrons, concert promoters, and any other leads that I thought would make sense. Making contact as an individual rather than a professional marketing agent was quite an uphill climb, but I made a reasonable amount of headway.

All for naught.

As if the economy wasn’t bad enough around this time, July and August 2008 brought the rumblings of the oncoming economic catastrophe. Though no businesses were really safe, every day I experienced seeing another name from my long list of of chosen potential sponsors on the front pages: Verizon, GM, Pepsi, etc., …one by one, strikes, failures, plummeting sales.

In fact, I was on the phone with Wes, my contact from Rolling Rock when InBev’s hostile takeover of Anheuser-Busch actually happened.  Threats of the acquisition were in the news and there was lots of anxiety among AB’s rank & file. As he answered the phone, agitated shouting erupted in the background and he said “Joe, we’re putting out fires left and right here, I’ll have to call you back.” Then I saw it on my news feed and correctly guessed that the hard-won phone number I was using would be disconnected later that week.

I was in no hurry to devote myself to another grueling set of these circumstances.