When I was 7 years old I was over at my best friend’s house. We were discussing riding our bikes to the local general store to spend the entirety of our allowance on candy. As I asked him how much money he had to spend, his mother yelled from the back room, “You don’t ask that question of someone! It’s none of your business how much money someone has.” I was stunned, felt shamed, and the lesson stuck with me: Money is taboo. Make it, save it. But don’t you dare talk about it. The original Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
As human beings we place weight on numbers. How much do you weigh? How much money do you make? What version of the iPhone do you have? And the subsequent evaluation begins. How do you measure up to me? Am I skinnier? Am I wealthier? I hope so. If I make more than you I might feel better, more able, more resourced, more accomplished. If I make less I may feel envious, seeing you as luckier, smarter, more fortunate and I grow resentful – putting you on a pedestal and me in the pit. My thoughts and expectations about you and how much of the dinner tab you pick up are influenced by the information I have about your numbers. These are the things we don’t talk about, acknowledge, and own.
This is the backdrop to my recent fund raising campaign through which I aim to raise the money to record, mix, master, press, and release my next album. With this knowledge of societal mores I am blatantly and shamelessly asking people to invest in me, to contribute their hard-earned cash to my dream, to support my musical career with money that could otherwise go to non-profits, family vacations, and IRAs. I am offering things in return, however - $50 gets 2 autographed copies of the album, $100 gets those + a Jeremy Dion T-Shirt, etc. Still, in deciding to proceed along these lines, I was keenly aware that this proposition would ruffle some feathers.
I have consciously embarked on a campaign that has been called “tacky” and “gutsy,” “inappropriate” and “inspiring.” Some are eager to contribute while others are philosophically opposed. We have unspoken rules about money and some will perceive that I have broken them.
There is no question that there are many in this world more needy than I. I do not have a disability, a disease, or life-threatening situation. I simply have a dream, and a vision. I create music that draws upon my experiences, and seeks to help you know yourself more fully, so that you may realize your inherent perfection. As a musician and psychotherapist, this is my mission.
I know a number of musicians who have created similar fund raising campaigns, and I am following in their footsteps. I trust that those who feel inspired to invest will do so, and those who do not will still be able to understand why I was willing to challenge our unspoken rules about money and self-sufficiency.
Thank you to those who have been willing to invest, and to those who have not for their honesty. I rest in the knowledge that we grow the most at the border of support and challenge.