ReadEmon Hassan

David Starobin of Bridge Records on the $100 Guitar Project Album

ReadEmon Hassan
David Starobin of Bridge Records on the $100 Guitar Project Album

  On October 10, 2010, Nick Didkovsky & Chuck O'Meara bought a no-name guitar from Elderly Instruments for $100.

Two years, 30,000 miles and 65 players later, a double album was born. I asked David Starobin, Director of A&R at Bridge Records, about his participation on the project, the album, and how $100 Guitar Project album is contributing to CARE.

Watch the teaser to the documentary of the $100 Guitar Project by Guitarkadia.

Guitarkadia: When did you first hear about the $100 Guitar Project and what inspired you to be a part of it?

David Starobin:  Nick contacted me about contributing a track.  I jumped right in, as it seemed like a brilliant idea.  I'm a classical guitarist, but I've always played some electric.  This particular guitar reminded me of my days as a 12 year old rock player (1963-64), and the kinds of guitars that we played.

G: What lead to Bridge Records's decision to release the $100 Project as a double disc? What were some of the difficulties having to work around a project like this? 

$100 Guitar Album
$100 Guitar Album

DS:  As soon as I learned that Nick and Chuck had the idea of doing a commercial release I threw Bridge's hat in the ring.  Bridge has done a few group projects (we did a multi-artist hip-hop inspired disc a few years back, and we've put out some electric guitar releases, like Steve Mackey's discs.).  The $100 guitar seemed to perfectly fit Bridge's eclectic musical outlook, as well as our guitar catalog.

As far as difficulties go, there were remarkably few.  We met with Nick and Chuck, agreed that the project would have a charitable component, and that it would be released as a two-disc set.  We came up with an agreement that all the artists signed on to, and then we waited for all of the pieces to be finished.

G: I understand royalties on every sale of the album will go to CARE. Why CARE and when & how did they become part of the project? For the curious, what percentage of an album's sale goes to CARE?

DS:  We tossed that one around quite a bit.  There were a number of suggestions, including organizations that channel funds back to musicians.  At the end of the day, we all felt secure that CARE's global mission and its solidity as an organization, was the best place to donate to.

100% of the performer royalties are going to CARE, and the record company makes a substantial donation as well.  Because of production expenses  (the CD sets and their 28 page full color booklet are more cost-heavy than digital downloads) the percentages vary from format to format.  All formats taken together average 50% of every dollar Bridge receives turned over to CARE.  We're planning to promote the hell out of this project.

G: Who owns the rights to the music in the album? Did you have to work out agreements with musicians who were signed to other labels? 

DS: Each musician retains ownership and complete rights to the usage of their individual tracks.  We requested that each artist not release the track elsewhere for a year.

G: How many ways can people can purchase the album? 

DS:  To maximize the donation to CARE, buy the CDs from  The CDs can also be bought in physical stores and online at Amazon and lots of other online stores.  And as a digital download on iTunes, Amazon MP3, and streamed at Rhapsody, Spotify, etc.

G: What did you feel during and after listening to the whole album the first time?   

DS: I loved the range of style-  but I wasn't surprised by that, as I knew Nick had collared a huge variety of artists. What DID surprise me was the spectacular range of sounds that people were able to draw from the instrument.  It knocked me out.  Here we all were, looking at the same beat up old instrument, and look what came out of it!  That still amazes me.

G: Overall, how has this project surprised you as a record label owner and as a musician also participating in the project?

DS:  I love the bonding.  I've become friends with people that stretch the borders of what I do as a guitarist and musician.  I've always been of the firm belief that 'categories' in music are ephemeral.  Especially in this era of widespread communication (the advent of recordings, the internet as a distribution tool), musicians grab influences from any and all sources available to them.  The $100 Guitar Project gave a bunch of guitarists a common starting point.  Each of us went our separate way, doing what we do.  Now, with the project completed, we can all sit back, listen to the whole, enjoy, be critical, and carry on as changed listeners and players.  When a record can do that, I'm there.

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