The ‘A Truth Untold’ Kickstarter campaign; What it’s about and why it’s important!

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One week ago today marked the three-year anniversary of the online premier of “Breaking News”. The song was unveiled at on November 8, 2010 courtesy of Epic Records as a teaser for the first posthumous Michael Jackson album, ‘Michael’, to be released five weeks later. The date also marked the launch of ‘A Truth Untold’, a new Kickstarter campaign that calls into question the authenticity of the vocals on “Breaking News”, as well as two other songs, “Keep Your Head Up” and “Monster”, which also appear on the ‘Michael’ album.

In order to explain what the A Truth Untold Kickstarter is about, and to understand why it is so important to so many people, let’s backtrack to November 7, 2010. On that day, Michael Jackson fans around the world, myself included, were on the edge of their seats. At the turn of midnight the first brand new, unreleased Michael Jackson song fans had heard in many years (aside from “This Is It” in 2009) would officially be debuted. For a few days prior to the debut a snippet, roughly 20 seconds in length, was available online to whet our appetite. The music sounded good, but it cut out right before the vocals kicked in. What a great way to build suspense. A teaser of a teaser. This was to going be a special moment. This was Michael’s time to shine. The King of Pop was about to be back, in a BIG way!

In the weeks leading up to the premier of “Breaking News” rumours began circulating in the media that members of the Jackson family, and one of the two co-executors of The Michael Jackson Estate, had claimed that the lead vocals on a number of the tracks being considered for the album were fake. In other words, they believed that someone other than Michael Jackson was singing. The tracks in question were those now known as the “Cascio tracks” – provided to Sony by Michael Jackson’s friend, Eddie Cascio, and his collaborative partner, James Porte. “Breaking News” is one of the Cascio tracks.

Most fans, including me, didn’t give the rumours much attention. Personally, I was not at all concerned that the vocals would be fake. “That’s just crazy,” I thought. “As if Sony would release a fake song!” If anything, it was annoying to me that the Jacksons were raining on our parade. Like I said, this was supposed to be Michael’s moment to shine! Michael Jackson has one of the most recognisable, inimitable voices ever. I was confident that the music would speak for itself, and that all doubt would be set aside when “Breaking News” arrived online in full.

Because the occasion was monumental for me, as a fan, I left work four hours early to ensure I did not miss the premier. I had to be at home, in front of my computer, with my headphones on and no distractions, to experience the song simultaneously with fellow fans around the world. Emotions were running high as the moment drew closer and closer.

“I want to cry,” said one fan on a popular fan site. “Oh my God, I can barely breathe. I swear my heart is beating faster by the minute. I might blow up or something,” exclaimed another.  “This is just… oh my gosh. I am… wow… every emotion,” added someone else.

The idea of a “teaser” is to get fans excited for what is still to come. If this Sony had chosen this particular song as our very first taste of the album, with all those rumours of “fake” vocals swirling and especially knowing how much amazing, legitimate, unreleased material Michael Jackson had recorded during his life, I assumed it had to be a hit. This would shut the naysayers up once and for all.

But it didn’t. In fact, it made things worse. Much worse.

The moment the clock struck midnight in New York and “Breaking News” was unleashed, fan forums exploded with rapid-fire criticism over the track. Pages and pages of comments in quick succession. It was hard to keep up! The fans were frantic, wondering what was going on. The only other time I’d seen such chaos on the fan sites was the day Michael had passed away.

“I don’t even know what to say. This is NOT Michael,” stated a fan in reaction to hearing the song. “We are being played guys! This is a pr STUNT!” speculated another. “This is not Michael’s voice… I feel frustrated and empty… Sony thinks we are stupid!”

“That’s NOT Michael. Is this [some] kind of sick joke?” someone asked. “I’M SO UPSET! That song is NOT Michael! I hate you Sony!” ranted someone else. “That is not Michael Jackson. Not in a million f*cking years,” echoed yet another fan. “The fact that Sony have done this goes to show how little they care for his legacy. It’s a complete f*cking outrage,” they continued.

It should be noted that not every fan reacted negatively. Some fans did enjoy the track, and believed it was Michael. Others weren’t sure and decided to remain on the fence until there was a statement or explanation from either the Estate, Sony, or Eddie Cascio and James Porte. But the majority of feedback suggested that fans, along with the Jackson family, wouldn’t stand for this kind of fiasco. Regardless of whether they were Michael’s authentic vocals or not, the song had created such a toxic atmosphere in the fan community that it seemed the only sensible thing, in my opinion, was to exclude it from the album completely. If fans thousands of fans around the world were rejecting it, what would be the point in moving forward with it?

Soon after the controversial debut of “Breaking News” a number of other Cascio tracks leaked online, including “Keep Your Head Up”, “Monster” and two that remain (officially) unreleased to this day; “Stay” and “All I Need”. The reaction to these was the same as the reaction to “Breaking News”, with a divide, debate and questions in the fan community over whether they were authentic or not.

And so here we are, three years later, still discussing the authenticity of the Cascio tracks. The issue has almost become taboo in the Michael Jackson fan community, but it still manages to creep its way into almost every discussion topic. It’s the same old blend of information and opinion being recycled over and over again in an attempt to prove a point. But what are we really proving? Where does this all end? What will be the resolution?

The A Truth Untold team, of which I am a co-founding member, believes that it all ends with answers, and that answers will be part of the resolution. Answers to the questions that after three years of speculation, arguments and bickering, remain unanswered. So that’s what we are doing! Asking questions and seeking answers.

So where does Kickstarter come into this?

For the past three years the A Truth Untold team; James, Dan, Ashley and myself, have been diligently researching the origins and authenticity of the Cascio tracks as part of an investigative piece that also documents Michael Jackson’s last three years in the recording studio, and the controversy that surrounded the posthumous ‘Michael’ album.

We’ve taken our quest for the truth to Kickstarter in a bid to raise the $40,000 we require to complete the research and publish the extensive findings of that research as an exclusive tell-all book detailing the shocking true story of what really happened.

“Michael’s fans are extraordinary in their quest for accuracy and their passions to raise their voices in a search for truth! We join with them in our care and concern for Michael,” said attorney for the Estate Of Michael Jackson, Howard Weitzman, in direct response to the questions surrounding the Cascio tracks.

“We take all fan comments very seriously,” Weitzman said in the same statement, adding that, “there is nothing more important to the Estate than Michael’s music, his legacy and his fans.”

And so we ask The Estate, as well as Sony Music, Eddie Cascio, James Porte, Teddy Riley, the Jackson family and anyone else associated with this controversy to open the lines of communication with us. We, Michael’s fans, are here, raising our voice in a search for the truth to get to the bottom of this issue. Please, tell us your side of the story and allow us to document it. Once everyone has told their side of the story, and answered our questions, we will assess all the information, including what we’ve already discovered over the course of our three-year investigation, and put all the pieces of the puzzle together in the form of a book. This is part of the Michael Jackson story now, so it’s important that we get the story straight. For Michael!

To put all the posthumous controversy into context, the book will also detail Michael Jackson’s final three years in the recording studio, sharing captivating and heart-warming recollections from many of his collaborators from during that period. The reader will be introduced to the genius and perfectionism of the greatest recording artist of all time, and will be left with an overwhelming appreciation for his dedication to his craft.

You can pledge to pre-order a copy of the book via Kickstarter right now. We have three versions of the book available; digital, softcover and hardcover! The money pledged goes towards raising our $40,000 funding goal. If we successfully reach the $40,000 mark by the date our campaign ends (Dec 14), we will be considered “funded” and will receive payment from Kickstarter, minus 10% in fees which are paid straight back to Kickstarter and Amazon for the privilege of them hosting our campaign. If we do not raise our $40,000 funding goal we are considered “unfunded.” In that case, the pledges people made when pre-ordering the book are not charged to their credit card, and we received no payment at all.

The crowd-funding method of launching a product is something I truly believe in. I have personally supported a number of different crowd-funded campaigns over a variety of crowd-funding platforms including Kickstarter, Indiegogo and Pozible. As a customer, or “backer” as they’re called, I find that connecting with a campaign, wanting the product they’re offering, pledging for it and then promoting and supporting it to bring that product to fruition really is an exciting process.

From a creator’s point of view; Kickstarter allows us to announce our vision for a proposed product – in this case an investigative book – before laying down the funds for mass production. Before launching a Kickstarter campaign you have to pick a funding goal. This is typically the amount of money you require to complete the blueprint for your item/s and put it/them into production. Once your campaign goes public, your success hinges on how strongly your supporters and the public believe in what you are offering.

In our case, as stated earlier in the article, we are offering a book detailing the controversy that surrounded the first posthumous album of unreleased Michael Jackson music. The book will dedicate specific focus to the origins, history and authenticity of the Cascio tracks, as well as detailing Michael’s final three years of recording music. If enough people want this book and make a pledge, it will happen! But we’ve only got a month to do it!

We need to generate at least $40,000 from the rewards we are offering in order to successfully follow through on our mission. That’s why if we raise less than $40,000 we get nothing. Kickstarter does not give creators your money if the creator cannot afford to produce the item the backer has pledged for. It’s all or nothing and I think that’s a fair deal.

Why do we require $40,000?

Because in order for us to complete this project the way we envision, that’s how much it’ll cost. We are offering two different physical versions of the book – a softcover version and a hardcover version. Print production and distribution costs must be accounted for as we endeavour to deliver these items. As this is an investigative piece, first-hand research and expenses related to the investigation, including international travel will be accounted for. We also intend to engage the services of a professional Forensic Musicologist, whose analysis we would like to feature in the book. That’s an expensive process but worth every penny. Licensing fees must be accounted for if we are to publish exclusive and relevant photography in the book. Because of the elevated risks associated with investigative works, and the legalities associated with a crowd-funded campaign of this nature, we needed to retain legal representation. This will be covered by our budget, as well as the Kickstarter and Amazon Payments commission obligations that come part and parcel with every single Kickstarter campaign.

As detailed earlier, we have three versions of the book available. Beyond that we are excited, honoured and humbled to announce our Premium Reward to Michael’s fans, music lovers and the public.

By pledging $900 toward our Kickstarter campaign you will gain an all-access pass to a truly spectacular one-time only event as two of Michael Jackson’s former collaborators, Michael Prince and Cory Rooney, will be exclusively hosting backers of this Kickstarter campaign in a Los Angeles recording studio for this ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME experience!

You will get to personally interact with Prince and Rooney and be given unprecedented insight into Michael Jackson’s legendary recording process. You’ll spend hours hearing never-before-told stories and asking all the questions you’ve been dying to ask, with MANY unforgettable surprises sprinkled in!

Ultimately it’s the power of the pledge that’ll make or break our quest for the truth and the completion of this book. We need your help in spreading the message, whether it’s through blogs and social networks like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram or good old fashion word-of-mouth, we need your help in making sure the truth is heard loud and clear!

“There’s nothing that can’t be done, if we raise our voice as one. They gotta hear it from ME. They gotta hear if from YOU. They gotta hear it from US!”

Visit our Kickstarter page today by following this link:

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