Jasper sat at his desk, impatiently waiting for an email. Suddenly, a notification blurred on his screen. Jasper quickly read it, his eyes glancing back and forth, from his coffee to the screen. The email was from a man he sent an email to briefly.
Jasper was always thought of by his classmates as obsessive. He could have done anything with that obsessiveness, but decided on music. He studied, and he worked on music. He didn’t feel anything was right in life for a long time, but when he was in his makeshift studio, he felt a sense of endlessness to perfect something, which grew into working on producing, working on his voice techniques, to the point of teetering on that line of obsessiveness before and during university. And music was the perfect scapegoat. His artist name is Holy Light, meant to mean how some acquire something to be “perfect”. And that he’s always been that way and was kind to himself about it, as a man, and as an artist.
Jasper was tipped about sending songs to this man who scouted potential up and coming artists as clients. He read it over and over, the email, looking it over as if there must be something to miss, and as he read the email he started to feel, excited. The man loved the songs, and Ben thinks they would love to do something in his record label to get it released broadly across the web. He wants to meet with him and see what he can do. Jasper looked through all his work emails, and went back to work, thinking of how to approach his girlfriend, coy but assertive Emma. He decided to reply to the man’s email.
Jasper lingered on what to say, knowing that anything misconstrued could be bad, possibly to the point of it coming crumbling down. He simple wrote back that that would be great, and that he would love it, and thanked him. The man agreed. Setting the meeting at Tomorrow.
As Jasper got out his chair and made his way down his work building’s clad with metal and wood entrance, he forwarded the email to his brother, making sure Ben, the man he emailed, wouldn’t be able to tell.
Hoping that his brother would be happy for him, he wrote “I really shouldn’t be doing this lol but I actually got a meeting.” His brother, James, just one borough away from him, worked at a bank. And he taught Jasper a lot of what he knew in their line of business from being around the right people at unseemly right times. His brother knew him getting recognized in music was far fetched, if at that, but knew Jasper had more to give in life than just a job working on loans for banks. And after hearing, and seeing him play his songs, he couldn’t help but have a bit of a little brotherly blind hope to see his brother excited with a chance to reach an actual audience. And James never had the chance for a lot of things, the American dream just soon became an inevitable chase. James sighed happily, a quick happy happenstance to him, as he closed his phone and went into another meeting. He really did it.
Jasper while walking through the dimly lit streets, gets a call.
“Hey!” said Emma.
“Hey-” Jasper said excitedly. “So I got a response. So they want to sit down with me, like actually…talking about getting everything released broadly on the web… You know like on streaming sites- I don’t know.. I think I have to look at the email again. I think they want to put their name on it. Not sign me, -but at least get my album out there.- ” said Jasper, trying to put it into words.
Emma knew he didn’t expect this, but she kind of did. I mean, he’s spent years just working in their basement experimenting with his music, showing her his songs, and blaring instrumentals. She wanted him to at least see that other people would think he’s good. So she said:
“Yeah? Well you are just seeing what can happen. I know you might be hoping for the best Jasper, and I’m really glad babe. Seeing you in our little basement, just singing and working on your things. I can’t wait to hear how it goes!-”
Emma has to get to her class. She has night classes in Manhattan. She’s hoping to one day sell historical/valuable art to the highest bidders. Which has always made her look up to Jasper working on his own. Art to another, she always thought.
“Got to go, love you, but don’t even think of not meeting him. Just getting a meeting with them is awesome!”
Emma grew up in England, and always had an ear for music. She was always told again and again that. And when she met Jasper she thought of him as just a regular guy with a kind heart, who would suddenly, at anytime, write in a little journal something she could never tell. They were friends of friends and when they were alone, the tension was thick, but not in a bad way. More like a “where is each thing we say going? What are we even doing talking about this random thing?” that always goes with an inevitable love.
Until she realized those feelings meant she felt something for him. She made a move, after being alone for just five minutes the fifth time being alone, and then soon they were dating. Eager to see what the other did and would do, and she loved that both always just wanted each other happy. And it was just like that with his music. Each song, and Jasper would always say that as long as she heard it he was content. Jasper wasn’t even trying to rely on just making music, he just does it as a hobby. And Emma was happy he sent that email to that man. Jasper deserved to see how a record label felt about his music. He deserved to feel the love she had for him and his music.
Emma, on her way to class, pulls out her phone, selects a playlist for her commute, and hits play. She pulls up an app for browsing historical and valuable art, checking through various auction houses and galleries. But then she decided to play one of Jaspers songs, her screen soon blurring the text “Higher by Jasper”.
As she walked to the subway the beat slowly got to the drums, and synths, and then slowly she could hear his voice, singing the chorus. It was an upbeat chorus, like it was the best day ever to the person listening. With the lyrics, ’You only know. It only goes higher and higher.” while the tone of his voice goes higher and lower mixed with a small fading stop. Emma thinks back on how hard Jasper worked to create it. She remembers going in the basement while the beat is playing and seeing Jasper so happy. She can’t help but think something has to be coming to him.
Jasper, while Emma’s at class. Goes to a bar his friend Danny picked out to have a beer.
“No way, now that’s crazy.” Says Danny. “You’ll be known in a year, -bet. Reggie probably wouldn’t know it though.” Danny says while giving a look to Jasper that anything could happen and he knows it, and then looking at Reggie just reading a book and not following along, but it has become his thing when he is actually out of the house.
“You know.-” Reggie chimes in.” You know that does give you a standing chance with your music. I mean with how saturated the internet is with songs...You could have a shot. I mean look at Apple Music and Spotify, people have trouble finding new artists.” As Reggie glances, then gets back to his book.
Danny and Jasper keep talking as Reggie reads.
Reggie grew up in The Bronx. The only thing he really had was an inkling to figure things out in the world, and it never faded. He reads so he can constantly have dialogue, constantly have some new information to process, and Danny and Jasper always thought it was either because he was so alone with himself and his thoughts. Which you couldn’t tell from his stature, or from all he’s done to get where he is. He received a scholarship to NYU, he got into finance, and then became a consultant just to have more time to read process information without the nine to five.
He doesn’t even like the finance world, they both know that, he just always wants more time. Something that Jasper was eager for. Something to that Danny was eager for too. But Reggie actually did it. And is suddenly finding himself wanting more out of life. The girl of his dreams? The night of nights? No, he wanted to write a book. A science fiction / fantasy book.
Reggie has been working on this book for a year, and yet can’t understand if the book is made up of just a million classic, but still kind of -well, weird, fantasy tropes that fall on the line of being weird. Or if he actually has something that will inspire a next generation of imagination and fantasy readers. He calls it The Void. He hates the name. He’s going to change it.
And he doesn’t know if anyone even will publish it. But he’s got one thing going on in his writing: the weirdest love story between an alien woman and a man who vowed to one day kill God for what he did to her planet and, somehow, his parents. Trust him, if you read the book it all.. Suddenly.. Makes sense.
“Your songs are fucking crazy Jasper, get a clue already. You’re getting signed after this, bet.” Danny says and asks sincerely.
“Jasper seriously right now to not think that him, wanting to meet with you, won’t lead to something more. I mean from some of the new guys I hear on the radio, they’re voices aren’t even that crazy, you’ve got the crazy voice man. Every time you upload a song trust me I’m the first guy to listen to it, I love you. I love your songs, but you might actually have something, and you act like you don’t. What you need to really need to do is get the clue when they want to meet with you, be prepared. Before this you never even gave it a shot. I mean.. -You get nice comments on your YouTube saying they like the song... -but that doesn’t count. Right Reggie? “Reggie just looked up from the book he was adamantly studying, saying “like 15 comments Danny… I make videos about alternative history involving anime and get like three hundred.“.
“…That’s……That’s besides the point.--”
Danny continued on about why he shouldn’t hold back. Jasper didn’t know what to say, he knows people like his music if they give it a listen, but this might mean his music will be heard on a large scale. There was also the fact that he doesn’t know what Emma really thinks about it, she’s really coy but really supportive.
“I’m just going to play him some new songs and see what he thinks.-” Says Jasper slightly. “I just want to know that I tried. -I don’t know, I just want my music to mean something, to people.”
“Well-” Danny says with a sly smile. “Only time will tell, so before, we should really drink.”
And they talk, about everything going on in their lives, taking sips of their drinks, in the coming middle of the night, of this loud, but partially empty bar.
Danny is studying to be a professor, but his ramblings and excitement won’t show that. He used to be quiet, but suddenly enjoyed life after being so close to graduating. He knows he’s happier. So he tries to show it. And getting somewhere meant that he wanted his best friends to get there too. He knows Jasper has nothing else but Emma and his job, but he knows he knows he’s still happy. It’s a one of a kind moment for Jasper, and Danny knows that, so he’s trying to make Jasper hold it close to himself.
Jasper heads back to his place where Emma is waiting for him. He’s nervous about how to act. Yeah he’s got a decent job, but how do you act when you’re kind of close to being something else, maybe, in life? He opens the door and hopes she says something first.
“So the email?” Emma says smiling.
Jasper walks over to her with a slight smile and shows her his phone, the email open.
“AandR records would love to release your music on the web, seeing as though the production is of high quality and the songs are very well made. If you would like to meet with us to discuss this we have an opening tomorrow at our Record Label.” Emma says reading along the email, in a voice that would match to brag.
“That would be great, glad that you liked the music, thanks. -Great. We’ll see you then.” Emma says finishing the email. Before ending with: “Can you meet Tomorrow? -I can. -That’s great, tomorrow at 10 am it is.”
“…Wow, you really did it.-” Emma says finishing with- “Who knew you could actually get a meeting with someone, I’m so happy for you. You seem happy.”
Emma looks him in the eyes like she knows what she said was true.
“I love you-” Emma says with sincerity.
And Jasper, knowing she’s happy, smiles and simply says: “I love you too, Emma.”
J asper wakes up. As he looks at his phone an email shows from AandR records with a calendar for today’s meeting. He looks over at Emma, and wondered what it would be like to come home, and tell her everything went well in the meeting. He has to get going though, so he left it at that. He gets ready. He gets into a taxi going to AandR records, with thirty minutes later getting out. He sees the building. Eighty stories high, huge entrance, Jasper guesses you have to sign in to get into somewhere like this. He goes in and is met by a person waiting, someone on their phone, a girl seeming impatient.
“Your Jasper, right? Never mind, you are. I’m here to take you to the meeting. I think he’s already waiting, we should really hurry.”
They take the elevator up thirty floors, Jasper noticing because of nervousness, and the door opens to an open space office setting, with hallways down the right and left. All the people sitting in cubicles like a constant. The girl takes a right, so Jasper follows until they get to the door.
“He really likes your music, but just try not to focus on the bad language, focus on the good.”
They get into the room and surprisingly it isn’t just the man, Ben, its three other men and a woman. All, waiting for him.
“Sorry I thought the meeting was at nine.”
Ben looks him up and down, and smiles.
“We get here early at meetings, Jasper. Come, sit down.” The man says reassuringly.
So that’s good language I guess,Jasper thinks.
Jasper sits down. Ben looks over at the three men and the woman, and then proceeds.
“So we really like the songs, they kind of hit home around a lot of the people who were asked to listen to them. And I told you we’d release the songs on the web broadly, and we’d…like to do that Jasper. -See your music is perfect for the radio, a record label album, its high-quality music for sure, but for now we’re only willing to release them online. And I wanted to talk to you about what happens after we release the album, your songs... We hear great music all the time. And we love it, people love it, but it depends on how many downloads, streams, and how many buy these songs and albums. What I’m trying to say is we want to test the waters, kind of even everything out so you have a good chance to work with us...even get signed Jasper.”
“Do you…want me to play you some new songs?”
The woman and three men suddenly step in asking questions like that they like the names of the songs and albums but have some suggestions they want him to hear, and telling him about how his music will be able to reach people with being advertised and why its important to see if he can reach a wide audience and what they can do to help. Jasper answers all their questions, thinking he’s messing up, but they seemed to have seen it coming. At first Jasper’s happy, but after being handed a stack of papers Jasper didn’t know how to proceed. Ben started to speak.
“So if you read that stack of papers, you won’t be signed to the record label, but we will need your signature to sign the album. If we like what we see from the demographics and numbers of streams, we’d sign you… - but those are the details for the album.” Ben said quickly, focused on Jasper.
Jasper looked at the pile of papers, seeing his album name, Higher, on the pages. He looks at the numbers, and realizes he’d actually get paid, and how much, without being signed. He didn’t know what to say.
“I- I don’t get it, you’re not signing me. I don’t see where all of this comes in… -besides releasing the album.-”
“We want your album Jasper. Its what we talked about. We’ll pay you a percentage for each streaming service for streams and purchasing and we’ll have ownership of your album. And a bonus Jasper.”
Jasper just sat there, feeling outnumbered, and took a breathe knowing he could make a little cash, he quickly said.
“I’ll sign it right now, but -I just have to look at it..”
Jasper read through the pages, and noticed he would make 8% on royalties from streaming, downloads, no physical release but if there will be 6%. He knew artists usually get 10 percent, but up and coming artists get a reduced royalty percentage. And that the album would be released on all streaming services and music purchasing apps and sites and be advertised. He also noticed that he would get one hundred thousand bonus for releasing the album with them. The album would be released next week.
“So we just have to be careful with new artists, some click, and some just don’t with a wide audience.-” Ben assuredly said. “-We know your music is good, but this is a great way to get started with us. A hundred thousand, royalties, this is more than you even came to me when you sent me your album, and with it being a great time to stream someone new I’m sure you’re as happy with it as we are.”
Jasper was handed a pen, he looked at Ben, knowing this was a huge record label and a lot of money. And he signed.