I would put on an instrumental guitar tour across the U.S. and possibly
Japan/Europe. The thing that sucks for a lot of the players that play
instrumental music is that they don't get a chance to play live, and I believe that
this would benefit the players, and of course the audience.
Well, I say buy a million bucks worth of guitars for underpriviledged kids who cannot afford them. Make the application process easy, so it is not like trying to get a grant from the NEA! Perhaps through schools -- the kid would only confirm
the family income and send in his name and address. Perhaps the kid
could write an essay in 500 words or less why he wants it (why don't we
promote literacy too, while we are at it!) Some major guitar company has to give the million-dollar-guitar-giveaway-foundation a break on the price, but not the quality. I think that 10 percent of the guitars would be classical, 20 percent steel string acoustics, and the rest would be electric guitars that come with small amplifiers. 30 percent of the electrics would have tremolos, the rest standard bridges with two humbuckers. I could go into more detail with this program, just let me know!
I would fund guitar lessons for new guitar students in several large metro areas. Those students who could find the way to get a guitar to use (their contribution) would get free lessons from the guitar instructor of their choice (our contribution). This would benefit the instructors (who are also guitarists) as well as the students, using an existing teaching infrastructure. As an additional incentive, all students enrolled in the program could submit an original instrumental guitar song every year, and the best songs would be compiled onto a CD. That would have kicked me into gear when I was first learning!
Probably do some form of free education program that provided lessons to young students. I would not only get them lessons, but also CDs of guitar music that would be "required listening". This would at the same time teach, and expose them to what is possible on the guitar. It is hard to understand what is possible on this instrument just listening to N'Sync!
I would start a magazine and a radio station and a music video show that featured all types of music. If someone says to the world, hey this stuff is good -- that's what it's all about. If people perceive things as "in" and "now" and "hip" or whatever, that's what makes it be. That's why rock music lost so much ground in the '90s. We had rock bands wearing flannel and dirty jeans and singing about what losers they were and how depressed they were. Meanwhile rap stars were singing (?) about taking over the world, all their
videos had all the nice girls, the nice cars, the gold chains. Who would you follow? Anyway, I'd feature all the creative stuff, whether it be Metal, Progressive, Acoustic, Fusion, whatever. I'm doing it with Guitar-2001 on part of my Burger World salary. I have two more media fronts to penetrate. I'm like the fly in the music industry soup that just won't go away.
I would invest in a nice, state-of-the-art, Internet-based radio station. My paid staff would include a few good computer techs and a handful of paid and volunteer DJs. The station, tentatively called guitar.com, would run 24 hours a day, every day, and would primarily feature instrumental music that is guitar-based, of every genre and musical style from around the world, with an emphasis on independent and non-mainstream artists. The programming would (eventually) include on-line interviews with artists, complete with chat capability. After the initial start-up investment, the funds to keep the station running would be generated through advertising and sponsorship campaigns, and the station would have advertisements in every major guitar trade and music trade publication in the U.S. and Europe.
I would invest the dough, and off of the earnings I would set up some kind of sabbatical program that would allow good players to take time off of the road, teaching, whatever and devote themselves to studying and learning and progressing - a type of scholarship program. A guitar player could use the money for a school or teacher, to travel and broaden his/her musical horizons, or to pay the bills while he studied at home.
As a musician it's easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of working all the time. Exploring new directions can sometimes get set on the back burner because you're keeping the repertoire together, keeping your chops up, hustling gigs, and basically earning a living. This would help. Of course, when you came back you would play great (but different), nobody would remember who you are, your career would have lost all it's momentum, and you'd have to start all over again. No! No! No! The idea is not to stop completely, just for the scholarship to take up some of the financial strain while you study.
I would invent a guitar that, when any note value exceeds a 32nd note
(within a pre-determined duration), the guitar strings will induce an
electrical current that would render the player's digits numb for a few
seconds. Subsequent infractions would raise the current, until the
player's fingers are fried like chicken nuggets. Another idea is to spend the money on R&D for a new technique: vacuuming. It's much smoother than sweeping, and leaves less crumbs. Finally, I could sponsor a new Pay-Per-View event: Exotic Shepherds Pie Wrestling. Three inflatable pools, each filled with either ground beef, mashed potatoes, or corn. The wrestlers will then battle between pools. Music would be
provided by up-and-coming guitarists.
I'd give all of it to my best friend Ralph Rosa, a former guitarist diagnosed
with Multiple Sclerosis four years ago. He just started a non-profit organization called "Multiple Sclerosis Research Foundation" - it's goal is to hold concerts to raise research money. We're going to plan a guitar-oriented concert (or series of concerts) and are grateful for any support from the guitar community. Any mags, web sites, radio stations, labels, artists, are all welcome to help make this happen. $1,000,000 would surely help.
Sign many more great musicians to Leviathan Records and release their CDs
properly. We receive so many great CDs from musicians around the world that
we just don't have the time or money to release.
I would start a guitar-oriented label, and obviously sink a lot of
money into distribution/marketing and buying airtime for my artists -- forcing it down mainstream America's throat -- just like the major labels do.
I'd set up a worldwide high quality distribution network for good music.
Given that the money would have to support, promote or advance guitar music in the world, I would have to definitely state education. Whether it be public or private is irrelevant and beyond the scope of the question, just good ol' fashion educational purposes!
I would create a fund that would pay jazz artists to perform for young people. Exposure to good music is what is lacking today, once kids hear music that swings and grooves and has soul they will believe in it and open up -- education is the thing.