I’ve still got a lot of work to do editing the film, but I have to start thinking about marketing the finished product. I have a phone call scheduled next week with a distribution consultant in Los Angeles and had to get my thoughts organized. Here they are. Feel free to comment.

Troubadour Blues is a fan’s journey into the world of traveling singer-songwriters like Peter Case, Chris Smither, Dave Alvin, Mary Gauthier, Slaid Cleaves, Garrison Starr, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Amy Speace, and over a dozen more.

Filmmaker Tom Weber spent more than seven years and traveled nearly 100,000 miles gathering material for the feature-length documentary, which provides a revealing look at the hardships and triumphs of these modern-day wandering minstrels.

The central figure is Peter Case, a widely respected singer-songwriter, author and producer. Case is a complex individual and gifted storyteller whose participation gives the film a strong narrative focus. We see him in a variety of situations: impromptu performances, concert stages, formal and informal interviews and songwriting sessions.

Case grew up in Hamburg, N.Y., a small town on the outskirts of Buffalo, listening to an eclectic mix of Sixties folk, blues, soul and rock & roll. He first began playing alone and in bands as a teenager, dropped out of school at 17 and rode the train to San Francisco. There he survived for several years as a street musician before joining Jack Lee and Paul Collins in the Nerves, then moving to Los Angeles and founding the Plimsouls. Both of these bands are now regarded as influential pioneers of modern alternative rock.

Case has been recording and performing solo for more than 25 years, releasing a dozen albums on the Geffen, Vanguard and Yep Roc labels. He produced Avalon Blues, a CD tribute to Mississippi John Hurt that featured prominent artists like Lucinda Williams, Bruce Cockburn and Steve Earle and was nominated for a Grammy in 2002. Let Us Now Praise Sleepy John, his most recent CD, netted him a second Grammy nomination for best traditional folk album in 2007.

Case was very generous with his time, and we get to know him not only as a performer but also as a person. He takes us on a tour of his upstate New York hometown, providing a glimpse of the forces that molded his songwriting, and invites us into a songwriting workshop at McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica, where he interacts with other songwriters on his home turf.

Case and his peers constitute a “second wave” of contemporary folk music, inspired by the Sixties folk revival to seek out deeper roots — Woody Guthrie, Dock Boggs, Jean Ritchie, Lightnin’ Hopkins — but informed by the raw emotional force of rock & roll. This generation of troubadours serves as an important bridge between the American folk tradition and the Internet generation of today, a “third wave” inspired by alt-country and O Brother Where Art Thou.

The other participating artists range from well-known veterans who record and perform internationally to equally gifted songwriters who remain rooted in local communities. Most make a living by performing live, promoting themselves through websites, Facebook pages and e-mail lists. They receive little media support aside from noncommercial radio, and their records are seen as promotion for live shows, rather than vice versa.

The singer-songwriter scene is a fan-driven phenomenon, with many enthusiasts driving long distances to attend shows or hosting concerts in their own homes. A loose-knit network of small clubs and coffeehouses, run by enthusiasts, provide a circuit for national tours.

The feature-length documentary is now in post-production, with an initial edit to be completed by April 1, 2010. The filmmaker has invested about $30,000 in personal funds in the project, with no outside funding to date. Investors are currently being sought to cover completion costs such as copyright clearances, online editing, insurance and legal representation. A series of private screenings for potential investors is planned in May/June 2010. Full implementation of this marketing plan is contingent upon outside investment.

It is believed that a strong core audience exists for the film and that the promotional channels are fundamentally in place. A website/blog for the film went online in January 2010 at http://www.troubadour-blues.com. It features interactive artist biographies with links to artists’ websites, sample clips, and frequent updates on the progress of the documentary and news related to the singer-songwriter community. As they become available, promotional trailers and edited excerpts will be added to the site, which also includes an interactive shopping cart that is equipped for sale of both physical goods and downloads. Artists are being asked to link back to the site from their own websites.

Publicity materials for the film are now being developed. The release will be publicized through e-mail lists of relevant organizations, such as Folk Alliance, Roots Music Association, Americana Music Association; through No Depression, an online community of folk/roots enthusiasts; through articles in relevant music publications; and through fan pages on Facebook and other social networks. Depending on budget, the services of a professional publicist may be retained.

Following are key elements of the marketing plan:

• The primary product is a home video in various editions (deluxe, basic, download), and the core audience is an audience interested primarily in music, not so much in new film releases. The expense of making multiple film prints for theatrical release or the festival circuit is not justified. The marketing effort will concentrate on developing an alternative distribution circuit through music venues that promote shows by the artists involved in the film.

• The film will initially be released on DVD in a deluxe edition with a printed booklet including artist bios, photos, and space for autographs. This will take advantage of the “early adopter” factor among diehard fans, and will enable enthusiasts to collect the autographs of artists at live shows. The DVD should be produced in both NTSC and PAL formats to facilitate sales in European countries where some of the artists tour extensively.

• A basic edition containing the DVD in a printed sleeve will be generated for sale at screenings. The film will also be made available for paid download through www.troubadour-blues.com. Purchasers of budget and download editions will receive a coupon or link to purchase a copy of the booklet.

• Retail sales through large-scale sites such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc., will require partnership with a distribution company and/or fulfillment service. The DVD will also be made available through independent distribution sites such as Filmbaby. If possible, the film should be made available for rental or streaming by Netflix, Blockbuster, etc. Further details of retail distribution are contingent upon budget.

• Screenings and personal appearances by the filmmaker, and possibly artists from the film, will be scheduled at high-profile events such as the Folk Alliance International conference (Memphis, February), South By Southwest (Austin, March), the Americana Music Association conference (Nashville, October) and the five Folk Alliance regional conferences (November).

• Screenings will also be scheduled in conjunction with shows by touring artists at key venues such as Club Passim (Cambridge, Mass.), Old Town School of Folk Music (Chicago), Freight & Salvage (Berkeley), Blue Door (Oklahoma City), Ashland Coffee and Tea (Ashland, Va.), World Cafe Live (Philadelphia) and others.

• The artists will be encouraged to help market the DVD through direct sales, word of mouth and links on their own websites. Incentives will be provided for artists to carry the DVD along with their own product on concert merchandise tables. In addition, a discount will be made available for merchandise and downloads purchased through links from artist websites.

• Festival and theatrical screenings will be scheduled after the initial release, based on interest. Both festival and theatrical screenings have value primarily as venues for the sale of DVDs. Infomercial time can be purchased on music-oriented channels such as VH-1 Classic and Ovation TV for additional exposure, perhaps in partnership with a distributor or fulfillment broker. Again, details are contingent upon budget.

This marketing plan is scalable and can be made to work at any level from small-scale self-distribution to larger-scale partnerships with video/film distributors. What is important is to recognize that the film has an identifiable and enthusiastic core audience that will support its initial release. With a compelling narrative and a memorable cast of master storytellers, Troubadour Blues will create new fans for this uniquely American art form.