Author: Evans, Bill

Itís not too late to make this bluegrass resolution!

Greetings from the road! Iím up in the Pacific Northwest this weekend, playing in Oregon and Washington with my solo show and teaching workshops at Dusty Strings in Seattle. I make this road trip each year about this time and Iíve luckily escaped the snow and rain thatís deluged this area this winter season. The crowds are great, and the coffee is good. Who could ask for more?

While in Portland, I always check in with my good friends at Burnside Distribution. These folks handle the Native and Fine Records releases, making sure that they are available to independent CD stores all over the western United States.
In our current climate of digital downloads, both legal and illegal, CD distribution isnít exactly what you might call a growth industry these days. But Burnside is hanging on by appealing to the dedicated music fan who supports his or her local music outlet. That music fan loves alternative rock, jazz, Americana or bluegrass Ė music that exists on the fringes of American culture that you wonít easily find in your shopping mall CD store.

Frank Brandon, the manager at Burnside, related the sad stories of one or two more independent CD stores closing shop Ė like EarXtacy in Louisville, Kentucky. But many stores are hanging on, like Amoeba Music right here in California, by appealing to that dedicated music fan.
How can we as bluegrass music fans help professional bluegrass musicians and help independent music thrive? Besides coming out to shows, two things immediately come to mind.
First Ė go out of your way to buy directly from the artist whenever you can. Even if it means spending a bit more money than you would at Amazon. Why? Because the artist sees much, much more income when you buy directly from them, at a show or via their website. For example, when you buy a $15 CD at Amazon, only about $4.75 goes to the artist and thatís only if the artist has his own label. If the artist is on an established label, big or small, chances are that the artist wonít see ANY income at all from your purchase (Iíll go into these reasons in another welcome column). None at all.
Second - if you canít easily support artists in this manner, seek out an independent CD store, if you live close to one, and support that store. Even if it costs a little more. Get to know the folks who work there and recommend bluegrass releases that you think they should carry. Tell your friends to check out the bluegrass section. Keeping these independent stores alive is an important part of providing access to our music.
Get out thosse New Yearís resolutions and please add these to your list. Your favorite bluegrass musicians will appreciate it and so will the independent music industry, of which bluegrass is an important part.
All the best,
Bill Evans

Posted:  1/27/2012

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