music business

With the weather turning cooler and the national live music lockdown grinding on into the foreseeable future, the pain of missing a vivacious, in-person AmericanaFest 2020 is starting to set in. Under normal circumstances, we’d be penciling in our calendars, looking up attendees we’d like to meet with and researching showcasing bands. Alas, that’s not what’s in store. But there is a plan.

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About three weeks ago, Nashville’s Sadler Vaden released a statement on social media, white text on a black background. “With no touring in sight and record sales heavily declining for years, we are struggling,” he wrote on behalf of musicians. His proposal was, depending on your point of view, outmoded or radically counter-intuitive: “Enjoy music how you want to but please consider buying that song or album you love from artist merch stores or websites, Bandcamp, and even iTunes. That’s all.”

Russell Carson

In the end, most of the supporters of BL2019-48 were asleep when the historic ordinance passed the Metro Council about 1:30 am on July 8.

The trade associations that support roots music are putting a hopeful, constructive face on the year ahead, even as they grasp for information that could help them foresee a return of the concert and festival business. Reassurance is in short supply though. In a livestreamed panel discussion last Friday, the heads of the major folk, blues, bluegrass and Americana non-profits said they’re working together to identify new business models that could make the industry better for all involved on the other side of the Covid-19 crisis.

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“We never intended to make ourselves the poster children for independence or anything like that. It’s honestly been out of necessity,” says singer songwriter Ron Pope in the new episode of The String. He’s not using some flouncy royal “we” when asked to talk about the strategies and tactics that have made him one of the more successful independent roots artists at work today.

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