We are in an age when a band needs to create self awareness and market their “brand”. There have been new unique ways to build a community; websites that get fans to be a part of fundraising for the groups’ next project to musicians being involved in Charity organizations and even starting non-profits.

It is getting increasingly difficult to do what Panic! At The Disco did on MySpace and get one million hits and a record deal or a YouTube video of a band performance at the local dive turning unknowns into mega stars. What worked just three years ago will probably not work again.

Country newcomer label Big Machine blew up Taylor Swift into nationwide music domination beginning with MySpace and using an online business approach that had not been done in Country Music before. The music business is a moving target and attracting press release attention in the age of democratization creates new methods.

Fragile / Hands Foundation

A new approach is being forged by bands like Fragile out of the Minnesota area. Darrell and Chauncey Marrier of Fragile started a non-profit organization called The Hands Foundation   after a youth trip in 2003 to Monterrey, Mexico. With the help of family and likeminded individuals they formed the 501c to help as many people as they could in the Monterrey area. They have helped in restoring over 150 homes. Instead a being a recent publicity stunt to develop awareness, they were self motivated individuals long before the music business took notice.

In addition, they are involved with an epic project called Save St. Hedwigs, converting the second-largest country church in the U.S. into a multi-media center and recording studio.  Until Fragile and their foundation got involved, the dilapidated church was set to be demolished.   Consequently, the property was donated to them “for life” for $50.  Their story has gained the interest of world-renowned acoustic designer Michael Cronin to help design the studio for the church.  Cronin designed and constructed Blackbird Studios, Ocean Way/Nashville, Masterfonics, private rooms for Ryan Tedder (One Republic), Shania Twain, Clint Black, and Taylor Swift to name a few.

The personal philanthropy of the band and the Hands Foundation did not go unnoticed and time was donated by world-renowned mastering engineer Bob Ludwig and mixing engineer great David Bottrill who were kind enough to give some of their time for This Land Will be Civilized was released this year.

One of the three most popular music blog sites in Nashville is Brite Revolution where every Artist involved on the site needs to support a charitable cause. With their slogan “Discover great Artists. Support great causes. Get great music…all for free”. It is a site that appeals to fans, musicians and people who like to get involved in charitable causes.

Dead Confederate

A plethora of artists from indie rock to Americana are listing up including Atlanta band Dead Confederate, who has three songs that a site member can download for free. On their page it lists they are supporting Project: AK-47which helps kids get in Southeast Asia to get out of the military and have a future. 

Kickstarter.com is a platform for fans to get involved in actually funding a project be it music, film or whatever. It can be a place to start or a place to go to when your record deal ends. The old adage “it takes money to make money” is still King. The difference with Kickstarter is that rather than waiting for a wealthy philanthropist to get behind your band that shares a one bedroom apartment to record the music you want, this will allow you to share in the financing. You are invested in your favorite artist.

Mike FarrisOne recent addition is Mike Farris who has been through the music business more than once with Nashville band, Screamin’ Cheetah Willies and his recent releases on INO/Columbia, Salvation in Lights and Shout! Live that garnered Mike the Americana Emerging Artist in 2008 at The AMA Awards as well as a Dove award for his old-time Gospel Blues.

Mike notified via his fan e-mail list that he would be going with Kickstarter.com to finance his next project tentatively titled “Already Alright!” while shopping for a new label and distribution deal. Once the funds are there, a project gets the green light and the work is recorded, pressed and released.

Although, these ideas are starting to take root, I have not seen much about it at any of the current music PR seminars. This is a way of finding new fans, possibly fans that are out of the loop on buying any kind of legal download or CD, to get interested in your group or you as an Artist and want to own and proudly show your work to friends. Imagine the conversations that could happen about your philanthropy or what it took to get your CD to be pressed.

If your band or somebody has a great story to tell, contact me. I would love to share it with the music Community.

– Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN    thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com