I played at Floore’s Country Store on Friday and the Longhorn Saloon in Bandera on Saturday. I had some friends that were staying over and we hung out in Bandera all weekend.
We decided to go to the Sammy Kershaw show at 11th Street on Sunday night. I’ve always liked Sammy Kershaw. He has a unique voice with a lonesome country sound.
If you’ve read my writing for any length of time, you understand that I’m a proponent of using technology to promote music. It’s the only thing that works outside of mainstream and satellite radio airplay. And since only a small percentage of artists receive that, the rest of us are all hoping that someone plays our songs amid a backdrop of babies and kittens on youtube and that the music somehow goes viral.
But they announced before Sammy’s show that you couldn’t video the performance. . . . Wha???? So, like all good fans do, my friend ignored the request and started to record Sammy on her cell phone. . . to which he promptly had someone stop her.
Um, Sammy, I hate to tell you this, but the 90s are OVER. And I mean they are SO over. No one is selling millions of records. Money isn’t flowing like water to record labels anymore. The tide has turned and more and more the music is in the hands of the fans.
My almost 12 year old daughter doesn’t find out about music from a record store or from the radio. She browses youtube. Her friends are the same way. Look up Rebecca Black’s “Friday”. Yeah it’s awful. But it spread through youtube.
So maybe, Sammy, it’s not such a bad idea to have a ton of fan videos on youtube - the more that’s out there, the more that people see of you. You can’t control your image like you did in the 90s. Those days are over. AND the reality is that a ton of fans on Sunday night were taking video on their cameras from their seats.
Why not embrace it? You could have a contest on your website after each show of the Video of the Week. You could have your fans vote on the best video from the previous performance – maybe they could even win a free $20 CD ($20? really?).
I’m not trying to pick on you Sammy. I heart your voice. I heart more than a few of your songs. But I guess I’m writing this to a lot of artists out there. There’s a guy in the hill country that regularly videos a bunch of us Texas honky tonkers. And he’s careful to always get permission before posting video. One artist told him he/she doesn’t want him to video him/her anymore. WHY?????? Again, it’s about numbers, folks. The more that’s out there, the more people find you. Yeah, some stinky stuff gets out there. No one wants a Whitney Houston. That sucks. But whatever – you can’t control it. Go with it. Make it your own. Remember that if you’re a virus, the key is touching as many people as possible. You can’t do it if you limit yourself – if you’re worried about “staying clean”.
I’ve given my video-ing friend permission to post anything of mine anytime. He never has to ask me. Maybe he’ll get me on a night when my voice isn’t so hot or when I can’t hear onstage and my fiddle isn’t perfectly in tune. But then again, maybe he’ll catch that one performance that knocks people’s socks off and I gain new fans out of it. It’s worth it.
And Sammy could have used some Fan Love on Sunday night. The most striking fact of the weekend? Jake Hooker, who has never received mainstream radio airplay and whose setlists consist of Johnny Bush, Ray Price and Bob Wills, had triple the crowd on Saturday night that Sammy did on Sunday night.
That’s the thing about fans. Real fans. They don’t care if you’ve got #1 hit records. They don’t care if you’re playing old country or rock-n-roll. They’re into YOU. Embrace them and you’ve got fans for life.