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Editorial

Cover Art - The Image for the Music

Album CoversI've been buying 78s, 45s, cassettes, LPs, Open Reel and CD albums for nearly a half century. I've also purchased video in LaserDisc, Beta, VHS, DVD and BlueRay formats. Most of those purchases are still in my library. The genres span from heavy European rock to modern bluegrass and roots music. There is one thing that they all share in common, regardless of the media format, and that is they all have cover art. Big, little, wide or folded, cover art is the first thing people see when they purchase an album. Today, graphics tools and art add a whole new dimension to this creative aspect of the music.

If Nobody's Listening, Is the Grass Still Blue?

James ReamsBy Special Guest Contributor, Bluegrass recording artist James Reams
There's a raging debate going on in the world of bluegrass between traditionalists and futurists. But bluegrass isn’t going to make a sound if nobody’s listening a generation from now.

Why I Don't Turn On the Radio Anymore

No PC RadioThis so-called "Modern Sensitivity," "Political Correctness," or, more accurately, Censorship is one of the reasons I never turn on a radio anymore. I haven't for years. My family also got rid of TV and its propaganda, high-volume ads and junk programming about ten years ago. I politely listen to the music I want to hear from my own collection of music. Thare are No commercials and No politically correct modern sensitivity censorship in my music. I am free to listen to any music I desire and, I do so in absolute freedom. From "Smoke, Smoke, Smoke that Cigarette" by Commander Cody & His Lost Planets Airmen to David Allen Coe's "Rodeo Song" to a whole lot of bluegrass about killing, moonshine, whiskey and more including "Copper Kettle" about joys brewing 'shine.

Artist Promotion and the Email Spam Filters

No SpamToday, it is essential to have a SPAM filter for email. After many years of using the same email address that is associated with my business, probably 80% of what comes to the server is junk email. The other 20% is what I want to read. It used to be easy to filter the good from the bad. The good came from a business email address - not a freebie account from some other service. Everything after the @ sign indicated who the email was from and you could easily say to accept all email from businessname.com. Today a lot of new folks are trying to get into the biz using gmail, yahoo, hotmail or other anonymous email domains instead of a more professional domain name.

It's All in the Name

Bob CherryDuring the past couple of months, I have received numerous press releases and news items to post on Cybergrass. Besides the usual grammar errors, one common error is where predominant artist names are misspelled. It is usually where the artist is attempting to boost their recognition by claiming they have performed with the misnamed artist.

Performance Rights vs Radio Freedom – Who’s a Musician to Believe?

James ReamsJBy Special Guest Contributor, Bluegrass recording artist James Reams
Digging through political doublespeak on the Internet is worse than having a dentist digging around in my mouth. It was like trying to swim in quicksand. I kept getting sucked in…deeper and deeper with each click of the mouse. And the articles weren’t short ones either, many had clickable references to other pertinent articles and off I would go, down another rabbit hole leaving behind a whole trail of Internet cookie crumbs. Okay, I think I mixed up a whole batch of metaphors there, but you get the idea. To say I was confounded would be putting it mildly. But I thought that as a musician, I should be informed about potential legislation that could affect my bank statement.

Disturbed by the Bluegrass Police

Junior SiskYesterday, a very disturbing announcement was made by one of my favorite artists and the International Bluegrass Music Association's Male Vocalist of the Year second year running, Junior Sisk, regarding a song he and his band recorded on their most recent CD. The band has announced that they will no longer be performing the song, "Old Bicycle Chain" at their live performances. Apparently, a lot of people couldn't look at the song without seeing only the bad. Sadly, they influenced the band to cease a part of their art.

Awards. Awards. And More Awards. It's That Time Again

IBMA Award TrophyEvery year about this time, the awards for the previous year's artists come around. We have the International Bluegrass Music Awards, The Inspirational Country Music Awards, The Dove Awards, and a lot more. Everybody has their own awards. In a way, it is like music charts. Everybody wants one and they rarely agree. The same can be said for the various awards. While awards shows and charts are entertaining and everybody wants to see their favorites at the top, do these really reflect who's best? While they have a great entertainment value themselves, do they really mean what we think they do?

Nurturing Children and Music -- Making it Work

Sleepy Man Banjo BoysI've watched many youngster grow within the music biz and it has been exciting to watch them evolve into some of today's top artists. I followed a young boy playing mandolin when the instrument was much bigger than himself and a young fiddler playing the local and regional festivals and both are tops in their field today. I've watched while some succeed and others do not. I've seen top talent go nowhere and seen others get well into the popularity ring. The dynamics of what works and what doesn't could take volumes to cover in depth.

Self Produced Doesn't Always Cut It

Self ProducedI heard about a new album to be released privately. The talk leading up to it was pretty good and the band isn't new to the genre. I was expecting some great material. Sadly, the album just turned me off. It was almost painful to get through the dozen tracks on their latest release. The album certainly doesn't reflect what this group is capable of.

Playing for Fun OR Profit

Monroe NoteIt is no secret that the music biz isn't what it used to be and that is certainly true in bluegrass music as well. Artists are always searching out new avenues for generating revenue. This frequently leads to some creative methods including unique sponsorships, partnerships, digital retail methods, and more. It is certainly an exciting time in music today or, at least, different than the past. One thing is certain, the music as a commodity is definitely in a new commodity exchange marketplace.

Get the Word Out Early

Press Release TTYIt's important so get the word out early. Send a press release out to all the media so that they can help publicize the event. That's the way it should work. In the recent couple of months however, that is not how things played out. In one recent case this month, we received the press release on the second day of the event and would end up posting it on the last day of the festival. Thus, nobody would be able to read the announcement and be able to use that information to attend the first 3 days because there wouldn't be any notice until the end of the event.

The Music Buying Experience: RIP

Record BuyersApril 20th was National Record Store Day and it got me to thinking "What happened?" In the '70s, '80s and part of the '90s, I joined the ranks of many others who regularly searched through isle after isle of bins full of treasures in search of a new gem to add to the collections of jewels that played upon turntable and stereo systems across the nation. My friends would do the same thing hundred of miles away but, we'd share what we found in regular phone calls and we would each soon own the coveted album. I would follow a particular artist, musician or even label to see what else they were doing that interested me. I have no idea how many albums I purchased that I had never even heard of prior to finding a name on a liner that indicated something good was about to fill my room with musical treasure. I rarely got burned. It was fun and was really the original music social network. Many long lasting friendships were built around the music and the discovery of new pieces of acoustic art.

Music Artists and Financial Insecurity

Medical BillsRecently, there have been a lot of benefit concerts for artists who have come down with disease, traumatic injuries and other expensive health or family issues. In almost every case, the artist has no medical insurance to cover their care. Yes, insurance is expensive but, so is going without it. What does this do to the family when the money runs out? What about their homes? What about their future? What about themselves?

There's That "Bluegrass" Word Again

Bluegrass WordsI was wading through the various announcements, promotions and press releases I get sent and noticed that probably a third of them have absolutely nothing to do with bluegrass music. It seems that everybody wants to be a part of our little community so, when they send out their press releases, they are sure to mention "bluegrass" as well as some other styles. I've also seen numerous links come up when searching for "bluegrass music" in the various search engines that have absolutely nothing to do with bluegrass and some don't even have anything to do with music either.

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