Music Gets New Life With Feed The Artist [Interview]

The music industry is in a difficult place. Whether online piracy or a bad economy is to blame there is less money coming in from selling music in any form. Record labels struggle with low album sales, but bands and artists struggle even more. Musicians trying to make a name for themselves rely almost exclusively on ticket sales and merchandise profits to get them from one show to the next, and most of the time that is not enough. With some bands taking in less than $10 per show, every day on the road is a struggle. Bobby Harris wants to change that. Harris is the entertainment manager at Rocketown, a music venue and youth center in Nashville, TN. Harris and Rocketown are launching a new campaign on Indiegogo called Feed The Artist in an attempt to support those who dedicate their lives to playing music. Harris was able to answer some questions from Guardian Liberty Voice about what makes Feed The Artist and Rocketown unique in today’s music industry.

GLV: In your own words what is Feed The Artist?

Harris: Feed The Artist is a program unlike any other that I know of. Our goal is to raise money to tend to the needs of the often struggling bands that we all know and love.

GLV: What is the end/primary goal of the campaign?

H: Our goal is to raise $17,000 to take care of these bands over the next year. We hope to offer good meals, not tacos and pizza. In addition to that, we hope to offer care packages for the road and to be able to help out with basic vehicle maintenance. This will not take the place of standard hospitality but will be in addition to. Our goal is to do what we can’t do under normal circumstances.

GLV: What inspired the campaign?

H: For the past 10 years of my life I have been involved with bands. Musicians have been some of my closest friends. My kids have been raised with the music scene being part of our family.  This all means that when I see a struggle in the scene it becomes personal, because it affects my friends and family. Many of my friends have toured and have horror stories about how hard it is, yet they still do it because they love the people they meet and love what they do. I want to help that in any way possible.

GLV: How can people help with this campaign and also in their own scene?

H: With this campaign they can give any amount… nothing is too small. I would love to meet our goal with a ton of small donations, rather than one large donation. Our goal is that this would be a community of people making it happen! In your own scene, think about the touring bands and do what you can to help make their lives better. If you are able to take them to dinner do it! These guys live on fast food, anything more than that is a luxury! Buy their merch, bring them tour care packages, and invite your friends to their shows!

GLV: If the Indiegogo succeeds what is the next step?

H: The next step is to get to work and put our money where our mouth is! We will have a lot to prove, since nothing like this exists. But we are up to the challenge!

GLV: Who is supporting it so far and why?

H: Since we just launched that’s hard to say, but we do have a few names backing it! Brian “Head” Welch (Korn), Hayley Williams (Paramore) and Matt Greiner (August Burns Red) are all on board with the vision. Just this morning I met with Kevin Max (DC Talk/ Audio Adrenaline) he’s 100 percent behind the vision as well. All of these folks know what it’s like to be one the road away from home, I think that is why they are supporting it.

GLV: Why is Rocketown/Nashville a good starting place for this idea?

H: We are kind of crazy… haha. Seriously, our heart is to offer hope and these bands need that while out on the road. It is just an extension of our mission.

GLV: Is it exclusively for local artists or is it a large-scale goal?

H: This is for touring artists. Ultimately I would love to raise enough to help any band who needs it and is coming through Nashville.

GLV: What types of tangible/visible benefits will supporters see?

H: Free shows, mercy, there are a couple of Brian “Head” Welch signed guitars up there, and even a few drum heads signed by Matt Greiner. I’m sure the list will grow over the next few weeks!

GLV: How can artists and bands help?

H: Spread the word. Use your band social networks and your personal ones and post at least once a day. Utilize the hashtag #feedtheartist as much as possible. Just keep this in news feeds!

This campaign is new territory for venue hospitality and could revitalize the live music scene in Nashville. Crowd funding websites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter have been revolutionary in allowing fans to support their favorite artists’ creative efforts and now Feed The Artist is allowing fans to support them in touring as well.

By Matt Isaacs

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