A good July day to y'all. I hope things are great in your little corner of the bluegrass world, this fine day.
I receive quite a bit of electronic bluegrass span weekly- not as much as more connected members of the bluegrass media horde I'm certain, but enough to keep me 'up to date' on the various goings on within the bluegrass community. This past week I received an especially interesting piece from Doyle Lawson's publicist.
Now, I've never bought anything- as far as I can remember- from Doyle's website, certainly not in the recent past; I recall purchasing a copy of "School of Bluegrass" via the web years ago, but am not sure from where. However, I have purchased my share of Quicksilver albums, received a couple or three for review and written about those albums. Not for quite awhile, not since he stopped recording for Rounder, I suspect.
Therefore, I'm not sure how I qualify, but I am sardonically tickled to be included as a 'friend' of Doyle's. I suspect I'm just in the publicist's data base, and that is okay. The subject line included the words "Doyle Lawson... Thanks Supporters," so I was intrigued.
The message read, in part: "You can be part of Doyle's 'Family of Friends,'" followed by a personal message from Doyle: "For all you have given us over the years, this is a way for us to give back. It is from the heart and I thank you."
"Nice," me thought. Nice to see an artist giving back to those who follow the music. So, I click on the link to see how Doyle is going to 'give back...from the heart.' I see that he is offering me a disc of classic songs re-recorded, a set of 'pick along' recordings, monthly downloads, access to a video, photos, and web features, including an app...Again, "Nice" I think. I don't need all of that, but it is a generous offer, a way to connect with the bluegrass community. Visionary, even.
I click the final links, to receive my 'thank you' from Doyle. And I see the catch. For only $60.00, all of this could be mine!
I have no problem with bluegrass artists exploring alternate revenue streams. In fact, I applaud this and encourage all artists to do their best to 'make a living' in challenging times. I've advised more than one bluegrass artists to get themselves better organized and figure out the business end of their 'business.' Therefore, it isn't this selling of merchandise that bothers me.
Nor am I blasting the publicist, as 'getting the word out' is what s/he is hired to do.
What bothers me is that the sales pitch is couched as a 'gift', a 'thank you.' Doyle writes, "For all you have given us over the years, this is a way for us to give back. It is from the heart and I thank you."
Respectively, Doyle, No, it isn't. Your thanks may be "from the heart", as mine would be if someone gave me $60. If this is your way of giving back to the fans, you misunderstand the meaning of the term, 'giving back.' When people have bought the albums, purchased the festival and concert tickets, the t-shirts, key fobs, and DVDs, and you wish to recognize their support and loyalty by giving back, you actually have to give them something- not sell them something.
When I want to recognize my staff's support and efforts, when I wish to provide a student with a token of my appreciation, when I desire to express my 'thanks' to a friend, I don't offer them the opportunity to pay for the honour of receiving 'thanks' from me.
Call it what it is- a fan club, a members-only exclusive, whatever- but don't wrap it up in a pretty bow as a gift and then ask me to pay for it, Doyle.
If you want to express your thanks to your fans for their support- find another way. 'Cause your 'family of friends' ain't no part of nothin'.
The release can be viewed here, I think...I can't make a link using html to save my life: http://us2.campaign-archive2.com/?u=5695fb593fc3e0407e4587380&id=4e4ef5d5b8&e=529a6c0130
Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee Bluegrass. Donald