Alive Festival 2011

Byron "Mr Talkbox" Chambers

I spent this past weekend in Mineral City, OH attending the Alive Festival.  One of the artists we manage, Byron “Mr Talkbox” Chambers, was hosting the event this year so it made for a great reason to make the trip to Ohio.

The beautiful drive to the festival site leads down a small two lane road that meanders through several small towns and hills eventually landing in the middle of the woods on a beautiful lake. Even though the festival experienced some rain this year, attendance was still in the 15k range. I was extremely impressed by the smoothness of the festival. Bill Graening, the festival director, does a great job of putting the right people in place to ensure a great show with a low stress level. Alive presented a great line-up of artists this year including Switchfoot, Skillet, Third Day, Newsboys, Tobymac, Tenth Avenue North, Byron “Mr Talkbox” Chambers, Hillsong United, Chris August, Britt Nicole and others.

I’m a little partial but I thought Byron “Mr Talkbox” Chambers did an incredible job hosting. He kept the crowd fired up in spite of the rain. Byron rocked the crowd with his own show on Friday evening just before Skillet and the Newsboys took the stage. The Newsboys brought hydraulic lifts including the hydraulic spinning drum riser that made one wonder if they are sponsored by Six Flags. Not to be one-upped, Skillet brought their pyrotechnic show which caused me to be a bit nervous as I watched the flames get extremely close to flammable parts of the stage.

The Alive Festival is celebrating their 24th anniversary this year! I’m so thankful for folks like Bill & Kathy Graening who put their heart and soul into creating such a great family weekend destination built around music.


April Pick of The Month

Brandon Bee

Brandon Bee

I am so thrilled to announce that the Music Gardener’s Pick of The Month for April is Brandon Bee! This week Brandon is celebrating the release of his sophomore record, Inside These Walls. The record is being released on Save The City Records and distributed through Sony/Provident. I had the privilege of experiencing this record from it’s infant stages. One of the songs was even birthed in our home on our piano while Brandon was visiting Nashville. This record shows the depth of Brandon as a songwriter and showcases his creative innovative production. I truly believe that Inside These Walls has the potential to be a Grammy contender. Do yourself a favor and buy this record. You won’t be disappointed! Please visit the Pick Of The Month page to here more about Brandon and sample some of the music.

Inside These Walls - Brandon Bee

Disclosure of Material Connection: I am the President of Artist Garden Entertainment, an artist management and marketing company that manages this artist. Regardless of that fact, I only recommend music that I personally believe is exceptional and would be enjoyed by my readers. I am not compensated directly for reviewing this record or for the “Pick of The Month” with the exception of receiving free music for review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

New Music From Byron “Mr Talkbox” Chambers”

Byron "Mr Talkbox" Chambers

Byron "Mr Talkbox" Chambers

Today is an extremely exciting day for this artist manager as the new song from Byron “Mr Talkbox” Chambers “Everything Works Together” releases digitally. The Save The City Records release is a duet with the lovely Beckah Shae and was produced by Grammy Award winning Bryan Lenox.

There of course has to be some fun marketing festivities to celebrate such an exciting release so we decided to give away some Apple TVs! Click HERE to find out how you can win an Apple TV.

99 Cents For A Great Cause!

Mercy Ministries

Mercy Ministries

For those of you who follow The Music Gardener blog, you should be well of aware of Circleslide and their recent release “Echoes of The Light”. This past year, Circleslide began a relationship with Mercy Ministries, a non-profit organization that helps young women dealing with abuse, teen pregnancies, addictions and eating disorders. Mercy Ministries put together a choir with women currently in the program. The women went in the studio and recorded background vocals on a special mix of Circleslide’s current single “Looking Up” This special Mercy Ministries mix is now available on iTunes with 100% of the proceeds going to Mercy Ministries.

I would like to personally ask you to consider spending 99 cents to purchase “Looking Up”. Your purchase will help continue the Mercy Ministries mission of helping young women.

The Music Gardener Is 2!

                          Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday!

Two years ago this week, the Music Gardener blog was birthed as an outlet to share ideas on marketing music, artist management and new music with the world. While never really claiming to be a writer in the past, I must say it has been a great experience for me. I vividly remember the lunch at Mere Bulles in Brentwood, TN where my good friend Spence Smith shared his excitement over blogging with me. He invited me to Lifework 2.0, a seminar he and Randy Elrod launched to introduce people to blogging. Little did I know my life was about to change significantly! Now two years later, blogging has become the foundation for most of the marketing I do. The Music Gardener blog was recently named in the Nashville Scene’s “Best Of” Awards and I have subscribers from all over the world who read the blog daily. I am thankful to Spence and Randy for encouraging me to take the step. This week Spence and Randy are hosting a Lifework 2.0 seminar in Franklin, TN which is where I got my start. I would encourage everyone to attend. Your mind will be opened to the new frontier of communication & marketing!

The Marketing Plan – The Big Idea

The Single Cover

The Single Cover

My favorite part of music marketing and in particular Christian music marketing, is the creative process. In the previous posts of our marketing series, we defined Circleslide’s target consumer, we covered the basics at radio and publicity and we established our branding concept. The next step is to find one or two creative Big Ideas to center your plan around. I find the best way to approach this is to first of all spend time listening to the record.

As I listened to the new Circleslide record, one of the songs “You Are Everything” put the imagery of a painting in my mind. Wouldn’t it be cool if we married music and art in a way that had never been done? Through a cursory search of painters, one person in particular came to mind. A friend of mine named Randy Elrod spends his life creating culture through music and art. Randy is a painter himself so I sent him the song along with the idea of having him paint the song. Fortunately, Randy immediately fell in love with the song. We commissioned Randy to paint the song and had him video tape the actual process. Once the painting was complete, we sped up the video using time lapse and created a music video. iTunes sells video singles called vingles so I decided to name our idea the Art Vingle. The Art Vingle marries art and music allowing the consumer to own living breathing art. We scheduled the release of the Art Vingle on iTunes for one week prior to the record in hopes of creating a buzz building up to street week. Randy Elrod has one of the top blogs in the world and is followed by many worship leaders in the top culture influencing churches across the country. He agreed to blog about the Art Vingle upon release. We will be implementing a viral plan with the video on Youtube. Our plan also includes working press for both music and art publications around the Art Vingle.

The Art Vingle is our first Big Idea and it will be available on iTunes September 28. Next week we will introduce another Big Idea for the Circleslide release.

August “Pick of Month”

Audrey Assad

Audrey Assad

Since the Music Gardener is hitting the road for the rest of the month, I decided to go ahead and put up the August “Pick of The Month” up a couple weeks early. The August Pick is Audrey Assad, a voice that you are sure to love! If you like Sarah Mclachlan then you are going to love Audrey. Please visit the “Pick of The Month” page to hear more about Audrey.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I am the President of Artist Garden Entertainment, an artist management and marketing company. I only recommend music that I personally believe is exceptional and would be enjoyed by my readers. I was not compensated in any way for reviewing this record or for the “Pick of The Month”  I did not even receive free music for review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Music & Weather

Brandon Bee - Spirit West Coast

Brandon Bee - Spirit West Coast

What do music & weather have in common? Everything this past weekend at Spirit West Coast, the yearly Christian music festival that takes place in Del Mar, CA. One of the artists we manage, Brandon Bee, played several shows at the festival. Starting the day off, Brandon taught a class on leading worship at the Christian Musician Summit room. Then we were off for a show opening for the Phil Joel (former guitarists for the Newsboys) seminar. The highlight of the day was Brandon’s “talkback” session at the Interlinc tent. The Interlinc folks were kind enough to load us up on chips and sodas which was the first sign of food we had seen all day. Brandon ended the day with a set on Kevin Looker’s worship stage. All of this took place under absolutely beautiful weather. While we were there, I came to the conclusion that a move to the San Diego area might not be a bad idea? The festival attendance appeared to be a little off this year. The light attendance may have had something to do with the festival taking place on Memorial Day weekend but it definitely can’t be blamed on the weather!

What’s Your favorite outdoor concert experience?

GMA Dove Week

The third week in April, which is normally Christian music’s biggest marketing week of the year, has morphed into Christian music’s biggest day of the year. As this year’s GMA Dove Week (formerly know as GMA Week) was approaching, I felt this sense that I may be missing something that everyone else knows about? The plethora of GMA Week activities from the past were not to be found. As I spoke with publicists, record labels, artist managers and others in the industry, I realized I wasn’t “out of the know”. There simply was very little going. I did have one meeting at the Renaissance Hotel and it was odd to hear silence in a place that would normally pose as the heartbeat of Christian music.

In the midst of the week’s silence, there were three events that I enjoyed attending.

Indie University is a yearly conference that Keith Mohr puts on for independent artists. I had the privilege of serving on the artist development and artist manager panel at the event. This conference is a great thing for independent artist as it gives them an opportunity to learn better ways to navigate the music industry while providing them an incredible networking opportunity. Even though I have been in the music business over twenty years, I still learned some things from the publishing session I attended.

The Objective was an event put on by Scott Macleod for indy artists. This event was designed to encourage indy Christian artist to chase after ministry as opposed to the idea of being a “rock star”. There were mentors on hand for the artist meet with. I was amazed at the attendance and had an opportunity to meet some incredible people.

Seth Holloway’s “Back To Music” showcase at 12th & Porter proved to be a great night of music. Seth has been doing this showcase for years during GMA Week. Thankfully, Seth continues to press on with his showcase as he presents some great music. Highlights of the evening were a band called True Story, and a rock the house performance by Byron “Mr Talkbox” Chambers! Major label A&R and publishing companies were in attendance so I wouldn’t be surprised if one or more of these indy artists find themselves a major label home.

As I reflect on the past, I can’t help but wonder why GMA Week disappeared? Finances obviously played a big role but did the GMA lose focus on it’s purpose?  Did it serve the industry as a whole? Did it address the current needs of the industry?

What suggestions do you have for the GMA?