For our second Artist in Residence interview with Drew Holcomb, we take a look at the impressive entrepreneurial side of his career by discussing his monthly vinyl subscription service (Magnolia Record Club) and his very own music festival (Moon River Music Festival in Memphis, TN). Read on to find out some of his favorite Moon River Music Fest memories and what his all-time dream record to press would be.
Subscribe by 8/15 to get this month’s Magnolia Record Club album – Penny and Sparrow’s Wendigo on white vinyl: http://www.magnoliarecord.club/#record-of-the-month
NoiseTrade: First things first, let’s get the elevator pitch for each of your entrepreneurial extracurriculars. Tell us all about your Moon River Music Festival and your Magnolia Record Club.
Drew Holcomb: Well they both came out of two loves of mine related to music – festivals and vinyl records. I love festivals because people come for a couple bands and go home being fans of lots of new bands. It’s how a ton of our fans discovered us and how I, as a fan, discovered some of my favorite artists. I always thought that artist-curated festivals were a great form of love and trust between the artist and fans, so I started my own. It has been a wild ride. For the Magnolia Record Club, its like a book club for music. I pick what I like and my fans trust my taste. Both of these things are really just a deeper version of the conversation I have been having with my fans for years.
NT: How long did each one take to blossom from creative thought to real-life fruition?
Holcomb: Both of them took a lot of dreaming and coordination between me and my management team, Paul and Samantha Steele, to the point that they are actually my partners on these endeavors. It’s one thing to dream a dream, it’s a whole other thing to do the work to make it come true. Then, you have to manage it once it is a reality. The festival took longer to go from creative thought to fruition because it required a lot more money, which we had to secure from sponsors. Both have required a lot of time and energy.
NT: Has that entrepreneurial spirit always been in your skill set or have you had to develop it for these specific endeavors that you wanted to launch?
Holcomb: When I started out as an artist, no one was honestly that interested in my music, from an industry perspective. I had to develop the skills to make it happen myself. Booking my own shows, figuring out the logistics and financial management and even the psychology of being a band leader, all without a team. It was not until year five of doing this for a living that I had a manager or booking agent.
NT: What are some of your most vivid Moon River memories of catching other bands or watching attendees enjoy an activity?
Holcomb: In year two, one of our bands was Switchfoot and it was Jon Foreman’s birthday. We had the whole crowd and most of the artists surprise him with a cake on stage and have 5,000 people singing “Happy Birthday” to me. Jon is one of the greatest guys in the world and I was humbled to see him so filled with joy and gratitude in that moment.
NT: If you could press any record from any time period for Magnolia, which record would it be and why?
Holcomb: Probably Van Morrison’s Tupelo Honey. It’s a perfect record from start to finish.
NT: Finally, what are some logistical elements of each venture that you didn’t even know existed going in but are now a big part of pulling them off successfully?
Holcomb: For Moon River, all the little things – restrooms, security, ice, parking – all the things you don’t think about as an artist or as a fan. For the Magnolia, we had no idea how much customer service is needed in a subscription business – people unhappy about the albums, whether they dislike that particular genre or artist, or the audiophile types who are incredibly particular about things like mastering.
When writer Will Hodge (@will_hodge) isn’t taking all the tea in China and putting it in a big brown bag, you can find him running off at the keyboard about music, concerts, and vinyl at My So-Called Soundtrack