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It was fairly preordained that Tennessee born Bruce Horne would have some involvement in the music business. With his father being well-regarded country performer Vic Horne, and his mother involved with music at the family's church, it was infused into young Bruce's blood. The first time I ever took stage I was about eight, Bruce recalls. I learned what to do and what not to do here and there. Everything just progressed over the years. Bruce performed at a night club for the first time at seventeen, as a vocalist for a band performing country, classic and southern rock songs. He eventually picked up the bass guitar and continued to perform in different bands primarily in his local area. Along with performing with the bands, Bruce also was involved with producing some of them as well as running sound for other bands performances. It was out of necessity. Most of the time with local bands, the production is a collective effort. We'd all have this or that to say. Eventually, my dad and I figured enough was enough with doing it that way. So we just built our own studio.
Bruce and Vic set out to build their studio in the Jasper, Tennessee area. Bruce just finished working a different avenue somewhat related with the music industry; providing security for hip-hop artists which actually proved to be a bit dangerous. The studio was a complete and totally functional facility that was built on the family property but separate from the household. Named Studio 5400, bands and musicians began to come to the facility, armed with music to record but also questions about aspects of the business, such as booking shows or marketing their CDs. During his music career so far, Bruce also had continued to work day jobs, primarily in sales and marketing. He came to the realization that a lot of what he was doing in marketing was applicable to the music business. I had noticed over the years there are a lot of artists that have the music down but have trouble with the business side of it. I saw what these major labels were doing, and I wondered why some independent artists couldn't do the same thing just on a smaller scale. An indie artist sells a CD and makes maybe eight dollars after expenses on it, where if they are on a label they just make a percentage. There is a possibility that bands can make money off of this. Bruce, his parents, and Waylon Rector, a family member who was working with the studio as well, spent about a year researching numerous aspects of the music business. They created an entity within Studio 5400 called Guardian Productions, designed as a resource to help the bands and musicians who used the recording facilities to gain knowledge on other aspects of the music industry important to their careers. Simple things like mentioning your guestbook or that you have CDs for sale every fourth or fifth song when you are on stage are sometimes overlooked by musicians. As an artist, it blew my mind that many indie musicians had no idea about some of the more simple things they could do to help their careers. Guardian Productions was sort of an unofficial consultancy at first, and has since then grown into part of the recording package where the band fills out a questionnaire and Guardian tries to help them with their concerns. One example was a Christian rock band that a friend had asked Bruce to manage on at least a part time basis. Bruce wanted to have one of the band members be a liaison with him, and soon realized that the band did not really want to be managed because they did not have a focus together on what they needed to do with their career. At Guardian, we want to try to convince bands to get that focus, and to focus together. They have to focus that this is a business and they have to look at it like business people.
A couple years after starting Guardian Productions, Bruce and another business associate Rick Lyons started producing a radio show on local station primarily geared towards playing and promoting local bands and musicians. The show was mostly rock-based called Sunday Night Locals but then the station got bought by a company that changed the format to country, leaving the show without a home. They still had several shows in the can and while searching for a new outlet, Bruce came across the internet radio site New Artists Radio. New Artists was interested so they picked up the show which changed its name to Another Cafe. Rick then decided to go out on tour with a band, so Bruce took Another Cafe off the air. He then partnered with Paul Smith and started Independent Nation, which first aired only on the internet in 2003. Independent Nation features the music of indie artists, along with interviews with musicians, music industry professionals, and other non-music artists as well. The show started gaining notice, especially overseas where broadcast stations in Australia, England, Iceland and other countries syndicated the show. Stations in the U.S. including I-Radio in Los Angeles have recently started broadcasting the show as well. This is an avenue we think is a great chance for indie artists to get their music out to a potentially huge audience. The internet in general is the lifeblood for the independent musician today. I think eventually it is going to change bands into a proprietorship situation, because I don't think a lot of people are happy with what the major labels are doing, and more artists are not looking to them any more. The internet is eventually going to change the market for how radio play fits into a bands success as well.
Part of Guardian's new plan includes creating web sites for their bands that will also be part of their package. Although Guardian does not directly book bands or manage them at this time, they will do provide them with resources to find those entities, and would like to build a network eventually of business entities that may want to work directly with the artists from Guardian. Internet Nation is about to get into podcasting their shows, an aspect that is touted to be the new hot avenue in the future of music marketing. Beyond what he is doing with Guardian and Internet Nation, Bruce has thought that some day he may want to return to recording and performing his own music. He does still dabble at songwriting primarily with his business associates who may be planning on forming a band with him eventually. Although he does have that love for performing his own music, he is very satisfied with being able to help other indie musicians steer onto the right path with their music careers. It's a great thing that when we first see a band walk in here who merely think it's cool that they want to make a CD, when they get ready to walk out of here they're a little bit more business oriented and then know that they have a chance of making a living doing this. All of them have day jobs but want to get out of it eventually. I think that it would be a real high point when I get a band coming in here telling me they don't have to work that day job anymore, music is what they are doing from here on out. Helping these musicians realize that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that you can do this without a major label really feeds me.
Bruce Horne's advice for musicians: Don't rush into a record label contract. Learn everything you can on the business side of the industry. Use the internet for marketing, if you have a small following chances are there is a larger following available out there. That is what the internet is for. It's where you can find that following. But make sure you learn everything you can about the business before you rush into any deal. That is very important these days.:->