Catch Brandon Maddox on the #PirateBroadcast™ - russjohns

Catch Brandon Maddox on the #PirateBroadcast™

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Introduction: [00:00:00] Welcome to the #PirateBroadcast™, where we interview #interestingpeople doing #interestingthings. Where you can expand your connections, your community, #kindnessiscool and #smilesarefree. Let’s get this party started.

Russ Johns: [00:00:10] Thank you so much for being here. I really appreciate the fact that we can actually share a few new pirates. Meredith, Brandon, welcome to the party. How are you doing today? Did we lose you? Is your mic off? I cannot hear you.

Brandon Maddox: [00:00:29] We hear you.

Russ Johns: [00:00:31] Okay. I hear you now. I hear you now. Okay. We're back. All right. So talk a little bit about what you're doing right now. You're musicians you play and perform music. So give us a backstory on who you are for those that don't know. Give us a little a setup here. 

Brandon Maddox: [00:00:54] I was a kid with a dream of being in the music industry and playing music, writing songs. The Beatles were a big influence. They were my dad's favorite band back in the sixties. And so I started teaching myself guitar at age 12 and then against my parents' wishes, moved to Nashville and started playing country music and also writing country music later on in time after I graduated college. They wanted me to do and then I did what I wanted to do. So moved to Nashville and had some cool success right off the bat. But the industry changed rapidly during that time and became much more cliquey, political buddy. And it turned into less about the talent, more about the money. If you weren't from a silver spoon, you didn't have much of a chance type industry. Around three or four years into it, I met Meredith and she believed in what I was doing, believed in my music and she joined the challenge or the utmost challenge of being there by my side through this. And we have driven around the country and played all kinds of shows. During normal years, we're doing 220 dates a year during the COVID of course, that drastically shrank our ability to play because of the shutdowns. So we are getting back into the swing of things. We got about 60 shows to go, but that will change and that will increase over time. And as onegoes by, we book another. And so we'll probably end up somewhere around the 200 show mark when all is said and done by the end of this year.

Russ Johns: [00:02:28] That's fantastic. So the music industry as a whole has changed, are you pursuing more online production or releasing songs or tracks independently or what's your direction that you're heading on for releasing music or producing songs nowadays?

Brandon Maddox: [00:02:49] Yes, definitely more the independent path, because whether a record label gets involved or not, you've got to have enough negotiation and leverage power, if you were to get into a negotiation with them, with a contract that you'd want enough money coming in. To to be able to have any leg to stand on in that situation. Yeah, we're doing the independent route now. I work with Reba McEntire's band whenever I do projects. They have always been there since I got to know them through a connection with my dad. And my dad set us up to write songs. Basically I'm trying to condense this story down a little bit, but we started writing songs first and then after that he said, would you like me to produce you? And that's when he started producing me and I've done several albums with him, several singles with him. And now I'm trying to get another one out there because I've got 1400 original songs. So I've got plenty of material, but I don't have enough money to be able to go and do that because the return on investment doesn't make sense for anybody shelling out the dollars on their own. You really need it fan funded and crowdsourced, if you're going to make anything or even break even on putting an album out there these days. Jeff Young asks, are you two on Patreon, that's where many artists get a great deal of support?

Yeah, I started a Patreon. I don't believe I finished it because I think you have to pay to be on Patreon. So every one of these platforms, the fans will ask are you on this? Are you on that? And the truth is that there's always some kind of large takeaway that these platforms do, whether it's before or after you work with them, that's a monthly subscription type thing with Patreon. We got some really awesome fans. We found what works best to start raising some capital is just going live and posting the PayPal link in there. That's what got us through a lot of COVID was we just simply went live on Facebook and pasted our PayPal link in there. And people gave through that as the live performance was going on. It was really a good thing back at that time.

Meredith Maddox: [00:04:59] Yeah. There was one point during the shutdown that we were going live three times a week and people were tuning in because at that time, most things were totally locked down so people couldn't get out and do things and so they were tuning in all the time and it was a great way to be able to have a sense of community that we were used to. Cause we were used to seeing a lot of people all the time and it went to nobody really fast. So we got to do that, but we don't have the Patreon going, not really because of what Brandon said, but we do have a fan club that has a monthly thing. And depending on  what level you sign up in the club, you get certain perks and things like that. And we're using all of those funds to hopefully record a new EP. It's almost  evolved into a new album this year. So we're hoping that we can make that happen.

Russ Johns: [00:05:50] That's fantastic. I really love the idea of having the opportunity to actually take 1400 songs, think about that, and that you could produce an album if you could actually get the funding to put it together and produce it and engineer it and master it and print it. It's a process. I know it's a process. So it's really nice to be able to think that if the fans can support you. And I know that Tracie we'll put the links in the show notes and all of the things that you're doing, I really want to support musicians. I really love the music industry. I love the musicians in the industry. I love to support musicians in the industry. And I just want to make sure that you have the tools you need and whatever we can do to shine a light on you guys and get some support for you. Angie's in the house. Mention to Angie and Tracie and Jeff Young says morning, all pirates. Welcome to the #PirateBroadcast™. Namaste! Network and make all sorts of terrific energy. And he's the LinkedIn guru. So he's there. Sheri Lally is another individual is so supportive. She's incredibly supportive, good morning support the artists. Absolutely. And so where are some other places... Meredith, you started to mention that you do have a fan page, where are some other places that people can connect and support you and show some caring and kindness.

Meredith Maddox: [00:07:20] Yeah everywhere. We are on all the online strings, iTunes. We're on iTunes. Brandon's got several different albums on iTunes, Spotify. We're really currently trying to grow our Spotify monthly listeners so people can find Brandon on Spotify. Of course the usuals, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, everywhere.

Russ Johns: [00:07:41] Oh, fantastic.

Brandon Maddox: [00:07:42] You should put the link....

Meredith Maddox: [00:07:44] Tracie is going to do that.

Brandon Maddox: [00:07:46] Ok, for the last album and everything.

Meredith Maddox: [00:07:48] We can make sure she's got it to put on there.

Russ Johns: [00:07:52] Yeah. We'll make sure that Tracie has it,  and it'll be posted and we'll repost it and we'll share it out as well. One of the things that I want to ask is, you started at 12, you started practicing and what's your process for writing songs, Brandon? What process do you go through? Does it start with the lyrics? Does it start with a hook? Does it start with a... how do you approach writing music?

Brandon Maddox: [00:08:17] Yeah. Great question. So over the years, it's been all kinds of angles that has spurred that on. But mostly I start with hooks. I start with the ideas and I'll just be talking to someone and we'll be, or I'll hear somebody say something and I'll be like, I've never heard that before. That's an interesting take on that and I'll write it down and save it. And then me and a co-writer will go back and work on it together. And I'll say, I've got this idea. And here's the title and that's how I mostly how I write write most of my material, but I've started with bridges before, that's been interesting where I'm just, something just hits me and I've got a bridge and then I'm like I don't know what this will go to. And then we're working backwards from that. Or come up with a first couple of lines for chorus and the music and the words will be there. And then I just have to find that magic hook. That's going to be what it needs.  It could also just be a couple of really good strong lines, I think would open up the song and be the first two attention grabbing lines of the song, but either way it's got to start off with something worthy of going further with it and keeping that thought process going, because if it's not worth it, then I'll just stash it away and probably not do anything with it. But if the idea has a strong enough idea to stand alone, then it's worthy cause the song is only as good as the idea and the hook that it rests on. And then you write the lyrics to that idea. And when that happens, then you've got a truly good song.

Russ Johns: [00:09:51] Yeah, it always fascinates me, when I was playing music, and writing songs and, coming up with melodies and chord progressions and everything, everybody has a different approach. Some people take a recorder or they record on their phone or they hear that ear worm kind of melody coming out and they could sing it to themselves or play something and come back on the guitar or piano and play it. Now, are you primarily on the guitar?

Brandon Maddox: [00:10:18] Yeah. So I'm primarily on the guitar. I play a little harmonica every now and then, I've started teaching myself other instruments in the past, and I can pick up a lot of stringed instruments because the guitar came natural for me. So I could pick up a ukulele and by the end of the day, maybe have a couple of songs that I know. So that comes natural. But  that's pretty much it.

Russ Johns: [00:10:40] That's fantastic. What do you find as #inspiration for your songs? Is it your life experiences? Is it just ideas and thoughts or what do you find for #inspiration?

Brandon Maddox: [00:10:51] Yeah. Combination of life experiences and those times that I'm just thinking, that's interesting. That's an interesting take. I may be watching some TV and I see something going on in the world that I do or don't agree with and that will spur something. A lot of times it's the same with me too. Somebody experiences a heartbreak, like back when I was dating and everything, I experienced that. And so that was the beginnings of where I found a lot of my #inspiration was just going through a traumatic breakup or having somebody leave you again, and so you get sad and you write a song about it. It's therapy. So it has all kinds of places that I get that #inspiration, but lately here it's been, what's happening in our world, what is going on around us, in the news. And then, just my life and Meredith's life. And, that's where I get a lot of it these days.

Russ Johns: [00:11:47] That's awesome. Jeff Young says, I agree, Russ, it's important to support all the artists we can. Absolutely. Sheri Lally says, which platforms give you the largest share of purchases.

Brandon Maddox: [00:12:04] Great question.

Meredith Maddox: [00:12:04] Very great question.

Brandon Maddox: [00:12:05] Itunes gives a large share of the downloads, comparatively speaking they're the only ones that really do downloads anymore. But I think when I have the most money that comes in, CD Baby. I do my distribution some through this. And any of the ones that are the distribution, things that you pay for that get distributed to all of the different places they usually give you the largest cut, too, in the end. Amazon is higher up there on the list. I'm thinking about my sheet that I get with all my royalty breakdowns and of course, when it comes to online it's always better if you're at a show and an artist has CDs for sale. That's going to give them the largest cut. And it's such a shame that CDs have gone away in computers and everything else. Cause we're a victim of our music industry and our technology with that because that's where we were making our main money was on CD sales. And now I would say CD Baby, Amazon. What do you think Meredith? Am I leaving anything out?

Meredith Maddox: [00:13:10] No I think you're hitting them all.

Brandon Maddox: [00:13:13] But the lowest, I can tell you what the lowest star is like streaming services like Pandora, Spotify. Spotify used to be .001 cent per stream, but the government said you got to come up or somebody, there's some kind of law. So they did a gracious thing and they bumped it up by .004 cents a stream, so now we're rolling.

Russ Johns: [00:13:34] I can't believe you're even talking to me.

Meredith Maddox: [00:13:37] So what were you gonna say, Meredith? I just think you brought up a really good point in that something that people may not realize, when an independent artist has merchandise available at a show, that's one of the best ways to support them because it helps them on the road. A lot of times, these places they don't pay significantly well. And the artist is depending on the tips in the tip jar and whatever merchandise they can sell to get them further down the road to the next destination. Because most of the times when we go out on the road, we are one night in one town and then the next night we may be six hours away or four hours away onto the next town. And the tips that we make that night help us get further down the road to the next place and can determine... at one point they determined meals for the next day. They determined where we stayed the night before. So it's just something to think about that, that that generosity and that show of support is always something that's big and equally as big is when you hear a band and you enjoy them and you enjoy their original songs, learn their original songs. Learn them so you can sing along with them and then tell your friends, share their online pages with friends because the biggest way to spread music, just like anything else these days is word of mouth, and friends trust their friends about what to listen to. So that's huge.

Brandon Maddox: [00:15:07] Yeah. Good point.

Meredith Maddox: [00:15:08] And that's free, that doesn't cost you anything to tell somebody...

Russ Johns: [00:15:11] That's a great point.e

Meredith Maddox: [00:15:13] when you had a really great experience at a show this weekend. And you want to make sure that all your friends come out the next time that band is in town, that costs you nothing. So yeah, that word of mouth advertising still the best form of advertising out there. For sure.

Brandon Maddox: [00:15:31] Yeah. 

Russ Johns: [00:15:31] I know that a lot of musicians have, that's the way that they've actually produced results in a positive outcome is they actually create a community around it and build an audience organically and it's just that constant grind. So I guess one of the questions I want to ask Meredith is what has surprised you most about being involved with Brandon and watching the music industry and evolving? Were you also in music yourself before you met Brandon?

Meredith Maddox: [00:16:05] No, I was not in music at all. I was managing a coffee shop. I just joined along because I believed in Brandon's songs and I thought that I could help him. And I knew people and I knew that if people got the opportunity to hear Brandon, that they would love him. And so my drive, since I met Brandon, is to make sure that as many people can hear him, so that they will become a fan then and become part of what we're doing. And so after we eloped on a tour, I thought about all the timethat we would be apart. Yeah. That's another story. But after we eloped on tour in South West Florida, I thought about all the time that we would spend apart. And obviously I married him because I wanted to spend time with him, not apart. I started playing percussion alongside of him and singing a little bit of back up, but I obviously am not professionally trained in any kind of way. I just play whatever feels right with whatever brand is playing. So we've developed quite a show. I think, we get a great response every time we play. But I guess one of the most surprising things that I found is that a lot of times your average listener can get caught up in a shtick online and slick promotional material, which is not something that we've always had because we're not backed by an investor. We play show to show and that's why we played so many shows is to keep the bills paid and to do everything that we need to do. And so we have been very much a grassroots movement. And so it has been a shame to see other artists who, in my opinion, don't have the songs or the talent that Brandon has, seem to surpass us in some ways, because they get an investor who pumps, $300,000 into their career. And then suddenly they're opening for larger acts and doing other things that we simply haven't had the opportunity to because we don't have that kind of money to just put into the career. But we do love our fans. We have a growing great fan base. Oh, go ahead.

Russ Johns: [00:18:13] I was just going to say, just add yet to the end of that sentence.

Meredith Maddox: [00:18:18] That's correct. That's correct. You are so correct. And have not given up hope or we wouldn't still be doing what we're doing for sure. We have a great fan base across the country and they try to help us anytime that they can. And there is a great sense of community in what we're building. It's just hard. It's hard when there are so many artists that are online, so many artists pumping material out, so many things, and then so many artists as well that will pay for that extra boost of promotion that can bump up their posts versus ours. So that's something that we have to compete with too.

Brandon Maddox: [00:18:52] Yeah. Another thing is that we were on that cusp of both being born  right before the internet and everything, kinda was the thing. And so a lot of artists are maybe a little bit younger than we are, and they've got a little bit more tech savvy. It seems like the tech savvy people in this are the ones that rule. If you're a computer geek, you might not have all the talent someone else does, but man, can you get those numbers up there because you're a computer geek and you know what you're doing.

Russ Johns: [00:19:22] Yeah, that's definitely a tool that has been used more recently in the music industry. Angie brings up a good point and I want to explore this a little bit and plant this seed because I think it might be a good idea because with 1400 songs, you have an idea, but Angie says I have a perfect hook for a country song. We should talk. So have you ever considered commissions for people that have an idea that you could develop, help them develop, and then they can have their own songs, so to speak.  Just like artists, paint commissioned.

Brandon Maddox: [00:19:56] Yes, we have. I've done that. So I'm on a site called and air gigs, where you can do works for hire with different people, they come to you and the sites the intermediary that kind of keeps everybody honest, so to speak. So air gigs they might say I'm looking for writing this song. It's country style song. And I've got this girlfriend that I want to impress. And I want to live vicariously or whatever through that song. And so I write that song for them, basically, and then they sing it to their girlfriend or significant other. And so I do some of those work for hire type things. Yes, definitely. That is something that we've come across and that I'm open to, but now I'd prefer just to deal directly with that person, if I trust them and they're honest, and we know that we can trust each other with that.

Russ Johns: [00:20:49] For any of you pirates out there, if you need a song and you need a songwriter for that unique, special individual event or person in your life, you can call Brandon.

Meredith Maddox: [00:21:00] We got hired to write about the girl that worked at the pretzel stand in the mall and how this guy like fell in love with the girl that worked at Annie Ann's. I guess it's basically like the falling in love at the coffee shop, whatever that song was several years ago, but it was just really interesting. You just never know what somebody is going to contact you about for a song.

Brandon Maddox: [00:21:24] Yes, Angie, I see she came up here too, sometimes just one person believing in you makes a world of difference. That is totally right. If the right person believes in you, we've got, as Garth Brooks would say in his song, friends in low places. If you've got all your friends in low places and they believe in you, that's wonderful. You got fans like that, that believe in what you're doing and that's great. We'll take it every, each and every day they come along. But if we've got somebody that's in high places with deep pockets and they can help you get to that next level and they believe in you and they're willing to, that's what we're all looking for out here, because it's like horses in a race. All of us independent acts are like horses in a race. Now, if you believe in one, don't you want to put your money behind the best horse in the race. So you gotta look at that talent and you have to have good ear. You have to be able to discern one artist from another. There's lots of good ones, but how many of them can sing, play, write, do the whole shebang, or can do all those things. And they might not take that into account. So they put their money behind somebody that is just their friend that just says, hey, I need some of this. I don't know. It's just a really messed up business because of the greed that's entered into it. People say you've got to earn X number of dollars to promote you. And it's not small money either. We're talking $3,000 a month to test market you, $9,000 into three months, and then you could finally get to the right palm to pay to get the rest of the way there. So we're talking about larger types of money that you gotta either have a rockin' day job that makes all kinds of money or you got to know someone with deep pockets.

Russ Johns: [00:23:06] Yeah. It's very competitive business. Sheri, again, asked the Patreon, we talked about the Patreon. This takes no production of product or merchandise to sell. That's true. And there's a lot of platforms out there that are emerging. It seems like there's more and more so it's like you going back to saying if you're tech savvy and you know how to move all these levers in the tech side, and you may not have as much talent, it would be really, it's challenging. And live shows and selling merchandises is probably the best way that a lot of musicians use to produce revenue.

Brandon Maddox: [00:23:42] Oh, okay. So we have lots of merchandise and we also have that link to, since Sheri was talking about Patreon, we've got a link that we can put in there, Sheri, that has it. We get a hundred percent of the proceeds. We don't have to split it with Patreon as the middleman. So we'll make sure that everybody gets that. These are awesome questions and we appreciate everybody asking how they can support. That's awesome. Thank you guys.

Meredith Maddox: [00:24:08] I was just going to say, it's hard, too, to keep up with the latest not trend, but the latest platform to be on, to raise these funds. There's Patreon and then there was GoFundMe and then there was all these other things like our passion and our focus, especially Brandon's focus is on the creative and on the songwriting and playing the guitar and not what do we need to keep up with, online and it's a very fine balancing act. If you don't have both going on, then you're sunk, but we focus more on the art and not on the electronic side and so then it's harder.

Brandon Maddox: [00:24:44] Yeah, you gotta be a businessman and I can be a businessman for sure. But to be a tech savvy businessman, to keep up with all the latest technological advancements all the time. That's something that robs from the art, if you try and do all that. The time you spend trying to keep up with the latest advancements and everything in tech, takes away from it. It can do nothing else, unless you'd just never sleep and you work 24/7 around the clock. You're going to have to sacrifice, something's got to give there.

Russ Johns: [00:25:15] Yeah as somebody that's been in the business and understands a little bit about what you're going through, I appreciate and applaud you guys for doing what you're doing. I love music.  It's my first love. And I've been going through this process of just creating a track a day. I've been doing, just simple tracks, just experiments, they're nothing compared to what you're doing, but it's something that I just love and enjoy, and I'm just going to continue to support musicians and music. And I just appreciate the fact that you came and stopped by the show and hopefully introduces you to a new audience that you didn't previously have. So hopefully you can find a few fans from this event and opportunity. So thank you so much for being here, both Meredith, Brandon, thank you so much.

Brandon Maddox: [00:26:02] Thank you for having us Russ, really appreciateyou having us.

Russ Johns: [00:26:07] And also just remember everyone that the links, connections, anything that we could do to promote Brandon and Meredith in their journey. We'll have links in the podcast and  in the show notes, and we'll share it out as well. So I appreciate you guys. Thank you so much for being here. And as you know, everyone, #kindnessiscool, #smilesarefree, so you #enjoytheday. Don't go away, you guys.

Brandon Maddox: [00:26:38] Thank you.

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