Last week we discussed ways for bluegrass bands to cut costs, which ranged from laying off non-essential staff (like managers, bass players, or yourself), to sleeping in a ditch instead of a hotel. This week, I’d like to look at the supply end of our financial challenges and suggest ways of finding new sources of income.
In business jargon, we’re looking to find new “revenue streams” (in our business these tend to be very small trickling revenue “creeks”). One we don’t think of often enough is marketing our music as commercial jingles.
This isn’t a new concept in bluegrass music by any means, and some bands have written songs for specific products in the past. It’s pretty obscure, but hunt around for Bobby Atkins’ Love Valley (with a very young Tony Rice playing on it), which is about a wild west-themed town in North Carolina, a state well-known for its easternness. There’s the Martha White Theme, which we all know and love. Then of course there have been TV theme songs, the most famous being The Ballad of Jed Clampett.
If your songwriting doesn’t tend in this direction, or if you’re not a songwriter at all, you can still do well pitching your performance of previously recorded bluegrass standards. It’s just a matter of pairing the right song with the right product, then recording a good quality demo and submitting it to an advertising agency or a specific company’s marketing division.
Below are some bluegrass songs paired with specific companies and products that might be worth pursuing:
Old Home Place — HGTV’s Fixer Upper show
Hot Corn Cold Corn — York heating and air conditioning systems
When You Say Nothing at All — Our Lady of the Angels Trappist Monastery
I’m a Man of Constant Sorrow — Prozac
Sleepy-eyed John — Nytol
I’m Gonna Sleep With One Eye Open — Starbucks or other caffeine-driven business
20/20 Vision — Pearle Vision
High On a Mountain — Colorado Cannabis Company
Can’t You Hear Me Callin’ — Verizon Wireless
Be Proud of the Grey in Your Hair — AARP
You Go To Your Church (and I’ll go to mine) — Ecumenical Christian Action
Maybe You Will Change Your Mind — Trump campaign
Old Blue — Biden campaign
Flame in My Heart — Pepcid AC
By the Side of the Road — AAA
I’ve Lost You — Google Maps
Those Memories of You — Focus Factor memory supplement
My Walking Shoes — Mephisto
Put My Little Shoes Away — The Container Store
Banks of the Ohio — Ohio Tourism Board . . . On second thought, maybe not.