Mountain Heart live show on FestivaLink

Mountain Heart audio from Grey Fox on FestivaLinkWe told you back in July that recordings were being made at the 2006 Grey Fox festival which would be available for purchase via FestivaLink, a web-based company dedicated to offering high quality festival recordings for sale online.

They work closely with the artists, and live tracks are carefully mixed before release. FestivaLink also operates under a code that seeks to ensure that “fair compensation for everyone involved: artists, songwriters, and presenters” is part of the equation.

Mountain Heart’s Jim VanCleve contacted us last week, brimming with excitement over their Grey Fox audio on FestivaLink. Jim said that he wasn’t sure when the audio files were officially released online, but indicated that the band had just recently “signed off,” giving their complete approval and promoting the Grey Fox audio downloads as the “first ever live recording by Mountain Heart.”

Jim shared a few thoughts about the FestivaLink/Grey Fox concert audio:

“We (Mountain Heart) have been asked about a billion times over the past few years about when we were planning to release a Live recording. So, we are really excited to FINALLY have exactly that available to the people! What’s even better, is that the Live Show we ended up releasing for folks is from one of the highlight Festivals of our touring year, AND at a Prime Time Spot on one of the most Storied stages in all of Bluegrass Music!! …Grey Fox, Saturday night, in the headline spot of the show…

The obvious energy a situation like that can produce… THAT is what a live musical recording is all about!! I can’t wait to hear what people have to say about this performance!”

There are 11 tracks in the Mountain Heart set, taken largely from their current release, Wide Open. 30 second audio samples of each track can be found on the FestivaLink site, where you can purchase the Mountain Heart set in either an MP3 or FLAC format.

Other audio from Grey Fox ’06 includes shows from Austin Lounge Lizards, The Jerry Douglas Band, Crooked Still, Red Stick Ramblers and Tim & Mollie O’Brien.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.

  • Cranky

    Who owns/runs FestivalLink? I see where they mention “fair compensation” – is the compensation structure different than that of a label deal? Many artists make less off of online sales (as a percentage) than they do from traditional CD sales. Pardon me for being a little suspicious, but considering that they are charging as much or more than a regular release (without the marketing costs, studio time, CD replication costs, distribution, band development, etc.), I am curious as to where and who the money is going to.

    (Please do not turn this into the taper/trader discussion, as we’ve all been down that before. )

  • Hey Cranky,

    I thought much the same when I first found out about festival link. But on further review I see this from their website:

    FestivaLink.net recordings are not simple board tapes. We work hand in hand with an all-pro recording team, capturing every note in high-resolution audio. Then, the recordings are carefully mixed and mastered to bring out the musicians’ best.

    And this…

    FestivaLink’s mission is to capture “festival moments” and make them widely available, with fair compensation for everyone involved: artists, songwriters, and presenters.

    So my thoughts run this way. Having a truely professional recording engineer set up and multi-track a performance, then spend the time to mix it, get the band’s approval of the mix (I know they do this because VanCleve told us), then master the recording and host the files. You get the point, there is a lot of expense right there, just to get the show into distribution.

    As far as what kind of cut the band gets, I don’t know what it is, but the Mountain Heart guys sure seemed excited about this thing so I would say they are happy with their cut. And if festival link is paying the band, the songwriter (copyright holder), and the “presenters” (I’m assuming that’s the festival or show promoter), in addition to their production and hosting costs, I would say the prices aren’t really all that bad.

    That’s just my take on it. I would be curious to know for sure what the breakdown is though, but purely for nosiness sake. 🙂

  • nashphil

    Since it’s just for pure “nosiness” sake, a reputable source who witnessed a few of the contracts reported that the artists are getting a 15% share of the profits. The Venue/Festival is getting another 15% share. The recording/mastering company (Colorado Sound) is taking another 15% share. The company responsible for the bandwidth, software, hardware, and technology (Nugs.net) is taking another 15%. And finally, the company FestivaLink is taking the remainder of the profits after operating, marketing, and royalty costs are paid.

    I’m not sure how much profit, if any, would be generated from each recording. Those splits would explain the need to make $20 from one single 35 minute perfomance download.

    Interestingly, Nugs.net is the company responsible for designing and implementing the actual downloads and websites for FestivaLink. They were outsourced by FestivaLink, so that FestivaLink, or more appropriately, Colorado Sound records and mixes, then provides Nugs.net with the audio files to be downloaded.

    Nugs.net is the flagship of Brad Serling, who created and designed livephish.com and livewidespreadpanic.com, among other sites like livedownloads.com. His jamband related models have been tremendously successful, including the very first download model of it’s kind for Phish, which has grossed well over ten million dollars in it’s first four years.

    It remains to be seen if a model such as FestivaLink can ultimately be successful or profitable. With a band like Phish, they have 50,000 fans that attend the performance and another 200,000 that cannot. Livephish.com would have that performance ready for download in less than 48 hours. Not to mention a band like Phish doesn’t ever play the same thing twice. With a festival like Merlefest, the sets are shorter, the crowds are much smaller, and there is no 200,000 person audience waiting patiently by their computers to hear what Mountain Heart just played. I mean, how much desire is there to pay $20 to hear John Cowan do a set at last years Merlefest 6 months after it happened. Maybe a lot, maybe not.

    I’m certainly interested in the outcome. I would love to see all of these festival performances be made available in some way or another.