The following is a Guest Contribution from Mike Wagner and Patrick Skerrett, who up until quite recently ran the popular live audio file trading site, Bluegrassbox.com. Their site has been discussed a good bit of late, starting with a Guest Contribution from Megan Lynch, followed by one from Brad Harper, both of which received a good many (mostly) thoughtful comments from readers of Bluegrass Today.
We trust that any comments our readers may contribute will be offered in the same spirit as were these from Mike and Pat.
Bluegrassbox, in its recent form, is no more.
From the beginning of Bluegrassbox, Pat and I had only the best intentions toward all things bluegrass. We love the genre and hoped to preserve and spread its lonesome sound to new and old audiences. Save for relatively small bursts of popularity now and then, Bluegrass has remained a niche genre. A vocal minority seems intent on keeping it that way… perhaps, unfortunately, to their own ultimate demise. We certainly hope bluegrass doesn’t fade away as so many other once strong genres seem to have. Long live bluegrass!
As to why we shut the Bluegrassbox door, it was more a lack of time, energy and funding (rest easy; Megan Lynch’s crusade played a peripheral part at best). Pat and I have been considering shutting Bluegrassbox down for some time mainly due to relatively diminished user interest and personal reasons. Both of our jobs had begun to consume more time and we’d both become involved with great gals who like to have some of our attention now and then. In addition, Bluegrassbox had become redundant in a field of other music archiving/distribution sites. Only the continued joyful emails and sign-up comments of folks discovering Bluegrassbox (both old-timers and new-comers alike) kept us from pulling the plug. Without a doubt, we know Bluegrassbox generated tons of general bluegrass interest, show attendance and commercial merchandise purchases (all benefitting performers and writers alike). Believe as you will.
The aspect of songwriter compensation did arise recently. Concerned agencies did contact us seeking to negotiate artists and songwriter compensation. To this day, Bluegrassbox has not generated a penny of income and, with a huge monthly operating expense (for two mere bluegrass fans and computer hobbyists!), we had to weigh if we were able to afford this additional cost on our own. Ultimately we could not justify the additional cost or time demand for data gathering/delivery on our own.
We would like to thank all of you who offered any type of help, be it monetary donations or otherwise. However, it was more simple to fund the entire endeavor ourselves. With user and, subsequently, our own interest waning, Bluegrassbox was virtually on auto-pilot for the past few months. It was a surprise it lasted as long as it did mechanically (possibly a testament to our coding abilities!). So, while we enjoyed the ride and are glad to have exposed a multitude of folks to the bluegrass experience, time, energy and cost ultimately brought about the demise of Bluegrassbox.
Following the name-calling, damning comments and general mean sentiment of late, our belief and enthusiasm for the bluegrass community and fans has declined somewhat. For all the damnation and nay-saying, not once did anyone offer a solution wherein everyone would be happy, compensated and continue to enjoy the bluegrass sound via avenues such as Bluegrassbox. It was sad to realize the focus was more on destruction than building a community of kindness and trust. We’ve been left feeling blue and nonplussed.
Thanks to well-wishes and kind comments from others; we expect we’ll perk up at some point and get interested in an alternative to Bluegrassbox that will appease everyone’s interests. Bluegrassbox may be revived in a similar form, or it may come back as something quite different. It may not resurface at all. We are considering and reviewing the possibilities.
Stay tuned. See you around the bend.
Mike and Pat