What happened to Bluegrassbox.com?

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

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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.

  • Jason Hill

    Mike and Pat – Thanks for your work on bluegrassbox. There were several artists that I had not heard until I came across them on Bluegrassbox and then I went on to buy all their CD’s. Examples include the more progressive artists who don’t attend the same festivals I go to, e.g., John Cowan, Sam Bush and David Grisman. The Bluegrass Community (and the artists) are poorer without your site. Thanks again for your work.

  • Please consider exploring http://www.festivallink.net as well as the soon-to-be-up http://www.vaultalliance.com. These sites, from my understanding, gain artist and venue approval for each and every show before its upload and will be paying royalties to the the artists and songwriters for each download. I do believe that Bluegrass Box had the best of intentions and maybe with some support and brainstorming could come back with a more equitable format. Best wishes to Mike and Pat and here’s hoping that we as a community can regain the civility and kindness we were previously known for.

  • John Fitts

    Mike and Pat – Thanks for all you did for bluegrass music. I discovered many a band on the site and went on to attend shows and purchase at least one CD from each band I downloaded. (I can only afford a small handful of CDs – or downloads – a year)
    Bluegrassbox was also an incredible historical resource. There were so many musical combinations that are just not available commercially. I know there are many sites that post the jam band types but it was great to be able to download rare collaborations and historical shows.
    Hope it comes back some day!

  • Phil Briggs

    Thanks Mike and Pat for keeping your site up as long as you did. Unfortunately, I discovered the site only about two months ago. I could only listen to the radio feeds (my broadband wasn’t broad enough to actually dl any of the live concerts). It would be nice if the radio portion of the site could survive. After the first week of listening, and enjoying it so much, I searched and found that there was no mechanism for donations… I was able to discover so many new artists that I’d never heard of before, as well as some of my favorite artists…that don’t have any live performances on cd.
    I understand bluegrassbox was a labor of love, and I would like to thank you for all ya’ll’ve done… and please don’t fry those servers… in my opinion what you guys had was a national treasure…

  • jaredrice

    Thanks for such an on going contribution to the bluegrass community. It was well appreciated. Even being the son/nephew of four well known musicians and having access to a lot of festivals and private recordings through out my life, I still used bluegrassbox as a way to download and listen to music that I simply wasn’t around for yet. A lot of shows took place when I was a lot younger, and bluegrassbox was an awesome tool for me to use as a young musician to listen to some things I may have missed. You guys did a wonderful job for a very long time, at no charge. It saddened me when I heard the news, but I understand what you’re saying. What you have IS a treasure. We all know there are things played live that will never happen again. Artists don’t take chances in the studio, but they like to speak through their fingers on stage with a crowd cheering them on and pushing the greatest out of them. Again, you have my many thanks for such a huge contribution and you also have my best wishes. Jared

  • Yvonne Vickery

    Thank you Mike & Pat for a bit of family harmony. Thank you for Bluegrassbox. My husband and I have slightly differing musical tastes, but Bluegrassbox helped keep me on his page with bluegrass. We seek more bluegrass shows and buy more CD’s as a result. With the best of wishes to you, it’s still sad to see you go.

  • zurch

    Mike and Patrick,
    You guys rock. I’ve been wondering what happened to BGB.com and googling from time to time to try to find out. I miss it.
    What a wonderful resource it was. If you decide to not return, I will miss it for a long time. I guess there may be ways that I don’t know about to supplement my fix for rockin JGB and YMSB recordings and I will be hunting for them.
    Thank you for all you did, all the time you put in, for appreciating all the positive responses you got and for allowing them to carry you forward another day.
    Rock on, dudes! And best always!