Musicians dive deep into complex industry topics on Crumbs

Crumbs with RyJo and BriJo, ft. Willy Tea Taylor

Sunday, May 24 at 4 p.m.

Screenshot from the Crumbs inaugural conversation with Sam Lewis.

With so much uncertain right now in the music industry — musicians, both world-renowned and local, canceling all their live events; venues around the globe postponing or canceling events as far out as September and beyond — musicians and industry professionals Ryan Joseph Anderson and Brian Johannesen have started a new livestreamed talk show that engages people from all aspects of the industry in weekly conversation. The pair have two episodes under their belt, the first with musician Sam Lewis and the second with musician and Englert Theatre Executive Director Andre Perry.

Johannesen, a singer-songwriter with an MBA in Music Business from Belmont University has worked as a talent buyer in Nashville and has been the talent buyer for Big Grove Brewery since they opened in Iowa City (he’s also a member of the Little Village Mag team). Anderson, a touring musician and recording artist for over 20 years, also works with jazz booking agency Big Fish, in Chicago.

The show started from a thought that many people have probably had when having an engaging conversation with a friend: “We should record this for a podcast!” After many long, late night phone calls about music and its possible future, Anderson and Johannesen decided to use their new socially distanced lifestyle as a reason for creating Crumbs w/ RyJo & BriJo. And although it’s in video format now, Johannesen is working on processing the audio to convert to podcast format, as well.

“We want to talk to people from all over the industry,” Johannesen said. “We’re looking at interviewing talent buyers, agents, managers and people from all over the industry, not just the musicians.”

Now with countless events, concerts and festivals getting delayed with no solid future date in sight, the financial strain is going to be a big burden on the industry for the foreseeable future, said Johannesen.

Crumbs Episode 1: Sam Lewis

Today we chat with Nashville songwriter Sam Lewis about what new projects he's working on and where he sees the music business going.

Posted by Crumbs w/ RyJo & BriJo on Sunday, May 10, 2020

“I think that is where everyone is right now,” Johannesen said. “Everybody is thinking, ‘I don’t know when I can go on the road again; I don’t know what making a record will be like going forward; I don’t know how I’m going to make money.’ The whole business was built upon: musicians make the art, pretty much everyone else makes money off the art and the musician makes money touring. And they can’t do that now, so the main source of income has been cut off.”

Johannesen also hopes to talk with artists about what it’s like to try and create in a time where in-person audiences are not going to be available for a while.

“I don’t think the dust will ever really settle from this, but when we’re safe enough to start going out in public, [the question will be], ‘What does that look like?’ But in the meantime, [we have to ask], ‘How are people going to make a living or even make art right now?’” Johannesen said.

Anderson and Johannesen both spoke about the many aspects of the industry that have been deeply affected by COVID-19, and how many people might not consider the full scope of what the profession and its supportive roles entails.

“There’s a whole autonomy built around music that people don’t really think about,” Anderson said. “On the forefront there is the artist or the band, but when you think about the touring industry, there’s the venues, the soundmen, the bartenders, the doorman, there’s the talent buyers, and in bigger venues there’s the road crew, the tour manager. … I think people forget about that; [it] has all been wiped out, and I think it’ll be interesting because I think a lot of the people that will be involved in rebuilding [the industry] are the support people.”

Many musicians have taken to social media platforms for live concerts, where followers can watch while they play and send tips through financial applications such as PayPal and Venmo. But Anderson feels that these are just a small act in the face of the loss of revenue artists are experiencing.

Crumbs airs every Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. central.

“You see things like streaming shows and drive-in shows, [but] what does that mean for the future? Streaming is a Band-Aid on something that has just disappeared,” Anderson said.

The podcast also tries to speak to aspects of the industry that Anderson and Johannesen feel should change in a post COVID-19 environment. They see the extended quarantine as a possible reset for an industry that, they argue, is “always slow to evolve.” With the way that streaming already caused existential change to the industry, the question arises of whether revenue needs a complete overhaul.

In conversation with music agents and venue representatives, Anderson said that too many people are trying to think of the unlikely return of a musical landscape that existed pre-Coronavirus. But few are discussing whether it will ever even come back.

“I have had almost too many conversations with people who are just thinking about ‘when the world gets back to normal,’ and in the touring industry there are a lot of people having conversations about ‘maybe next year,’ he said. “And [with Crumbs] we are trying to think about it … like, ‘It’s not about when it comes back, but how it comes back.’ And I think that’s a big part of what this podcast is.”

Crumbs streams weekly on Sunday afternoons at 4 p.m. on Their next show, May 24, features singer-songwriter Willy Tea Taylor.

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