Nashville is a city normally identified with mainstream country music, and, to a lesser extent, rock and pop. But one independent label in Nashville is putting its money on artsier musicians, and is combining that gamble with straight digital music distribution, an area that the major labels are still trying to figure out how to handle.
Nashville Noir is the brainchild of Dustin Michael and Jason Hoffman, two young music business impresarios who are very different people, but who have one shared trait: a passion for honestly created music, no matter what genre it fits (or doesn't fit).
With artists as diverse as ambient Native American act Timo and the White Buffalo, jazz singer Rachel Pearl, and modern bluegrass duo Flatt and Alvis, Michael and Hoffman are clearly trying to offer two things that Nashville's labels rarely do: originality and individual artistry.
"We're working with local artists as well as artists from eight other countries or so," Hoffman said. "We're working primarily on digital distribution, and on licensing deals with TV, commercials, film, video games, all kinds of media. And we distribute our artists' work to all major online sites, like Rhapsody, iTunes, Napster, all the big ones, and the independent ones too."
At a recent showcase event at the Rutledge, Nashville's hottest original music club, three Nashville Noir acts got a chance to show why the label signed them, as The Janissary, The Beta Macks and The Running all performed to a packed club.
The Janissary, fronted by a gorgeous young blonde who plays great guitar, might be compared to Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians, while The Beta Macks clearly owe their style to '80s bands like the Thompson Twins and the Eurodance movement of the early '90s, only with real drums and U2-inspired guitar. The Running is a three-piece that combines reggae, metal and punk for a danceable hardcore mixture.
"It's helped us out tremendously, being signed to Nashville Noir," said Andy Zimmerman, The Running's drummer. "And Jason and Dustin are real cool to work with."
The label is off to a roaring start, signing acts that otherwise wouldn't have much of a chance in Nashville. "We started with one band about eight months ago," Hoffman said, "and now I think we have 23."
Michael, more quiet and unassuming than his gregarious and always-smiling business partner, has a long music business pedigree. "My family has been involved in the business since back in the days of the Louisiana Hayride," said Michael, whose tastes seem even more eclectic than Hoffman's, despite his pure country lineage. "The music business is something I've always been around."
The label is hoping to do more showcases to spotlight its bands and to boost online sales.
"We may make the next showcase a country one," Michael said, since the band has several country-leaning artists on its roster. But you won't see any Rascal Flatts wannabes here. With any luck, you may see Nashville Noir country artist Rick Monroe do his unlikely banjo-driven cover of Motorhead's "Ace of Spades."
You can find more about Nashville Noir & their artists online at:
Article Written & Submitted by Rick Moore