Welcome to State Of The Union, appearing each month in bluegrass now magazine! This column provides the spouses of professional bluegrass musicians with a forum in which they can share their insights, observations, and experience with fans and other bluegrass spouses.
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February 2003: Carol Moore on STARTING A MUSIC COMPANY
Carol Moore always wanted to become a teacher. She regularly worked with kids who had learning and developmental disabilities, and she always helped out with the Special Olympics in her hometown of Vero Beach, Florida. After high school, Carol attended Western Carolina University, studying education and the needs of special children.
But she never actually got near the head of the class. “Russell Moore came into my life and I threw that all out the window!” she laughs.
For 17 years, Carol has been the wife of IIIrd Tyme Out's lead vocalist, one of the busiest men in bluegrass music. She is also the loving mother (and conscientious homeschooler) of sons Taylor, 10, and Spencer, 7.
These days, her former classmates can hardly believe what she's doing: Carol Moore runs a record label.
The seeds for Chateau Music Group were planted when Russell and bandmate Ray Deaton began to notice the fruits of their labor in places they didn't expect. “There is nothing worse than walking into a truck stop and seeing a picture of your band on a compilation CD, and one of the songs you recorded years ago is on it,” Carol says sadly. “You get no royalties; you get nothing. The record company owns that song, and they're free to do whatever they want with it. It's common practice, and there's nothing illegal about it. But it is disheartening.”
The Deatons and the Moores began talking about forming a music company for IIIrd Tyme Out's projects. “Russell's on the road all the time, and Ray and his wife handle the booking agency. I was the only one available,” Carol says. She did extensive research, interviewing friends in the business, and tapping IBMA's Dan Hayes for help with a mission statement. In July 2002, Chateau Music Group was born; the name originated with Ray Deaton's daughter. “'Chateau' means 'home' in French. We decided to start bringing everything home!”
After looking into a small business loan, she and Russell decided to fund the company with savings. “Roughly 70% of each CD sale now goes into the band's collective pocket now. What was it before? If the record company sold it, less than nothing.”
Singing On Streets Of Gold, an all-gospel CD, was the company's first project. Everywhere Carol turned, there was another lesson to be learned. Some were tougher than others. “The timing for everything! When to have ads ready, and the artwork for the CD manufacturer . . . I never knew you have to submit an ad two months before it goes into a magazine!”
Mechanical licensing was another challenge. “I had no idea it would take 6-8 weeks to get licenses back! That held up manufacturing. Little things like that are HUGE, when you come down to the wire.” Distribution was also a complete unknown. “Manufacturing is easy enough because you're the customer, and they'll bend over backwards to please you. But distributors pick and choose.” New Day Christian, a gospel distributor, was happy to grab the project.
Chateau's royal offices are in the basement playroom. Carol adroitly juggles company time with serious mom time: homeschooling, Cub Scouts, soccer. “And when the boys go to bed at nine, I come back down to this computer.” She's teaching herself Photoshop and Quark Express, important tools of her new trade. “Probably one of the most important things is getting your name out there. You have to have a plan. We do direct mailings; we advertise in three major magazines. IIIrd Tyme Out has had a mailing list for ten years; there's probably 8,000 fans on it! People really like direct marketing. You spend the money, but you get a return.”
Carol is cautiously optimistic about Chateau's future. “We've recouped a bit less than half of our initial investment, and the project's only been out a few months,” she says. Chateau has one other client, Honi Deaton & Dream, but that's it for now. “We've had numerous calls, but until I figure out what I'm doing, I would hate to bring a new group in and not be able to give 100%. I have so much to learn! For every one step forward, I find myself taking two steps back. But it's getting easier every day.”
Look for IIIrd Tyme Out's Singing On Streets Of Gold, as well as a new CD from Honi Deaton and Dream, at www.chateaumusic.com.
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