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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 20 years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, and B-movies. Part time ninja. Kicked cancer’s ass. My memoir, ChemBro, is out now!
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Marc Broussard Talks Touring, Giving Back, and Side-Stepping Streaming
Friday, November 19, 2021

Marc Broussard is back on the road, and the enthusiasm of both his band, and the fans, is at an all-time high.

“I feel like a Beatle,” he exclaims. “People are so excited to get back out there, and when we hit the stage they’re just so jacked. It’s really fun.”

The Louisiana-based “Bayou Soul” artist known for his distinctive vocals will be on tour through the winter, and into the spring of 2022. I caught up with him in-between stops to find out more about being back on the road, the gratitude he has for his fans, and the best ways to give back to one’s own community. He also discussed the current perceived value of music in regards to streaming, and the unique way in which he’s looking to avoid streaming for his future releases.

You are currently on a tour that, judging by your website, goes on forever. 

It does. It does.

We might be exaggerating slightly, but how long did it take for this to come together once you saw venues opening up again? Were you booking and praying? 

No. I mean, we rebooked a lot of these shows three or four times already in the last couple of years, so most of those shows are shows we had on the books for 2020.

We’re just trying to get as many shows on the books as possible so that we can work when we’re allowed to work. We assume that we’ll probably lose between 20% and 30% of those shows, but we’re keeping our fingers crossed that we lose none.

Wow. Is that just a worse case scenario assumption, or is there something else behind the thought that 30% might drop off? 

That was the guidance that we got from my booking agency, that they expect (to lose) 20% to 30%. I’m assuming that’s based on the data they’ve got at hand.

Having not been able to tour for over a year, how long did it take you to get your sea legs back once you hit the stage again? 

Oh man, I was performing all throughout the year, I was just not doing it in front of a live audience. I was doing a ton of digital concerts through a platform called Topeka Live, (and) through Sessions Live, as well. So yeah, I wasn’t really that outta practice.

Performing in front of a camera versus performing in front of an audience is really different, so that first time you hit the stage again, and there's a packed house in front of you … 

Oh it feels amazing.

To be honest with you, I kind of fell in love with the digital shows, too. On Topeka they’re private, so it’s a small audience, and I get to interact with that audience, and it’s sort of more intimate than you would get in a concert venue. In-between songs fans can ask me questions, and do whatever.

So I did really enjoy those shows, but yeah, a live audience, there’s no comparison.

How did the pandemic, and now coming out of the pandemic, change your relationship with your fans? 

I’ve always had a strong level of gratitude for just the ability to put food on the table, and keep a roof over my children’s head, but it’s grown immensely more so since … my fans stepped up in a major way. I was in a real bind in March and April of last year, and the fans came to the rescue, and saved my behind in a major way, so I feel an even greater debt of gratitude now that we’re on the other side of this thing.

When you say they saved your butt, do you mean emotionally? 

No, financially. They dumped a bunch of money into my Venmo and PayPal accounts the moment we published those links. That first weekend they threw about $12,000 into my bank account. It was amazing. It was incredible.

Speaking of fans, you’ve been gaining some younger ones, as your 2019 album, S.O.S. 3: A Lullaby Collection, was aimed at a younger audience. I feel like kids are inherently drawn to music, but music programs keep getting cut in schools. How can we keep music in kids’ lives, and give them the ability to learn an instrument, without being forced to pay for private instruction? 

You know, it’s a very difficult question. I feel like I benefitted tremendously from the music programs that I was involved in at school, but I do also think there’s a limit to what a school can actually teach a musician. Ultimately that musician is going to have to take charge of their own career, and push the skill set to where they need it to be in order to do what they want, but you do need a … you sort of need a springboard, and that’s what school music programs can be, and have been for innumerable musicians.

It’s a really good question. I don’t really have a great answer for ya. I think that those of us that care about this stuff should absolutely talk about it, and volunteer, if necessary, and raise money.

My wife and I, with a group of friends of ours at our kids’ school, years ago wanted to start a foreign language program. We started a drama club so we could raise money with performances to get a new Spanish language teacher hired by the school, and it worked. So I’ve seen it in my own life, when you really get involved in your kid’s school you can make some things happen without a whole lot of bureaucratic nonsense.

With music programs being cut in schools, and streaming, rather than buying, having become the dominant model for consuming music, what are your thoughts on the perceived value of music in 2021? 

Well, I think music’s never been more in demand. That’s pretty obvious. These services are clearly catering to a pretty massive audience. It’s really interesting, as demand has risen, so has supply, so it absolutely has affected how we actually earn money in record sales, which is sort of a dead term anyways. Nobody’s selling records anymore.

It’s not a great picture, I’m not gonna lie to ya. I’m not a fan of these streaming services at all. I think that the industry as a whole colluded with those technology platforms, the major players at stake colluded with those platforms, to rob artists of value. So yeah, I got some strong feelings on it, for sure.

I don’t know the full story, you might, but I read Spotify is now trying to give even less of a share to artists somehow, which I didn’t think was possible. 

It’s pretty remarkable, a company that came into the space to disrupt the industry ends up going public, and 65% of the money that was brought in on IPO day went out the door to Sony, Universal, and Warner. I think that told me everything I needed to know.

Yeah, and for all the people that use it, one day one of those labels could decide not to re-up their contract, and pull everything off. 

I don’t even have digital rights in my first contract, no real specificity. There’s a clause about future technologies, but we’re having to audit Universal Records to even find out if my album has made any money, which is another heinous aspect of this industry, you have to sue your own record label to find out if you actually are owed money by your record label.

That’s just nuts. Has all of this affected the way you release music? 

Absolutely. In economics when you want to increase the price you either have to increase demand, or in some cases restrict supply. I don’t have control over the supply of music into the streaming space, so my only other option, I thought at least, was just to put out more music, to try and outpace everybody else. Essentially, just put out more music than anybody else. That’s a strategy that’s worked fairly well for us over the last decade, or so. We’ve grown in every area of concern.

You’ve also done a lot of charitable work. I know a portion of proceeds from sales of both your 2019 album, and your first book, a children’s book titled I Love You For You, continue to be donated to Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital in Baton Rouge, LA. What advice can you give to people who want to give back, but might not have your platform to do it? 

I would say, first and foremost, the most important thing when you’re trying to help someone is to find out what they think is the most important need that needs filling. Too often people go into philanthropy with a notion that they have answers, when in truth the most comprehensive, and the most successful strategy that I’ve seen is just knockin’ on people’s doors and asking them what they need help with, as opposed to coming in with some top down approach.

Identify organizations currently on the ground doing the work that you want to help with, and support them in any way you can, either with your time, or your dollars, or what have you.

Also, I think one of the most important things for any municipality looking to have a really comprehensive, robust social safety net is to eliminate duplicative services. If you have multiple organizations in a city that are all focused on the same issue, that’s resources that are getting misspent on staffing, facilities, and what not.

The best strategy that I ever saw was in Atlanta. The mayor told all the nonprofits in town that if they wanted access to dollars from the mayor’s office they had to form a board of directors, and start talking to each other. And that’s exactly what happened, and it’s one of the most beautiful things you’ll ever see. All of a sudden these disparate organizations are cooperating, they’re sharing facilities, they’re going after a much more comprehensive strategy with regards to the folks that they’re trying to serve.

That would be my advice.

Do you have anything else you’d like to add about your tour, your music, or something else going on in your life? 

I do. Getting back to how we release music, I’ve decided that I’m not gonna put my new music on the major streaming platforms, and instead we’re trying to identify a single platform we can deliver the new music through.

I have plenty of music on those (established streaming) platforms. There’s plenty enough for people to discover. Now I’d like to service the audience that I have in a more direct, and more efficient way. We’re about to launch a new fan club with the hopes of getting people to sign up in exchange for at least two new songs every month – I’m sitting on about 50 unreleased songs right now – so you’d get two brand new songs every month that you won’t be able to get anywhere else, a couple of livestream concerts, and some extra bonuses – early VIP ticketing, all kinds of stuff. So I’m very excited about the new fan club.

For more Marc Broussard, and to find out when he’s coming to your city, or town, check out marcbroussard.com.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:00 AM  
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