For a DIY musician who doesn’t have the luxury of being backed by a million-dollar music label but who still believes in her music enough to write, record, produce and release an album, it’s difficult to find the financial means to do so in a format other than digital.
CDs, records and even tapes are an extra expense an up-and-coming musician usually can’t afford, but Louisville’s Crosley Brands is stepping in to help these artists get their music on a tangible and increasingly popular format — vinyl, of course. After all, Crosley has been producing record players for decades.
Nashville singer-songwriter Kristina Murray independently released her second full-length album, “Southern Ambrosia,” in September, and she found herself in the situation mentioned above. But fortunately, she crossed paths with Crosley’s artist and entertainment director, Jeff Parrish, at a music festival years before, and the two kept in touch.
Around the same time she was gearing up to release “Southern Ambrosia,” Parrish approached her with the opportunity to put her album on vinyl, as part of Crosley’s new Vinyl Artist Program. Murray is the inaugural artist the company has chosen, and it is working with three more.
Murray was thrilled when Parrish offered her the opportunity.
“Any chance I get to help alleviate not only financial burdens and the things that come along with the big production of releasing a record, I definitely take it,” Murray tells Insider. “They were really excited about it, and they liked the record.”
Parrish tells us the program was started to offer assistance to independent artists who have a digital album but want to offer something more for their fans.
“We believe in vinyl as a physical music product that has a solid and growing appeal for artists and audience,” explains Parrish. “Artists enjoy meeting fans at shows and signing their records — it’s personal. Also, yes, there is ‘something’ to analog sound. Not to take anything away from digital technology, but, yes, there is something to the sound of analog music reproduction.”
Murray agrees and recalls the joy in collecting CDs as a child, and then eventually records.
“I just really like a tangible thing to hold in my hand,” she says. “Even when I was a kid, I loved to read the liner notes and lyrics and see the musicians who were credited on the record. I really like that component of it, and to have it in a big form, especially the size of a vinyl — it’s special to me.”
Most of Murray’s musical inspirations can be found in her own vinyl collection, which includes Emmylou Harris, George Jones, Del Reeves and a whole section consisting of her fellow Nashville friends.
She says she also enjoys the experience of listening to a record, one that requires you to pay attention when Side A comes to an end and you have to flip it over.
“It’s more of an engaged listening, rather than just putting on Spotify,” says Murray. “I also like the aspect of Side A and Side B — Side A can be its own story or component, and Side B can be something totally different.”
Crosley and Parrish see vinyl as a prime marketing tool for a new artist. It’s essentially a 12-inch-by-12 billboard where the artist can also personally connect with fans. Plus, as Murray alludes to, listening to vinyl is so much more intimate.
“The artist can create a listening experience 18 to 22 minutes long on each side, and the listener is taken on a journey as orchestrated by the artist,” says Parrish. “An audience exists today that chooses to buy records to support the artist and chooses to enjoy music by digging into one artist for 20 to 45 minutes, instead of on a random track list. The two are not mutually exclusive, however — listening to Kristina Murray’s ‘Southern Ambrosia’ LP one side at a time is quite different than listening to a Kristina Murray song mixed in with random tracks from a half-dozen or so contemporary Americana songwriters.”
Whether vinyl or digital, most of us can agree that seeing a performer live is the best opportunity to connect, so it’s no surprise Crosley is hosting a free concert featuring Kristina Murray on Friday, Jan. 18, at Gravely Brewing Co. The show starts at 8 p.m. and also features local band Nick Dittmeier & The Sawdusters.