Jordan Buford has a Simple Plan to Save the Music Industry: Show Up and Buy Merch

Jordan Buford has been checking out local bands in DFW for about 8 straight years now, for a group called Rya Entertainment, and for a podcast he hosts called "The Real Music Enthusiast" which airs as part of the Whiskeyboy Radio Network.

The great thing about Buford, apart from his genuine music enthusiasm, is how he has no social scene walls, no clique-based boundaries in his music tastes. He's just as likely to be seen absorbing an experimental or indie act, as he is to be amongst the headbangers checking out some metal. He likes a little bit of everything, and doesn't subscribe to any one particular club. It's a great way to live, and to participate. It's an example more of us should follow, honestly.

With all of the talent-scouting you get out to do, I though you'd be a good person to ask: Is the DFW music/arts community close-knit enough?

I think we're more of a community than some think, but I also feel it could be a much more close-knit community. It seems to me that Dallas, Denton and Fort Worth are their own separate entities, which to some extent they are, but I also think all three cities should be one big melting pot.

By that, I mean a lot of Fort Worth based bands tend to stick to that city, and even a lot of Denton acts don't often make it to the other two too often, or at least that seems true for the acts I keep up with. I think one reason for that is because I know a lot of venues are hesitant to book bands who might have little to no draw, which is understandable. But I think it would go a long way for unifying the scene if they would take the occasional gamble like that every now and then, and host what is essentially an out of town band to (hopefully) expose them to a new audience.

Another aspect is the camaraderie between bands, which I think could use some work. When I first got into the local music scene, you had bands like The FEDS and Upside, whose bond was that of a brotherhood. They often played on the same bills, toured together, and even when they weren't sharing the stage together, you could often see at least one member of one band out supporting the one that was performing. Now, you just don't see as much of that. That's not to say it doesn't exist, because I know it does. Bravo, Max! and Goodnight Ned are a more current example of that relationship, but I'd love to see more bands supporting one another like that.

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In the old days of the entertainment industry, it would be said that a person like you is poised to work as an A&R rep for a label someday, by way of your direction. Tell me what you think the modern version is of that talent scout, and why you may think the A&R label person might not be such a sought after figure for songwriting talent wanting to get heard, as opposed to a more modern-day version of a "scout" such as yourself.

You hit the nail on the head. As recently as a few years ago I figured I'd somehow find my way into an A&R position for one of the major labels. I'm not entirely sure what the modern version of a talent scout would be, or even if they are a true necessity in this day and age.

I guess nowadays that job could go to YouTube or TV shows like The Voice or American Idol, which is a shame. The way I see it, most labels would be less apt to sign an act that might be found by the traditional method and could end up costing them money when some singer featured on one of those shows or has a million-plus views on YouTube has more of a built-in fan base.

I guess in some ways that also answers why they may not be as sought after now, because I don't think a talent scout has as much pull now as say, twenty years ago. There are pros and cons to both the older A&R rep and a "scout" doing something along the lines of what I do. I obviously can't come anywhere close to offering a major record deal to a band, but I (and all fellow bloggers) can give bands press and hopefully expose them to potential new fans. Even if it's just one or two, that's one or two extra people that could buy the bands album(s) and start attending some shows. So in that sense, maybe people such as myself can make a more direct, albeit small, impact on the bands.

Who are some of the newest discoveries you've featured on your podcast from the area?

Let's see... you have Burning Slow, who is a newer act out of Dallas, and somehow I'm just now hearing of them. They have some killer rock tunes with some sweet riffs and are something you could really head bang to. In turn, some of their other material also has some Reggae influences, which might sound like an odd pairing but sounds amazing and is unlike anything I've heard before.

I'm also really digging the new vocalist Hazeland, who solidifies the fact that this rock/metal outfit has some serious potential. Getting out of the DFW area, I also recently played a song from a LA based band called of Verona. Their music is more like a futuristic take on rock, with a dynamic pop flare to it, and even a few electronic touches. In a just world, it will be the next big thing. How did you come about connecting with Whiskeyboy Radio?

Connecting with the WhiskeyBoy Radio Network was very unexpected. Matt, who runs the station, messaged me on Facebook in the summer of 2011. He had come across my blog a few times when various bands posted about a review I had done of their show, so he was kind of familiar with what I did. My role started out small at first. I updated the concert calendar on their website and was called up a few times on the show to chat and answer some "Down and Dirty Surprise Trivia" as they called it, which was all good fun.

In November of that year, Matt then informed me he was in the process of starting up a network. The flagship show is primarily a talk/comedy/variety podcast, and the WBR East Coast Podcast he was soon going to add to the fold was going to mine the same vein. He thought I'd be good doing a music based podcast to add some diversity to the network and wanted to know if I was interested.

And this was your first venture into podcasting? Scary to walk into?

Honestly, I was reluctant at first, because I didn't even really know what a podcast was until I had listened to a few of his shows after meeting him. Still, I jumped at the chance and figured it would be just another outlet to try to spread the word about excellent music. And now here I am, over a year later, and I think it's going pretty well!

As for the station, Matt started doing his show five years ago now. Then you have the host of WBREC, Chrys Starr, who has been doing some form of radio show since the late 90's. Most of the other cast members on the shows have been involved with some other online networks over the years, too. So they definitely know the ropes.

They're a crazy bunch... In the best possible way! Since it's all online, there's no holds barred and anything can be said (and usually is). Sure, sometimes their shows can be rude, crude and lewd, but they're just wanting to entertain people. And in my opinion, they do a successful job of it.

Are you getting hit with a lot of submissions? What are you looking for from musicians?

I don't know if I'd call it "a lot", but I do seem to get at least a few a month, in either the form of an email, Facebook/Reverbnation message, or even Tweeting back and forth. Usually a member of a band seeing if I might come check out their show or do a review of their record. I've always been a lyrics person, so if a band or solo singer can write some clever, great lyrics that tell a neat story, then I'll probably be a fan. It doesn't even have to be something I can connect with and relate to, it just has to speak to me.

That's not to exclude well-crafted and catchy music, though, which is of course an equally as crucial component. I try not to pigeonhole myself to one or two genres, either. I'm a rock & roll lover first and foremost, but I'll give anything a chance, even country or electronic stuff. I may not like it, but it's at least worth a few minutes of my time to give it a listen and form an opinion.

You're a big advocate of showing your support for a local band through purchasing their merch. Sort of your way of throwing a little something in the tip jar? What inspired this?

The biggest thing was at another Buzz-Oven concert at the end of that year, when I went solely to see The FEDS. After it was over I went over to the merch table to buy a shirt and CD and I vividly remember how friendly their frontman, Matt Slider, was. As I walked off, he, for whatever reason, called me back over and in short, told me that for me to buy any bands merch would mean more to the band than I would ever now.

He drove that point home, and let me know how appreciative he was that I'd spend money on their stuff, because that helped them in touring, or any other expenses a band might incur.

I took that to heart, and even to this day, I buy bands merch not just because I want it, but to help them out in some small way. I know I'm not making them rich, but at least I am helping them recoup a small amount of what they've put into it.

Actually, I guess in some ways that was also when my blog was first conceived, because I wanted to find something I could do to further help out these bands I came to love.

Are The Feds an all-time local fave of yours? Who are some others?

The FEDS will always top out on my list of local faves. I caught them live on 26 occasions, including their farewell show in Tulsa, and their two reunion gigs last year, and all of those will forever be some the greatest shows I witnessed. Man, there's so many... Space Cadet, SouthFM, Edgewater, The Mermaid Purse and Seven Story Drop were all killer acts. Getting more current, Trebuchet and Descender are my two favorites at the moment. I love Meridian, Always the Alibi, Daylight Industries, Fantasma, Grey the New Black, The Circle, Night Gallery, Opium Symphony, The Phuss, Quiet Company, Moving Atlas, Faded Grace, The Virgin Wolves and Serosia to name a few. Oh, and some incredible talented singer/songwriters are Paco Estrada, Arielle O'Keefe, Katie Carroll and Clint Niosi. There's so many more, but I couldn't possibly list them all!

In getting to know you, I've also learned that you're a big advocate for showing up early, and staying late at shows...for the purpose of catching the surrounding bands on the bill.

I understand that people have a life, and sometimes they can't get to a venue until they get off work at night, or maybe have to leave early so they can be rested for their job the following the day, and in those cases it's completely understandable.

However, what irks me the most is how people will show up right before the main band, then leave. I've seen some shows where they might put one more band on after the headliner, and it's a killer act who does an amazing show, but they're playing to less than ten people.

The same can be said for some opening acts, who can be quite impressive, but practically no one's there to see it. I guess that drives me crazy because it makes people a lot less apt to know just how amazing the local music scene really is. Then I think if I had done that, only gone and seen the band that got me to the show in the first place, how many astounding bands would I have missed out on? That would mean I probably never would have heard of The FEDS, Darby, Air Review, Here Holy Spain and a plethora of others. I can't imagine not having those (and many others) bands music in my life, so how many other music fans are missing out what could be their next favorite act and not even know it?

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