March 2017 TMO Newsletter (continued)
Texas Music Office March 2017 Newsletter continued
Maines: “On the first record, Dinner No 2, I played pedal steel in the band and also produced the record. We had the recording gear going right over where I was sitting (on stage).
“And then on this last one, I helped produce it, but I couldn’t be there on the night of the recording because I was in Taos, NM playing a music festival there. So I had to miss the night of the recording…so I didn’t get to play on it. But I came back, and mixed it, and helped Robert sort through it and make sense of it.”
TMO: Is there anybody out there that you’ve always wanted to work with, but for whatever reason, haven’t gotten a chance to cross paths in the studio and work together yet?
Maines: “Well, you know, gosh. There probably is…anybody whose serious about it, and writes from their heart. If I’ve got the time, I’ll help them out. I’ll try to produce the record for them. I can’t say that I really…(Maines pauses, thinking)
“I’ve enjoyed producing all the people that I’ve produced. And frankly, the numbers on the records that I’ve produced or played on are pretty astronomical.”
TMO: Yes…it’s endless!
Maines: “I’ve done an average count, and it’s up to 4,000-plus…because I started in 1972, and I’m 65 years old now, and I’ve stayed so busy ever since then, either playing on or producing records. I know that sounds like a lot, but it’s true. (laughing)
“So is there anybody that I want to work with: Everybody! I’ve only got a certain amount of hours in the day. And I try to allot some of those to my grand kids. So I’m not taking on as many projects as I used to. But I still work every day.”
TMO: Of those 4,000-plus records…Are the Dixie Chicks the biggest selling records of all the ones you’ve worked on?
Maines: “Oh, yeah. Yes. I produced ‘Home.’ And then the live record right after that called ‘Top of the World.’ But I’ve played on all of them since Day 1. But the ‘Home’ record is the biggest selling one by far of all of the records that I’ve ever done.
“I get an accounting on that record twice a year, and when I stopped counting, it had sold 9 or 10 million, I can’t remember.”
TMO: Oh, my…
Maines: Yeah. And that’s not even their biggest selling record. I think ‘Wide Open Spaces’ is probably up to 16 or 17 million. And then the one after that, ‘Fly,’ is up to about that many too.
“And then in 2003 is when downloading started becoming popular. And over the course of how the record business started going, everybody’s CD sales started going down. I was really lucky that when I produced ‘Home,’ CDs were still selling. CD was still the main format. But man, shortly after that…that CD came out in the end of 2002, first of 2003…and by 2004/2005, CDs, across the board, sales had started declining. People had started downloading.
“And nowadays, if an artist has something that sells 1 million, it’s ‘party time.’”
Maines: (laughing) “So…those days of selling tons of hard product are gone.”
TMO: Yep…it’s true. It’s true.
Maines: “So I really lucked out on that.”
TMO: We’ve got one last question for you. We speak with many musicians, starting out, early in their careers. They might have a record or EP they just finished. And they’re trying to figure out whether they should focus on touring like crazy, or if they should focus on recording and creating undeniable records that they can shop, and people can hear. And based on all your experience of recording and seeing what has worked for people…along with keeping in mind that everybody’s career is different…
TMO: When people come to you, what do you advise folks? Or do you recommend they do a combination of both: touring and creating a heartfelt, undeniable record?
Maines: “I try to let every artist know, right up front. A lot of guys will come to me and they think that just because my name is on the record, that that’s gonna work some kind of magic, immediately.
“My name might get (the project) a little attention, but man, you gotta deliver the goods. You gotta have good songs. You gotta have a good performance. So my name will only go so far. If the music doesn’t resonate, it doesn’t matter whose name’s on there.
“So, I try to make that clear up front. I try to encourage people to build a good fan base. A good core fan base that are devoted fans. Even if it’s only 100. Or just 25 buddies and family members…and build it. There are no shortcuts anymore. Cause, unless you happen to just write this song that strikes a huge nerve and goes viral, there are no shortcuts. You gotta start at the ground level and build that solid fan base, and let it expand. And stay consistent…
“And I’ll tell you what I tell all these young guys…what I’ve told ‘em ever since Pat Green: Make sure they maintain credibility. Make sure that you show up on time. That when you tell someone you’re gonna do something, you do it. Even if you have to get up early and lose a lot of sleep doing it. When you tell someone you’re gonna be somewhere, be there. Be on time, and that kind of stuff will follow you around. If you don’t uphold what you say you’re gonna do, that stuff will follow you around way worse than the good stuff.
“Show up on time. Be consistent. And try to really grow your art. And a lot of guys don’t wanna hear that. They’ve seen so many guys come in, and they think, ‘We’re doing a record next year. We’re playing MusicFest next year. Then we’re playing the Grand Ole Opry…’ No man, that’s not the way it works. You gotta build your fan base, and be consistent, and then your fan base will hang with you. And word of mouth is the best promotion you can get.”
TMO: That’s true. A great live show…people will testify about that forever…
Maines: “Oh yeah. Totally. And yeah, of course it’s great to get airplay too. But it’s not all about airplay. There’s a lot of great artists that used to draw huge crowds that didn’t get airplay. Look at Little Feet. They’re a great example. They drew these humongous crowds because people knew they were going to come there and see some absolutely great music.
“Airplay’s great, but it is not the ‘end all.’”
TMO: That’s great. I hope people reading this will take that to heart. Because you’re so right. You can record in a fancy studio and spend a ton of money, but if you don’t have the songs…
Maines: “Yes, it’s true. You gotta have something to back it up.
“In the old days, you could kind of buy your way into stuff. But that never works now. People see through it. And the only people that are impressed with that are the people that are taking your money!”
The Maines Brothers Band will gather for another “hand=clappin’, foot-stompin’, butt-bumpin’ concert” at the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center Theater on Saturday, August 12, 2017.