Feedbands farm and streaming service get cooking in WNC

SINGING FOR THEIR SUPPER: Bella Donna, a jazz outfit from the Missouri Ozarks, is a member of Feedbands' streaming service and recently visited (and performed at) the local company's farm. The musicians are pictured in Feedbands' garden. Photo by Adam McMillan

The name Feedbands originally related to a feed such as an RSS stream. The independent music curation company streams the music of nearly 2,000 independent artists, and its subscribers vote for their favorites. The album receiving the most votes at the end of the month is then pressed to vinyl and shipped to those subscribers. “These days we’re taking the name a lot more literally,” says founder and CEO Graham Langdon, who relocated the business from California to North Carolina. Along with offices in Black Mountain, Langdon also has a 4-acre farm in Fairview where he raises crops to literally feed bands.

“Growing food has long been a passion of mine, and I look for opportunities to combine passions wherever and whenever I can,” Langdon says. “When the thought came into my head, it made a lot of sense.” He’s currently producing squash, melons, pumpkins, tomatoes, kale, hot peppers, kohlrabi, beets, corn, berries and more. He’s also raising chickens and goats for eggs and milk. None of this is sold — “We don’t see this as a commercial farm, but if we have a farm jam, we can harvest it and cook for 50-100 people,” Langdon says.

Those jam sessions also combine several of the entrepreneur’s interests. In an earlier version of the business, bands could stay for free at Langdon’s communal house, as long as they made music. (Not surprisingly, that model wasn’t sustainable.)

Langdon first dreamed up the Feedbands concept while at a Steel Pulse concert in Hawaii. “After that show, I started learning to play every instrument I could get my hands on and wanted to live with musicians,” he says. “Everything in my life has been on a musical trajectory since that moment,” though he’s never been in a band himself.

Photo gallery by Adam McMillan

But the Feedbands farm offers a viable way to connect with musicians. Langdon invites some, who are touring through Western North Carolina, to spend the night, use the facilities and have a meal. “Pretty much any artist who is a member of the site can reach out to us and stay at the farm,” he says.

Farm jams are open to artists whose work Feedbands has released on vinyl. An August session included The Rainbow Girls, whose record was previously issued by Feedbands, and Bella Donna, whose Feedbands release is slated for October. An event is held every month or so. After the bands perform, the audience is invited to pick up any instrument in the house and play. “We record everything that happens and then we cut up the best track and jams and songs and put that on a CD,” Langdon says. He plans to begin selling those CDs soon, speculating, “it could potentially be a model for supporting a household that just makes music.”

The recording technology in use is more akin to a mobile setup than a professional studio. “Technology and equipment are accessible enough now that you can get results that are maybe similar to a studio back in the ’60s or ’70s, when some really great artists were recording some monumental work,” says Langdon. “And we do professionally master it in post-production.”

For now, Feedbands will continue to bring unique, independent music to the fore. The company has put out about 40 records so far. The vinyl — around 1,000 copies of each release — is pressed in The Netherlands (“We used to get them pressed domestically … but wait times, delays and equipment malfunctions were making it nearly impossible to operate a monthly subscription [service],” Langdon notes). Subscriptions cost $4.99 a month for a digital delivery of each new release, and $25 per month to receive the vinyl. There’s also a free account option for those who only want to stream content, but it doesn’t include voting privileges.

Recent releases have been by one-man-band Scott Dunbar, British soul-pop artist Geoffrey Williams and Asheville-based art-rockers Midnight Snack. The bands that, to date, received the most votes from subscribers are  Dunbar, The Vliets, Amycanbe, Birkwin and Vienna, Mammoth Indigo, Smooth Hound Smith and Waterstrider.

The voted-on albums have all been previously released digitally and/or to CD, but because the artists are independent, they retain the rights to their work, allowing Feedbands to issue the vinyl recordings. “When we release a band, we pay them $1,000 in cash, up front, and we give them a stack of 100 records that they can sell at shows,” Langdon says. Plus, it’s free for bands to join the site, and all sales of their digital music and merchandise through Feedbands is paid to the artist’s PayPal account.

“We hope to be a steppingstone on their path so they can gain wider exposure,” Langdon says. “It’s a win for everyone.”

Learn more at feedbands.com

About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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