Interview with Rich Hardesty
Singer/songwriter Rich Hardesty is earning a 6-figure income by working his music in the college market and I wanted to find out why. Rich actually came to NYC from his home in Indiana to be interviewed for my book. He really means business! We spent some delightful time together as I picked his brain. While studying business at college in Indiana, he'd get his guitar out and entertain people. Rich wrote a song called "Never Wanna to F'n See You Again." Everybody in the dorm requested it. He began performing acoustically in bars, milking his trademark song. Fraternities heard about him and he did their parties. He used what he learned in college to structure his biz. Rich has been creative in marketing his music. He records live shows and passes around tapes that people copy. He runs the business in-house, crediting his parents for being extremely supportive - handling mail orders and accounting. So far he's sold over 50,000 CDs with NO distribution. Here's some highlights of our interview.
[Daylle Deanna Schwartz] Why do you allow your music to be copied for free?
Rich Hardesty I have about 38 live CDs recorded at shows. I mostly give them away for free because it creates a fan that will keep coming to shows. Fans pass them around. They end up on the internet. I'm not worried about that because it creates new fans. That's the bottom line."
[Daylle Deanna Schwartz]Why do fans flock to you?
Rich Hardesty I have always been a people person, taking time to talk to the fans instead of ducking into the break room.
[Daylle Deanna Schwartz]How do get sponsorship from Jagermeister?
Rich Hardesty I heard Jagermeister needed a band from Indiana. The business side of me thought - "I'm in the college market and all I drank in college was Jager." I videotaped myself performing for frat parties and had someone follow me around with a camera, filming some of the crazy things I do in my lifestyle. I sent Jagermeister a VHS of me. They hired me right away, because of the numbers I perform in front of.
[Daylle Deanna Schwartz]How does Jagermeister help you?
Rich Hardesty They give t-shirts with my logo on them, bumper stickers, matchboxes, lighters, guitar picks with my autograph. If I come up with an idea, they'll do it. I don't consider it selling out. It helps me do what I love. And I love to drink Jager. I won an award with them selling the most Jager in one night. They put me on a national tour with my own tour bus. I was the emcee with a guitar. We did 36 cities in 2 weeks. They paid me well. I played my songs in between the bands, with my bottle of Jager.
[Note: My next issue will include part of the interview I did with Jagermeister about how to get sponsorship.]
[Daylle Deanna Schwartz]You have a passion for Jamaica and milked it. How?
Rich Hardesty I've taken my act to Jamaica for spring break 6 years in a row. I got spring break companies to pay to give me free trips. I told my fans to come to a show where I would raffle off trips to Jamaica with me. I called the president of a big spring break company and told him I'd bring 30 friends and play. I stacked my suitcase full of CDs and bumper stickers. I had a marketing plan to get as many CDs out with the website on it to all these diversified kids from different parts of the country. I hired Jamaicans to promote and give them out. They had me play at the most popular bar. There were 2,500 - 3,000 people.
[Daylle Deanna Schwartz]How do you do private parties?
Rich Hardesty When people want to have me for a private party I tell them to charge $10 or $15 a head. I can make anywhere from $800-3,000. They have it in private houses, especially at college campuses. I always sell CDs. And you entertain a market of under-age kids who will support you on the college or club scene as they turn 21. You're creating a fan for life.
[Daylle Deanna Schwartz]How do you feel about being independent?
Rich Hardesty I don't want to just be an artist sitting under a tree writing songs. If you want this to be your full time job then you have to be business oriented. People ask why I'm not with a record label, as if that would be the greatest thing. They don't understand it's a fallacy to be with a record label. I am my own record label.
Rich is making more money than most signed artists. He says he'd take a deal that would further his career but it would have to be a good one. Meanwhile, the big smile he had when we spoke reflected how happy he is getting paid well to do what he loves. www.richhardesty.com
Daylle publishes “Daylle’s News & Resources,” a newsletter for supporting indie music. www.daylle.com/monthly.html , Revenge Productions.