Paper Session 8 (Saturday 10:15-11:15) Salon A
Moderator: Dave Tough

Color-blind Harmony: From Fear to Funk, Race and Music in the Turbulent Sixties and Seventies in Muscle Shoals, Alabama

Robert Garfrerick
Professor and Eminent Scholar in Entertainment Industry
University of North Alabama

Janna Malone
Instructor of Entertainment Industry
University of North Alabama

This year, 2014, marks the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. There are few states with a more colorful history on race relations to live down than Alabama. From the 16th Street Baptist Church bombings in Birmingham, the Freedom Riders bus burning near Anniston, and Governor George Wallace standing in the doorway at the University of Alabama, it seemed there was bad news around every corner during the 1960s in the state. The passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 helped the state to turn a historic corner, but attitudes in the Old South would not be changed overnight. It is ironic therefore that there existed a place where black and white musicians and artists worked together in harmony in the middle of the turmoil. That place was Muscle Shoals, Alabama.

With a simple goal of making great recordings, producer Rick Hall and his famous rhythm section, The Swampers, created a color-blind sound and atmosphere. The Swampers, an all-white rhythm section, consisted of Barry Beckett, Roger Hawkins, David Hood, and Jimmy Johnson. This white group of musicians created a “black” sound to the extent that many of the artists coming to record assumed they were African-American.

Artists such as Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, Clarence Carter, Etta James, and many others recorded hits there during this period. Those who were present during these times remember the atmosphere in the studio being one of cooperation and creative collaboration. However, during breaks from the sessions when players and artists would normally go eat at local restaurants, they would awkwardly get nasty looks from patrons, or worse, not be able to sit together. This paper will offer a snapshot of this pocket of harmony amid the turbulent dissonance.

Concert Promotion Centralization and the Artist Management Response: 1990s-2010s

Patrick Preston
Department Chair – Entertainment Management
Bay State College

Jess White
Assistant Professor – Entertainment Management
Bay State College

Beginning in the mid-1990s, the Live Concert Promotion industry underwent significant changes, disrupting the thirty-five year business model of individual, regional concert promoters in favor of centralized, national control, first by SFX, then by Clear Channel, and now by LiveNation. The ten-year period of centralization between 1995 and 2005 brought significant and long-lasting changes to the financial relationship among the artist, the promoter and the venue, with the artist arguably experiencing the greatest disadvantages under this altered business model. This presentation will examine the transformation of the concert promotion business over this period and the impact of these changes on the artist’s touring revenue. At issue will be, first, the loss of revenue opportunities for the artist, especially in terms of venue sponsorships, corporate box-seat sales, and third-party ticket vendors. Second, the presentation will explore ways in which the artist and management teams seek to offset the revenue-diminishing aspects of this new, centralized paradigm with strategies of their own, including artist corporate sponsorships, revised guaranties, and paperless ticketing. Finally, this presentation will examine diminished opportunities for new artist development and the resulting impacts on artist longevity in the field of live music arising from these fundamental shifts in the concert business.