The South Carolina Music Guide
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An Inside Look at Chucktown Music Group

South Carolina has a thriving music community. Our mission at South Carolina Music Guide is to help educate the public on how the music happens, how bands become successful, and to introduce you to the cast of characters behind the scenes. A big name artist doing great work is Mark Bryan, guitarist from Hootie and the Blowfish.

Mark Bryan has garnered attention around the world for his prowess in songwriting. His skills with the mandolin and other instruments was key in helping Hootie win two Grammys. His keen ear for music is now being utilized to help others, and he’s constantly in search of the next hot thing. I recently sat down with Mark and the biggest revelation of our time together…his focus on creation and distribution of new sounds is insatiable.

There are so many ways Mark is working with young artists. He acts as Chairman at Carolina Studios (founded in 2001), a nonprofit that teaches young people in our local schools the art of songwriting, music scoring and recording. Carolina Studios staff members Sam Epstein, Robert Berman, and a handful of dedicated teachers are providing practical industry education to the schoolchildren enrolled in the program. Bryan was also asked by the Arts Department at the College of Charleston to develop a music program, which has grown exponentially. C of C has joined with him to begin a series called “In the Mix” that brings young musicians together with titans of the industry. The series provides lectures from visiting promoters and other business people who teach the eager listeners the basics of how to get started in their careers.

Mark’s experience now spans decades and his reach is national. Realizing that sometimes even the most talented musicians struggle to get noticed he recognized that a key element often missing is professional promotion. Hoping to capitalize on his industry knowledge and the connections he’s made through the years, Bryan created the Chucktown Music Group, which began working with bands both new and established. CtMG is focused on helping bands successfully navigate the complicated waters of today’s music business.

Promotion and packaging an act is a skill Mark has developed through the years, and he can attribute his own education all the way back to the early Hootie days, when the band’s business approach helped get them the attention of Atlantic Records. Throughout their time with Atlantic, Bryan met and learned from the many industry leaders that would help Hootie and the Blowfish explode into the music scene worldwide. One of his associates at the time was Ashley Flowers, a marketing wizard who has promoted bands with Atlantic, Universal Music Group, and Mammoth/Disney Records. Her skills in PR took her to VH1, MTV and BET, where she helped bands flourish in outstanding shows. Other than Hootie and the Blowfish, she’s also worked to promote Jewel, Nelly, Matchbox 20, Vanilla Ice, and many, many others. As she honed her skills, she expanded her repertoire to include fashion and designers.

When Ashley decided to change her home base to South Carolina, Bryan saw an opportunity to combine his efforts with Flowers. They teamed up in early 2014 to expand the vision for CtMG.  The dynamic duo work perfectly together, with Flowers running the day to day operations while Bryan, being the Tazmanian Devil that he is, works in the studio with the bands, organizes his classes, runs his nonprofit, and maintains the musical genius behind the brand. They have tightened up the reins and focused the business plan. CtMG has a goal to “elevate artists in a way that they experience their ideal musical journey,” says Ashley Flowers.

What does this mean?  For bands coming in for a consultation it means that CtMG helps you set solid goals, and offers you a path to reach them in a timely fashion. They educate bands on how to promote themselves. As one listens to Flowers, it becomes obvious that her fashion experience also becomes as an asset to bands trying to brand themselves. How do you appear to the public? How do you become believable and accessible to your fans? But the visual aspects of becoming a successful artist are minor in comparison to the big picture. The duo will also sit down and diagram a band’s strengths and weaknesses. They recommend photographers for those lacking PR photos, or maybe write out a band’s needed biography. It’s imperative for a band to be able to describe themselves and their sound succinctly. A strong biography, an appealing EPK, and an identifiable brand helps secure press during a tour, and can get broader interest in places like Reverbnation, Spotify, and more.

Going deeper into the creative process, Bryan spends time in the studio with the band producing and recording the songs. His expertise and ear for music have provided many musicians with thoughtful advice and direction. Studio guidance also focuses digital distribution. A plan to maintain licensing and royalties on digital media sites is necessary for hard working artists in this economy.

On the business side CtMG will provide consults and recommendations for management and legal counsel. Once a song has been shopped and accepted by a film or commercial, there are contracts to sign. A good team working together to make sure a band is legally covered for licensing, payments, and getting that next contract, is imperative.

And Chucktown Music Group does more in the community than just work with individual acts. CtMG is partnering with Charleston Music Hall to promote a new television series, Live at the Music Hall. Two pilot episodes, highlighting Sam Bush and Edwin McCain, have already been reviewed with high praise from ETV. A letter sent to CtMG by the Executive Producer of Content states, “the programs are entertaining, well-paced and high quality.” With that in mind, a full series needs to be recorded prior to getting placement on their schedule. As such, CtMG and the Music Hall have devised sponsorship opportunities that can make this happen. Once the programs have been completed they will also be shopped to NETA, who feel too that the show has potential. Sponsorships come in the following packages:

  • Vinyl
  • 8-Track
  • Cassette
  • Compact Disc – Only 2 available
  • MP3 – Only 1 available

Detailed information about Live at the Music Hall sponsorship programs can be received by contacting Ashley Flowers at info@ctmg.us. If you are a band interested in working with Chucktown you may also reach out to set up your initial consultation. CtMG looks forward to discussing your bands needs, goals, and requirements at your earliest convenience.

South Carolina Music Guide says bravo, and we can’t wait to celebrate future successes with Mark and Ashley.

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