LOCAL STORIES JULY 25, 2022
Inspiring Conversations with Lance Cowan of LCMedia
Today we’d like to introduce you to Lance Cowan.
Hi Lance, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
Like so many others, I came to Nashville wanting to be a songwriter. I had a little luck, writing with artists like Janis Ian and David Mallett, among others, and had songs recorded or performed by Joan Baez, The Ellis Brothers, and of course Mallett.
I worked for the Nashville Banner as a correspondent but the pay was pretty slim, and I had to pay the bills. One night while I was watching a show at the Bluebird Cafe, I met Diana Johnson, a VP at the Country Music Hall of Fame. Out
of the blue, she told me about an opening with a Music Row PR firm, Network Ink. I called the owner, Liz Thiels, the next morning, and went for an interview. Later that afternoon, Liz called to hire me.
Network Ink represented some really big names in Country Music, including Charlie Daniels, Reba McEntire, The Country Music Hall of Fame, and Nanci Griffith. We also represented the Phillip Morris Country Tours, featuring artists like The Judds, Merle Haggard, George Strait, and many more.
Liz made me the responsible agent for New Grass Revival, a wildly influential acoustic band featuring mandolin master Sam Bush, vocal powerhouse, blue-eyed soul singer John Cowan, banjo pioneer Bela Fleck, and flat-picking virtuoso/songwriter Pat Flynn.
After a year, New Grass Revival managers Ken Levitan and Dan Goodman asked me to come to work with their company, Vector Management. I wanted to learn about management, and I loved their roster. There, I was the liaison with our clients’ record labels, or I represented them in-house.
Among our clients were New Grass Revival, Nanci Griffith, Steve Wariner, Lyle Lovett, Joe Ely, and Mark Isham, among others. I stayed with Vector for 10 years before I hung out on my own shingle.
My first client at LCMedia was the legendary bluesman, Clarence Gatemouth Brown. I worked with Antones / dos Records in Austin, with artists Stephen Bruton, Kim Williams, Glen Clark, Loose Diamonds, and Pat McLaughlin, among others. Joe Ely also became a client as did Sam Bush.
Over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to represent an eclectic roster including Scotty Moore (Elvis’ original guitarist) and DJ Fontana (Elvis’ drummer), The Flatlanders (Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore & Butch Hancock), Terry Allen, Michael Martin Murphey, songwriter Irving Burgie (“Day-O,” “Jamaica Farewell”), The Flying Burrito Brothers and many more.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Someone asked me recently when I thought I would retire. I thought about that, then it occurred to me that on one hand, I’ve been retired for years simply because I love what I do.
I love working with creative people and 95% of the time I have no problem wanting to go to the office. I’ve had a lot of freedom doing what I do. Plus, I think journalists are among the smartest folks in the world, so working with them is always fun.
That said, of course, there have been struggles along the way. The music business of 1987 is just a memory. The money is not there for many clients who once could rely on royalties to help support them. Now, if they aren’t touring, they aren’t making any money.
It’s been a challenge to keep up with the new mediums for promoting an artist, too, and that seems to change daily. I’ve lost several journalists’ friends and contacts as newspapers and magazines have either folded or cut back on music coverage.
I still love doing this, but the challenges don’t ever go away.
Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
For more than three decades, I’ve worked in publicity for artists in the Roots & Americana fields.
As well as artists in diverse genres of country, rock, pop, blues, bluegrass, and jazz. I work with my clients to formulate a PR plan specifically for their projects. Working with the client we come up with some very creative directions from one project to the next.
After I began working for myself – I was already representing the influential guitarist/blues man Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown and Joe Ely – when Sam Bush asked me to do some work for him. I decided that those were the caliber artists I wanted to represent. The ones that are not driven by fame or money but by the art of what they do.
They would be making real honest music – art – if they never made a dime. That has generally been the kind of client I have been blessed to represent over the years.