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Maverick Magazine (UK)
February 2008

Digital Rodeo

Click to go to Robert Reynolds' page on Digital Rodeo and listen to 5 songs.
A must for all country music fans

Article by Robert Reynolds

Digital Rodeo is a relatively new Nashville-based site dedicated to and for country music fans, performers and musicians.  It is the first all-encompassing site for country music lovers as Mavericks' bass player Robert Reynolds, now a member of the Digital Rodeo team, explains.

The humble beginnings of Digital Rodeo pre-date my joining of the company.  They were the brain shot of a very young fellow who has a great passion for technological development.  In fact, he's one of those types that you read about - at age sixteen to eighteen he has already had an impact on doing work for some very big companies.   He unscrambled some huge security problems with Facebook and was paid for his efforts - so he's a real-life whizz-kid.

He felt there was a void in the social community aspect of the internet for country music.  He felt like country music was having to use tools like MySpace and putting things up on YouTube, but of course it was such a minority genre that he felt it wasn't getting the appropriate focus or attention it deserved.  So he felt that it needed its own social networking community that would represent the desires of that demographic, meaning the people in country music, the fans of country music and the artists themselves.  Getting a space that's possibly a safer and cleaner environment for country on its own, rather than getting lost amongst rock and pop bands that accommodate the rest of the world.

So it was really an effort to create a dignified space for fans and artists alike in country music.  It was also a way to reach out around the world and bring people together that have a passion for this music and the lifestyle.

Digital Rodeo launched in March '07 and then did a re-launch in the fall, having improved the technical infrastructure and the look, which is always changing and improving with every day.  I've always been fascinated with the things that bring us together in life, that bring us across the paths with people in our lives that have such an important role.  I met a fellow by the name of Joe Field, regarding some country music memorabilia, and he liked my spirit and in-depth experience with the Mavericks, and he really liked my energy and knew there was something we should do together but didn't know what at the time.  He invited me to join him at a meeting with the original investor in Digital Rodeo.  I met him and fell into place right in the middle of that - I didn't really join forces until late September.

I came on board, and I was brought on really to do industry relationship development - to bring the Digital Rodeo folks together with the industry folks I knew, such as artists, management, journalists, labels, publishers, songwriters - I guess it's a classic case of being sought out for what you know.  It's that classic thing where you're actually paid for what and who you know, and after eighteen years or so in the professional music business, finally somebody wants me again.

Once they saw the way I work, my style, my passion and enthusiasm and what-have-you, they asked me to come on board full-time.  I must admit, I will always have a performing soul and a creative spirit about me and they told me they would like to see that continue and flourish.  They did not want to interfere with my creative side, and they have left me room for that.  A lot of people in the music industry have told me for many years that they thought I'd work very well with the business side of things and I wish I'd taken that as a compliment.  My father taught me a few of the fundamentals when I was a young man and I guess I stored them away thinking I might one day help other artists from a different side.   I'm really thrilled to be doing something that's not about putting a face on and stepping up on stage.  I still want to have my performing moments, but I'm really excited also to be away from all that.

It's all still very early days with Digital Rodeo, so it's a great time to navigate it and become pioneers of the space.  The benefits are that you don't search as far or as wide for the style of music you're looking for.  We wanted the best elements of MySpace, Facebook or even YouTube to be used on Digital Rodeo, but we wanted the navigation of Digital Rodeo to be an easy thing for fans of country music - international country music - bluegrass and Americana.  I think country music has been known to be slower to embrace technology, so we saw that the site had to be appealing, so that you're not wading through nearly as much stuff that you might not be interested in.  We've employed a lot of filters and stuff to keep out any questionable material - spam and material that suggests maybe it's not appropriate to a country music demographic.  I don't like to generalise about what people's tastes are, but this site has been created to be more family-friendly, and I think country music, for a long time, has been associated with being a more family-orientated, broad appeal genre.

A while ago there were a lot of major artists and few indie acts on Digital Rodeo, but now we're seeing almost every major label artist or entity embracing Digital Rodeo, and we're seeing a growth in American artists as well as international artists.  So now you can go there and pretty much meet that artist or view a representation of them there.

The video function has come along now, so people can come in now and watch videos of the artists.  I believe for many country fans in the UK and Europe they don't find enough country music content in their daily life and that's probably why I am so interested in creating a bridge between Digital Rodeo and Maverick magazine.

Some of that music content over in Nashville you just can't find in the UK - the videos aren't there to access and the content isn't there to read.  I want Maverick readers to know that we have a relationship between Maverick magazine and Digital Rodeo and that they're going to be the recipients, the winners of this relationship.  They're going to be the ones that benefit from us working together, because I think we're going to create a nice relationship and transformation so that they get more for their money.  To imagine thousands, eventually hundreds of thousands and even millions of fans from around the world who will be able to enjoy the community space that is Digital Rodeo is fantastic.

Robert Reynolds
Maverick magazine (UK)
February 2008

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