By Emerald Butler
“We wound up doing quite a few different things in the industry,” Ernie began.
“It was about 20 years ago when we had our first event. We were very bad at it. It was an eye-opener, but we’re stubborn I guess when it comes to trying to get something right, so we went back at it again. It took us about a good eight years before we learned what was going on. I would say that we learned on the go. We did a lot of research and had a lot of friends in the business that gave us a lot of advice.”
Ernie shared that a job loss during the bad economy of the early 2000s is what motivated him and his wife to start their own business. “We had too,” Ernie stated. Evans says that they love what they do and that although it may be a “job” it isn’t when you love what you do.
However, Ernie did share some of the challenges of the business. “The hard thing about the festival business is that the landscape is changing under our feet the whole time because there’s a shift in the music. People are leaving and coming into the music. There’s just been this big paradigm shift in the last 20 years in technology, how you bring something to market, ticketing, and advertising. All of that has changed. Just because you knew how to do it 20 or 30 years ago doesn’t mean you know how to do it today. The things that don’t change are persistence, will, and the love for music. If those things aren’t there, nothing is going to happen.”
One of the ways that Evans Media Source keeps things current is through innovative new techniques and high-quality acts. There have been some skeptics, however. “For everyone that gets upset, doesn’t like it (nontraditional acts and festival styles) and walks out, 15 other people are waiting to get their chair. Our festivals are growing and getting bigger. It’s really sad that people don’t open their minds up. I’m not saying that traditional bluegrass festivals are going away, but they better do something. Some of them are doing ok, but they’re not going to command the price for the ticket that they need to continue. They’re going to need other things to help support that music and bring people to the festival.”
Another one of the latest changes in the festival business for Evans Media Source has been the Adams Bluegrass acquisition that took place last fall. “It was a very, very, very, good situation,” Ernie stated. “Norman Adams was motivated to retire, and we were motivated to go to the next level of what we do. It was a good place for both of us. It’s one of the biggest things that’s happened in bluegrass since I’ve been in it. We’re in the thick of things with that, and it looks like it’s going to stay that way. I don’t see us changing our career anytime soon.” Currently, Evans Media Source owns eleven festivals, and they do production for about seven outside festivals like for city events or county fair festivals. That’s about 18 events a year total. “We stay pretty busy,” Ernie confirmed.