"Fame doesn't take away the pain, it just pays the bills"
If only. Fame won't fix the tour van or even gas it up. It won't pay for the hotel rooms. In some dives it won't even buy the drinks. Fame doesn't pay a salary. Americana/alt-country fame pays even less than that.
Which brings me to the upcoming holiday shopping season. If you're a fan of an artist, one of the best things you can do for that artist (and the people you love) is buy the artist's records and give them as gifts to the folks on your list. Not only does this move a little money their way on the front end, it has the impact of introducing that artist to folks who otherwise might not even know they exist. Let's face it, some of us are a bit nerdy about music, and it's up to us to evangelize a bit.
Giving the gift of music often pays another benefit, less tangible, but more valuable. It creates a shared experience between you and the recipient. Like 3 months later when you see them and they go, "Thanks for that CD. He's really good. I listen to it all the time." Next thing you know you're calling them up when the artist comes to town. Which means more people at the show, which is also good for the artist and for you, too. It's the circle of life, of music, and it doesn't go around by itself. We have to roll it along.
So, give it forward. Give the gift of music. Give them something they wouldn't know about if it weren't for you. They'll thank you for it. And the artists will, too.
Oh, one more thing - go to an independent record store or the artist's website to see if you can buy the record there. If you have to Amazon, so be it.
Mando Lines gave Robyn Ludwick's latest CD to most of the folks on his list last year. They loved it. You can follow him on Twitter @mando_lines.