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A shared interest has been the start of uncounted relationships. In the case of Randy Scott and Randy Young of Cherry Suede, the love of music and being a fan is at the core of how they look at their band. They were fans of pop and rock giants like the Beatles, Bruce Springsteen, Bryan Adams, and Tom Petty before they were musicians, and they know how important connections to performers can be. These connections can change lives. Maybe it’s a small change like smiling when you hear a chorus, or maybe it’s something bigger, like the power some songs have that can carry you through a tough time. What a lot of bands forget is that the connection goes both ways – Randy Scott has said that one measure of success is seeing someone in the audience singing along with one of their songs. The song obviously moved the audience, and that same feeling goes back to the band when they see someone singing it with them.

Cherry Suede knows that music is more than just notes: it’s a shared, powerful experience.

Randy and Randy took the idea of music as a shared experience and extended that to the way they run the band. After playing six nights a week and releasing a well-received disc, they took a long look at how they were operating. Naturally, they wanted to play for people and make a buck, but traditional models weren’t cutting it for them – those models were often about the business, not the experience. The fans were considered consumers of a music product, and that wasn’t how Cherry Suede saw them.

The band wanted to reward the fans for paying to see their shows, bringing their friends, and even traveling hundreds of miles to see them. After considering a few ideas, they thought of something that would come to be one of the band’s defining features: they would give away their music. All of it. Licensed under Creative Commons, fans are free to download, distribute, and remix Cherry Suede songs as long as they credit the band and don’t resell the music.

This free distribution had a huge impact on their fan base. As fans spread the word, more and more people heard Cherry Suede. A core group of fans developed, eventually becoming the Cherry Suede Brigade. The CSB has been such a large part of Cherry Suede’s success that the band organizes special band-related trips and events for them. The CSB continues to grow, bringing more friends to shows and supporting Cherry Suede in both the real and virtual worlds.

Getting their music to the fans is great, but Cherry Suede is also known for their dynamic live shows. Playing at a festival or even at a pub doesn’t always provide the opportunity to meet fans, so Cherry Suede came up with the Hometown Tour. CSB members can host acoustic Cherry Suede shows in their homes, back yards, camp-outs, etc., and then show the guys some of their hometown sights. The Hometown shows are recorded and portions are put up on the Cherry Suede site.

Cherry Suede really wants to treat their live shows differently, acting more like hosts than featured performers, and finding more ways to get the fans involved. These have included road trips to shows, whole-night events, and giveaways. It’s not the traditional way of doing things, but Cherry Suede firmly believes in reaping what you sow.

With their innovative band model, dedication to their fans, and their skillful songwriting and performing, Cherry Suede provide an alternative to the alternative. By freeing themselves from the accepted model of how to be a band and getting closer to their fans than most performers, they’ve laid the groundwork for a successful career no matter how it’s measured.

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