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Home Grown Music Network: An Outlet for Independent Music

In an age when many independent bands are struggling to survive, the Home Grown Music Network is a refreshing outlet for music that might otherwise go unnoticed. The Mebane, N.C.,-outfit celebrated 10 years in 2005 as a rare kind of company that fights for the underdog and promotes vital underground sounds in genres like jam, jazz, and bluegrass.

It’s a small operation with a staff of four-an unorthodox business that has grown at a steady grassroots success rate not unlike many of the bands that it promotes. The idea started with company founder Lee Crumpton, a longtime DJ in the Triangle area that wasn’t totally satisfied with the music he could offer listeners.

“I noticed the bands I was seeing and enjoying at local clubs weren’t getting a fair shot at radio play,” Crumpton says. “It was part of the motivation to try and help those bands. Collectively we’re able to reach many more people than a band would be able to individually.”

Home Grown publishes 200,000 copies of a quarterly catalog that lists all of the bands in the network and offers some of the first opportunities to buy CDs that aren’t making it into record stores. The organization also has a rep network of 600 members across the country that assists Home Grown bands with promotion when they’re touring through a particular area. They also send promos to independent-friendly DJs and distribute to record stores that will stock indie bands.

Just under 100 bands are currently in the network, and many that first came to Home Grown on DIY bar circuits have gone on to became successful national acts such as Keller Williams, Yonder Mountain String Band, and the Disco Biscuits. Nowadays Home Grown doesn’t have to seek out new acts, as Crumpton says he gets a mailbox full of CDs everyday, of which he’ll usually pick around 15 bands a year to join the network.

“We try to maintain a high quality control, so our customers will take a chance with new music based on our endorsement,” says Crumpton.

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