If you’re paying attention at all, you probably know that music magazines, music blogs, independent record stores, and other institutions of independent music are under threat and closing down left and right like never before. In the case of Lone Star Music, it is a Texas music mainstay that falls under the category of “all of the above.” And according to the current owner Zach Jennings, it is significantly under threat.
Lone Star Music is one of the last remaining independent music entities where you can buy music directly from their website, while their Superfly’s Lone Star Music Emporium in San Marcos, TX is one of the last remaining record stores in the region. Lone Star Music also used to operate a store front in Gurene, TX, right near Gruene Hall, and Lone Star Music magazine was a mainstay in Texas music for years. The online website remains a resource for many of the region’s music fans from all over the country and world.
But now the institution first stared by Chad Raney in 1999, then taken over by Michael Devers until 2009, is facing incredible hardship after taking multiple leaps of faith to modernize the business to the changing music climate, so says Zach Jennings in an in-depth open-letter to readers, fans, and patrons.
After overhauling the print magazine and growing the subscribership, like so many print operations, Lone Star Music hit a snag.
“Long-term advertisers were losing their print budgets and printing and shipping costs were only going up,” explains Zach Jennings. “In an attempt to shore up our marketing side, we made a hire that could only be described as disastrous. This guy had handled marketing for a couple high-society Austin mags and we trusted his vision of turning on higher profile advertisers with money in their coffers and and a widespread need to get their vision out to a number of demographics. He proved to be a fraud, left without ever selling so much as a single ad and the damage he did was irreparable.”
Then came major issues with the Lone Star Music website, which had many long-term customers fleeing for the major online distributors.
“The e-comm site, our flagship property, ran smoothly for awhile — right up until I attempted to ‘upgrade’ it … Monumental mistake. LoneStarMusic.com made a comeback but there was a good 10-month period where I fielded more hate mail than Steve Bartman in October of 2003. I’d like to think the website survived because people enjoyed pouring money into the scene via LoneStarMusic.com rather than lining the pockets of Amazon or Apple, but the truth may also be that we had exclusive autographed copies and other perks … before labels also started feeling the pinch and our longtime contacts were unceremoniously let go or reassigned.”
Lone Star Music also had similar bad luck with their Superfly’s record store, including unforeseen construction and permitting issues ahead of their opening in 2012, the fact that nearby road construction that was supposed to last 18 months dragged on for four years, and the general lack of enthusiasm for the establishment in the local population despite being right across from Texas State College. Superfly’s will likely leave their current location in April in hopes of staying somewhere in San Marcos, but as Zach Jennings puts it, “To be honest, we’re not sure … As for the Lone Star Music brand, its future is similarly up in the air. We’ve had a dedicated staff of three (and only three) working for so long that it’s astounding.”
So Zach Jennings is reaching out through the Texas music scene looking for any sort of assistance or relief, not limited to new partners or sponsorships. “We believe that this little company,” says Zach Jennings. “We just need some assistance from those to whom we’ve dedicated so much time, effort and money over the years. All in the name of a love for the music. All for the sake of the song.”