The new music publishing company from film director and Memphis native Craig Brewer has released its first song collection, Memphis musician Jason Freeman’s 10-song LP “Hex & Hell.”
For BR2 Music Publishing, the song collection represents a milestone and is available currently on iTunes, where it’s a “New and Noteworthy” release and also can be streamed in full on Spotify and via Soundcloud.
It’s also something of a test case for Brewer’s new venture. That’s according to the acclaimed director himself, who said Freeman’s release will help light the way forward for Brewer’s interest in becoming an “advocate for artists and their work” getting into movies, TV shows, video games and commercials.
Freeman, who’s a tour guide at Sun Studio in addition to being a longtime fixture on the local music scene, has had a song in every Brewer movie so far. That includes “The Poor & Hungry,” “Hustle & Flow,” “Black Snake Moan” and “Footloose.”
Freeman taught Samuel L. Jackson how to play slide guitar and the like for the actor’s role in “Black Snake Moan,” and a song from Freeman’s new set called “Magic in my home” was featured in “Footloose.”
A music video for “Magic in my home” also was released this week. According to the Kangaroo promotion, consulting and booking company, the video was directed by Alan Spearman and is the first of three videos to be released for the album, each created by a local director and executive produced by Brewer.
“Whenever I talk to musician friends of mine, they say they’ve never really made money off of album sales,” Brewer explained. “They usually make money off of two things: touring and merchandise. Or they get a song placed somewhere, and sometimes just that one song placement in a movie or TV show or video game will be the biggest amount of money that artist will make.
“So I’m trying to focus my energy on that. Jason’s album is like the test of that. And so far, it’s been successful.”
The presence of the song in “Footloose” helped pay for Freeman’s album and get it already in the black, according to Brewer.
“I want to see these artists make music, and at the same time I don’t want artists to be on the hook for what it costs to make the album,” Brewer said. “Jason has put a tremendous amount of effort and talent into the album, which we’re putting out ourselves. People can buy it on CD. They can download it, and there’s merchandise like shirts. Vinyl will be coming out in February, and if anybody wants a free song, they can go on the website (www.hexandhell.com) and leave their email address to get a free song.”
BR2 Music Publishing is a natural outgrowth of BR2 Productions, the company Brewer started that has helped produce some of his smaller projects. For the new publishing venture, Brewer joined forces with Kat Sage, founder of Red Wax Music Publishing Administration and Consulting.
Sage also was a project manager for the Grammys for more than a decade.
“Basically, over the past five years I’ve been doing a lot of exploring as to how to get into music, and it’s been tricky during this time where the music business is going through a transition of its own,” Brewer said. “So basically I realized that instead of trying to do a label where I’m fighting with people for end-cap space in music stores that are slowly dying out themselves. I just wanted to try to focus my energy differently.”