Musician David Lowery is a fascinating mix of contradictions. The co-founder of Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven is a learned college math professor and a cool rocker musician, a proud and loving father, a blogger at The Trichordist, an advocate for musicians, apolitical, but involved in politics. He shared with us how best to support musicians, his lobbying on Capitol Hill on behalf of musicians, and what he loves about Washington, D.C.
Over the phone, Lowery comes across as articulate, passionate, caring and charming. As the interviewer awkwardly struggled with a technical issue with the phone at the beginning of the interview he kindly offered his suggestions.
Lowery has been rocking out with Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven for over 35 years. Over this time, he has learned that a key to success is not over-touring. Lowery explained that over-touring means less time to write music and burning out on the music. Lowery writes music by inventing a character and telling a story through the character. He learned this technique when he was in college in a creative writing class. He relates to Kanye West’s statement that making music is like a conversation in landscaping. As weird as it sounds, “I get what he is saying! I do a lot of gardening myself!” exclaimed Lowery.
Lowery is passionate about protecting musicians’ rights, which often brings him to Capitol Hill to testify. He applauds the passing of the Music Modernization Act (MDA), spearheaded by Representative Bob Goodlatte and Senator Orrin Hatch and signed into law this October.
Lowery doesn’t identify with any political party. He feels politics divide the world so he remains independent. He is for free markets, but he likes some things both parties do. He feels that regulations have hurt musicians with their music licensing, copyright royalties and intellectual property and applauds the work Republicans are doing on behalf of musicians, especially with the Music Modernization Act.
Lowery feels that protecting musicians is a bipartisan effort and should be supported and applauded by the musical community especially. Lowery believes it’s important to not alienate fans when talking about his beliefs. He appreciates the diverse support from fans and enjoyed his recent 3-hour talk with the National Review. Lowery also advocates for musicians’ rights on his blog The Trichordist.
The Cracker frontman explained that a good way to support musicians is to pay for streaming services like Spotify. Being a premium subscriber to Spotify increases the revenue for artists 8 times. The biggest issue is that services like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube count for 50% of the music being played online yet artists are not receiving royalties, which is what Lowery is continuing to work on. Lowery wants the platform policed and artists paid for the streaming of their music. He wants licensing agreements with the social media platforms as well.
Lastly, Lowery shared that his favorite place to visit in D.C. is Union Station. He loves the architecture and the history, and enjoys reading a book or people watching while sipping coffee in a common space. He will stop by there after testifying on Capitol Hill or awaiting a train to go back to Richmond, VA where he resides.
Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven will be performing on the East Coast (Boston, NY, Philly, DC) from Christmas through the end of January. It has been a yearly tradition for the past 16 years. While they are not promoting a new album, they continue to write new songs. Maybe they will play a new song at their upcoming show?