Adding culture

Photo: Mark Hancock

At the end of last year, Jonathan Fowler, vice president of operations at Fowler Holding Co. Inc., got the project green-lighted. Since then, Fowler VW has licensed 28 songs through 28 different musicians, and it’s working with 32 other interested artists to create an even more comprehensive database.

“It’s not even so much a campaign as it is a shift in philosophy. It was genuine. People could see that I wasn’t trying to sell them this bill of goods on local music,” Fowler said. “It was something that I was actually doing outside of my day job that was carrying over into things I was passionate about and wanting to participate in.”

The first ads ran on Pandora and Spotify in January and featured songs from rock singer-songwriter Beau Jennings, ACM@UCO band Fos and OKC hip-hop artist L.T.Z.

You may be wondering what a car company has to do with local music. There’s an explanation: According to Fowler, Volkswagen has a natural connection to music, arts and culture.

“Volkswagen is definitely known as a unique counterculture-type brand,” Fowler said. “It goes back to the ’60s and ’70s with the Bug and the Vanagon, the VW Bus. It’s very much associated with that late-’60s musical movement that culminated with Woodstock. It’s definitely a pop culture reference within the Western American culture.”

The artists Fowler VW is working with couldn’t be happier about the company’s support. Jennings, a Norman native, licensed the song “A Full Moon” off the Beau Jennings and The Tigers’ Sweet Action EP to Fowler VW in support of the project.

“I applaud Fowler VW’s effort to only use local music,” Jennings said. “I’ve noticed a galvanization of the local music scene, for lack of a better word, since Jonathan’s involvement began.”

Fowler, a bluegrass and jam-band freak in college, has worked to keep the local music scene thriving, tackling the endeavor by communicating the value of local art by helping musicians license their music themselves. By skipping third-party licensing companies, Fowler said musicians will have access to larger revenue streams, possibly allowing them to work part-time and be able to tour.

He also emphasized promoting the artists through avenues like Facebook and Twitter.

“Our social networking division has been making it a point to build these artists and everything into our social networking,” he said. “If you go to Fowler VW’s Facebook or Twitter handle, you’ll see mentions of these artists, links to their merch, their albums, their Bandcamps — anything we can do to help spread the word on them and try and get more recognition for them.”

Throughout the rest of 2014, Fowler VW will release two to three ads featuring new songs by local artists every month, with Indie-pop band Tallows and songwriter Beau Mansfield to be featured in March.

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Alissa Lindsey

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