Sioux Falls, SD
A member of the South Dakota Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is gaining a new worldwide audience without ever having to take the stage.
As the front man for Myron Lee & The Caddies, Myron Wachendorf of Sioux Falls has toured with some of the giants of the music industry including The Rolling Stones. But now he's rolling in royalties thanks to music downloads over the Internet.
Wachendorf's royalty checks read like an atlas of the globe, with Internet sales of his songs coming from Australia, Japan, Greece, Hungary, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark and Belgium.
"Those people in Europe, I've learned that they are really into music," Wachendorf said.
Wachendorf makes two cents for each of his copyrighted songs sold.
"It doesn't sound like very much. But just think of some of these artists that sell millions of records, just think how that adds up," Wachendorf said.
The songs date back a half-century, when Myron Lee & The Caddies were at the height of their popularity, touring North America with the pioneers of rock and roll. The group's following has never really faded with time.
"They're not just elderly people. These people buying my songs are 35, 40, 45 years old," Wachendorf said.
Myron Lee & The Caddies have made the rounds in every musical format: from vinyl to 8-tracks to cassettes and compact discs.
"Even when CD's came out, it was hard for me to get used to that format and now look how old that is already," Wachendorf said.
The Caddies' latest sales vehicle is iTunes.
"My nephew in Phoenix is a webmaster and he said why don't you let me make a new website for you and we'll update everything and get your songs on iTunes. Well, I didn't know what iTunes was," Wachendorf said.
But iTunes listeners know Myron Lee. It's been only a few weeks, but users are downloading his old songs in a new way.
"I don't know really how it works, but I know that my PayPal account the other day told me that I had another $6 put in there, so somebody must have bought five or six of them, I suppose," Wachendorf said.
A music service like iTunes allows users to bypass traditional record stores and download songs themselves. But the technology hasn't steered customers away from the Last Stop CD Shop in Sioux Falls.
"The thing that's nice about iTunes is accessibility. But that also works in our favor to where you know if you want to hear something, you can go to iTunes and listen to samples of the music and then they come down here and buy it or order it from us," Last Stop CD Shop manager Josh Johnson said.
In many ways, the music industry has come full-circle, literally. Vinyl records that spin on a turntable are making a comeback. It's the way Myron Lee's fans would have listened to his music back in the 1960s. Only today's vinyl is much more high tech.
"And they're doing that with a lot of older records now-a-days, they're reproducing them on this high-grade vinyl. And the thing that's nice, when new records come out, they usually come with a digital download card so you get the nice physical copy of the record but you get the card, so you can put the music on your iTunes as well," Johnson said.
It's been nearly 20 years since Myron Lee last performed with The Caddies. And despite his growing popularity on iTunes, Wachendorf has no urge to return to those early glory days of rock & roll and tour again.
"I just got burned out. When I go to see somebody else play, now I sit there and I enjoy watching them but I am so happy I can get up and go home anytime I want," Wachendorf said.
Wachendorf is content to stay home and let his royalties put in their two cents.
"One thing it tells me is apparently rock and roll is never going to die," Wachendorf said.
Some of the more rare Myron Lee & The Caddies recordings have fetched hundreds of dollars apiece on eBay.
Check out the band's music by clicking here.
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