This week I’m talking with country music artist Lauren Lucas. Lauren has been signed to Warner Brothers and has also been an independent artist. We discuss the pros and cons of a signed vs. unsigned artist as well as publishing and touring as an indie artist.
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*Knowing multiple instruments will get you more work.
*You can’t be an island in this business.
*Start building a foundation locally and get out playing shows.
*A family friend knew a guy in Nashville that came to check me out and ending up signing me to an artist development and publishing deal in Nashville.
*The development deal eventually fell through but while in college I got cast as a main character in the Broadway version of Urban Cowboy in New York.
*I ended up writing a song that was used in that Broadway show and was my first major placement.
*A professor connected me with a producer in town who ended up putting me with different co-writers all the time and we were recording demos.
*He pitched the songs to Warner Brothers Records and I went in to audition and got my first record deal that way.
*They released my first single and I went on a radio tour and also got to open for Rascal Flatts, Blake Shelton, Lone Star and others.
*The order of events can work differently depending on the situation. For some people, once you sign a record deal, then you have team put around you such as a booking agent, management, publisher, promotion, etc.
*For some, if you have label mates, then you can get put on a tour opening for others on your roster.
*Doors open up to have these companies be on your team because they see a label putting money behind you so that helps them to believe in what you are doing especially if you are successful because there is a lot of money to be earned.
*You’re lessening the risk for yourself when you can align with a company like that.
*When you sign a record deal and start working with a publisher, they are going to tell you to keep bringing them songs.
*Once the album was halfway finished, publishers who didn’t like my songs before now wanted to sign me based off the same songs.
*That caused me to have a chip on shoulder and I didn’t sign with them.
*Because of that and when I lost my record deal, then I was an island and I didn’t have a team around me to help pitch me to other labels and help me get back on my feet.
*There are so many artists that are signed to major label record deals that have albums that have never seen the light of day or have been signed and let go before anything ever happened with them.
*The guy who helped get me signed was temporarily running the label and he got replaced when I released my first single and the new guy had a different vision and my album never came out.
*When you’re trying to get a record deal and you’re the new kid with little success, you don’t have negotiating power for your contract, the label does.
*The other route some people go is focusing on songwriting and getting hits with other artists, then you have more leverage to negotiate because of that success.
*I transitioned into songwriting and released a couple of independent EPs.
*There is value into taking your destiny into your own hands and working hard and making bold decisions.
*There is also value in building a team around you and gaining credibility before making those bold decisions.
*It feels like when you’re waiting on other people that it’s taking forever.
*My expectations were skewed and I thought it was all supposed to happen right away.
*Once you sign a record deal it can take 5 or 6 years for anything to really take off and that’s after signing a deal.
*For those us that never give up, we’re the ones that end up being successful.
*After my label deal ended, I was able to sign a publishing deal with Jewel Coburn of Ten Ten Music who had Alan Jackson, Keith Urban and Mark Irwin writing for them at different times. She started a new company called Eleven Eleven Music and I wrote for that company.
*So many great songs end up in a drawer because there is only so much room for songs to get cut.
*I’ve written for Danielle Peck and had a song used on Shark Tank that she recorded. I had a song placed in a movie as the end credits song with Dakota Johnson. I also had a song placed in a movie called Americanizing Shelly.
*I own my publishing now because I am focusing more on tv/film music.
*I was in the band Farewell Angelina and they recorded some of my songs as well.
*It’s a big deal when you get songs cut with major label or indie artists because when they get sales or radio play you get paid, even little by little it adds up.
*Also as a performer with music services like Muzak, you get checks every quarter.
*Farewell Angelina got to open for The Bacon Brothers for the past couple of years and I knew a guy in the industry who is a talent buyer and needed a band to open for them at a show and asked if we wanted to come.
*We hit it off with them and have been able to continue working with them and even starting writing music with them.
*Now I get to open for The Bacon Brothers as a solo artist and I am doing my career on my terms.
*I am making my best music now. You make different decisions depending on what your priorities are.
*In my 20’s I just wanted to be famous and I made desperate choices.
*Looking back now it wasn’t about the music.
*Now I just want to make great music and I don’t want to be on the road unless that’s what I want to do.
*I’m happier and freer and I think it’s coming across in the music.
*If you are married and wanting to be a touring artist, make sure you have a good foundation of what your dreams are and what you intend to do so that’s clear up front and the other person knows this is a really big part of who you are and what you want to do and gives the a chance to decide if they want to be a part of that lifestyle if you’re not married yet.
*Always have consistent home based check ins and keep them in the top of your mind and communicate with them when you’re apart.
*There are no office hours. You’re potentially working all the time because even after a show the people bringing you in may want to go out and you feel obligated to do that.
*You kind of always have to be “on.”
*When I do my own booking I develop a form email of what I want to say (and personalize it for each person) and I’ll make a dropbox folder of head shot, a link to music or video that will help sell the package and put a link for them to download.
*So many venues want you to submit and pitch to them in a specific way. Either call between certain hours or email them with a very specific subject line in the subject heading, or they don’t want a link but they want attachments.
*So a lot of time is spent looking up where you want to go and what’s a good routing and then finding a venues that fit your style of music and finding out how they want you to contact them.
*It’s extremely time consuming and tedious.
*If a large booking agency signs you and you are a new act without much of a track record, they’re not always able to get you amazing gigs.
*Your success begets more success.
*They depend on that before they can get you major touring opportunities.
*There are smaller booking agencies that will get you into small towns but are consistent gigs and will help route tours for you.
*If you look up booking agents that work with wedding or cover bands, many of them have other departments that focus on different types of artists.
*Make emails as enticing and as brief as possible.
*Mark on your calendar a time to follow up.
Nashville singer/songwriter, Lauren Lucas, knows first-hand the familiar story of a small town, Carolina girl moving to a music city, only to have her dream locked away in the vault of a major label. Once she was free to release music in her own way, Lauren partnered with Grammy- winning engineer, Chad Carlson, for her critically acclaimed EP, If I Was Your Girl. With Lucas’ engaging melodies and soulful voice, the project caught the attention of Lady Antebellum’s Charles Kelley, who requested to hear the title track in an on-air radio interview with Hall-Of- Fame DJ, Gerry House.
In 2011, armed with another project titled, On with the Show, Lucas explored new points of view, both lyrically and musically. She blended her rootsy-soul with more pop-tinged melodies, reminiscent of her influences, such as Jonatha Brooke, Bonnie Raitt, John Mayer, and Norah Jones.
The Academy of Country Music and Tony Award nominee shows depth and maturity with her new single, “Go Home Paul.” This is the singer/songwriter’s fifth studio release and it finds her in new territory showcasing her musicianship on guitar and intimate vocals. Written by Lucas and Grammy nominated hit songwriter, Jay Knowles (Harry Connick, Jr., George Strait), the story of, “Go Home Paul,” makes the listener feel as though they’re keeping a secret or eavesdropping on a private conversation.
The track features noteworthy studio veterans including Park Chisolm (Kevin Costner & the Modern West, Aubrey Sellers) on arrangement and additional guitars, Alex McCollough (John Prine, Jim Lauderdale) of True East Mastering, and a long-overdue reunion with Pat McMakin (Ray Charles, Dolly Parton) leading the helm with production and mixing.
Lauren said, “‘Go Home Paul’ has been one of my favorite songs that I’ve been a part of as a songwriter. I’ve had both women and men come up to me after shows and tell me they relate to the story, so I’m thrilled to finally have it recorded and released into the world! Some of my favorite songs to listen to as a fan evoke emotion in me because they cut right to the truth. I hope we wrote this song personal enough that it feels universal to the listener.”
This is only the first of a string of new music releases planned for the remainder of the year and into 2020. In addition to her own music, you’ve heard Lauren’s work As a songwriter and composer on Broadway, on other artist’s projects, in films and on television, including ABC’s hit reality show, Shark Tank. As a touring artist, Lauren has shared stages with Kenny Chesney, Old Dominion, Blake Shelton, Billy Currington, Maroon 5, Gabe Dixon, Maia Sharp, and The Bacon Brothers (Kevin and Michael), to name a few. Lauren spent nearly three years touring with an all-female harmony band called, Farewell Angelina and penned several songs on their latest record. You can catch Lauren on the road as she teams up again with the Bacon Brothers in support of her new music.