Karen Waldrup is an incredibly talented singer songwriter from Nashville in America, who I discovered online and loved what I heard. I wanted to know more about her and she kindly answered these questions and gave some really good answers. So read on.
1. How did you get into music?
I’ve always sang as long as I can remember. It’s always just been a part of me and something I do without thinking about. When I was 16, after years of choir at church, I joined a youth choir at my church and immediately started singing in front of thousands every Sunday at the youth service. One of the guitar players in the band wrote songs and as he brought them weekly, I couldn’t help but think that I could write songs too! I knew I’d have to play guitar to write so I asked him for lessons. He taught me for a few months and here I am 10 years later with a full music career- who would have known? Learning to play guitar was the best thing I ever did.
2. What was the inspiration for the new album?
This new album ‘The Beginning’ is inspired by life on the road. Since my preference is live performance, I find myself on the road a lot playing in various cities. I wanted the album to have a message of ‘Journey’ and ‘Inspiration’…that’s why I went with ‘The Beginning’. We did the photo shoot for the cover in a 1978 VW Van we found in Memphis that someone let us borrow. These vehicles are not reliable, since they are older, but my dream would be to be able to take on of those on the road! You can count on Memphis to find an artsy van like this one, but I truly believe that the record reflects the last year of my life touring over 200 live shows in 12 months. It’s my passion and it’s what makes me tick.
3. How was the recording process different to your previous releases?
As any artist would do, I wanted this album to have the best sound quality that I could get. In the past, I have been very fortunate to work with some wonderful producers, but I feel the producer of ‘The Beginning’ (Mike Puwal of Boom Labs Nashville, TN) put his heart into the production of it as not only a producer but also a guitar player. We took our time, I brought my vocal coach in, edited numerous times and we wanted to make sure the album was the best work anyone on the team could do. It makes such a difference having a producer that you can trust, but also that can assist you in making the music sound the way you hear it when you write it. He listened to everything I had to say and threw in his ideas. It made it so much more fun.
4. Why did you go on the program Platinum Hit?
I’m a songwriter. That’s what I do and that’s what I love. When I heard of ‘Platinum Hit’, it really stuck out to me because it was a songwriting competition. I had never heard of a show like that and I thought I’d be good at it. I auditioned on a sunny Nashville day and went in and sang my tune and did the best I could. They kept calling me back for months of auditions and I think because I was myself I had a spot in the show. As an independent artist with a limited promotions budget, it can be difficult to build a fan base besides at live shows. If you can use outlets like television and internet to get your name out and build a career from the ground up, than you’re way ahead of the game. You cannot imagine millions of viewers. You just can’t wrap your mind around it. It’s a wonderful thing these days for musicians!
5. How did that help your music career?
I remember as a child my dad used to say “There is no such thing as luck. There is only- preparation meets opportunity.” I think this is a perfect example of this because the countless years of writing and performing out were brought to a new level with this show. The press I got, the national exposure, and the relationships I built were priceless. It gave my music career a little bit of gasoline and I lit a match so that we could have a fire. I did what any good musician would do after this kind of exposure. A tour of 27 cities in 30 days.
6. What is the scene like where you live?
I love this question! I’ve been doing a lot of travel across the globe over the past few years and I understand that there are different cultures in each place that are fascinating for others to learn about. I’ve met lots of folks traveling that are from Australia and they are always so outgoing. I typically meet lots while backpacking as I know a lot of folks from Australia love to travel the world, which I respect. As I sit here today at my computer on a Nashville fall day, I realize that there really is no place like Music City, USA! They call it music city because it is the hub of the south for recording, marketing, distribution, songwriting and record companies that will sometimes offer artists a record deal and help build their music. I spend every single day of my life doing different activities that help my music career whether it’s writing, recording or doing the business end. The great thing about Nashville is that there are resources to help with all of it. People that have done it, companies that do it and a plethora of songwriters to write with, the bad part about Nashville, TN is that it is so over saturated with musicians that no one here really makes any money. So while we’re in town playing a show for free, everyone knows that the other ones are doing really well building their fan base. But, we use the “community” to help us out. You can call it ‘networking’, but it’s more about just helping each other out. No one can build music on their own. So I get in a vehicle and go tour on the road to make money and then come back to Nashville and spend it. Then…repeat. But in the meantime I’m getting better at my craft every time I perform live.
7. How does social networking help you as an artist?
There are some things that are very difficult about making music in 2012. It is extremely rare to get a record deal and the ones that are given are typically given to artist with an existing fan base. So how to get a record deal? Beat the crowd and build a fan base independently until the wizard with a magic wand wants to come help you out. Until then, you can’t wait on the wizard you have to get better at music. Social media like facebook/twitter/reverbnation and youtube allow fans all over the globe to decide whether or not they like your music and you as an individual. Social media ( and a GPS on the road) are two of the biggest advantages to making music in 2012.
8. How do you think connecting with your fans helps you as an artist?
There are many people that make music in this world and connecting with the fans makes them more loyal to your music when you have a tour or release an album. Sending them a direct email about exciting things in your music career keeps them engaged and not forgetting about you. This goes for any artist no matter how big or small. You want your name and music to come to peoples minds when they think “I want to listen to some music”. If you keep them engaged they won’t be able to help but get your new album when it comes out. And they’ll come to a show and listen because they saw the picture you posted of you hand making a custom guitar to give away on the road. You just have to make them feel like they are a part of it in everything you do. Especially creating the music!
9. What is next for you?
To play a show in Australia of course! I sure would love to come share music there. The fun thing about being an artist is that you get to pave your own way and take the opportunities that you wish to take and turn down the ones you don’t want to take. I am going to take every single opportunity to sing that’s ever given to me and make beautiful music out of it whether I am raising money for charity or playing a sold out show. I am exploring the world of music publishing and pitching music. I’d love to get a song cut by a film or TV show or cut by a major artist. I am playing more and more with a full kit band and will continue to build my fan base across the world. I’d really like to be a supporting act for another band on a big tour. I think I have a lot more singing’ left to do!
10. How do you find being an independent artist?
I think this is one of the best questions I’ve ever been asked. How cool that you want to know about what it’s like to be independent. Most of my fans don’t know that I’m independent. I don’t think they really care, they just want good music. I didn’t really choose to be independent. I just decided I didn’t want to wait for the music world to say “yes”, but instead for me to say “yes” and start making music. What ended up happening is that I was getting so busy that I had to quit my day job and opened up a business- Karen Waldrup Publishing & Touring. It works like any other business- the income gets added to the account and the expenses come out. When I have to buy something like merchandise, a photo shoot, website design etc, I just use this account. I pay myself twice a month. The goal is to make it work where you’re making music and also running a business with some income. I’d love to get a record deal one day and not have to do all the independent business and creative stuff all together. However, I think the worst thing a young musician can do is sit around and wait for a deal. Then you miss years of music! The biggest benefit to being independent is the freedom to create the music you want to make. But then again if folks don’t like it you don’t have anyone to blame. My music career is just ‘The Beginning’ so I’m not sure what will happen next. I will say that I am having a blast at every step of ‘The Journey’. They say the journey is the reward.