Thanks for listening to episode #69 of the podcast. Today’s guest, Melissa Ferrick, is a master of many trades – an acclaimed performing artist (currently listed as #20 of the top 50 women in indie music), a record label owner as well as a professor at Berklee College of Music. She shares her take on the evolution of the music industry in the digital age, her ups and downs and the lessons she’s learned as a business owner as well as the new music venture she started. I’ve been a fan for over a decade and I know after hearing her insights, you will be too. I hope you enjoy the episode. As always, feel free to leave your feedback!
Links mentioned in today’s episode
Facebook: Melissa Ferrick
Twitter: Melissa Ferrick
Welcome to the rebirth of Right on Records!
Listen to the episode by clicking the play button below.
Would you prefer to read the transcript than listen to the episode? No problem! Read the transcript below.
AUDIO TITLE: Episode #69 – Melissa Ferrick Interview
Jenn T Grace:
My first question that we just kind of briefly went over would be how did you become to the place that you are today? Like what was the path that led you to being on your twelfth album for example that you are in the process of releasing now?
Sure. Really started in 1991. I had an opportunity to open for Morrissey, the former lead singer of the band called the Smiths. And I was signed to a major label deal at that time, I was signed to Atlantic Records. So my first album came out in 1993, and I had an incredible opportunity to be an artist on a major label, which not a lot of people have that. It was really the hay day of the music industry. You're talking about Nirvana, and Jewel, and Hootie and the Blowfish, and Sound Garden; it was a great time to be putting records out. And in '95 I put a second record out with them, and didn't sell enough records. I did have some success in Europe on those two albums, and some success in the states too, as far as just name recognition and having the ability to get on some pretty cool tours. Particularly Weezer I think for me was the coolest one I got to be on. And then that started my path of independent record labels, and DIY, and cell phones came out, and AOL started. So I really was one of these people- I am one of these people that had survived a lot of changes in the music industry. So I signed an Indie deal with a label in Boulder, Colorado and made three records for them. And that was a pretty standard 50/50 deal at the time. That was- from a business perspective anyway, that was the new thing. Look we're going to give the artist 50% instead of 10% which is what major labels gave them. However you were going from a budget of a major label of $150,000 to make a record to a budget of $5,000. So the numbers didn't really make a lot of sense. So that 50% back actually wasn't as great as it seemed. However I do still get royalty checks from them, so that's great because you recouped. You made the $5,000 back, and at Atlantic it was hard to make the $150,000 back. So that was really- after I finished working with Warp Records and Rob Gordon in Boulder, that was in 1999 I gave him the record 'Freedom' which the song 'Drive' is on, which is like my most popular song. And that was when I realized that I should be doing this on my own and putting out records on my own label. Certainly at that time Ani DiFranco, she was huge at that time, and she was owning her own record label and putting records out. And then this other woman named Amiee Mann that I'm a huge fan of had this record called 'Magnolia' and it won an Oscar, and the label that she had bet on didn't want to put the record out. So everything was really, really changing and I thought, 'Well I've got to just open up my own label.' So I did, and I started my record label in the year 2000 with an $8,000 credit card,