Melissa Ferrick will be sweeping through Florida in December with a solo stop in St. Augustine, Florida at Cafe Eleven, and three bonus dates fronting for Loudon Wainwright as she looks to make inroads with some new venues. Her 12th album pressed on both CD and vinyl represent her own production under her own label Right On Records. Getting to speak with her in advance of the tour brought much insight into the business side of the music, as well as the heart that beats inside the artist herself.
Coming to Florida in the month of December has become a bit of a tradition for Ferrick, and this year with the addition of three additional venues, she hopes that tradition to continue to grow over the coming years. Ferrick hails from Ipswich, Massachusetts with a background in classical music, a teaching gig at Berklee College of Music, and possesses a loyal following within the LGBT community. Her current album independently produced under her own label Right On Records is a pure and honest acoustic release that speaks from the depth of an artist that has been through her own ups and down, to emerge on the other side wiser for all those experiences.
The business side of music can hold challenges for the artist that chooses to operate their own label to choose tour stop conservatively. Without the money, staff, and process that goes along with the larger labels, the independent artist faces financial challenges that demand a carefully crafted plan in terms of touring that maximizes the every road dollar along the way. When venturing far from home the costs rise dramatically, and Ferrick who loves swinging through the southeast in December, must take the paid with the non paid along the way.
The opportunity to play in support of the Loudon Wainwright tour not only allows for sharing the stage with an extremely talented artist, but exposes her music to audiences that she might not otherwise reach. For the venues they can view for themselves the reception and Ferrick can hope for a future date of her own in the coming years. By paying for the trip with the St. Augustine show as well as the merchandise sales with the Wainwright stops, Ferrick is also able to add stops along the way to and back from Florida and prove her fan base in an effort to build for future bookings.
Her past financial challenges that included losing nearly everything, have left her more focused on insuring the albums and trips are paid for before ever leaving home. This time last year Ferrick introduced her own private subscription site built with a friend in Michigan, and available for the one time charge of $100. During the last year the site has allowed her to extend benefits to those who subscribed demo recordings, unique mixes, a voice in what version of a track was more favored, and insider information not available to others during the process of producing her new album. Perhaps the larger benefit was to Ferrick in that she knew her budget to produce and press the album, stayed within that budget, and when the album was released it was paid for leaving any and all sales to represent a reinvestment into future endeavors. For the subscribers investment, since no third-party was involved nearly every penny of each $100 stayed towards the effort leaving Ferrick a clear picture of the budget.
Learning the financial lessons of not spending what you do not have Ferrick understands budgets, how to proceed with albums, tours, and merchandising in ways that will hopefully allow for her to work her craft without the threat of financial ruin. For an artist like Ferrick who has struck out own her own with Right On Records the autonomy can allow her to focus on the art of the music itself and produce a product that most represents what lies inside herself and do it on her terms. This new album represents her first album that is not made to accommodate the business model that dictated that one or more of the tracks needed to meet the radio airplay standard. The model of the music industry has changed and Ferrick stated, “this is a great time to be making music.”
“Radio play doesn’t really exist anymore, and this is kind of a cool thing.” “This album for me now…this is honestly the first time I’ve ever put out a record where I literally, not for one second thought about what song might make it, might be the kind of song that breaks through…never thought about it,” says Ferrick.
Not having to worry about how the songs will translate to radio, is one of relief and empowerment of the artist within, and this album is that all the way. The acoustic power and soulful voice of Ferrick will make you want to seek out more. In her words, “I’m not trying to make records for radio anymore.” And for the listener, this may be some of the best news yet as the tour comes to Florida next month. Quite simply, the album is a phenomenal release, a breath of fresh air, and a statement to what can happen when the artist inside can release when constraints do not exist.
A – Side
02: Say Yes
04: Scenic View
B – Side
07: Run Out of Me
08: Anchor Up
09: Stars Outnumber Our Hearts
10: Trust It All
Florida Tour Dates
December 10 – Opening for Loudon Wainwright at the Raymond F. Kravis Performing Arts Center in West Palm Beach, Florida
December 11 – Opening for Loudon Wainwright at the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
December 12 – Opening for Loudon Wainwright at the Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, Florida
December 13 – Cafe Eleven in St. Augustine, Florida
Interviewed and written by Valerie L. Cason
Photography courtesy of ILDK Media