10 Questions with ... Melissa Etheridge
November 7, 2011
1) How are you adjusting to your new career as a radio show host? How are you balancing your musical career, recording, touring, being a mom, and now doing a daily radio show?
I love radio! I've always loved radio. This is a very exciting place to be right now. It feels like I actually have a real job. I do it Monday through Friday and it sets my rhythm of the day. I enjoy it very, very much!
2) What inspired you to do a syndicated radio show? What is it about your show that you feel really makes it stand apart from other radio shows?
I found that over 20 years, as an artist, I have started a conversation with my audience who listen to the music. I spend a lot of time talking in my concerts and now I can take that conversation to a different venue. The venue of radio is perfect, it is music-based and it is thought-based. It's about life, family and Rock & Roll. I really enjoy sharing it, and sharing the stories of my listeners on the radio.
3) What was the tipping point in your musical career? Who are some of the people who really believed in you, and gave you that shot that really helped you break through early in your career?
I've had an incredible music career. I wouldn't trade it for anything. Many of the years along the way I moaned, "Oh, why wasn't I the one on the cover of that magazine or why I didn't have the hit number one song." But then when I look back at it, I would not trade it for the world. It is a journey creating music that inspires people; that they want to listen to. I am so grateful that people want to come see what I do live on-stage.
4) How does your radio show get delivered to your local affiliates, and how can the music and the show be customized for each market?
My friend Masa Patterson at Benztown knows all about this stuff. I asked Masa and here's what he said: "The show gets sent out digitally to each station. Our delivery partner is Mr. Master, and they're like wizards with the technology. Custom liners and re-joiners get merged with the show content for each station so all of our affiliates keep that local feel and get customized content. When the show segments are delivered, everything is automatically synced up with a station's log and playlist. It works with virtually every automation system, and all the radio stations have to do is schedule their music locally like they normally would. Easy and seamless."
5) How do you prep yourself for your radio show? What are some of the topics that are discussed?
Usually I start with a good cup of tea. Then, the one criterion that each subject has to meet is that it has to mean something to me. I have to feel personally connected to the topic in some way by my family, by my life, or by the music. When we stay in that arena I have things to share and I can entertain.
6) How are you using new technologies in the production of your music, your radio show, and in your personal life?
I truly enjoy all the technological advances in the entertainment industry, be it music or radio. It enables me to work more quickly in the studio; Pro Tools and all the computer technology are just amazing. It is really astounding what you can do. It is also a little overwhelming in that one could 'over techno' their music. I try to let the technology help me and not overcome the music. Now in the radio show it's all technology. I'm amazed that we can do the show and it can be sent out and stations can cut in whatever music they like, it's a total user-friendly show. I love that I can be on in so many cities across the country at one time.
7) What do you believe will be the next trend in music technology? What are your thoughts on new music streaming services such as Spotify, Pandora, and iHeartRadio? Will these new services help to reduce music piracy?
I love that music is out there in the world, music is what we still go to in our lives to make us feel emotions to and to cement a moment in life; a wedding has a song, every occasion has music. So it's not going away. I see my own kids. They listen to radio, they pass music on Facebook. It's all word of mouth, a true gauge of what people are enjoying. There is a whole array of music opportunities that are available to everyone and it's a very exciting time. I think radio has become more targeted to what these people might like, so you get different stations that are different feelings. It's another "Golden Age" of radio.
8) Who would be your ideal guest on your radio show? And who would be the ideal musician to collaborate with?
There are so many interesting people in the world that I would love to talk. I try to make sure that any guests I have on the show are people who I can personally relate to; that they are not just selling some product, but we are actually connecting on a deeper level. I'd love to bring my friends in but they're a little busy right now. Oprah... you wanna come talk? Come talk to me! We'll see if that happens. Musically, I've been blessed to be side-by-side singing with Bruce Springsteen, and some incredible people in the world. I still have yet to sing with Steven Tyler to do that rocking' tune. I really want to do that.
9) When will be hearing some new Melissa Etheridge music?
I am writing right now. Right this very minute I'm creating the music that's going to be on the next album. I plan to go into the studio somewhere between January and April, and I am looking for new music to be out by the end of next year, by the fourth quarter. Look out, here it comes!
10) How did you feel the first time you heard your song on the radio?
I was in London, England going to a train station. I was in the car with the record rep and we were trying not to miss the train and we were driving around the streets with the radio on. Then, all of a sudden the song started. It was 'Similar Features' and it blew my mind! It was such a feeling of being on the other side now, inside that magical place called radio. It was quite a thrill!
Tell us what music we would find on your MP3 player right now?
Well I am listening to the new Coldplay, and listening to a lot of old Soul music. I love the new wave of R&B music, music with a good beat, a soulful center. I'm listening to a lot of that, and my old Chill music. I like a good Chill! The British Rock too!
Do you have any guitar tricks? Open tunings? Or cool guitar chords you'd like to share with the musicians reading this? Do you have any suggestions on how to keep an Ovation acoustic 12-string guitar in tune?
One of the reasons I play the Ovation twelve-string acoustic guitar is that it stays in tune. I can beat the crap out of that guitar on stage and it stays in tune! It takes three or four songs before I have to switch it out and I play those things hard! So I would recommend that if you're looking for that acoustic twelve-string sound you just can't beat it. It stays right there with you.
Most of my career I didn't use any alternative tunings. But I have recently in the past few years discovered that gorgeous "drop D." As a songwriter, when you drop that last string from E down to D, it gives you a different way to approach the same old chords. It gives you that different very Rock & Roll sound. Try it if you haven't!
What are your thoughts on the new season of American Idol and other singing competitions such as "The Voice," "X-Factor," "Sing Off," etc?
I think we've reached the saturation point, haven't we? I think our television has become a big talent show. I get it, its fun to watch people try something you would probably never try yourself. Then I think the music, the artists that are creating and making a career doing it that way, and I love seeing that's still around.
Please tell us your funniest road story or radio experience (either on your show or during a radio visit to perform your music?)
That's one of the fun things about my radio show that I get to tell those stories. Like when I fell off stage, or what we do to our opening acts, like my tour manager saving my life numerous times. I get to talk about that on my radio show. So you'll just have to listen to the radio show!
How do you inspire yourself to write during a creative slump?
I don't give myself a hard time. Sometimes I have to go live or have an experience before I can write. So I don't give myself a hard time if it's not happening.
Who has had the biggest impact on your life?
If we're talking personally, it's definitely been my children and my experience with cancer. If we're talking musically I would say Bruce Springsteen. I'm still a "what would Bruce do?" type of girl.
What are your thoughts on the "Occupy Wall Street" movement?
The world is changing my friends. Stay tuned!
What advice would you give people new to the business?
Make the music you love, love the music you make.
What is the one truth that has held constant throughout your career?
One of things I say on my radio show whenever I sign off is "Speak true." It's something that I have used throughout my career. I really hold to that so when the dust settles it's still me.