With a new album on its way next month, iconic artist Melissa Etheridge kept it real Wednesday night and shared her excitement about her independent release of This is M.E. through her own label. She reflected on the ever-changing digital music landscape, which transformed before her eyes over her extensive 25-year recording career. For this project that will be released September 30, she decided to do it differently releasing it through her own independent label, and worked with an eclectic mix of producers from Jon Levine to Jerry Wonda.
At the new Santa Monica private lounge and recording studio A&R Bar, Melissa showcased her newest songs for an intimate group of 75 industry music and entertainment influencers. She took us through the decades of her long-standing career which began in her hometown, Kansas City to her first big break coming to Los Angeles in the early '80s with one of her earliest performances at the "it" spot at the Troubadour -- to her first record deal being signed by Chris Blackwell at Island Records in '87.
"When no one else would sign me -- yes it happens believe it or not-- Chris saw something in my music and gave me my first break," she shared. " I then watched the big '90s and what I call the turn of the century in the record industry over the past 15 years -- I watched and saw how things changed."
She recalled the first time she was able to place all her music on one device.
"I was so thrilled I could put all my music on one thing and take all the songs with me wherever I went," she said.
The state of touring and live music is something she knows is here to stay.
"Music is important to everyone -- it's not going anywhere and people like live music and watching performances whether I have a hit song or not -- they want to come to see that music," she said.
With two teenagers at home, Melissa is able to stay on top of trends and up-and-coming break out bands as well as the digital age. While her daughter is into the "civil bands" everything from Arctic Monkeys, The Lumineers to Taylor Swift, her son educates her on the latest EDM tracks. Etheridge took note and even got The Lumineers cellist to play and sing on one of her newest tracks.
"I see what music is in my kids life -- it's amazing to me and love watching it as they sit and watch TV commercials come on and then Shazam it and put together their mix on Soundcloud," she added. "This is the way this generation shares music -- they define themselves through music more than ever before."
After so many years of not being engaged on the social front, Etheridge felt it was important to utilize these channels to engage and communicate with fans.
"I love the direct line to my fans and the continuous dialogue in real-time which is powerful," said Etheridge, who joked as she shared that her kids keep her cool, especially when she has the urge to post her latest status updates like putting a puzzle together.
She reflected music consumption in her youth years growing up in Kansas City. "We had no choice but to listen to what was on the radio stations," said Etheridge. "There are so many different avenues now and a song in a movie trailer can help break your career -- look at the impact of Florence + The Machine in Eat, Pray, Love."
Etheridge describes the state of the business to be in a "renaissance," which she feels motivates, inspires empowers artists of today.
"I love all avenues now available to musicians. It's not in the hands of a few -- I'm not bound to what a record company wants a single to be," she shared. "This is what guides me into 2014-2015."