Folk singer-songwriter Krista Detor of Bloomington, Ind. recently offered some helpful advice for songwriters that I thought I’d share with you, commenting on song collaboration, as well as national media outreach.
Growing up in Southern California before meeting and marrying producer and musician David Weber, who owns Bloomington-based Airtime Studios, Detor worked a myriad of jobs outside the realm of music, including as a restaurateur, a line cook, a waitress, a commercial real estate agent, a legal secretary, a bookkeeper, a production assistant, an English teacher in South Korea, a musical director and a commercial programmer. Coming from a humble, hardworking background myself, I believe it’s important for musicians to experience various facets of life before getting their “big break,” like Detor did in 2005 with the release of her second album, Mudshow, which got her signed by Dutch label Corazong Records. Now a full-time musician, Detor is doing what most of us songwriters would love to be doing all day, everyday — making music for the sake of art.
Detor, who writes a daily blog herself, A Traveling Mudshow, encourages songwriters to participate in local writer’s workshops, to strengthen their other writing skills (for prose, poetry, etc.) Whereas, during song collaboration, she says guest musicians can make or break a piece. “Bringing in other musicians to offer their own musical perspectives is invaluable,” Detor says, “but the producer really must be good and make the best determinations.”
As far as the independent aspect of her music, Detor says she relied heavily on her new label to get the word out about her. Corazong even landed her a glowing review in Rolling Stone magazine. “Individuals don’t stand much chance with the big publications, with the exception of people who’ve made big headway via YouTube,” she says, “but honestly, it’s all changing. There’s no more formula, and that’s the truth.”
With thousands of CDs being released around the world each day, Detor warns that it’s impossible for music reviewers to sift through all the material — even if it’s good. It’s almost a shot in the dark, or at least a waiting game. “Assuming that because you send a CD to a publication means it’s going to be anywhere but a trashcan is a mistake, but you send them anyway,” she says. “There’s always the chance that one time, somehow, someone will actually listen to it. The better avenue, at this point in time, is an on-line review, but be careful. There are a lot of cons out there — people who want you to pay for the review, pay to be signed, etc. Don’t get sucked into someone’s ploy to take your money. I get e-mails everyday with some ‘promoter’ or some somebody wanting to make me a star ‘for a small fee.’ Right.”
Lastly, Detor says it’s important for independent musicians to support other independent musicians, as well as charitable projects that benefit their communities.
“I’ve supported many efforts and continue to support The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust,” Detor says, who donated portions of the sales from Mudshow to the Trust. “In the interim, I’ve raised money for both the Nyaka school for Aids Orphans and Giving Back to Africa, as well as Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard here in Bloomington, the Bloomington Playwrights Project and the Harmony Education Center. I try to do what I can. It makes it easier not to whine about the State of the Union. I support environmental and wildlife causes, because it seems suicidal not to, and I encourage everyone to get up and do something locally. Support local improvement, support a local shelter, support a neighbor or family member — well, one that can’t work, as opposed to one that doesn’t want to work (laughs). Do something! Small movements create world-changing results.”