It takes a lot of hustle to make a living as a professional musician -- even more so in 2020, now that the coronavirus pandemic has shut down touring opportunities. But with a dedicated fan base and an effective online sales strategy, it's possible.
To that end, MetalhleadMoney.com was very happy to have a virtual chat with Lindsay Schoolcraft, a Canadian singer, multi-instrumentalist, and composer who was nominated for a Juno this year (Canadian version of a Grammy) and was formerly a member of Cradle of Filth. She talks about her upcoming harp-centric solo album Worlds Away and how she's finding ways to continue making music during this unusual time.
Metalhead Money: First, congrats-in-advance on your upcoming solo album Worlds Away! How long has this been in the works? And what inspired you to make an album centered around electric harp?
Lindsay Schoolcraft: Thanks so much! It was actually an idea I decided on just before New Years and it took a total of 3 months to create during lock down. For the longest time I have wanted to do something stripped down and “acoustic” but not in the same way so many people before I have done it.
MM: Your Indiegogo preorder campaign for Worlds Away looks like it's going really well so far! What elements do you think go into a successful crowdfunding campaign? How do you make it something fans want to be part of?
LS: I think it’s honestly about what you can offer people. I really put a lot of time and effort and thought into what would be a part of this campaign and started planning before the album was finished. I figured it was a good opportunity to offer bonus tracks and have items like handmade jewelry. My fans are always willing to support and want to be part of the journey and experience. I’m always willing to offer that to them in return.
MM: There's a huge debate in the underground music scene about the usefulness of bandcamp (which allows bands to sell music and merch directly to their fans) vs. streaming platforms like Spotify. I notice you sell merch directly on your own website as well. How do direct sales contribute to your income as a musician vs. Spotify streams? Is it worthwhile for smaller bands to have their music on Spotify, in your opinion?
LS: We are heading into the full digital age and if you’re music business isn’t online you’re not going to be able to keep afloat. While Spotify is wonderful and you can get some nice payouts in return for some 6-figure plays, it also have no social proofing. Social proofing is where you are able to collect info and data. I think bandcamp is so important because it collects emails for you and helps you grow your mailing list. And anyone who has a mailing list knows how essential that is for getting out the word and making sales on launch day. Both platforms are important for different reasons.
MM: You've recently started your own record label, Cyber Proxy Records. Can you tell me a little more about that? How is it different on the business end to start your own label and then release something through it, rather than just "self-releasing"?
LS: Cyber Proxy was a name that we made up because we needed to input as label are part of the Juno submission and also for distribution companies. Since then it has grow with two staff members and we now consult two other artists. It’s a lot of work and we’re still figuring it out, so when it comes up in conversion I often mention is lightly. But it’s really helping lay the foundation for my solo career as well as Antiqva’s.
MM: What do you see in the future for Cyber Proxy Records? What kinds of artists/genres are you looking to work with?
LS: Right now I want to keep it small and home grown. In the future I could see it being my retirement project in helping educate artists on how to become entrepreneurs. I’m really open to all genres, but my heart is always with dark and heavy music.
I could see some of the staff members also taking on managing their own bands. This industry needs more reliable and honest managers and I see that coming from these people.
MM: What do you think working bands/musicians can do to make a sustainable living (or at least not throw in the towel) during the COVID pandemic, with live shows and touring being limited or unavailable?
LS: Through learning how to build and run a web store. There are so many amazing e-commerce courses out there. There is no shame in doing something like this and wanting to keep your creative endeavours a live, especially when you have fans who really want to support you through anything.
MM: Thanks for talking with Metalhead Money! Much appreciated. :)
LS: Thanks for having me!
Pre-order Worlds Away via Indiegogo on CD, vinyl or digitally: http://igg.me/at/harpalbum
Get a taste of her music below:
Preorder Money Hacks for Metalheads and Old Millennials here!