How to Succeed in the Music Biz, c. 2008: Ingrid Michaelson

Girls and BoysDriving back from New England over the holiday weekend gave me the chance to hear both an appearance by Yo-Yo Ma on the Diane Rehm show (though the Silk Road Project seems a bit of a stretch for MLK Day), and a fascinating discussion on the World Café between host David Dye and the new singer-songwriter It Girl Ingrid Michaelson.In his intro to the show (also a holiday repeat, but since it first ran the Friday before Christmas, we can be forgiven for missing it the first time around!) David talked about Michaelson being a model for how to make it the new media landscape, and I think he’s on the mark: Unsigned and proud of it, instead she’s built a career through a mixture of MySpace and TV placement – both via Grey’s Anatomy, One Tree Hill, and more famously through an Old Navy ad that prominently uses her breakout song “The Way I Am.” (destined to be a wedding-song staple for the rest of the decade, I suspect…)Ingrid is talented enough, I suppose, and has written a couple of lovely songs.  But what struck me about the interview was her savvy and clearheaded understanding about into the business of the music industry right now, and where she sits in it:

I’m thinking about it [signing to a record label]. I’ve always been thinking about it.  But these great opportunities keep being handed to me.  I think a lot of it is because I’m independent and it’s such a great story.  There’s such a shift going on in the music world right now, and I’m sort of little guinea pig. Everyone’s helping out.   At some point, if it gets to be too much, I’ll look for a partnership.  I never liked the idea of being dragged around as a new artist. So I just want to get to a point where I have power and control and work with somebody, and not FOR somebody.

For more of Ingrid Michaelson’s back story check out this recent profile from the New York Times (buried in the NY/Region section, not the Arts page, and also just before Christmas in case you’re wondering).  Sample grab:

Not bad for someone who, until May, was teaching in an after-school theater program in the Stapleton neighborhood of Staten Island, where she still lives with her parents, a dog and a pet rabbit in the house she has inhabited since she was born. “It’s so uncool, it’s cool,” said her mother, Elizabeth Egbert, the executive director of the Staten Island Museum.

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