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Interview with Lauren Gibbs
By Kenny Love
(more articles from this author)
2002-10-20
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"I think that it's really a shame what's happening in the music industry today. The average person doesn't realize that the music they hear on the radio has been 'paid' for in some way, shape, or form and that's the main reason it's being heard. Radio has nothing to do with great music anymore. And yes, the broadcasting companies insist that payola doesn't exist. It just exists in a very different form -- with radio promoters." - Lauren Gibbs, on the current state of the Music industry.

Lauren Gibbs is a New York-based recording artist who has released a single titled, "American Pride," that recognizes and honors the 9-11 tragedy.

[Kenny Love] So, how have you been?

Lauren Gibbs Lauren Gibbs: Great - but very busy!

[Kenny Love] Oh, I can tell that from your quarter of a million downloads at MP3.

Lauren Gibbs LOL

[Kenny Love] I'm betting that is a result of "American Pride," primarily, right?

Lauren Gibbs Well, let's just say "American Pride" is helping that number out! Actually though, since "American Pride" is so new, the MP3.com downloads/plays are coming from some of my other songs - like Believe."

[Kenny Love] Okay...those number are up there. How are sales going from there?

Lauren Gibbs I can't complain! MP3.com has been good to me.

[Kenny Love] So, when was "Believe" released?

Lauren Gibbs "Believe" was first uploaded to MP3.com back in 1999 I think.

[Kenny Love] Okay.

Lauren Gibbs It took off on MP3.com and on many other websites as well. It gets a lot of play in their TruSonic Retail Music program.

[Kenny Love] How friendly has radio been to it?

Lauren Gibbs Non-commercial, college, and internet radio has been very friendly of course. I have not officially plugged the single to commercial radio at this point. "American Pride," however, is being plugged to commercial radio believe it or not, and I am just starting to see results.

[Kenny Love] Well, you certainly made the right choices in the previous formats, prior to going to commercial. I believe this is where most indies mess it up at the radio level.

Lauren Gibbs Yes I agree. My genre makes it very tough to go after commercial radio. However I felt so strongly about "American Pride" and the timeliness of it, that I had to go after it.

[Kenny Love] And, speaking of which, have you had any peripheral opportunities for "AP," such as themes, commercial requests, etc.?

Lauren Gibbs Funny you should ask that! I'm working on a few things right now which may lead to just that (advertising/commercials) so we'll see what happens. The single is at a major U.S. car manufacturer right now...

[Kenny Love] Oooh, wee! I don't suppose you can tell us which manufacturer.

Lauren Gibbs I'd love to, but it's really too early to say and if the opportunity evaporates (as many do!) then it's better off that I didn't say it. It's not Ford, so there's a hint.

[Kenny Love] I understand...how has the live performance gone, in response to the release?

Lauren Gibbs My first live performance of "American Pride" will be on 9/11 itself. I was asked to sing the song during E. Brunswick, NJ's memorial event. Co-writer Nick Clemente is a resident of that town, and the town lost 8 people during the event. They're expecting well over a thousand people to attend this. The mayor's office called and asked me to end their event with "American Pride." They said they wanted to end the night on and "up" instead of a "down."

[Kenny Love] Such a tragedy...

Lauren Gibbs Yep. I saw it firsthand. I live across from it.

[Kenny Love] Are you serious?

Lauren Gibbs Yes. I was also down near Ground Zero, just after the attacks, entertaining the rescue workers. I don't know if you knew that or not...

[Kenny Love] No! I believe, virtually, everyone shared tears on that day, not to mention the surrealistic experience that lasted for days.

Lauren Gibbs The experience hasn't ended for people who live in the NYC area either.

[Kenny Love] Yes, I know. And, it probably never will.

Lauren Gibbs There is not one day that goes by that I do not think about the horrendous atrocity that occurred on 9/11. My apartment is on the Hudson River and I see the gaping hole in the skyline all day long.

[Kenny Love] How are the plans coming along for re-building them?

Lauren Gibbs No decision has been made yet for what will go there. There were 6 plans at one point that were submitted for review, and I believe all of them got nixed. They're starting from scratch again. It will be a difficult thing for any architect, considering the requirements that the city has given the design firms. There are a lot of them!

[Kenny Love] Yes, I can imagine. Let me get back to your music. First of all, let me tell ya my favorites...

Lauren Gibbs Great - I'm listening!

[Kenny Love] "(Isn't It) Lonely Here Together," "The Rain Came Down" and "Hook in my Heart."

Lauren Gibbs Good choices. The latter two I didn't write though... They are great songs though, which is why I wanted to re-record them and put my own spin on them.

[Kenny Love] "...Lonely Here Together"...the title is irony in itself.

Lauren Gibbs Yes..."Lonely Here Together" is to the credit of my co-writer George Karak.

[Kenny Love] What's the make-up of your group during live performances...how many pieces?

Lauren Gibbs Depends on what kind of performance I'm doing. I've done solo work where it's just me playing keys and singing, duos, etc. When I want to have a full band though, I have 4-5 pieces depending on what songs I want to do that night.

[Kenny Love] So, at what point in your life did you say, "Hey! I wanna do this for a living!?"

Lauren Gibbs Probably when I was about 14 or 15. I think that's when the concept really sunk in that it's possible to make money doing something you love to do.

[Kenny Love] Okay, for my proverbial question...what is your take on today's music industry? Go ahead, I won't even help.

Lauren Gibbs I could go on for awhile about this so here goes....

[Kenny Love] Ha!

Lauren Gibbs I think that it's really a shame what's happening in the music industry today. Let's start with radio. The average person doesn't realize that the music they hear on the radio has been "paid" for in some way, shape, or form and that's the main reason it's being heard. Radio has nothing to do with great music anymore. And yes, the broadcasting companies insist that payola doesn't exist. It just exists in a very different form -- with radio promoters.

[Kenny Love] You are so right...and, today, it seems that they are coming out more and more with "payola," without feeling the need to hide it...it is simply re-packaged.

Lauren Gibbs I read an article that the L.A. Times ran that was really disturbing about Clear Channel, and how they have a few selected promoters who pay them $100K PER RADIO STATION to have "priority listens" from Music Directors. In turn, the radio promoters charge obscene amounts of money to do song promotion. No one other than a major label can afford that. Period. It completely knocks out the independent artist.

[Kenny Love] Ironically, I just wrote an article in response to it titled, "Is Clear Channel, Clearly, the Music Industry's Antichrist?" Can't wait to see the response to *that* one...

Lauren Gibbs I'd love to read your Clear Channel article.

[Kenny Love] I'll be sure to send it to ya...I might just find myself dialing 911 for the fire department once that one hits.

Lauren Gibbs Ha ha ha ha I also think that whole "American Idol" thing was ridiculous.

[Kenny Love] I didn't watch it, so I will have to ask you to elaborate on it.

Lauren Gibbs I didn't watch all of it -- just the last couple episodes out of pure curiosity. First, the age limit was 24...isn't that nice. Second, these contestants sang only covers. No original music anywhere until the last episode. And in the very last episode, they had the two finalists singing a song "written" for them by Desmond Child and Cathy Dennis. I like both of those writers, and to be honest, the song is AWFUL. And the very next day, the song was being broadcast EVERYWHERE. It's hard to believe that there are no other songs worth broadcasting? Even Scott and Todd on NYC's WPLJ were slamming the song and how bad it was. And then they added "But guess who's going to be stuck playing this song..." I was dying laughing when I heard them say that.

[Kenny Love] Yeah, wonder how long it took to go through the phantom radio panels and approvals that we all know *don't* actually exist?

Lauren Gibbs Zero time. Even scarier in the radio industry is "voice tracking." Ever hear about that? Clear Channel is notorious for that.

[Kenny Love] The more I see your passion about this, the more I realize that I absolutely *must* send you my article on "CC."

Lauren Gibbs I'm dying to read it! Since I've been knee-deep in "American Pride" radio promotion right now, I'm really learning a lot about the ugly business of commercial radio.

[Kenny Love] Well, earlier today, I interviewed another artist who had a unique perspective on it as well. She said that it was more about straight teeth and beauty models, of which I agree. Plus, it was too much like "Star Search," for my taste.

Lauren Gibbs Yes, I agree. It's embarrassing, to say the least. And the worst part about it? Is Paula Abdul in ANY position to be judging anyone on their vocal abilities? I have ZERO respect for her as a vocalist. She's not even a musician so I can't comment on that. She can dance. I'll give her that. The only one w/ a respected industry name on that panel was Randy Jackson.

[Kenny Love] Yes, I do recall Paula from the '80's, I do...Now, here's my dumb question for the day...are they coming back with it next season?

Lauren Gibbs Yes, they are coming back w/ it in January I believe.

[Kenny Love] Guess what?

Lauren Gibbs What?

[Kenny Love] Randy Jackson attended college with one of my closest friends, who was on RCA for 6 years.

Lauren Gibbs That's cool!

[Kenny Love] Plus, since I am also a Jazz artist, I've known of his work for years. So, what is next in store for your own work?

Lauren Gibbs I'm working on writing/recording some new songs right now which I hope to have finished before the end of the year.

[Kenny Love] When are you planning a release date?

Lauren Gibbs Not sure yet ... maybe January?

[Kenny Love] Ahhh...do it then, for that is my birth month.

Lauren Gibbs Cool. When's your b-day?

[Kenny Love] 16th...for some odd, reason I cannot recall the year, though...

Lauren Gibbs Amazingly enough, I never can recall my birth year either.

[Kenny Love] Ha...we must be related.

Lauren Gibbs Maybe!

[Kenny Love] One more question...got any plans for video?

Lauren Gibbs Yes, I'd love to shoot some videos, but I need to scrape some more money together first! (ha ha ha ha ha). It always comes down to money, doesn't it? Ha ha ha ha ha

[Kenny Love] Well, as I tell many indies, check out your area colleges.

Lauren Gibbs Yes, that's a good point.

[Kenny Love] You can get the (almost free) services, yet, take advantage of state-of-the-art equipment.

Lauren Gibbs An even better point!

[Kenny Love] Then, as opposed to hitting MTV or VH-1, just hit the large number of independent cable music shows across the country and end up with national video play anyway.

Lauren Gibbs Yes. And in the end, people might actually SEE your video, as both MTV and VH-1 play very few videos in the grand scheme of things! I remember when they used to play videos all the time! (Am I dating myself?)

[Kenny Love] Oops, ya might be.

Lauren Gibbs And scary as this may seem, I actually DO remember seeing the first video MTV ever aired.

[Kenny Love] Sadly, I must confess to the same.

Lauren Gibbs We're probably around the same age. Ha ha ha

[Kenny Love] Okay, but this doesn't go in any stories you write! (She shows me hers first. I debated whether or not to be honorable and show her mine. After several guessing games, I tell her mine, and she responds).

Lauren Gibbs Age is all in the mind anyway.

[Kenny Love] Thanks...that will go well with my Geritol for breakfast.

Lauren Gibbs And prune juice? Ha ha ha

[Kenny Love] No, I'm prune juice intolerant.

Lauren Gibbs LOL

[Kenny Love] L, this has been wonderful. I've truly had a great time with ya...

Lauren Gibbs Thanks for the interview! It was fun! Let me know what you write and where it winds up going... Also, don't forget to send me your Clear Channel article... I'd love to see it.

[Kenny Love] Be sure to keep me abreast of new developments.

Lauren Gibbs Absolutely.

[Kenny Love] I will get it to ya as soon as I get off.

Lauren Gibbs Thanks!

[Kenny Love] Much thanks! Again, it was wonderful.

Lauren Gibbs Thank you.

www.standtogether.net


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