Tell us about your tour vehicle.
A Honda Civic, a Ford 15 passenger van, a Boeing 757; whatever it takes on any given day – too many broke down stories that I don’t care to relive…most recently the airlines cracked my guitar…again..I do not recommend the SKB injection molded guitar flight cases for acoustic guitars – the inside is too hard and the wood can crack from drop impact, even if the case shows no sign of mistreatment. The airlines will try to blame TSA – always ask for the supervisor – and start tweeting about it immediately – the airlines will step up and either give you vouchers or a check for the repairs.
How do you eat cheaply and/or healthy while on tour?
It’s easy to find Whole Foods – and usually the venue will feed the band for free or at least give a discount.
How many strings do you break in a typical year? How much does it cost to replace them?
I don’t break nearly as many strings as I used to. I do, however, replace the strings on my touring guitars every 3-4 shows…you can see my schedule to do the math at michellemalone.com.
What was the title and a sample lyric from the first song that you wrote?
I would tell you, if I could remember…I’m sure it was some cryptic adolescent dribble that was SOOOO important.
Describe your first gig.
I had a band called Dr Shagga in 7th grade – I was the drummer – we played “Hang on Sloopy”, one of my Dad’s favorite songs – They audience screamed and clapped! We were probably terrible, but it was electrifying!
What was your last day job? What was your favorite day job?
If I recall correctly, my last day job was waiting tables (badly) in 1986….
What was my favorite day job? Not applicable.
How has your music-related income changed over the past 5-10 years? What do you expect it to look like 5-10 years from now?
My CD sales income dropped about 25% when burning CD’s became standard. It dropped again with the advent of downloading from iTunes, etc.. Then it dropped even more dramatically with the advent of streaming – down about 80%. Almost all of my income is now from touring and merchandise sales like t-shirts, hats, etc. I can’t begin to guess what the future will bring, but I’ll always have a voice and a guitar to sing for folks who need music in their lives.
What one thing do you know now that you had wished you knew when you started your career in music?
Ok, here’s one…and a bonus of 10 more – I could probably write a book….
- There’s no substitute for experience – when you’re starting out, just get in front of people and play.
- Social skills are just as important as talent – make friends with other musicians and people in your industry – some people prefer to call it networking.
- A good attitude is more important than social skills.
- It’s a gift to make a living playing music.
- You have to write, play and be whatever it is that makes YOU happy first in order to make others happy, no matter what Clive Davis or Walter Yetnikoff tell you, because you are the one who has to live with yourself everyday for the rest of your life. Do what makes you feel good about you, so you can look yourself in the mirror every day.
- The sound person is your friend and is actually trying to make you sound good, even if the sound is terrible…
- Look for band members who are as enjoyable to be around as they are talented. There are thousands of talented musicians, but likely only a handful who you personally want to live in a van with everyday.
- The road is demanding and exhausting, but don’t forget to call your mom.
- People would always rather talk about themselves than you – ask someone about their day and their lives.
- Be present in the moment and the gig – You may prefer to be performing in the enormodome for 30,000 people, but try to connect with the 30 people that showed up for you at the coffee house tonight – Make it about them and it will take the pressure off of you! Sing for them, and make them feel good. Set your intention and show the audience your gratitude.