Kelly Dunn: Shirley Cason is one of the most successful new-age songwriters on the market today. She has been able to create a fantastic income as an independent artist. As of December 2007, she is consistently in the Top New Age 100 on the Amazon.com ordering list. How many songwriters can say that? Aside from being a great songwriter and self-marketer she is a great person. From our conversations I can tell that Shirley is well-grounded in her life and it reflects in everything she does.
As we spoke yesterday, I was really taken by the approach you have taken regarding the selling of your songs. You are now emulating the approach that Radio Head took earlier this year. With much success I might add!. That is, letting the buyer decide how much to pay to download your CD's and songs...
Shirley Cason: Exactly! I started reading all the reviews on how Radio Head reversed the pay structure and let the buyer decide how much to pay for the music. I told Elliott (friend) that I really think it puts the music and the me back as an artist. Currently, my "Simply Christmas" CD is downloaded more than ever at my website and my "Winter Mornings" CD is the best selling CD that I have had at Amazon.com. It's just wonderful! People are giving me as much, if not more, money for the music on my website as they are on Amazon. I think it's because people want to support me as an artist. I also started putting a vocal track on the website so people can get to know me better.
Kelly Dunn: I noticed that when I opened your web page. It seems to humanize the experience...
Shirley Cason: Yes! it does humanize the experience. Also, the biggest challenge I had is when I would have music clips on different pages, the music from both pages would play and it was horrible. You had to close down the pages to get the music to stop. Now, with my online mp3 player, all of my songs from each album are located on each CD page. Users don't have to wait to pull up their media player on their computers. Each week I also keep adding new mixes to my weekly new age radio show. Also, I have added voice clips in the radio program to tell everyone what I'm working in the recording studio and so on. It's great!
Kelly Dunn: Excellent. I notice you have a new keyboard...
Shirley Cason: I got the new Roland X7 Fantom (1). The Kurzweil 2500 I've had about ten years. I have been looking for a new keyboards for about a year. This keyboard is an animal, it's alive! I just finished my next CD with it, "Sharing Auras". They have models, X6, X7 and X8. I can't carry the 8X so I bought the X7. This is just the next generation for keyboards. I put in a "world" chip and it allows me to create anything I can imagine. There's no instrument that I can't do. The next CD, is "Fall Asleep" to match my seasonal "Winter Mornings" CD.
Kelly Dunn: You have a good relationship Amazon.com?
Shirley Cason: Oh yes, I have been with Amazon for years. They are great people to work with, very professional.
Kelly Dunn: I see you have a lake pictures on your web site.
Shirley Cason: That's where I live. That picture is what I look out to see everyday from the recording studio. That's my backyard, the lake. The current picture is a close-up photo of the kids ice skating.
Kelly Dunn: It's beautiful!
Shirley Cason: Thanks, I am gearing my web site now to the lake scenes where I live. I'm trying to go after that Jimmy Buffet water theme.
Kelly Dunn: I noticed you have Simply Christmas CD with two different covers...
Shirley Cason: Well, I remember Melissa Etheridge doing the same thing a few years ago. She had two different album covers for a CD. I thought, what the heck, if she can do it so can I! So the updated cover now has the ice skating lake scene on it.
Kelly Dunn: You have the freedom to do whatever you want! (Laughs)
Shirley Cason: Exactly, I try to learn from the standards of what I see going on in the market.
Kelly Dunn: I noticed you have music people can play or they can buy the CD's...
Shirley Cason: It's great because I get letters from people all over the world telling me how great it is to be able to listen to my music. And if they don't buy it, fine, but they can still listen to the music. And really that's what it's all about. I have to say, this new pay method is working. People are responding to me more than ever. It's truly exciting.
Kelly Dunn: That's what it's all about...
Shirley Cason: I really fell like I'm an out there as an artist and I am making a connection with my music. It removes any concerns if I sell anything. Just go on the Internet and listen to some music. I just started this in November.
Kelly Dunn: How do you promote your new music?
Shirley Cason: Well, I have figured out the algorhythms of the search engines through the use of "keywords". For instance, if I type, "Free New Age Radio" I am about fourth from the top on the search results page.
Kelly Dunn: That's fantastic!
Shirley Cason: I don't do any other type of promotional work. I'll probably start some other kinds of promotions at the beginning of the year. Awhile ago, I had to take down my Guest Book because I was getting spammed to death. I have recently re-added my Guest Book because my hosting company have now added the box where you have to type in the funny looking letters and numbers. That really cut out all of my spam. Now people can enjoy reading the Guest Book on my site.
Kelly Dunn: Do you create your own CD's and market them?
Shirley Cason: As an artist I have no overheard. It's supply and demand. I have a company that makes up the CD's as they are ordered. This has free'd up my time to focus on my music. I don't have to worry about anything else! (Laughs) I don't have to sit here and worry about how much am I going to price my music today. It is up to the user on how much they want to pay. It's a great way to approach the selling of your music. If you want a song and you don't want to pay for it, fine. But at least you are doing it at my site and not somewhere else on the Internet. This works. People are very generous and they want to help the Arts. I didn't know if this would work but I'm very happy that I did. I can see the results and I'm making more money than I ever have with my music.
Kelly Dunn: You don't need a major label with this approach...
Shirley Cason: Absolutely. I don't need a label. How many tier one acts go on the road and come home with no money. Look, there's a lot of competition out there. But, if you people can find you, and they like what you're doing... you'll do alright. It can work out as an Independent Artist. Get out of the music business and get back to the Arts. I don't have to worry about the product or marketing side.
Kelly Dunn: Shirley, it was great that you took time today to share your thoughts with everyone here at SongwriterPro. I look forward to meeting you again!
Shirley Cason: Kelly, thank you so much for your time and efforts. I look forward to speaking soon! Tell everyone at SongwriterPro to come check out my music and get inspired!