WHO IS TENDER HEART?
I'm Mary Lambert. I used to be independent. Then I got a manager. Then I was on Capitol Records. Then I got a second manager. During this time, I was receiving less than 10% of any profits I made. Then I got sad. Then my management left. Then Capitol dropped me.
The industry is built to capitalize on artists; At it's core, that's what the music business is.
After Capitol dropped me, I cried for a total of 30 minutes. And then I got real happy and real excited. The emails I have been sent for the last year are a chorus of "None of these songs you're writing are good enough to be a single" or "Secrets didn't perform as well as we'd hoped" or "here's a song that so-and-so wrote, why don't you just sing that?" would be enough to make you second guess everything- your talent, your ability to advocate for yourself, the way you look at the world. After I was dropped, I've been working like crazy and have spent the last months cooking up something I'm really proud of. After my management left, I freaked out- thinking "Ok, I gotta find a manager!! Someone powerful, with good business sense and that has connections and that is passionate about my music!" And then I realized- that person was me. The notion that artists are "too flighty" to take responsibility or educate themselves about the industy is bogus. I have a business. I am also an artist. Those things aren't mutually exclusive. I could fail, and I totally might. But at least I go down with the confidence and the knowledge that every detail was my own, and that I never once made a decision based on fear. I'm making music that I love. I'm running a business! I'm having fun! What a concept!
There's this book by Michael Beinhorn where he talks about the way we treat artists: "The reality is that it is far more likely an artist will fail- and very badly. And if an artist is likely to fail, no matter what they do, and no amount of manipulating or massaging their sound into something familiar or pre-fabricated will save them, why shouldn't they be permitted the dignity to fail making exactly the music they want to make? Why, in the process of failing, shouldn't they feel they have adequately represented themselves and have produced something they can be proud of?"
I am in the process of strategizing, organizing, and investing in the biggest launch I've had in my entire career. As I was getting ready to send my assets for distribution to launch, I was asked by my radio team, "Do you have a logo for your label?" I said, "What label?" and they responded with "Well, you're independent, so it's whatever you want it to be." I thought well, I'll just go with my company name: ML SINGS, but then I as I sat, designing a logo, I thought- I'm FUCKING GREAT AT THIS. I love being an artist, but I love the business just as much. If I could start a label, what would I call it?
I know this business. It's dirty and slimy and full of politics. It is literally a Mount Everest pile of shit. But I think I can kick it's ass. Deliberately, intentionally, with heart.