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Libbie Schrader

How would you describe your music?

Hook based pop/rock/alternative. It's kind of like if Sarah McLachlan was the frontperson of U2. Most of my songs are piano-based, but I also write some on the guitar.

What is your role in your band? In the studio? In business or marketing decisions?

When I hire a band to play my songs, I am the frontperson and musical director. It took me a long time to really be able to understand guitar tones, rhythm section choices, etc. and it can be difficult to effectively verbalize what I hear in my head. However, I do hear the big picture and so I am very, very picky with the musicians I choose - their natural style needs to be suited to the vibe I hear in my head. In the studio, I generally co-produce my recordings because I have a very clear vision of how I want things to sound. And I choose my producers based on their ability to contribute to the sort of vision I have. For business decisions, at this point I feel pretty confident driving the business myself (determining what opportunities are legit and what opportunities are not, navigating the industry, making contacts, etc.). Marketing is not my forte - I actually have two marketing people helping me out right now (one for east coast and one for west coast). They focus on building up a following for me on Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Describe your gear.

Yamaha P-120 keyboard and Yamaha FG-730s guitar. I also have a Pro Tools rig and hard drive, and I use a MacBook with Garage Band.

Related Themes: Gear

Do you think being a woman and a musician is different from being a man and a musician? If so, how? Was there a moment that made a difference clear to you?

Yes, I'd say that's the case, mainly because a female musician needs to rely on her sexual power more heavily than she needs to rely on her musical ability - I'd say those factors are reversed for a male musician. We women have generally been made to feel very guilty or ashamed about our sexual power, and thus we are often taught to repress it. (by the way this unspoken rule exists for a very good reason: powerful men often have difficulty resisting sexually powerful women! It makes things much, much easier for them if we are socially trained not to use it to our own advantage.) Meanwhile, basically every successful guy in the industry uses methods like bullying, backstabbing, manipulating, double-crossing, etc.... which seems much more insidious to me than consensual sex or flirting. I realized this fundamental difference for women when I decided that I really did not want to sleep with older men in the record industry, and noticed that this clearly put me at a disadvantage with flirtier singer/songwriters whose musical abilities were not as strong as mine. After many years in the industry, I now realize that I could easily have used my sexual power with the powerful older men I met if I hadn't been so conditioned to feel that it was "wrong". After a lot of careful thought, I now say: go ahead ladies, use your sexual power for all it's worth. When it comes to guys in power, feel free to flirt, tease, and even sleep your way to the top (as long as it's with guys you actually care about and are attracted to). This doesn't need to be a bad thing - it can be seen as the art of brightening everyone's life with whom you engage, whether or not you actually do have sex with them. We need to start questioning our own sexual boundaries, and asking ourselves if the morals we have been taught are directly rooted in someone else's interests. If women musicians start using our sexual power fully, it can help level out the playing field with the big sharks - who, by the way, have zero qualms about fully using their powers of intimidation and manipulation!

Related Themes: Old School vs. New School

Do you see differences between generations of women musicians?

The main difference is that my generation needs to be extremely technologically savvy to stay relevant. I need to learn how to embed code, blog, create and upload videos, build websites, raise funds via the web for my own records, and adapt to the constantly changing technologies of social networking. Even up to 10 years ago, most women musicians had other people taking care of the entire technological side of things. Also - because of the nature of promotion through social networking, a greater degree of self-absorption and narcissism is being encouraged in my generation. I am being conditioned to constantly tweet about what is going on in my day if I want people to care about my music. However, the bright side of this forced self-absorption is that it creates greater creativity about how to get my music out there, and greater options for self-sufficiency as well.

Related Themes: Off The Clock

Did anyone ever give you any valuable advice about making your way in the music industry? What advice would you give to a woman musician just starting out?

Tthe person who has given me the most valuable advice is Lenedra Carroll, who managed Jewel for 11 years (she is also Jewel's mother). I met her when I opened for Jewel a few times at the start of my career, and she is still a great mentor to me. She always encourages me to do what is best for me as a person, not just what is best for my career. She also has shown me the value of focusing on inner work before outer work. Meditation has been really helpful for me, and I see that people do respond to my inner calmness in tangible (often even career-boosting) ways. For a woman just starting out, I would say: you never fail if you never quit. Always be working on how you can improve yourself and your craft. Always express appreciation for the people who are helping you. Never close a door to anyone, because you never know where an opportunity might come from. Use your sexual power fully, but be classy with it. Make working with you a pleasure for everyone whose path you cross.

Related Themes: Advice

Why did you choose to play the instrument you play?

My mom made me take lots of piano lessons as a kid. (I think she wanted me to be well-rounded...she wasn't expecting for it to end up as my career! Thanks Mom...) I started writing instrument pieces when I was about 10, and then I started singing and writing songs when I was about 15. Soon afterward I thought it would be smart to pick up the guitar.

Related Themes: The First Time