An Interview with Jennifer Knapp: Part 1
Beliefnet sits down with Jennifer Knapp to discuss music, creativity, and Twitter in an in-depth interview.
So are you writing new material for a new record or still living with this one?
I got some music. I can't start thinking about the studio right now. I don't really have the time to do it. But I’ve got some music that I’ve just played out and about, on the road, which is really fun. I’ve been playing a fair bit of new stuff. I have no clue when I’m actually going to go into the studio with it. I’d definitely like to do that next year. I think I’ll just try to be ready to do it. But I don't have a date set or anything like that. Right now, whatever writing I do is kind of catch to catch, but there are things popping up all the time, out on the road. And I’m enjoying just having the opportunity to play these stuff every once in a while.
When you went on hiatus, and in that time period, I really feel like that was a time when how music is distributed just completely changed. Was there any kind of culture shock for you when you came back to the industry?
Oh, huge culture shock. Yes. When I left, the idea was you make your record and you go out and tour the crap out of it; because that’s how you sell records. So you work really, really, really hard on the road and it paid dividends. And the funny thing about the road is it’s extremely expensive to do it. It's not very cost effective. But when you coupled it in with your record, you can make a very good living not selling a lot of records, but working really hard, when you put the two of those together. And on top of it, you, as a songwriter... touring and selling records and stuff, the publishing side of it helps a lot too. Well, culture shock. It’s totally different ten years later. Now, you don't have the supplementary income that you used to have because you’re not selling as many records. I think what they say now is, “Whatever you’ve sold in your records, you add a zero onto the end of it.” So if you sold 10,000 records, you sold a hundred thousand records ten years ago. That’s a 90% loss in income. 90%.
When -- here’s my math nerdiness. In terms of that, artists very rarely get more than 5% net. So to get a 90% hit on a very little amount of income as an artist, is devastating; it’s absolutely devastating; and then, as a songwriter as well, that same perspective kind of holds. So we’re -- one of the things that we do now to combat that is we’re pushing up film and television licensing a lot more than you used to. You see artists pushing placements a lot more. You’re hearing big artists on television. It used to be here, only the soundtrack of Grey's Anatomy used to be an artist you’ve never heard of; but now, every once in a while, Sheryl Crow will pop in there. Those are big name artists that show up on free-to-air television shows. So those kinds of things are happening. Of course, with the economy the way that it is, people just are really hesitant to go out to the live shows as much as they were. I was looking at U2's tour schedule and remembering the Zooropa tour, they went everywhere. And then I think some day it was like their show was $2 million a night. They just put on a show. And -- it makes you crazy, but they did that over 200 shows. This tour, they're doing less than a hundred, I think. And I think they’ll probably be in the blacks if they do it right -- in terms of actually just being a business and being cost effective, you have to be very, very smart. Ten years ago, you could be -- you could make a lot of mistakes, and you could still come out being able to pay your bills. Now, it’s a lot harder.