BY CHELSEY JOHNSTONE
California indie folk artist, Lindsay White, has spent years translating her emotions into lyrics. Today, she’s looking to add to her repertoire, creating more music that provokes in-depth thought.
For over 10 years now, White has been producing music. She states, “It sort of has just inched along over the last decade or more. I started out by doing open mics and eventually built up to doing bigger shows and got connected with a producer who produced my first album.” This album came to be Tracks, which was released back in 2010.
Soon after the release of Tracks, White discovered a whole new side of music by pairing up with Veronica May and becoming one half of the duo, The Lovebirds. With the niche nature of the duo, they had quite the run. “They (supporters) were interested in the fact that it was a lesbian duo and we sing harmonies. So there was something to latch on to,” White says.
However, becoming part of The Lovebirds brought on its own set of challenges for the duo. For one, White herself was just coming to terms with her own sexuality. The music of the time reflected her journey working through a divorce while also discovering her feelings towards May; not only her group member but romantic partner at the time.
In addition to that stress, in July of 2011, May was hospitalized for a short period of time. This ultimately, overtime led to the slow downfall of The LoveBirds. However, through The LoveBirds load of different emotions, changes, and challenges, White was able to carry those feelings into her lyricism, driving her music to an even deeper level of relatability and power.
Lyricism has always been the staple of her music, regardless of whether she has been performing solo or with a duo. She says, “The music, kind of has been all over the place from like folk, country, blues, rock, or pop or whatever I’m feeling at the moment, but the lyrics are always the thing dominating for me.”
In fact, her most recent album, Lights Out, released in 2017, has received quite a bit of attention from the press for its powerful lyrics. Media such as Pop Magazine, The Bluegrass Situation, Atwood Magazine, After Ellen, and much more, latched onto the album. They refer to the album as “musical therapy”, “harrowingly intimate”, and a “meditation on emotional losses”. For White, the album is all about the feeling of grief.
During the time Lights Out was being written, White lost a great deal of family, including her grandfather and mother. Although the losses brought conflicting feelings, she was able to come to semi-peaceful terms with grief. “I think people like to avoid the topic of death and dying because it’s scary, but honestly I think if we talked about it more, we could kind of come together as a society and base all our actions in compassion and understanding and kind of get over the hate,” she states.
She continues, “I hope that writing music about these topics, and traveling and talking to people about these topics helps people get those thoughts going.”
This June, White released a single, “Let Love Lead the Way”, which carried another topic for people to ponder. The song was written for the 2019 Women’s March in San Diego. “I wanted to just start from scratch and write something that’s a little bit more positive and action oriented and a little bit more accessible to everyone from kids to old people and easy to sing along,” she says. Quickly, the song took an unexpected, delightful turn.
“After performing that, it turned into this whole project where we were able to raise money to go to the studio and record it. A bunch of women came in and sang the chorus part and it was just a really powerful experience,” says White.
As important and soul-fulfilling sharing her music is for the artist, White still struggles on the surface to pursue her passion. “I feel like everything good I’ve been put on this planet to do doesn’t pay anything. So it’s been a really big struggle in my life trying to do the work I know that I’m meant to do while I’m alive and then also be realistic about putting food on the table.”
Sadly, this is a reality that a lot of independent artists face in the music industry. With the new creation of steaming services, the problem only seems to thicken. According to CNBC contributor, best selling author, and Grammy Award winning record producer, Kabir Sehgal, in his 2018 article titled, “Spotify and Apple Music should become record labels so musicians can make a fair living”, “Spotify pays about $0.006 to $0.0084 per stream to the holder of music rights. And the "holder" can be split among the record label, producers, artists, and songwriters.”
Sehgal breaks this statistic down in comparison to popular artists. He states, “For example, Taylor Swift earned between $280,000 and $390,000 for her song "Shake It Off" which garnered 46.3 million streams, according to one report. But that's for one of the world's biggest pop stars. Most musicians won't generate that many streams in their life time. Another calculation shows that 1 million plays on Spotify translates to around $7,000, and one million plays on Pandora generates $1,650.”
At first glance, that may seem like a high number. However, if you take into consideration the average cost of living, which according to USA Today is $51,386 a year in California as of 2018, White would have to accumulate about 7.34 million streams on Spotify to just hit average living salary.
Fully aware of the issue at hand, White still does what she can. “I try to be transparent about what it really takes to be an indie artist touring. It might sound like so cool like ‘oh you get to go on this tour’ but the reality is how am I going to go on this tour and also pay my electric bill while I’m gone.”
Through her music and tours, she hopes to shed light on this ongoing issue and hopefully inspire individuals to rethink the importance of art. “We’re kind of living in a time where the artist isn’t really valued in society... I don’t expect anyone to really do anything about that except for maybe think about the way they consume art, not just my art but anybody’s art,” White states.
As advice to any lover of the arts, White believes there are many ways to support those you admire. She says, “Buying merch is always a good idea... I think the number one way, if you have an artist that you are really digging every single thing that they do, just ask them what is the best way that I can support you. I guarantee they’ll have a prioritized list.”
At the top of White’s list, the number one way you can support her is just by joining her Patreon team. For members who support her through Patreon, whether it’s $2.00 or $25.00 a month, she is working to build a strong community where supporters are given access to a private Facebook group, a shout out with your name and picture on her website, and even access to behind the scenes tour footage and artwork (depending on the donation).
Overall, White is truly dedicated to expressing art while building up artists, like herself, who truly deserve it. She states, “How dry and lame and boring would this world be and this life be if there wasn’t entertainment, if there wasn’t songs, if there wasn’t art? At the same time, everyone wants to pay nine dollars for it and that’s it. I’m constantly thinking about that.” And she encourages all to think about it as well. To become part of Lindsay White’s Patreon team, you can go to her website at lindsaywhitemusic.com.