Katie Garibaldi

"Face fear head-on and learn to take chances. That's how you move forward." -KG

Katie Garibaldi is a touring indie singer/songwriter and guitarist from the San Francisco Bay Area. She recently released her sixth full-length album, Next Ride Out, produced by Michael Molenda, noted producer, engineer, and editor-in-chief of Guitar Player Magazine, the most authoritative guitar magazine in the world, which has catapulted the 26-year-old artist's career into top speed.

Katie sings with an emotional nearness that, in combination with her melodic and catchy songs and her soulful and expressive vocals, captures her audience wherever she performs. Whether she’s performing solo or with a backup band, Katie has a characteristic musical style wherein her equally pop- and country-tinged folk-rock gives her a distinct and edgy sound—Americana with a twist of sparkling pop.

Katie Garibaldi is an innovative businesswoman, the San Francisco chapter coordinator of the non-profit organization that supports artists and songwriters, Songsalive!, the owner of her own label, Living Dream Music, a creative recording artist, and aggressive national touring performer who has acquired a devoted fan base, due in large part to her engaging live shows, and personal connection to her listeners through her music.

Katie with her Trinity Guitar

Luna sits down for a personal interview with Katie

Being an artist can be hard...what keeps you going?

There are definitely moments when being an artist can be hard.  There are three distinct things that I would say keep me going.  One is having a positive mindset.  Because I started so young, I used to take rejection personally and it was depressing to digest any sort of message of "I'm not good enough."  Now, I have a bit thicker skin and can shift into the right headspace to keep moving forward in a productive way.  Another thing that keeps me going (which helps fuel having a positive attitude) is surrounding myself with a good support team.  This includes my family and loved ones and people in the business who want to help me grow and succeed.  When I have times of weakness or doubt, they lift me up.  I don't leave room in my life for negative people.  The third thing is an inner passion and need to play music.  I can't NOT do what I do.  It's something that's a huge part of me.  I've gone through months not writing something and start to think, "Did I run out of songs?"  But then another song will come out sooner or later.  It reminds me to never give up on myself (my spirituality and faith is also a part of this attitude).

You seem to be able to get a decent number of gigs, what advice would you give other artists?

First of all, playing live is THE most important thing you can do if you want to have a music career.  I've met artists who say they write and record albums and have the whole thing going on.  Then I look at their website and they only have one show on their calendar.  Performing is vital to not only getting your name out there and building your fan base (and having personal relationships with your listeners), but also to selling your music.  I book 95 percent (or more) of my gigs myself by contacting bookers/venues.  My strategy is to book a bunch of small venues (cafes, outdoor gigs, in-store performances) as much as I can, and then book one big show about once a month, or every couple months.  It's good to want to get into the big venues but you're not going to get in unless you can pack the small stuff first.  Also, fans won't come out every single week to come see you if you need to bring people in to big clubs.  So it's good to space the big ones out and promote the heck out of those while building up your fan base with the little venues in between.  Also, it's definitely important to get your name known in your home market, but I believe it's just as important to tour in the surrounding areas (and beyond) to gain experience, find your niche, and get your music out to a wider audience.  I'm a big fan of doing mini tours--gigging in one area for a few days (maybe 3-6 gigs) and get some press/radio in the area while you're there.  Then tour in that area every few months to build your audience.

Katie Garibaldi performs with her Luna Trinity Guitar

...don't be lazy... being an indie artist you've got to take the bull by the horns and do it! -KG

Marketing is key and you seem adept at getting your name out.  What advice would you give other artists for marketing themselves?

My advice is basically: don't be lazy!  Don't wait for someone else to do the work for you.  If you're promoting a show or your album, make a checklist of mediums you can use to get the word out and just do it.  People like visuals so it's always good to have a flyer for a show or your new album.  Designate time to spend on the computer sending out blogs, press releases, and booking appearances, but also make time to get out and actually walk around at different events or places where you think people might be interested in your music/show.  Shake hands with people and tell them about yourself and hand them a flyer.  You never know what connections you might make.  Also, be sure your website and bio are ever changing, updating constantly.  Outdated information makes it look like you're not active.  Another good idea is to come up with perks for merchandise at your shows--items or deals that people can't get anywhere else (ie. Buy a CD, get another CD or t-shirt for half off).  Marketing is a lot of fun to me because that was part of what I studied in college.  I knew it was a huge side of the music business, and being an indie artist you've got to take the bull by the horns and do it! 

How do you handle negotiating payment for gigs?

I wish there was a concrete formula for this, but unfortunately there's not.  Usually venues already have their own set method of compensation and you have to decide if their terms are suitable for you.  If a venue leaves it to you and asks, "how much do you charge?" then it's in your hands, which can be a good thing but sometimes a little tricky.  I generally take three things into consideration: (1) The type of venue.  I would ask more from a club than a little cafe.  (2) The location.  If I'm touring out of town, I have to think about my gas money to get to this gig.  (3) If I'm playing solo or with a band.  When playing with a band, I hire my backup musicians so usually I'll ask for more if it's the full band.  It's a difficult and delicate process sometimes.  You don't want to say too high of a number because you don't want to lose the gig, but you also don't want to say too low of a number, which might devalue yourself.  If it's a venue you really want to get into regardless of the pay, go for it.  If it's something that expects a lot from you but doesn't pay anything in return, you probably want to pass.  Negotiating might occur.  If they offer too low a cost but you still want to do it, ask for a free meal to make up for the minimal pay.  Just keep in mind that it's a business and always remember to be polite and professional.

Is there anything else you can think of that may be helpful to other working artists?

Something important that I have learned is to never be afraid of taking control of your own destiny.  If someone or something is holding you back from doing what you want with your career, find a way to move around them (and make sure you're not standing in the way of your own success too!)  I've been in situations where I put too much faith in others and just ended up feeling like my whole career was slipping out of my hands.  No one is going to care about your career more than you do, so don't wait around too much for others to respond.  Be a leader and diminish as much stress as possible.  Also, it's easy to get stuck in safe mode, but safe might not mean best.  Face fear head-on and learn to take chances.  That's how you move forward.

Katie making contacts

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