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Interview with Sarah Bailey

25 year old artist from Ohio shares how chance Taylor Swift encounter with kickstarted her career in music

Give an introduction to yourself, how you got into music, where you are today, and where you'd like to be.

My name is Sarah Justine Bailey. I am a 25 year old musician based in Cleveland, Ohio, USA. I currently write, compose, produce, and record all of my own original music myself and am available on all platforms. I have been singing since I can possibly remember with a dream of being an artist my whole life.

When I was around the age of 5 while going for walks around the block with my mom, I would write songs in my head in full and then remember them for the next time we would go on a walk. My dad started bringing home recording software and microphones by the age of 8 as an IT worker. This is when I started experimenting with recording overs and my own songs from such a young age. I started playing the guitar and taking lessons at age 11 for about 2 years. Throughout my childhood, I continued to write songs every day and “perform” in my bedroom. Growing up, I had huge musical inspirations like Taylor Swift, who wrote her own songs. I knew that someday I wanted to be a singer but also always write my own music.

I went to media technology school my junior and senior year of high school, followed by a recording arts and technology program for college where I learned about the technical side of the music industry and audio engineering. In 2018, I started professionally writing and recording my own music for commercial release on all platforms such as Apple, Spotify, and Amazon Music, etc. In 2019, I completely made the switch to writing, composing, producing, and recording all of my own music by myself for commercial release. I have my own home studio set up for all of my needs as a recording artist.

I love being able to start a song from the very beginning of lyrics and composition to see what it turns into as a finished product. Currently, I just finished my debut album, “13” that will be released everywhere on May 13th, 2021. There are 13 songs total and I am so excited to finally release this body of work I am so proud of. I am always working as hard as I can to fine-tune my craft as a singer/songwriter every day as I continue on my musical career and journey. Where I would like to be in this career is touring and hopefully someday signed to Republic Records. However, I know that my journey as a musician is my own and I’m loving every second of it regardless.

Sarah Bailey wearing black tee

Tell us about your latest release, what's it about?

My latest release came out on March 19, called “My Own Skin”. This is a song I wrote about my body image as a whole. Whether it's how much I weigh, the acne on my skin, or my mental health in general, this song was my way of coping with the hardship of self-love. By the end of the song, I realize that I am beautiful just the way I am. I know I will still have some bad days, but I know that loving myself will always be the most important thing I can do in my life.

I did a collaborative music video idea for this song that released today as well. I asked people to submit pictures of them holding up a sign that says "I love my ____" and fill it in with something they love about themselves. The turnout was absolutely incredible and people had already anticipated how well they would be able to relate to this song in their own way. I think this is such an important topic to talk about and I'm so happy that I can use my voice and songwriting to facilitate this conversation with the listener, and themselves.

This song will be on my upcoming debut album, “13” which will be out everywhere May 13th, 2021! The whole record is a collection of 13 songs, including some that have already been released as singles in the past year. My lucky number has forever been 13 - basically since I was born..... on September 13th. Throughout my life, all my friends and family have known the significance of this number to me, and it really has been a lucky one. All along, I’ve known that someday when I would release my first ever album, that number would be the title of it.

Each song is so dear to my heart. Whether I wrote it when I was 16, or just within the past few months, these 13 songs bring you through an emotional roller coaster of dancing, crying, anger, and nostalgia. I have never been so proud of a body of work, especially one that I created from beginning to end. I wrote, produced, and engineered this album completely myself with the help of Brad Puette (of Field Day Recordings) mixing it so beautifully at the end.

How did you record it?

I record everything myself in my home studio! My setup includes Ableton Live Suite for production and Pro Tools 10 for recording purposes. I have a Rode NT1-A microphone and Novation LaunchKey 49 that I use for everything.

Sarah Bailey

How did you distribute it?

I distribute through Distrokid now!

How did you promote it?

I have a bachelor’s degree in marketing so I’ve definitely been putting my own career into practice. Social media is a huge part of how I connect with my fans, especially my Swiftie family. I’m doing a Pre-Save, Merch Giveaway where I’ll be selecting a random winner after May 12th to choose 3 merchandise items of their choice when they post a screenshot of them pre-saving my album and tagging friends.

The music industry is in a state of flux right now, where do you see it heading?

I definitely see things starting to get back to normal in the music industry now that we are getting through the pandemic. However, I do think it will be forever slightly changed. So many aspects of the industry have come to terms with being able to be virtual now, which honestly isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Songwriting sessions and collaborative recording sessions can now be done with different people from all over the world. Concerts can be held virtually for people who aren’t able to swing travel costs or if an artist is not coming to their city. The industry was damaged extremely by the pandemic, but I do believe that it will be able to come back from the experience well, if not better. It will just take a little time.

What's the most important thing missing from Songwhip?

I honestly can’t think of something that I would like to see on the platform that isn’t already there! I love the simplicity of the layout; however, it also looks sleek professional.

Sarah Bailey standing in a street

Which artist do you look up to the most and why?

I have looked up to Taylor Swift for the past 14 years since her debut self-titled album was released. Not only do I love all of her music along with her impeccable songwriting skills, but she is also just such a sweetheart and knows what she wants. I envy her career in so many aspects and can only hope to be half the artist she is someday. To my disbelief, I started gaining national recognition after she sent me a message on Instagram DM after seeing my family's holiday lights display including her song, "Christmas Tree Farm" on December 8th, 2020. She made the extremely generous decision to donate to the local food bank that we collect food and cash donations for throughout the holiday season. After sharing her message on social media, the posts started going viral and getting the attention of major publications such as Today, Entertainment Tonight, People Magazine, iHeart Radio, Billboard, and most news stations throughout the world. I did countless interviews explaining the experience.

However, the coolest part was that most publications focused on me as being an aspiring singer/songwriter and mentioning of my music. The amount of traffic and attention this brought to my music was tremendous and I’m still seeing the effects of it today, 2 months later. I gained international fans and contacts that continue to grow with me as I release more music and insight into myself as an artist and creator. The fact that my biggest idol and inspiration now knows who I am will never not be unbelievable to me.

What artist tools/services can't you live without?

I don’t think I could live without Ableton Live Suite for production services. I love the free range ability to let my imagination run wild when writing or creating a song and that platform allows me to do just that. I also don’t think I could live without Spotify. That platform has offered so many opportunities for independent artists to gain recognition with playlisting and catering to so many listeners. I also think Songwhip is pretty cool. ;) I’ve used it now for a year as my main link source when my music is released. I love that it automatically finds the platforms that the release is on.

Sarah Bailey sitting on a river side

What is your advice to other indie artists to help fund their work/produce music?

  • Having a day job or another way to have an income to provide for your music career is okay!
  • Making contacts in the industry, big or small, is so important.
  • Use social media as a tool to reach people from anywhere in the world that you might not have been able to reach if it didn’t exist.

Anything else you'd like to plug?

Thank you so much for having me for this interview! I appreciate any support towards my dreams and career more than anything. I love what I do so much and I cannot wait for what the future holds. My debut album, “13” will be available everywhere on May 13th, 2021 and you can pre-save it now at my website: sarahbaileymusic.com

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