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Meet Your Creator: Krista Herring

Updated: Aug 25, 2023

A photo of the indie artist Krista Herring
Krista Herring

Hailing from California but having lived in various spots across the US, Krista Herring has carved out a space for herself in the singer-songwriter landscape with her unique take on the Americana and Indie genres. Furthermore, her tracks have been featured in both TV shows and movies, as well as represented by sync houses like Nightingale Music.

We had a talk with Krista about how she came up in the music business, the work she’s done in the sync space and her thoughts on touring/live music.

Hi Krista. Nice to be speaking with you. As someone who’s moved around from places like Orange County, San Francisco, and Portland, what was the motivation behind all the transitions?

KH: I’ve been writing music since the age of sixteen and started traveling around at seventeen. Similar to how music is inspired by a muse, so are my travels. I listen to the muse of where to go, and the locale usually informs my creativity too. My intuition said to move to Portland in 2005, and I’ve also lived in Nashville, Austin, Colorado and Muscle Shoals.

You’ve been a singer-songwriter since the mid 90s, but what was your musical background leading up to that?

KH: Nobody in my family sings, but I played classical flute for five years and was in a choir too, so I’ve always been into music. There are a few home videos of me singing about eating my peas at age four (laughs). I used to write poetry too, so when I picked up the guitar as a teenager, it was natural to start writing songs after learning just two chords.

What was your entry point into the commercial music industry?

KH: My debut album came out in 2008 and I did a lot of shows around that. My first song placements came in 2014 from the “Shine” EP. That music had more of a pop feel that I didn’t feel suited me as an artist, but I let my producer do his thing and I’m grateful for the outcome. However, my main focus today is creating art that really represents me.

You won the "Portland's Best Female Artist" in 2011. What was that like?

KH: That was the only year that the Portland Music awards existed (laughs). It had become exhausting to perform live music all the time, and I remember writing on Facebook that I was done with the music business. I won that award the very next day and people were like “See, you can’t quit now!”. But I probably would have kept going regardless.

You previously did a lot of touring to support your career. How has that changed in recent times?

KH: I spent my early career performing a lot and six years went by without any releases. I realized that I'd written hundreds of songs but had nothing to show for it in terms of albums or singles, so I started to pull back on touring prior to the pandemic and my current focus is on creating and recording. The idea is to be able to sustain my career without having to tour, and eventually quitting my day job,

Having stepped away from touring, have you found some other way to monetize your music?

KH: Monetization is a tricky thing, especially if you’re not making jingles for ads or if you prefer writing ballads over pop songs. I have a pretty loyal fanbase, so I’m able to do GoFundMe’s to raise money for recording an album, and I also get some cheques from BMI, Spotify and CD Baby. It’d be awesome if some of my music were picked up for a show, but that’s not the goal. My focus is on creating the best art I can that makes me happy.

What prompted you to start crowdfunding your albums? How many things have you done thus far?

KH: I did my first crowdfunding campaign in 2013 and another one during the pandemic for Like Water. My latest one was in 2002 for Saving Grace, and I’ve learnt a lot about how the process works, to the point of offering consulting about it. You leave money on the table if you don’t ask your fans to support you upfront, especially in a time when many don’t know how to make a living in the music business. That said, raising money online can be a mind game, and you must learn not to take things personally. It’s better to see it as a numbers game of sharing the campaign with enough people.

What would you say has been the key to the success of your campaigns?

KH: It’s just a lot of hard work. I’ve learned how to edit videos and take pictures to tie things together. You have to become your own social media manager, which is like a full-time job. I look for creative ways to share things online and I personally message people about the campaign. I worked in marketing as a side job for years, so I was already familiar with that sort of thing.

The producer on your first crowdfunded album was Ryan Yerdon, who has a sync house called RNE Audio. Was he your entry into the sync space?

KH: Yes, it was. It was fun working with Ryan and giving him writers credit helped in getting it onto Nightingale, but their focus is on advertising and my music is best for film and TV dramas, so I’m still looking for entry points into those areas. It can be hard to get into the right circles in the sync industry, so I’m still figuring it out.

You’ve had tracks get placed through Nightingale Music. How did that go?

KH: “Are You Ready” and “Shine” have been on a lot of programs. I also got some independent placements with a song called “Guardians”. It was used in a movie, and I see Shazams from all over the world from that one. It’s getting played a lot in Brazil now, so I’m guessing it’s from people watching the movie there.

You alluded to wanting to land more sync placements. Is there any reason that’s been slow to happen?

KH: Partially because I’m more focused on creating art than making money, but also because I do not have a sync company I work directly with, so pitching things can be hit or miss. People who are signed to sync companies usually get briefs on what to compose, but it’s a different game when you’re pitching your own material.

How much of a role does marketing play in extending your reach as an artist?

KH: A lot. Visibility as an artist often comes down to finances and how much money you can throw behind things. Whilst living in Nashville, I once had a manager who said, “There’s 100,000 songs being released every day and you’re in competition with them. Some of those songs are getting placed on prominent Spotify playlists, and it’s probably because their label spent $100,000 on them." That sort of promotion is out of reach for most of us, so you just focus on building your fanbase and make the best art you can.

Thanks for talking to us, Krista. What does the future hold for you and your music?

KH: I might play some one-off shows, but I won't tour unless a bigger opportunity comes with it, be it the right payout or exposure. There's no point otherwise - most touring artists can’t even break even right now, so I’d rather focus on songwriting and recording. The focus for the next year is to release singles every month or two, and then drop an album.


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