Jennifer Corday is worthy of her one-name moniker. Known to many as merely Corday, she’s a Southern Cal rocker with nationwide appeal. Her recently released record, Superhero, is a colorful collection of pop rock that captures her red-hot intensity noted both onstage and off. Corday rocks and you’ll recognize her as a regular at Pride festivals and other venues around the country. Her music is also heard on film and TV, and is currently featured on the ABC prime time series “Samantha Who” starring Christina Applegate.
Corday works hard at her craft and understands the business side to all this music making. So while she has cash flow on her mind when waking up in the morning, she’s all about rock and roll when hitting the stage at night. Read on to learn how money intersects with music and I bet you’ll be buying her latest CD by the tenth question!
1. Your schooling is in classical music. Is it easier to make a living as a cellist or rocker?
A rocker for sure! I think I could make a living as a cellist, if I were to promote myself more in the classical world. I think there is a lot of money to be made there, especially if you form a string quartet and work weddings. It’s just not as exciting for me to do that – I am a rocker at heart!
2. Did your dad ever pressure you to join the family business?
My grandfather was an electrician and he opened a huge lighting showroom on Pacific Coast Highway in Long Beach called Corday Lighting. I worked there summers with all my cousins while we were going to school. It was a great experience to learn the business and do sales, but it was tough to work for my grandfather – he was a bear and would yell at everyone! I got very close to my aunt however, Aunt Dee Dee, who was always my favorite aunt and was a role model for me my whole life – she eventually took over the business when my grandfather died. She was a strong lady, very smart and independent.
It’s funny because the store is right across the street from one of the most popular lesbian bars in Long Beach, The Executive Suite, and the girls that owned it used to come in and buy light bulbs. That was my first introduction to lesbians! I didn’t know I was gay at the time, but I guess you could say I was curious about what went on in that bar there across the street…
3. What have you done to subsidize your income during any lulls with your music career?
As an artist, one must constantly be scrambling to make ends meet. It is the nature of the business that there are “lulls…” Venues come and go, big festivals including pride fests are very seasonal, and you need to take time off to record. It has been particularly challenging to navigate through the ever-changing music business over the last ten years since there have been huge changes: the majors merged and folded, and the internet changed everything.
The musicians that will make a living will be the ones smart enough to adapt to these changes and use new technology to their advantage. I am actually looking into releasing a flash-drive bracelet instead of a CD next time! It’s also really important to know who your audience is, and be able to reach them with a small budget, especially as an indie artist, since we don’t have the capital to promote like the big boys.
I never rely solely on my income as a live performer. As a musician, you can generate income from performance royalties – placing your music in the background of movies and TV shows. My music is used in the background on lots of MTV shows, and was just in Fox’s Samantha Who. My songs are also available for download as ringtones, and of course all of my music is for sale on iTunes, Rhapsody, Napster, and all the digital download sites.
Selling merch has become at least as important, if not more important than selling music. I have over seven styles of shirts available, plus hats and hopefully more stuff soon. You can order Corday ties, mugs, mouse pads and more from my MySpace store. You name it, every band should be slappin’ their logo on merchandise to sell at shows!
Music business aside, I also write for Curve Magazine. I love working for Curve and get to interview famous lesbian musicians, race car drivers, and politicians! I also substitute teach now and then. I get called for all grades and all subjects, K-12, so if I’m available I’ll do that a couple of days a month.
4. Do you get free drinks at all those Pride festivals? What are some other financial perks that come with being a performing artist?
The drinks for sure! Despite me outing myself as a potential alcoholic, I will admit that I LOVE beer. Free drinks usually come with every gig, though it does depend on the venue. It’s standard policy to issue two drink tickets per band member, but many bars let us have our way with a band tab. Free parking is nice too. More importantly, the financial benefits that come through my sponsors. These are harder to come by and only happen once you are established and have a proven following. I am endorsed by Daisy Rock – they give me free guitars worth thousands. Sam Ash, the music store sponsored my band with thousands of dollars worth of gear also. SKB sponsors me with cases, and Larrivee has given me a couple of very expensive acoustic guitars.
My other endorsers offer me discounts which are also very much appreciated: D’Addario Strings, Audio Technica, Line 6, Peavey, and Dunlop. More recently I am getting clothing sponsors which is really exciting! I am a big fan of SikGRL clothing out of San Diego – they have been very good to us and dressed all my dancers with gear to wear on stage as well as provide us with giveaways to throw out to the crowd. I am helping Sik launch a music division, and will be assisting them in selecting artists they want to represent. I’m also a fan of Kari Barba’s line – she is my tattoo artist and the owner of Outer Limits tattoo shops and has just started her own line of shirts.
5. What is your most significant memory about money?
Wow, that’s an interesting question. I would have to name a few…. The first would be the allowance I would get from my parents. They had a list of chores I had to do posted on the refrigerator. Every time I completed a task, I would get their initials. At the end of the week, they would count them up and I was paid like 25 cents each or something. As I got older the money increased, and was also awarded for good grades. I got $20 an A, $10 for a B and $5 for a C. I guess it helped motivate me cuz I mostly got straight A’s!
I would have to mention the first time I got my pay check as a fulltime teacher. I started teaching 10th grade English at 22, right after I graduated from college, and it was pretty cool to get my first real paycheck there. As a musician, I remember the first time I got a gig for 4 digits, and then years later my first gig at 5 digits! I’m still working on the 6 digit gigs…
6. Is there truth to the saying, “Do what you love and the money will follow?”
No, not so much…. I am a big believer in positive thinking and enjoy the philosophy of The Secret but also believe people today are way too deep into that shit and don’t know the value of working hard, and working smart. It is extremely rare to be able to do what you love and have money simply “follow.” I definitely think you should never do anything you hate and I definitely encourage people to do what they love, but also be smart about it and don’t expect to make a living over night.
7. Superhero comes with a “bling-bling” music video that is airing on LOGO. How do you define bling?
Ha! As far as the concept of the video we were going for a little of that the MTV rap-style vibe you see on a lot of music videos – a big party with champagne and lots of women! It’s a crazy pool party and tons of fun. You can see it on my site at Corday.net or vote for it now on KIISfm.com!
As far as budget for the video, I actually produced it on a shoestring budget and pulled a lot of favors. I am thrilled with the outcome and really have to thank my friends Tracy and Deb for letting me use their house as the location, director Andy Putschoegl and Director of Photography Kelly Richard, and additional camera woman Ren Blood. All my friends volunteered as extras and I couldn’t have done it without them!
8. As producer, manager and chief booking agent of all things Corday, you’re essentially running a small business. Do you use QuickBooks?
I do use Quickbooks. I actually just got it last year and am really digging it. It’s a lot more complicated than Quicken but I actually need it to handle the intricacies of my business. My dad is actually my financial assistant – he’s not really an accountant but is a retired teacher and is super smart. I trust him and respect him a lot so we are able to work together on my finances. He comes over once a month and we do all the entries on what I’ve spent that month. Sometimes I think it’s his way of checking up on me… It can be embarrassing when there’s an entry made out to “The Rubber Tree” and I have to explain what I bought!
9. What is Venus Envy? And how do the profits help fight breast cancer?
I founded Venus Envy years ago as a way to promote women in music. I accept female fronted bands across the nation who have great music and an established track record, and want to get involved. They add their picture and bio to the Venus Envy website and will then be considered for inclusion in Venus Envy concerts and events, and on compilation CDs. The first compilation went to the Long Beach Memorial Breast Center – they are cutting edge in the fight against breast cancer and also treated my mom so I am glad to be making a difference there! We gave over $1,200 right after we released the CD. I plan to do another compilation soon, with profits going to another breast cancer organization, or other women-related cause. I am particularly passionate in the fight against breast cancer since I just lost my mom one year ago. I dedicate every CD to her!
10. What advice would you give to others trying to break into the music business?
Keep your day job. Work your home town. Build your fan base until the place is packed and then go a little bigger. And so on, and so on… Most importantly, write great songs and produce great music. There is way too much competition to survive if you are mediocre. You must be amazing. Take risks as an artist but not as a business woman. Treat it like a business. Remember, you are selling a product – you!
More about Jennifer Corday
Corday will win you over with her charm, her wit, and her red-hot intensity! From raw and rockin’ to acoustic and broken-hearted, Corday has been engaging audiences across the nation for years with her irresistible charisma on and off the stage. Her latest record, Superhero, is a colorful pop rock collection of sparkling radio-ready gems that are irresistibly fun, and comes with a bling-bling music video that is airing on MTV’s LOGO. The video was just named one of the Top 15 in the Star Radio 98.7 Rockstar Competition and has won numerous other awards at indie film fests across the nation.
Corday has a large and loyal following in Los Angeles and Orange County and is also nationally known by all fans of women who rock, having toured and performed at numerous notable venues and huge festivals and events where she has opened for Cher, Joan Jett, Sugar Ray, The Dave Matthews Band, Pat Benatar, Joan Osborne, The B-52’s, Macy Gray, The Indigo Girls, Meredith Brooks, Cyndi Lauper, Berlin, Jonatha Brooke, Sophie B. Hawkins, Chaka Khan, Sheena Easton, Taylor Dayne, Melissa Ferrick, Catie Curtis, and many more. She rocks the house with her band, but also performs solo, with an amazing acoustic performance that will take you from a whisper to a scream.
Corday wrote, recorded, and produced the new record, Superhero, in her home studio before delivering the final tracks to mix-master Gavin MacKillop (Goo Goo Dolls, Sarah McLachlan, Melissa Ferrick, Toad the Wet Sprocket) and is packaged in a very impressive double disc Digipack which includes a CD and DVD with special behind the scenes footage. Her music can be heard regularly on film and TV, and is featured on the ABC prime time series “Samantha Who” starring Christina Applegate. Corday’s back catalog can be heard playing in the background of numerous MTV shows including Made, Making Of The Band, and My Sweet Sixteen while her ring tones are available for download through Verizon and Samsung.
Corday produces Girl Rock at Girl Bar, a monthly showcase in Hollywood, CA that gets enormous exposure and media attention, with plans in the works to produce and broadcast a video blog nationally. She recently accepted the job of Music Supervisor for Erocktavision Films, where she will scout and select songs for numerous adult DVDs. Further, Corday is assisting San Diego-based fashion designer Michelle Mannisto in scouting and securing top-notch indie bands and solo artists to support and endorse SikGRL clothing. Famous tattoo artist Kari Barba, owner of the popular Outer Limits Tattoo Parlor chain, also endorses Corday with her unique high-end clothing line, Sinister. Corday also writes for Curve Magazine, expanding her fan-base across the nation.
Photo credit: Corday.net
Read other Queercents interviews in the Ten Money Questions archive.