Mel Parsons’ Savvy Seven

For this week’s Savvy Seven we have Mel Parsons, one of New Zealand’s most loved indie folk artists! Through relentless touring she’s won over audiences across the globe. With her fourth studio album on the way for later this year, it’s safe to say this singer songwriter is on the rise!

She’s heading on a New Zealand tour in celebration of the album release (check out dates here), before jumping the ditch to perform at Woodford Folk Festival over New Years!

Read on for her music industry advice!

1)Who was your first musical inspiration? Why? Who inspires you now?

Probably Mark Knopfler. I remember listening to Dire Straits as a kid and it being transportive – not that I knew what it was back then, but it made me feel something whenever I listened to it. Now… so so many people… I’d seriously need hours to answer this question.

2) What advice do you have for someone who is about to set off on their first tour?

Be kind to everyone, and especially look after your band as best you can. Touring is hard work even when things are going well, and inevitably early on there will be bumps along the way. At the end of the day if you have a great vibe amongst the band crew, people are very forgiving and tend to keep in mind why they’re all there in the first place.

3) What has been one of the most defining moments in your career?

Truthfully I feel like I’ve had a slow burner of a career so far. I think probably when I realised that ‘success’ doesn’t have to come in the form of a commercial radio hit, that was a very liberating moment. I chilled out and realised that I’m very lucky to make a full time living as a touring artist, and I have a great & supportive audience who allow me to do that.

4) How has your music practice changed over time?

A lot of my time these days is spent on the business side of things, I’m independent and self-managed so by default my music ‘practice’ involves a lot less creative time than I’d like.

5) My top business tip for new artists is…

Commit fully, and don’t be afraid to take risks. Also accept that you need to invest (in everything) to make a real go of it and have any chance of a decent return.

6) My biggest career mistake has been… What would you do differently now? 

Probably waiting for things to happen rather than making them happen myself. Early on in my career I had this idea that I just had to wait until I was ‘picked up’ and signed.

In the last ten years the industry has gone through huge change – now DIY is pretty standard, which it wasn’t so much when I started. I think I’d just get stuck in and not wait for anything or anyone.

7) In my opinion, the most important issue facing the music industry is… What do you think can change that?

Wow this is a big one. I think we’re making a lot of progress on gender diversity across the industry, (really I can only speak from a New Zealand perspective) but it’s still a big issue in that we’re still a way off reaching equality. Continued conversation so that the issue stays present until such time as we’ve got balanced and diverse representation across the board could change that. I also think heightened visibility of diverse role models, so that young aspiring artists can see a pathway in music more easily.

Check out the video for Mel Parsons latest single!

If you enjoyed this Savvy Seven you can find more here!

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