BY David Michael Conner
May 13 2009 12:00 AM ET
You use online fan bootlegs as a resource? That's amazing. Do you plan to start changing the way you produce and distribute your music?This album was an interesting experiment to see how far I could take it. I've always encouraged bootlegging for myself in my career. I think it helps create a rabid, loyal fan base. And I don't think it hurts sales of any new album I put out, because people start to want everything you put out. I've never felt threatened by bootlegs. Massive digital downloading of albums has hurt the business, though. People will grab your album off of LimeWire and it has radically affected the music business. But I think there are other ways that musicians can work in the business and make money; it's just changing. One of the things I did with this album was to partner with FTD florists for Mother's Day sales -- the album came with a bouquet of flowers for Mother's Day. I also partnered with Fisher-Price. It's a great partnership. I'll get exposed to a whole new group of people who otherwise wouldn't have been exposed to my music. I'll get to see myself on the endcap of the toy section [ laughs ]. So there's a lot of really interesting partnerships. I feel really proud that my manager, Virginia, and I have been able to do all this ourselves -- get on Jay Leno and the Today show. I'm excited about getting to do more albums that don't have any real classification and getting the music out there to fans.
You've done that pretty well. My sister bought your dance album and she's not typically into that genre of music, and I've followed you into the country genre. I even watched Nashville Star when you were judging, which I never would have done otherwise. So now you've made this children's album â€¦It isn't actually a kids' album, and I think that's something I'm going to have to work hard to really dispel.
You made "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" a really beautiful song to listen to, and I admit, I was a little bit nervous to listen to it.[ Giggles ] I know what you mean, yeah. I had tons of songs I could have put on the album, but I fell in love with that song. There's all these verses that nobody knows. I love finding songs that are unusual. Musically, I believe in music without borders. I just feel like there's good music and bad music -- those are the only genres I believe in. I could play you Gram Parsons or Emmylou Harris, if you're not a country fan, or Steve Earle or, God, just so many artists -- Kris Kristofferson or Crystal Gayle -- God! You'd be blown away by Crystal Gayle records! They're just beautiful. And the same with any genre, with dance. You know, I just wanted to make smart, lyric-driven dance music. It doesn't have to be all dumb and "oh, baby, baby." That's the only way I've approached music and had my fans follow me.
Do you have a big gay and lesbian following?I do, yeah, I've always been really lucky to be supported by a loyal fan base. And, you know, there's a lot more tolerance out there than people would think. I've pulled in all these different followings ... the sort of hard-core following, Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell fans, some club kids that aren't necessarily folk music fans ... and then the country album folded in a conservative crowd. And -- I know this sounds really weird -- but I have a lot of biker fans because I played so many biker bars as a kid, and people come in from that lifestyle. And it's really great because we all sit in the room ... all my gay and lesbian fans and other people sitting next to one another from all walks of life, and everybody gets along. That's what I love about touring. The gay fans scream out; the conservative fans scream out. We see what we have in common rather than what we don't. It's OK to disagree as long as we don't limit the rights of others. That's how I try and live my life. I have friends who I don't agree with, but I'm still great friends with them. My shows are great little experiments: my redneck friends must be tolerant of my gay friends and my gay friends must be tolerant of my redneck friends. It's perfect.
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