Jenny Owen Youngs '04 is a singer-songwriter who went on an international jaunt last spring with Chuck Ragan's Revival Tour, playing 23 shows in 24 days, with stops in Toronto, New Orleans, Nashville, and Manhattan. Her latest album, An Unwavering Band of Light, produced by Dan Romer '04, is available on iTunes and also in a limited edition of 500 records on white vinyl through her revamped website, jennyowenyoungs.com, which was launched last year. The site integrates her social-media platforms with opportunities to buy her music, as well as the growing list of items in the JOY (Jenny Owen Youngs) online store.
Like scores of Purchase graduates pursuing their musical dreams, Owens is honing her craft in a business transformed by the digital revolution, with the record industry in the tank, music stores barely in existence, social media in full flower, and live performances taking center stage as musicians find new audiences with whom to share their sounds.
"It's a strange and entrepreneurial time," says Peter Denenberg, chair of studio composition at the Conservatory of Music and director of the college's music studios. "Musicians need to learn how to play everything and do everything. They need to understand the business aspects too, and figure out how digital media get monetized."
There's a real immediacy to Youngs' creative process that finds resonance among members of her audience, who provide feedback on the songs she's developing and even drop a buck or two to download them digitally to their mobile devices.
Her website is integrated seamlessly with her social media presence including her Facebook page with over 21,000 likes; her Twitter feed with nearly 15,000 followers; and a very active Tumblr page featuring comical photographs, video clips, and contemplations on love.
"I wanted a writing exercise, to get the wheels greased for the next proper record," says Youngs, who lives in Park Slope. "I have a tendency to get persnickety and perfectionistic about my writing, and I wanted to see what would happen if I gave myself a week. I'm surprised and pleased with what I've come up with."