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Big Sound; Big Dreams: A Singer's Journey To Stardom

Nuha Abujaber |
February 15, 2012 | 5:23 p.m. PST



Maddie Lauer. (Photo by Nuha Abujaber)
Maddie Lauer. (Photo by Nuha Abujaber)
When Maddie Lauer finally alights on a chair, it almost swallows her whole. The aspiring singer may be tiny physically but she has huge aspirations—that and bountiful wavy brown hair. 

It’s the biggest physical aspect about her, that and her voice, which Lauer describes as a combination of Katy Perry and Rihanna, while the tunes she likes to belt out she calls a sort of pop-swag. 

“It has an edge but it can still appeal to young girls,” she says. 

 The 21-year-old, who’s busily using social media to further her cause, traces her musical inspiration back to Toni Braxton, Mariah Carey and Sade, all women, she says, who sang from the heart. As a kid growing up in Columbus, Ohio, she was also so obsessed with Musiq Soulchild that she snuck backstage at a show and coaxed the artists into signing her ticket. 

She was born Bailey Lauer into a family that eventually numbered five children. 

“Bailey was my name for two days, then my mum was watching this movie in a hospital where the actress’s name was Madeline, so she just decided to change it,” she says.  

As a child she performed in local talent shows, finally winning a contract with an indie label as part of a “Talent Rock” competition. Lauer got an album out of the deal but it never took off, “though I am so grateful because I learned so much from that experience.” 

At 18, she moved to Los Angeles, where spent a year in an all-girl-group called Tony Femme. “It didn’t work out because everyone wanted to be the main act, and then Kristen didn’t want to do it anymore,” Kristen Campbell being her best friend and roommate.

 “We didn’t get along at first” says Campbell, “but now we are inseparable.” 

Campbell describes Lauer as “smart, witty and stubborn,” and that “she knows what she wants and she will get it.”

Lauer moved a step closer to getting her wish when Marco Bosco, CEO of Eruption Music Group, was sent a link to a YouTube video she had made and signed her eight months ago.  

“I really want to make it big,” says Lauer at Bosco’s Hollywood Hills home, where they conduct their meetings. “She will,” Bosco interrupts.  “When I saw Maddie the first thing I thought, she has everything we were looking for in an artist.” 

Lauer shyly lowers her head with a big smile across her face. “She is your girl next door, she is simple but beautiful. She is one of those artists that whatever she does it will always work.” 

His voice has an Italian-British lilt that’s a sharp contrast to Lauer’s Midwestern accent. 

“When we were looking for an artist we were looking for someone with performance ability, voice quality and a lot of energy, and Maddie has all of that,” he adds.

Lauer is pleased with how social media has worked for her, and counts on it making her the giant star she’s confident she will be. 

“I want to create my own fan base, on my own for free, and that’s done through YouTube, Facebook, and all those other websites where people are just able to freely upload whatever they want,” she says. 

She’s a little worried that the movement to curb free sharing on the Internet, the anti-piracy legislation that’s being decided in Congress, may affect her reaching a wide audience. 

“It would change a lot of ideas and ways that I planned on promoting my music,” she says. “I don’t know what other avenues there would be. A lot of people became famous off of YouTube, look at Justin Bieber.” 

Lauer does not have to worry for now; a congressional vote on the anti-piracy bills has been shelved after some of the Internet’s main players demanded that the lawmakers rethink it.  

In addition, “the anti-piracy bills really wouldn’t affect the independent artist much,” says Jonathan Kotler, professor of media law at the University of Southern California. “It would affect them once they sign contracts with recording houses or studios because they give up their freedom to appear on websites. In addition, they give up their freedom to make their material downloadable for free.” 

Until that time that she is signed to a record label, Lauer wants her music to be freely accessible, and from there she will find her fans that will follow her once her professional career is launched. 

“People are not going to buy music they don’t know.” 

While Lauer may rely on the Internet and social networking sites to promote herself, her manager, who is in his thirties, has more of an old-fashioned approach. 

“I have grown up without Facebook and YouTube,” he says.  “I think social networking is the substitute of what used to be live music. It is a great medium, but I don’t think it is going to change the business. It was fine before.” 

Bosco may think old-fashioned, but the modern, well-decorated home in which he and Lauer hold their writing sessions and rehearsals is anything but. Their relationship as manager and artist is comfortable and friendly yet has a strong touch of professionalism. 

“I do not like continuous sharing of information,” he says of the social media, and Lauer throws him a respectful look. “I feel like keeping a little gap between the artist and the crowd is cool, it builds an interest and intrigue. Nonetheless, there is a beauty of the fact that you can reach millions through social networking, personally I prefer the more old-fashioned way by exposing artists and just conquer people by playing live music.” 

Bosco turns to Lauer, who is dressed in funky white jeans and a red button-down shirt. “When music is good,” he says with a smile, “it doesn’t matter if it’s Facebook or YouTube, you’re going to get to your crowd and you’re going to find your angle. Today more than ever I think the difficulty is to make music that is relevant.” 

Lauer spends most of her day focusing on her path to stardom, says her producer Daniel Alcaire, who assists with her studio work. He seems to be in awe of her. “She is so talented, working with her is a pleasure.” 

The rest of the time Lauer is employed as a bartender at The Hudson in West Hollywood and gives singing lessons to young students that hope to become like her. What little free time she has she spends with Campbell, who describes her as “hilarious and a guaranteed fun time.” 

As she keeps one eye on the microphone and the other on the future of the Internet, Lauer sticks to a single vision and style, “She has her own key and her own mark and her ways, and that’s not easily replaceable,” says Bosco. 

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