The path of least resistance in the music industry is all relative. For DOSSEY, self-producing her music has become the easiest way to chase her dreams.
The electro-pop musician is charting her own course after enduring a brutal March, when conversations with a record label ended abruptly.
“The label that I was going to be on, their main artist lost all their touring, and they were just like scrambling,” she said. “I couldn’t get their attention anymore. This year, I just lost all of this stuff that I was working on for like three years.”
The Austin-based artist who grew up in Montgomery, Texas, struggled for a few weeks before forging ahead with her manager in April. She signed with AWAL, a free resource for independent artists to retain ownership of their work and gain distribution. Then she began recording new tracks.
“That’s a big benefit with Austin is that you can have people you trust and people that are friends – if they love you and love your music, you can actually make some big things happen just by asking,” she said.
Falling In Love With Pop Music
DOSSEY, whose real name is Sarah Dossey, is a project that began seven years ago, but she didn’t release her first music until 2015. She describes her initial musical style as “soundscapey,” but her creative direction changed after noticing what crowds responded to.
“I had one song that had a pretty cool groove – it was a pop song,” she said. “Every time I played it, the whole club would be like, ‘Oh, yeah.’ It was like a live experiment.”
Pop music takes many forms, and DOSSEY’s sound includes a synth vibe and heavy bass. She is enjoying taking liberties with her music that she wouldn’t necessarily enjoy with a label.
“I think that soft, gentle, encouraging kind of music is more popular right now, which is not what I’m releasing,” she said. “It’s just been nice to have the freedom to be like, ‘No, I think I know best.’”
The perspective that DOSSEY has gained this year has influenced her musical approach. She believes too many musicians pay close attention to streaming numbers, and that is killing art.
“If you’re able to make what you want to make and have your voice be heard – and if you feel confident that you’re speaking what’s true to you, then that should be the most important thing at the end of the day,” she said.
Staying Afloat During COVID
One of the downsides to DOSSEY self-producing her music is radio exposure, which record labels often facilitate. She garners some plays on Austin’s 101X, but she has bigger aspirations.
On Spotify, she averages 5,895 monthly listeners, and her top single, “Better Run,” has 263,442 plays on the platform. That isn’t paying the bills.
“Streaming does nothing,” she said. “It’s a necessary evil, though. I definitely invest more in streaming than I get back so far.”
Selling branded hoodies, tank tops, and other items on her Bandcamp page has become a better source of revenue for DOSSEY.
“Merch actually is very helpful, which is something that I’ve always prioritized,” she said. “I just started making a bunch of stuff and putting it up and selling it. I’ve definitely made more money on Bandcamp than I have on any streaming (platform) ever.”
The ups and downs this year have tested DOSSEY’s resolve. She credits her husband, Preston, for encouraging her and providing space to be herself. That’s kept her going amid so much uncertainty.
“It’s very much a business, and there’s going to be great things, and there’s going to be some not great things that make you depressed and make you want to quit along the way, and that’s just how it is,” she said. “Those things are only going to feel bigger and stronger as you go and get further along.”
Watching DOSSEY At 3rd & Lamar’s Rooftop Live
Particularly in the past three years, DOSSEY has built a tight bond with her fans, and she’s looking forward to reconnecting with them. A turning point occurred when her father passed away from cancer several years ago.
“I don’t think there’s anything harder than losing someone that you love to this terrible disease,” she said. “And I think that I can handle whatever (now) – and all the being embarrassed of who I am and what I have to say, it doesn’t matter.
“People want to know that you’re a human, and that’s why they follow you. That’s why they engage. It’s kind of a weirdly beautiful thing about social media. Like the idea of this mysterious artist, it’s actually really difficult to maintain.”
DOSSEY will play for nearly an hour on Saturday, and she’ll perform after No Nostalgia and Urban Heat. Her performance will be available exclusively on 3rdandLamar.com for 3rd & Lamar subscribers.
If you sign up before the show, you’ll get a free six-pack of Austin Eastciders, who is sponsoring the event. Also, half the proceeds will go to DOSSEY.
What can you expect from her set?
“That’s a good question,” she said. “I think it’s different every time. It’s definitely not normal Austin behavior, I’ll tell you that.”