Paula Cole takes career by the reins, boasts new album and tour

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Entertainment,Music,Robert Fulton

For her forthcoming album, "Raven," which is due out on Tuesday, Paula Cole took a new approach.

She crowd-funded the project.

"I've been a product of major labels for the two decades of my career," Cole said, speaking by phone from her home in Beverly, Mass. "Times are changing, and record companies are falling like dinosaurs. Here we are witnessing all this mutation. Music is still vital, so I asked myself, 'Where is my place in it?' Now I'm older, and I have a more modest career, it just didn't make sense to me intellectually and logically for me to go back to that old paradigm."

Paula Cole performs Friday at Wolf Trap.

If you go
Paula Cole
» Where: The Barns at Wolf Trap, 1635 Trap Road, Vienna
» When: 8 p.m. Friday
» Info: $25; 877-965-3872; wolftrap.org

At first, Cole wasn't so sure about crowd-funding "Raven." She said she was initially uncomfortable asking her fan base for support.

"I guess because I was being proud," Cole said. "I thought that maybe there was something wrong with asking."

Ultimately, Cole did set up a financing campaign on Kickstarter.com, and she's happy she did. She didn't have to use the old label model of going into debt, and she owns the intellectual property rights to the work. Cole set up her own Label 675 Records and formed a distribution agreement with United for Opportunity. Fans are well-aware of Cole's singing and songwriting abilities, but she's also a Grammy-nominated producer.

"It's empowering to artists," Cole said of going it alone.

Ultimately, Cole raised more than $75,000 from more than 900 backers to create "Raven." Some of the incentives for backers ranged from a download of the new album to Skype voice lessons to singing with Cole onstage, depending on the level of support. Cole said the experience connected her with her fans.

As for "Raven," Cole's sixth studio album, she selected the 11 tracks from old and new songs she's written.

"This is part of the wonderful part of music," Cole said. "You start gathering songs, and you sense what works together as a collection."

Paula Cole first hit it big in the mid-'90s behind the hits "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?" and "I Don't Want to Wait," from the 1996 album "This Fire." She won a Grammy for Best New Artist.

With a family and a happy life in Beverly, Cole doesn't tour as extensively as she once did. But she anticipates playing shows for at least a year in support of "Raven" as more and more dates get filled in.

Cole describes her career as pre-Internet and post-Internet, with a hiatus in the middle. She also described the post-Internet career as more authentic.

"I felt like I wanted to take my career by the reins again," Cole said.

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