Songwriter Kate Brady's Brush With Internet Fame Left Her a Music Industry Skeptic

Music has always come naturally to Kate Brady. "When I was little, teachers always had to tell me to stop singing in class," she says. "I mean, I never even noticed I was doing it." When she was a senior at Steamboat Springs High School, a classmate asked her to write something for her graduating class.

"It started off really morbid," Brady says of the song. But she eventually gave the lyrics an upbeat twist, and the resulting track, called "Sailing Ships," reached an audience much bigger than her school. In fact, it was featured on the front page of Reddit and then the Huffington Post. Soon after, talent agencies started calling. But Brady, now entering her junior year at the University of Colorado, is skeptical of the music establishment.

"It's a really scuzzy industry," Brady says. "I've been scammed by a few different people." So when Kristy Warren of Colorado-based music publishing and licensing company Lyric House reached out, Brady didn't even open the e-mail for six months. "I was just not about signing anything else."

But Lyric House has a good reputation, especially in the Denver area, boasting among its 100-artist roster local favorites Rob Drabkin, Pries and Glowing House. Brady eventually struck up a professional relationship with Warren, signing with the publishing company in July 2013. She'd just finished her freshman year at the University of Colorado in Boulder. She spent the first semester of her sophomore year there before transferring to the Denver campus last January.

"There is no real music scene in Boulder, though there are insanely good musicians," she says. "Denver has a definite scene." Brady made inroads in the city, collaborating with Connie Hong of Ivory Circle and Ally Rhoades, among others, and making a name for herself with solo shows. Still, Reddit fame doesn't have much long-term cachet, and she's cautious about her future. She'll return to Boulder this fall to focus on the final two years of her work toward an English degree. "I used to have this rush since 'Sailing Ships' took off to just do the next thing and the next thing and the next thing," she says. "But I think it's actually good that things are moving as slowly as they are."

Now twenty years old, Brady is considering her options. There has been some talk of moving to Los Angeles to work for Lyric House's office there, and she has enjoyed writing songs for other artists. Still, she's not sure if the music industry is right for her.

"A lot of people get sucked into the politics of everything, in any area of life," she says. "I think the goal should be universality -- that's what music is around for. So I'd really love to keep writing artist cuts, maybe teach. I'd much rather wind up fostering some kid's musical abilities."

The one thing Brady is sure of is that she will continue to play and write music, just as she always has.

"A lot of times I just feel really uneasy -- which could be a positive thing," she says, "because then I'll just go play the piano and get all of that out. A lot of times I don't even know that I'm feeling something until it's written."

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Caleb Williams