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Published: Friday, 12/31/2004

Sylvania grad takes control of her career

BY ROD LOCKWOOD
BLADE STAFF WRITER

For Adrianne Serna, starting her own record label was easy:

Just get a business name - in her case, Poor Girl Records - a license, and a mailing address, and like everyone from Ani DiFranco to the Beatles, you've got a label.

Now comes the hard part for the 28-year-old Sylvania native: running it herself, taking care of the production, promotions, marketing, dealing with the media, mailings, touring, and, oh yes, creating new music.

From the time she first picked up a guitar eight years ago to the release of her second disc - the melodic, graceful "Time and Place" - Serna has learned a lot about the music business and hard work.

"What I have going on right now with two albums out, a band and then being the leader of the band, and I do all the production and publicity - I'm really tired," she said, laughing. "For everything you do there are a million other things you could've done."

Serna, a 1994 Northview High School graduate, came relatively late to the business. Despite growing up in a musical family - two of her brothers, Desi and Sean Serna, play on "Time and Place" - she wasn't inclined to play until knocking around at Ohio State University and the University of Toledo.

"Looking back, I was really bored and unsettled and I realized that I had a frustrated songwriter in me the whole time," she said. "I was just trying to figure myself out, and then I picked up a guitar and was like, 'Oh, that's it.'‚óŹ"

She moved to the San Francisco area, where she still lives, and completed a bachelor's degree in the music business curriculum from San Francisco State University.

Like a lot of independent artists, she found out quickly that the music business is not friendly to anyone but the most established artists. Serna made her first disc, "Another Day in America," in 2002 and it didn't attract much attention.

So she created Poor Girl Records and got to work.

"Basically it just came out of necessity. I put out my first record and there weren't any labels knocking on the door," she said.

She'll be playing material from the new disc, which is available at poorgirlrecords.com, at her CD release show tomorrow night at Mickey Finn's Pub, 602 Lagrange St.

An obvious inspiration for her music is Ani DiFranco, who created a template for independent artists by starting her own label, Righteous Babe Records.

"May I Take Your Order Please" from "Time and Place" echoes DiFranco with its rubbery rhythms and wry lyrics. Serna also cites Liz Phair as an influence, which shows up on a number of her songs, while maintaining her own unique qualities.

It's good stuff, but without distribution from a major label, Serna is on her own in getting it out to the rest of the world. "The people who know my music love it, but there are too many people who just don't know it," she said.

The next step is to get enough attention that she can build a team that includes a booking agent, a producer, some investors who support marketing and financial breathing room.

"As an independent artist it was all about control and doing it my way and etcetera, etcetera," she said. "Now I'd really like some help."

Adrianne Serna and her band will perform tomorrow night at Mickey Finn's Pub, 602 Lagrange St., taking the stage at about 10 for the first of two sets. The opening act will be Kate Pivoriunas, who will play at about 9:30. Tickets are $5. Information: 419-246-3466.

Contact Rod Lockwood at:

rlockwood@theblade.com

or 419-724-6085.



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