Ingrid Michaelson

The secret behind Ingrid Michaelson’s success is Grandmaster Flash. Or rather, “The Grandmaster Flash Plan Plan.”

“After we’d decided officially that we were going to work together, we put together a plan of attack for the year,” Michaelson’s manager, Lynn Grossman of Secret Road, told Pollstar. “It started out as ‘The Plan,’ and then ‘The Grand Plan’ and then ‘The Grand Master Plan.’ And it eventually became ‘The Grandmaster Flash Plan Plan.’

“It was a list of about 40 things that we wanted to accomplish in the year 2007 and it included getting a song in a commercial, getting her MySpace followers up to a specific number, how much money we wanted to make, the number of radio stations that would play her – it was really specific. The great thing about it was I feel like we attained 95 percent of the goals that we wrote down the year before.”

Grossman’s licensing company discovered the indie pop/folk singer/songwriter’s music on MySpace in 2006. Grossman had retired from management, but she was so impressed by Michaelson’s music she agreed to get back in the business.

“A bunch of other management companies were contacting me. I think she got kind of protective and was like, ‘Forget it, I’m doing this,’” Michaelson told Pollstar. “She didn’t want me to be taken over by the vultures of the business so we started working together. She was really sweet because she didn’t want to manage anyone anymore and now she has quite a handful with me.”

Michaelson grew up in New York, taking piano and voice lessons from a young age. After graduating from college with a degree in musical theatre she started writing songs and playing local shows.

Photo: Deborah Lopez

Early on, Michaelson ticked off a major goal – landing a song on ABC’s hit show “Grey’s Anatomy.” The song, the first of many of her tunes featured on “Grey’s,” aired during a November 2006 episode.

A year later, Michaelson’s “The Way I Am” was featured on Old Navy’s fall 2007 ad campaign.

“That was the thing that pushed my music to a different level because everyone started buying that track after they heard it on TV,” Michaelson said. “Radio started to play it and the press was interested in the fact that I was getting airplay and all this attention and I had no label. And it all sort of became this big snowball.”

Two years later, Michaelson still isn’t signed to a record label.

She explained that she received a lot of offers from labels “but it just didn’t make sense because we were doing all the work ourselves. Why would we hand over everything to a label when we were doing it all ourselves just fine?

“And now I have distribution through [Original Signal and] Universal Motown so I kind of have a hybrid – it’s my own label [Cabin 24 Records] but I get the muscle of a major radio staff and marketing … It’s the best of both worlds.”

Prior to joining forces with her creative team, Michaelson kept up a presence in the NYC local scene by playing two to three shows a month on the side while teaching children’s theatre. Once she started working with Grossman and her agent, Paradigm’s Steve Ferguson, her team landed her support slots for artists like Dave Matthews Band and Jason Mraz, then her own headlining tours.

“She chooses the bands that support her. That’s entirely Ingrid’s choice,” Ferguson told Pollstar. “As far as the venues, we look at it on a market-by-market basis. She does have a lot of say in where she likes to play. She will tell us things she doesn’t like or things she does like. There’s a constant rapport between myself, her manager and [Ingrid].”

The gigs, which feature a backup band of two guitarists, a drummer and a bassist, are “very interactive and enthusiastic,” Grossman said.

“She’s just as much standup comedian as she is musician/performer. People say they can’t wait for her to sing her next song and they can’t wait for her next in-between song banter. … Sometimes she says things that I can’t believe she’s saying onstage. … She cracks me up.”

Photo: Deborah Lopez

Michaelson and her team are looking forward to the release of her fourth album and upcoming tour, then tackling what they now refer to as “The Grandmaster Flash Plan Plan Plan Plan 2010.”

“It’s kind of fuller and more heavy sounding,” Michaelson said of Everybody, which is set for release Aug. 25. “There’s just more going on, more production. It’s an autobiographical record so it’s sort of darker and a little more acerbic, a little more grownup. But I don’t claim to be grownup – I just think it’s more grownup than my previous work.”

Michaelson’s North America headlining tour kicks off Aug. 31 with dates through early November. She then has plans to tour Europe.

“I don’t plan on taking a break. I just had a lot of time off to [record] my record so I’m ready to go back out and work,” Michaelson said.