Country Labels Revive Two Forgotten Arts: Artist Development—And Patience


(from Billboard Magazine, November 7, 2013) Usually record companies will drop an artist if they have a failed single, but that is not the case in country music. Country music labels often give their artists more than one chance to be successful. Brett Eldredge and Tyler Farr both did not do well in the beginning with their singles, but after a few attempts their third singles did great. Thomas Rhett was also able to land a three-week No. 1 with his single “It Goes Like This.” Eric Paslay and Jon Pardi haven’t hit number one yet, but they each have singles that are moving up on the charts. No one would probably remember Kip Moore’s first single, but since then many of his songs have been hits. Lee Brice’s sixth single, “A Woman Like You,” hit No. 1 in 2011 after having a few that didn’t do as well. Casey James and Craig Campbell are working hard on new music hoping that it goes over well with their fans.

The reason many of these artists are getting another chance is that these labels believe in development of their artists. Michael Powers, President of Bigger Picture, says, “If the artist is great and you know you’ve started with that, then it’s a combination of finding the right songs, the right performance, and the right climate at radio.” He thinks that a person should believe in the talent that they have chosen and make changes until it’s right. Kevin Herring, Warner Music Nashville VP of Promotion, believes that you shouldn’t make a decision about a new artist until they are on the radio. Eldredge’s first singles didn’t do well, but he had a lot of positive feedback after visiting stations.

Columbia Records VP of Promotion, Norbert Nix, thinks it’s a risky business, but it is important to show commitment to the artist and help them develop instead of just writing them off after one failed single. Artist manager Dan Harrell says, “Once a label’s been through that process of starting with somebody that nobody knew about, and only your team believed in, and then you’re sitting backstage at a sold-out concert, it’s worth it.”