Eric Church urges up-and-coming artists to take the path less traveled. Because success is rarely guaranteed for anyone, especially within the music industry.
While major label deals may seem like a golden ticket to success, Church warns that they can actually be detrimental. Artists have less control over their music and developing their fanbase. They end up chasing after radio trends rather than carving out a part of the industry for themselves.
“New artists are set up in a lot of ways to fail and they don’t know it, because what promotion wants—and you know this—they want the easiest path to chart success, but normally the easiest path to chart success, is not something that’s going to matter,” Church told Apple Music’s Kelleigh Bannen. “That’s why it’s the easiest path. It’s what researches well, it’s what tests well, but that’s not what sticks. That’s not sticky.”
It’s a possible reason behind one-hit-wonders or artists who produce No. 1 radio hits but fail to sell out shows. These artists sometimes fail to connect with audiences in a way that assures their longevity.
“I think a lot of artists don’t understand that they’re already in a bad spot,” Eric Church continues. “How do you become sticky? How do you care? Why does somebody know your name? And labels are not set up to do that because those things, that’s different songs, those are songs that only go to #20.”
Eric Church Rebels Against the Country Music Industry
Not that Church doesn’t believe in the power of the radio. But the artist also believes in striking out and creating a niche of his own. Church is very deliberate about what songs he wants to hit the radio.
“If you look at our career, it’s pretty easy to see our first single off of every album in our career has been aggressive, including this last one, ‘Stick That in Your Country Song.’ That’s aggressive. But the next one’s normally a pretty big hit,” Church said.
Of course, Church has created an image of himself as a bit of a rebel. He once made the CEO of Music Nashville so angry that he threw his glasses across the room. The two argued over whether to release “Smoke a Little Smoke” as a single. Ultimately, Church managed to get his way. He’s picked his singles ever since.
“From there we’ve been able to dictate a lot in our career that other artists don’t get a chance to… It reaffirmed what I believe about music, is when creativity is the lead, that’s how you lead, it works,” Church says.
And as the CMA Entertainer of the Year can attest, it’s ultimately paid off.