In a recent article, Billboard highlighted the non-traditional paths to success for popular artists Joe Nichols and Eric Church.
The article begins by stating that country music touring sales have not seen a dramatic decrease like other music genres. In fact, country artists are thriving. While album sales are falling throughout the music industry, country music album sales aren’t falling at quite the same pace as other genres. It’s a small victory for country artists and their record labels.
In fact, artists are doing quite well recently with touring, which makes up an estimated 75% of an artist’s earnings. Nearly 0% of record sales go to the artists. Another article covering the Billboard Country Summit describes the state of touring for country artists:
Dave Snowden, CEO of California-based Triangle Talent who books talent for 19 state fairs, said ticket sales at major state fairs are up this year. But when Snowden looks down the road, he’s concerned with what he considers a lack of mid-level headliners who will eventually turn into tomorrow’s stars. “We need more headliners,” he said. “It’s very difficult out there with the labels – no support – and radio playing 40 singles.”
Read the entire article for great insight from Gary Allan.
A good takeaway from the two articles is that Joe Nichols and Eric Church may be two of the future superstars in country music…
Joe Nichols Career Path
Billboard Story: Joe Nichols: The Traditionalist
Joe Nichols went to Nashville in 1997 with dreams of becoming the next big country star. In 2001, Nichols signed with Universal South. Run by Nashville superstar executives Tim DuBois and Tony Brown, Universal South was looking to have major success with Nichols.
Things looked to be on track as Nichols’ first two singles reached the top five and his album Man with a Memory sold nearly 1 million copies. Nichols’ thought things would come just as easy for the duration of his career, but things changed on his next few albums.
Nichols stumbled on his second record Revelation as sales floundered despite a few modest hits. The album was much darker according to Nichols, but represented the state of mind he was in at the time.
Real Things was praised, but didn’t sell well.
Today, Nichols is coming off another #1 hit with Gimmie That Girl and things appear back on track.
Despite the inconsistency, Nichols has proven to be a performer in demand in country music. Fans are drawn to his traditional voice and good nature charm.
If Nichols can overcome some personal demons and continue to build on his successful song formula, he could become the next major touring star. Record sales will continue to fall, but future stars like Nichols should continue finding financial reward with live performances.
Eric Church Career Path
Billboard Story: Eric Church: The Rocker
More singles from Church’s debut album Sinners Like Me and while they appeared to be big hits with Church’s core audience, the songs failed to crack into the top 10.
It was an interesting start for Church. After the success of How ‘Bout You he was offered the job as opening act for Rascal Flatts. Eric began to extend his shows during the early stages of the tour and was fired for not following the rules.
Like a true country outlaw, Church and his team forged a plan that would take him on a nationwide tour of smaller rock clubs. Church built his audience while at the same time his third single Guys Like Me climbed into the top 20 at radio.
Sinners sold well to the surprise of many, but credit goes to Church and his team’s hard work. An audience of hard core fans was built when Eric toured the smaller clubs and that group has followed Church around the country, buying his records and concert tickets.
Church successfully released his 2nd album Carolina in 2009 and saw the first two singles reach #10 on the charts. He’s also seeing more female fans in the audience these days.
As his career continues to build momentum, look for Eric Church to emerge as one of the touring headliners in country music. He’s heading out on tour with a fellow rising star Miranda Lambert this fall. She’s on a much faster track to headlining status, but as his history proves, Eric Church will do what it takes – even if it takes a little longer – to get there his own way.
Laura Bell Bundy
Also take a look at the article on newcomer Laura Bell Bundy: Laura Bell Bundy: The Broadway Star
What are your thoughts on Eric Church and Joe Nichols? Are they future headliners?
Share your thoughts in the comments…