Like a hunter perched in the tree stand, I watch a lot of interactions on social media, quietly seeing that has transpired in the music world. Not looking to stir the pot much, I tend to keep it positive. I’m not a fan of bro-country, but I try to not go down the bashing road because as one of my friends says, I’m just not looking for that sort of audience. As independent artists gain rise in this digital music landscape, their music is now right in the hands of anyone who can think for themselves and seek out “the good stuff.” This means festivals and larger shows must take notice to stay relevant. So, what happens when your fan base hates bro country and you are invited to play with some of these artists?
This is a topic that is only going to become increasingly prominent as the Texas and indie country/folk movement continues to explode. The passion of fans behind artists like Aaron Watson, Cody Jinks, Jason Isbell, and Sturgill Simpson are nearly unheard of in many of the radio mainstreamers. As indie fans, we know we need to show up for them to keep growing and enlarging their fanbase. But what if your favorite artist ends up playing with someone like Luke Bryan, Sam Hunt, or Florida Georgia Line? Do you bother attending?
What about if you are the artist? You’ve spent your career pushing against the machine of Nashville. Your fans tout you as the “savior” in a sea of fake drum beats, circulation cutting jeans, rapping and just plain garbage. But the opportunity is tempting. It’s huge exposure and potentially puts you in front of a lot of new faces – many of which may not come across your music otherwise. And yes, that selfie with one of the “big guys or gals” is the icing on the cake. What do you do?
The issue with most of the back and forth with Nashville is the lack of attention to the “people” side of the battle. As passionate fans of “higher quality music” we are quick to forget that there is a person behind the album or microphone. In fact, many of these artists are likely good people and don’t deserve the sometimes flat-out rude and hurtful comments directed their way.
Would I fault an artist I love for performing with a bro-country artist? I would like to say no, because if my artist sticks to their style and brand, then it can be good publicity. It doesn’t make the idea of it any easier though because of what your musical peers and fans may think.
Just for some perspective.
Aaron Lewis (September 2016):
Aaron Lewis is attempting to clarify his recent remarks taking some of his fellow country artists to task, but he's not backing away from them.
If you were in this position, what would you do? Artist? Fans? Really interested to hear your positions on this.
Just a Massachusetts guy supporting Texas and other independent country/Americana artists.
Check out my spotify for good tunes!