Podcast Transcript

Speaker 1:                        Takin’ A Walk.

Drew Baldridge:              And I lost my record deal in 2019 and coming with that loss of record deal, I lost my booking agent and I also lost my manager. I didn’t think, I didn’t know what to do. I was living on my credit cards. And so I had this idea, I was like, man, am I still supposed to do music? I’ll post on social media, I’ll play in anybody’s backyard that wants to have me. And I thought I’d get like 10 people. Man, I got over 27,000 requests and I ended up going around the country for two years and turning over 300 people’s backyards.

Speaker 1:                        Welcome to the Takin’ A Walk Podcast, where are your host, Buzz Knight talks with musicians and industry insiders on their love of music. On this episode, Buzz heads back to Nashville to meet up with country singer and songwriter Drew Baldridge. You’ll hear his amazing tales of independence and resilience as he describes how he’s built an audience nationally without big label support and artist management. His organic fan growth is a case study in building community, and by the way, his music is great as well. Drew Baldridge joins Buzz Knight next on Takin’ A Walk.

Buzz Knight:                     Drew Baldridge, thanks for being on Takin’ a Walk. We’re here in Nashville. I’m so grateful to be in personal with you.

Drew Baldridge:              Man, I’m so glad this worked out. I’m excited to be a part of it.

Buzz Knight:                     So what do moving cows around there in Patoka, Illinois have in common with the music business?

Drew Baldridge:              Man, so I grew up on a farm and like you said, a little town called Patoka, Illinois, and I grew up on a farm. My grandpa was like my hero. And I always put farming and kind of tied it to the music business in an interesting way of, we write these songs and we don’t really know what they’re going to do. It’s kind of putting seed in the ground and you don’t know how it’s going to yield. You don’t know what’s going to turn out, if it’s going to have a big yield, if you’re going to get rain, if you’re going to have a good crop, a bad crop, if your tractor’s going to break down.

                                           And I grew up with a lot of old tractors that broke down a lot of times. And so that’s kind of feel like a lot of my journey in music has been that. And it took, a couple of years ago, my grandpa passed away and me going back home and reliving that country lifestyle, of helping with the cows for a while and just getting back to me and not so much of chasing a sound in Nashville, but more of you know what? I’m making music for people and my people are country people. And so it’s been, like I said, I’ve always tied farm and kind of the music industry my whole life since I’ve moved here at 19.

Buzz Knight:                     But was there a period you felt like you were chasing something that when you looked in retrospect, it wasn’t authentic to you?

Drew Baldridge:              Yeah, I think I chased, when I signed my record deal, I was chasing everything. I was just wanting to be heard in any way possible, any kind of sound, any kind of song. And I lost my record deal in 2019 and coming with that loss of record deal, I lost my booking agent and I also lost my manager in the same aspect. And I did this tour over 2020, COVID hit. I didn’t know what to do. I was living on my credit cards and I was kind of like, man, first off, I got a girl that I want to marry. I can’t even afford a ring.

                                           So I had this idea, I was like, man, am I still supposed to do music? I’ll post on social media and I’ll just say, hey, whoever, I’ll play in anybody’s backyard that wants to have me, and this is, as long as I can do it and we can’t do it for free. We need help in getting there and travel expenses and stuff. And I thought I’d get 10 people. I thought people would be like, Hey, yeah, we’ll do it, man. I got over 27,000 requests and I ended up going around the country for two years and turning over 300 people’s backyards. And that really changed my creative process to be like, you know what? I’m making music for people and not for record labels. I’m not making music for radio. I’m making it to have a connection with real life people. When I was in their yard, I was playing cornhole, eating dinner with them. They were telling me what the songs meant to them and why. Thank you so much. Thank you so much for creating music that we can put into our lives.

                                           And that’s when it really changed for me also too, of just like I’m making music for people, for real authentic people, and that really helped me strive to the music that I’m creating today.

Buzz Knight:                     That’s when I first heard about you. Now, many of those were, they were backyard barbecues, they were graduation parties, right?

Drew Baldridge:              Yeah. Like you said, I had a song called “Senior Year,” that kind of had this moment during 2020 because the hook of the song said, “Never thought it would disappear, senior year.” Where all these kids’ senior year disappeared. And the song was already out. I wrote it, when I wrote that hook, I just meant live it up kids, it’s going to go by fast. But their year really did disappear. So before I did the backyard thing, first I did the senior year thing and I posted and I said, “Hey, I’ll do a Zoom concert for any class of 2020 that wants a Zoom concert.” So I was doing seven or eight Zoom concerts a day from my living room couch, and they’d be like 30 minutes a piece and I’d jump right into the next class play for another 150 kids. And then that turned into, “Hey, we have a drive-in graduation, would you fly down here and drive down here and play this drive-in graduation because it’s all social distancing.” And I said, sure.

                                           So I went around the country, I did about 20 schools where I just played drive-in graduations, parades, and gave commencement speeches to kids all around senior year. And then that really sparked the idea it’s why am I only doing this for senior year kids when I should be doing it for people? And that’s what turned into the backyard shows.

Buzz Knight:                     And the way it struck me when I heard about this was as the business and musicians were incredibly confused and frustrated during the pandemic, you did something that was reaching out and touching them, but it was also incredibly unique compared to what anybody else was doing.

Drew Baldridge:              Yeah. It was real different. And it was also though, real rewarding for a lot of people that need music in their lives. And some of these shows where we did social distancing shows, we’d had shows that were after COVID and all of them were outside and it brought music to people and they needed it. There were so many people that said, “Oh my goodness, we normally go to concerts 10 times in a year and we haven’t been able to go to any, this is our release. This is our life. We love country music, and now you get to be here in our yard.” And it just really, it took down all the walls between artists and fan, artists and listener. And it was just really … I became friends with a lot of these people. And I still, today when I play shows and there’s hundreds of people in the crowd or whatever, I can look down and see that they got the Baldridge and Bonfire shirt on. I know I was in their yard, they have the shirt.

                                           And it’s really cool to know that they were with me at my hardest time in music for me personally, of just losing everything but still having my people that connect to my music to support me and believe in me and keep me going. And so every show that I play, and it’s almost every show now, every tour that I go out and play now that we’re back to playing clubs, there’s at least one person in there I played in their backyard. And so that’s pretty cool.

Buzz Knight:                     So the cool thing about podcasts are they are domestically everywhere here in terms of where people consume them and they’re also international, but let’s deal with the domestic part first. Talk about some of those small towns and name them where you played some of those shows.

Drew Baldridge:              Man. Yeah, we played a lot in upstate New York and we played some from New York all the way to California, to Oakdale, California, that I’ve never heard of before. They call almonds, almonds. And I was like, what are you talking about? And I just got to do a lot of fun stuff on this and see a lot of people in towns differently. Because most of the time people are like, “Oh my gosh, you’re a musician. You travel all around the world.” It’s like, “Yeah, most of the time all I see are Pilot gas stations, the club and where we’re eating dinner that night.” I never hardly have enough time to do anything.

                                           But this way of touring is I got to see the back roads of the town. I got to go to these little towns and all these little towns are on the back. I make their own tour shirt. I put their own little town name on it where they feel like, “Hey, we’re not Chicago, but we’re a little town in Illinois outside of it, but our name’s on the tour shirt.” And so that is what I love. Because I grew up in a town of 500 people, so our little town’s never got anything. So being able to go and tour this way was really, really special for me, but also for them, because they got to do what they thought was fun with me. Like, “Hey man, we take our four-wheelers down to this lake and we sit here and we catch channel cat.” I was like, “Okay, well let’s go do that. Let’s go take the four-wheeler down to the lake.”

                                           And so I got to do a lot of this stuff with people on a human level that I would’ve never got to do before if I was just playing in clubs or fairs.

Buzz Knight:                     I’m just so fascinated by it, so I’m hung up on it in a good way. There was a man that I did some work with as a former radio programmer who since passed away. His name was John McGann. He worked at MTV for a while and VH1, and he was a real trailblazer. He had a statement that sort of applies to what you succeeded at doing with those tours that you made, “Think like a fan, make everyone a star.” What’s your reflection on that?

Drew Baldridge:              No, I think that’s awesome. I think we can get caught up, artists sometimes, in egos, and I’ve been there before where I’m like, well, I’m a country singer and I’m rolling in and nobody can see me before I take stage. I’m backstage. It’s this cool moment. And when you do it like how we did it in those backyards, there ain’t nothing glamorous about that. Just being honest. It was like we’re playing on the freaking hay wagon they just took the bales off of the morning before. It’s not, you’re rolling in and you’re Fancy Dan in your bus and stuff. It’s really just knocking those walls down and treating people like humans. And it makes me go in and being, we’re all humans, we’re all put our pants on this morning, and it really gave a whole new connection to me for the people that listen to my music because I even hate the word fan.

                                           That’s a weird word to me. I think just people that listen to your music is what I like to say more of. And it’s just the people that listen to my music, it really allowed me to have a connection with them. I could have put out of all those 300 yards, this was the coolest thing for me on this whole thing Buzz, was on my social media I post about my family, I post about God, I post about the music that I make, and it’s really interesting what you post and put out in the world. Those are your people that follow your social media pages.

                                           And so out of all those 300 backyards, I could have put all those people in one big shed and it would’ve been the all good time. They were all solid, salt of the earth humans. And it was really cool to see, hey, whoever listened to your music is an extension of who you are. And these were all people that I would genuinely hang out with in my little town back home on a Saturday night. It was really cool.

Buzz Knight:                     Do you believe it really was the beginning that fueled your organic growth as an artist with your fans?

Drew Baldridge:              Yeah, I was very lucky. I’ve been in Nashville for 13 years. I had a record deal before that where I created fans, well created listeners. I’ve been on SiriusXM Radio, I’ve created listeners that way. I had a lot of things that built up to that, but this was, I think, the most genuine way I’ve created people following my music and what I’m doing because it was a real connection. They see me on their social media and talking about my music, but I actually got to stand there next to them and talk about their grandma passing away or their daughter going through high school. And I think that was what was really different for this tour and really catapulted us to allow what we’re doing today, is to know that we have those people out there that shared that story with the surrounding towns that they were, “Hey, did you know Drew Baldridge came to our house? That guy right there that’s playing on the radio now, he was in our backyard.”

                                           And that really, I think, does have some sort of, you start seeing the branches go out when you come to these. Last week I was in Omaha, Nebraska and I played for a school up there not that far away, and the principal’s texted me and saying, “Hey, I’m so glad you’re coming back. We’re going to come watch you.” And it’s just like all these little finger licks kind of come out and start touching people.

Buzz Knight:                     It’s like a textbook in marketing. You didn’t know you were coming up with that?

Drew Baldridge:              No, I had no idea, man. I just wanted to play music and I knew that this was a way that I could continue to do that. And I really believe God built me to write songs and play them and entertain people when I can. And it was a special way for me to do that. And I don’t know, I always tell my band too, it’s like I might be something I do every year. I’m even talking about maybe going out and doing another 20 yards again because I just enjoyed it so much, of meeting people on an everyday life level and maybe for the rest of my career on out. I don’t know. I might do this again. Who knows.

Speaker 1:                        We’ll be right back with more of the Takin’ A Walk podcast.

                                           Welcome back to the Takin’ A Walk podcast.

Buzz Knight:                     So when was the first moment that you remember that music touched you? How old were you? What do you remember most about being first touched by music?

Drew Baldridge:              I grew up singing in church. My dad sang in church and I think there was this old song my dad always used to sing at church. And sitting in the pews and watching my dad sing, he’s still my hero. And I go back to those early moments of there was a song called “When the Anchor Holds,” and my dad used to sing that at church on Easter Sundays. And that is a moment that really moved me of watching my dad go up and sing. And I was like, wow, that’s something that my dad does it. I want to do that. And then I started singing. My first time performing in front of people was my first grade Christmas program. I sang all the different languages of “Goodbye.” It was like the finale of the thing, and it was like “[foreign language 00:15:10].” I mean, I can remember, it’s so goofy. But yeah, that was the first time I sang in public and then got the bug and I was like, man, I loved doing that. I loved being in front of people. I loved entertaining.

                                           And that then turned into doing multiple talent shows every year in our little area. It wasn’t much singing then. It was more dancing and lip-syncing to, there’s some really embarrassing videos out there, Buzz of me doing “Thriller” and trying to act like I know how to moonwalk.

Buzz Knight:                     Thriller!

Drew Baldridge:              Oh yeah, man. And then the Blues Brothers and …

Buzz Knight:                     Sing me a chorus of Thriller.

Drew Baldridge:              Oh, I can’t sing [inaudible 00:15:44]. You don’t want to hear that, but just that’s why I lip-synced it all. But the Blues Brothers, we did some of that and some dancing to that and “Greased Lightning,” and it was fun, man. And then looking back, my mom and dad really always pushed me along through that. I started taking piano lessons in kindergarten, and that was something that really started driving me to music too, was learning piano. And then about third grade, I said that was a girl instrument, the guy playing piano. And I was looking back, I was like, well, that was dumb. Why did I do that?

                                           So I picked up guitar at 16 and been writing songs ever since. But music’s always had a hold on my soul. And since I was, like I said, kindergarten, first grade, is when I started really performing in public, in front of people.

Buzz Knight:                     And talk to me about the musical influences that you had as you would hear music on the radio or just see it in person. What were those influences?

Drew Baldridge:              Yeah, so they were kind of all over the board. You just heard my talent show influences. I mean, we’re talking Michael Jackson, who I love the energy and the performer that he was. At that age that was like, wow, this guy is larger than life with his performances and how he does it on stage. And then when I got old enough and was 13, 14 and got into what we all did in that small town, farming and helping my grandpa out and watching my older cousins on the tractor and driving the tractor, country music became life because that was what we did. We were on the tractor from sunup to sundown. And so people like Brooks & Dunn and Alan Jackson and Randy Travis, and those people that could really have those voices that could bring my lifestyle to life, that was what, I think a song was like “Red Dirt Road” by Brooks & Dunn, that was literally my life.

                                           And Alabama, the very first country. My dad had this old mixtape that he bought this car and the mixtape was stuck in it, and it was a mixed tape of Alabama singing “Born Country.” And we would listen to that song over and over and over again. It says, “I got 100 years of down home running through my blood.” And my grandpa had this plot of land on the outskirts of town. He called it Down Home because that’s where he grew up. And his great-grandpa was first there. And so it’s been in my family for over 100 years. And so when that line came across and was like, “I got a hundred years of down home in my blood,” that’s when I realized, man, country music is life. It’s my life. And so that’s what I always try to strive to do in my music now is write those real things to me because Alabama back then, could do it. And it really struck a chord in my soul that this is really authentic to me and who I am. And so Alabama was a big, big.

                                           John Anderson was also on that mixtape, (singing). And I always just thought his voice was so different and stood out in such a cool way. And so John Anderson was also a big influence.

Buzz Knight:                     And it’s the simplicity of the life and how these songs come to life in a very clear way, right?

Drew Baldridge:              Yeah, the simplicity of it, but also just the authenticity of it, of when you hear Brooks & Dunn sing “I believe.” Oh my goodness, that is so, the emotion in that is so real, but it’s also so real for the town that I was in, right of Old Man Wrigley living in that white house, I can picture my neighbor running down the street and seeing him. Or we were a quarter mile away, so we’d have to drive a four-wheeler, so there’s no really running down the street. But it was just those kind of things that country music was my life growing up. And I hope that whatever I put out into the world music-wise, that there’s some kid out there that can say, “Wow, that’s my life too.”

Buzz Knight:                     One of your fans, Deborah K, is how she listed herself. She says, “Drew’s the man. Drew draws pictures with his music.” How does that make you feel when you hear one of your fans talk like that about your work?

Drew Baldridge:              I mean, that’s exactly what I hope for. I hope that when people hear my music, I always try to sit in the writing room when we write and I always say, “Hey, no, we got to draw a better picture of what’s going on.” And so hearing her say that, that’s super amazing. I mean, it puts a smile on my face knowing that what I’m trying to do is being portrayed in the right light. And I really do strive hard to make sure that all the images are there. Because I always tell everybody “I want to close my eyes and see what’s going on.” And if I can close my eyes when the song’s playing and it takes me somewhere, that means we did our job.

Buzz Knight:                     How about, tell me about the creation of the song “Before you.”

Drew Baldridge:              Oh, man. So I was actually out on tour with LOCASH at that time. We were in Long Island, well, not in, you can’t say in Long Island, you got to say on Long Island.

Buzz Knight:                     Long Island.

Drew Baldridge:              On Long Island. So we were on Long Island playing at a place called Mulcahy’s which we’re actually playing March 7th. And we were up above and we were writing songs, and I was about to get married, and we were talking about just all of our wives and we were talking about … LOCASH boys, they like to have fun just like I did too. And we talked about all our wives about how we were just saying, “Man, before then we were crazy. We were wild.” And so coming across writing that song was talking about all the crazy things that I did before finding my wife and how she made me a better person. And so that was actually the song that I kind of wrote for her for our engagement.

                                           And funny story, it was right at COVID and we were supposed to get engaged in France, and so we were going to get engaged right in front of the Eiffel Tower. I had it all planned out. And there’s a line in the song that said, “I never thought I’d fly to Paris to get down on one knee.” And what happened was three days before we left, they had the travel ban and we couldn’t go to Paris. And so I’m like, “I got this song, I got this. It says Paris, I’m going to play it for her.” So I had to go in, literally call my producer and say, “We have to change it. We have to change it. We’re going to fly…” We flew to Aruba. And I was like, “We got to change it to, ‘I never thought I’d fly to an island to get down on one knee.'” And so we changed it to this, and then we ended up going to Aruba and it all worked out. But that was a song that I used to propose my wife with. Yeah.

Buzz Knight:                     Wow. And then the song “Lost in Love.” Talk about that and talk about collaborating with Harper Grace.

Drew Baldridge:              Yeah, so Harper Grace, she sent me a message years ago. She was probably 16, 17 years old on Instagram, and I had a song out that time called “Rebound.” And she’s like, “I’m a big fan of Rebound. Your music is awesome,” blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. “I’m a songwriter too. I make trips to Nashville.” And most of the time when I get those, I’m just like, I don’t know. I try not to dive too much into that side of discovering artists or anything like that. And I went to her page and I just listened to her sing and she was so good, and I hit her back. I was like, “Hey, you’re amazing. When you come to Nashville, let’s write.” So she started coming to Nashville and now she has a record deal on Curb and she’s really doing some amazing things.

                                           And so we wrote this song together called “Lost in Love,” and I put a record out a year and a half ago called “Country Born,” and I always thought she was an incredible singer, and I wanted my listeners to hear her to see what she has to offer. And so I think the track turned out really, really awesome. We wrote it together, which is really special. It was kind of like her first cut outside of her own project. And we do a festival in my hometown called The Big Baldridge and Bonfire, because I did the Backyard Tour, it was called the Baldridge and Bonfire, so I decided, hey, I’m going to put a festival on, call it the big one. And so we put a festival on in my hometown last couple of years, and I brought her up the first year we did it, and she got to sing in front of a couple thousand people and sing that song with me. And that was really special.

Buzz Knight:                     So take us inside the collaborative process of a writing session. How do you like to work and how are you most productive in that session?

Drew Baldridge:              Yeah, I think most of the time now, when I first came here, it was a lot of new people you write and you’ve never written with before. Now I have my group of friends that I’ve written a lot with, and it’s all give and take. And most of the time, there’s three of y’all. And I can even go in and have, “Hey, this is what I want to write today. I’ve been thinking about this. I have it written down. I have some lines.” But there’s sometimes you go in and you don’t have anything. You’re kicking around ideas and you start talking about life and you’re like, “Hey, a couple of weeks ago, I was at the beach and I saw this and led me into this, led me into this title.”

                                           Most of the songs that I write always start with a title or an idea like “She’s Somebody’s Daughter,” like our single that we’re working at radio now. I started off with, “She’s Somebody’s Daughter.” And I knew coming into that write, this is what I wanted to write about after meeting my wife’s dad for the first time, this was a message to myself to not screw it up, but treat her right. If I break her heart, I’m breaking her mama’s heart and her daddy’s heart too. And so going into that write, I knew I’m going to write, “she’s somebody’s daughter,” and yes, I’m going to take outside ideas. Being the artist in the room, you kind of got to drive it to what you would say. But having writers in the room, they really bring it to the next level of ideas, of experiences that they’ve been through. And you got to listen to those in a big way. But the artist, you got to really be honest of what you will say and what you won’t say.

                                           And I think that’s key for an artist in a songwriter’s room that’s coming to Nashville. If you’re writing with a hit writer and they say this line and you’re like, “Man, I would never say that line,” but they really like it, I’m just going to go with it. And then you get to the point you get done with the song and you’re like, wow, there’s no me left. It’s a cool song, but it’s not how I would’ve said it.

                                           And so that’s what I always try to remember when I’m in the writing room now is like, if I’m going to record this, I need to make sure that I really love it and say what I would say. And take other people’s opinion because such a give and take in a writer’s room. And if you’re on the other side, if you’re a writer, obviously give and take, but also lean on your artist that you’re in the room with that’s going to record that song, that you want to make sure that they are loving where this is headed. And so that’s been obviously a big couple of ways. You can go in, not have an idea at all, kick around ideas. Somebody says something, you’re like, “Wow, I’ve never thought of it that way. Yeah, let’s write that title that you have and let’s point everything to that title.” Or you’re going in and you have something really convicted on your soul that day, and you’re saying, “Hey, I think we should write this. And if we write this and it comes out correctly, I think it’s something that could be really special and powerful.”

Buzz Knight:                     We produced this other podcast, it’s called Music Saved Me. It’s about the healing power of music. Do you believe music has healing powers?

Drew Baldridge:              Yeah, I really do. I really saw it a lot over this tour where I played in people’s backyards and people wasn’t getting music, they weren’t gathering around music. COVID had them stopped up and not seen music alive. And when I was in these people’s yards and playing songs, I could see them come to life. I could see their soul open up. I could see the smiles on their face or the tears in their eyes that it really does affect them. Even for me, I mean, when I listen to the right song, I get goosebumps over my entire body. It puts me in, it can transport me to a whole other place. And I’ve seen so many videos too, of people going through dementia or Alzheimer’s, but when the right song comes on, they know the words or it takes them back and you see them dancing, it brings cheerful, it brings happiness.

                                           And as a writer, I don’t take that lightly. That’s something when I go in the writing room, I want to make sure that I’m making music that people can do their life to and make memories to and make long-lasting connections with. And so, yeah, I totally believe that music can heal. Music can bring so many great things, that you can’t get a point across just talking sometimes. If I would just sit here and talk to you, “she’s somebody’s daughter, she’s somebody’s baby, she’s everything,” it’s not going to connect as much as you have the melody to it. And so I really believe that that music can heal, but also I believe that music can change lives. And you hear a song that says … I’m really friends, close friends with Tim Nichols. And he wrote “Live Like You Were Dying.” And there’s a line in there that says, “Called somebody and forgave him for a long-lost thing they did to me in the past.” And he said, “People messaged me and said, ‘Hey, I forgave my dad after hearing your song,'” because I realized life was too short.

                                           And that is amazing. That’s what music is all about. I have people call me about, “She’s Somebody’s Daughter” that says, “Hey, I haven’t talked to my daughter in a long time, but I heard your song, made me want to pick up the phone, call her.” And it’s like it changes lives.

Buzz Knight:                     It must strike you as you’re crisscrossing all over the country at a very divided time, how music unites everybody.

Drew Baldridge:              Yeah, it really does. And it’s interesting, we were talking about this today, there’s no rules in music. And I think that’s cool. You can be creatively different and you can be creatively authentic. And there is a lot of opinions in music, in country music too, on social media. You can let it get to you a little bit of people saying, “Well, it’s not country enough,” or “It’s too country. I don’t listen to that.” So there is still some divisiveness even in music, but songs that have powerful messages they can get behind, they can get behind what that song is saying for sure.

Buzz Knight:                     We’re looking out over downtown Nashville, and as you do that, and you imagine maybe a year from now, what do you hope is happening in your career next year at this time, after all your hard work?

Drew Baldridge:              Man, I hope I have a number one song, baby. That’s the goal. I did something really unconventional the last year. I created my own label and I sent a song of mine that we’ve been talking about, “She’s Somebody’s Daughter,” I sent it to radio myself. I didn’t have a record label that believed in me, and I’ve had people that believed in me and then gave up. And you kind of get one shot here in Nashville sometimes. And I think taking this song to radio and showing that it’s a hit, and we already know it’s a hit, but at radio, it’s a number one song. It’s a top 10 song. I would love for that to happen. I’ve been here for 13 years and never had a number one hit, and I’ve had friends that have been here for three, and they do.

                                           And I’m not saying that number one is everything but I want as many people to hear “She’s Somebody’s Daughter,” as possible and the message that that song brings about. And sitting here looking over Nashville, I moved here at 19 with nothing, and now I have a wife and a little boy that’s 14 months old, and we have a house and it’s all paid for by music. And it’s like that’s a pretty big blessing in itself.

                                           And I’m happy to still be here. I’m happy to create music every day. And yes, I hope we have a number one, but in a year’s time, if that’s not the case, we’ll have another song that’s out there that’s touching other people’s lives in a different way. And my goal is I’m going to put another record out within that time also. We’ve been recording new music and maybe even some outside songs like that. I’ve recorded that other artists record, hopefully have a hit or two on some other artists besides myself as a songwriter.

Buzz Knight:                     So in closing, I ask this question frequently, but I think you’re more supremely equipped to answer this than most, what advice to someone listening who’s a musician, who’s trying to work it, break in, make a difference with their music, what’s the advice you would give them?

Drew Baldridge:              Yeah, I think first off, we need to figure out how serious you are. Music is an amazing path. To be able to wake up and play music every day is awesome, but it’s also, you’re so tied to your dream. You’re so tied to your opinion of what you’re doing. You can let those people tear you down with one word of a no. When I remember I moved here and the first time I heard no, I thought I was destroyed, but it’s like, let the nos drive you. And I think that’s a really big powerful thing for me now is all the nos. And even when the biggest artists in country music are still hearing no. Country radio programmers are still telling them they don’t like that song. We’re not going to play it. But guess what? They end up playing it when other people do.

                                           And so it’s like, let the nos’ fuel you. But also if you have a plan B, this plan’s never going to work. That’s I think, the big thing. If you come here to Nashville and you say, “I give myself two years and I’m going to move home if it don’t work out,” I’ll write you off right at the beginning. It’s not going to work. Because you have a plan B and you want to put those other eggs in other baskets, and that doesn’t fly in music. And it’s like if you’re going to come here and people say it’s a 10-year town, sometimes it’s a 15-year town. Ashley Gorley, who’s written 70 number ones in Nashville, 70, the biggest songwriter that has ever been in Nashville, he didn’t have his first hit for 11 years. And it’s like if you move to town and you think, hey, I’m going to do this. I’m going to go back to the farm, or I’m going to go back and work my daddy’s business, you’re going to fail. I believe there’s no failure in country, in music in general. There’s just quitters.

                                           And I think that if you really want to do this and you’re in some small town now, it’s the best time. Because you have the power of social media that a lot of us didn’t have when we moved here. We had to be here. We had to be on the radio to be heard, we had to be playing shows. And now you can post a video and reach millions of people from your doorstep right now on your phone, wherever you’re at. If you jump on TikTok or Instagram or Facebook, you have the chance to reach multiple stadiums full of people from your device.

                                           And I think if you’re in some little town, you’re a songwriter right now, or if you’re an artist, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be posting every other day about your music or writing songs. Write, write, write, write, write.

                                           You could write 100 songs and maybe only two of them are good, or maybe they’re all good and you’re a phenomenon. I don’t know. But I’m just saying, I think right now is a great time. You should be posting to get your music out. Don’t be too gun shy and too protective. I think there’s sometimes there’s people that’s so protective of their music that they’re never going to build a listenership. They’re never going to build a following if they don’t throw it out there and see if people like it. And if they like it, build on that. Put out another one. Put out another one. That’s the business that we’re in now, and it’s very lucky that there’s a lot of people that you can do that from. You can live in Michigan right now and have a great artist career and put out songs and own your masters and do all that.

                                           You couldn’t do that 10 years ago when I moved here. You had to be on the radio to be heard, and now you can be discovered every night. Millions of people are swiping on their phone in their bed, and you could be discovered, and that song could change their life in a day’s time. So it’s pretty wild where we’re at in the industry. So that’s just a little bit of advice. Obviously, don’t put your blinders on and don’t compare yourself. I think that’s another big thing for me that I’ve had to learn over the years. I’ve moved here and had some of my friends when I first moved to town are the biggest artists in country music, and I haven’t got that shot yet.

                                           And maybe that’s not in my cards, but maybe it is. And so I think putting your blinders on and just saying, “This is my path. Nobody’s going to run my path except me. I just need to do what I’m here to do.” And don’t look at your buddy down the street that maybe further along than you, or maybe a better guitar player than you. Or maybe he’s more talented than you, but you outwork him. I think that’s a couple of little tips along the way, I guess. I don’t know.

Buzz Knight:                     Drew Baldridge, keep kicking.

Drew Baldridge:              Thanks, man. Appreciate you. Thanks for having me.

Buzz Knight:                     Outstanding.

Drew Baldridge:              Thanks for listening to this episode of The Taking a Walk podcast. Share this and other episodes with your friends and follow us so you never miss an episode. Takin’ a Walk is available on the iHeartRadio app, apple Podcasts, and wherever you get your podcasts.


About The Author

Buzz Knight

Buzz Knight is an established media executive with a long history of content creation and multi-platform distribution.

After a successful career as a Radio Executive, he formed Buzz Knight Media which focuses on strategic guidance and the development of new original content.