Adley shares her experience with best friend Miss Oklahoma Olivia Jordan on the eve of the release of her collaborative writing effort How They Sell Music on a full blown steam locomotive of a year!
Adley Stump has followed her second season on The Voice with hard won efforts that have collided into a Super Nova this year. As a spokesperson for Little Black Dress Wines with the song “Little Black Dress” and a new video for “Stay At Home Soldier” set the stage for an appearance as the featured performer at the Miss USA Pageant this year after other performers pulled out because of comments by Donald Trump, her story of friendship with Miss Oklahoma who won the competition a few short weeks ago took center stage.
It could be called providence, but a book about the current state of affairs in the music business, How They Sell Music will continue to put her name and face out to an ever bigger umbrella of fans and musicians as she develops her own path to success in Nashville.
Adley has settled into her Nashville roots as the music business has been turned upside down. Country Music still has a traditional path to success but many avenues have opened up for Indie Country artists to strike out on their own albeit with lots of roadwork and looking at every opportunity there is including pairing with manufacturer promotions and being a dealmaker.
Adley shared some of her current insight with The Nashville Bridge.
Brad Hardisty / The Nashville Bridge: I know you were a feature performer at this years’ Miss USA Pageant. Donald Trump’s recent statements created some big issues that put the pageant in the news. It seemed to turn out to be a great experience. Do you want to talk about your experience?
Adley Stump: Absolutely. Man that was one of the most special nights of my life and all. Miss Oklahoma Olivia Jordan had been my best friend since the seventh grade. She moved to L.A. to pursue her dreams the same week I moved to Nashville.
TNB: I bet it was strange to see artists pulling out of the Miss USA Pageant just a few days before it were to air.
Adley: I got the call after the other entertainment backed out. It was about six days before the pageant. I was the only feature performer of the night. It was really amazing. The best part was being able to share that with her. Knowing that Olivia went on to win, the Producers and all knew how close we were and everybody was routing for her. She has genuinely been my personal role model and best friend. She is one of the best people you could ever meet. No doubt in my mind. America is just going to completely fall in love with her. She’s incredibly smart and incredibly genuine. I’ve never been more proud of anybody in my life. I am still on cloud nine from that weekend. I have been watching how fast her life has changed. They whisked her away. She has a new phone number. She has body guards now. They moved her to New York that night to stay in one of Trump’s buildings up in the Penthouse. It is just amazing what this year is going to look like.
TNB: What song did you do at the Miss USA Pageant?
Adley: I was supposed to do two. One of them did not get cleared until three days before the pageant. The song I ended up doing was incredible, it was an original song which felt pretty cool it’s called “Little Black Dress.” It fit perfect for their evening wear walk. The other song was off this last album as well so that felt pretty cool to sing an original. That was really special.
TNB: You have had a pretty busy year in combination with the new song “Stay At Home Soldier” and also the book How They Sell Music; Lesson From Celebrities On Creating Your Own Success [with co-author Bubba Sparxx]. How did the book thing come about?
Adley: I started it. Being in Nashville, I’m sitting here every day thinking people should be a fly on the wall in some of these conversations that are happening all up and down in coffee shops and book stores. I have been blessed to have an amazing group of relationships with artists all over the world that don’t get to be here. They would kill to sit with some of these people and just hang and say, “Can I pick your brain for just a minute? Can I get some advice?”
TNB: What do you think people want to know about the Nashville music business?
Adley: They want to hear from people who have done it and who are doing it, something different than what they are able to find online on blogs. I didn’t want to talk with management. I wanted to talk to people who have done it on their own. Questions like how do I get somebody a demo? When do I not? That’s the kind of real stuff that they want to know that can help them. So, I take twelve artists. Some are You Tube stars; some are touring and became platinum selling artist on their own.
TNB: I imagine you get twelve different stories.
Adley: Everybody kind of has a different story from a different genre but it kind of becomes a real good rounded look at the industry. There is a lot of really tangible take aways that you can apply to your own career. The best tips and tricks of those who did it.
TNB: Is it more than how and when to get demos to people?
Adley: You get their advice for approaching satellite radio or they talk about how they got five million You Tube subscribers here. I write my strategy for attaching You Tube for collaboration with peers or how I di X, Y and Z. It is really great for them. So, that has been a passion project of mine putting it together over the last year and a half. I really haven’t pushed it that much because our big launch is with Amazon this month as a partner and that is going to very, very exciting.
TNB: Do you have a book signing coming up?
Adley: This is the only day that I am in town along with one other day this month. We are going to celebrate it at a couple of upcoming shows. But, as far as something in town, I’m kind of waiting to see what the result is going to be because of amazon’s participation on its release. I’m not just throwin’ it out there.
TNB: Do you feel that the Country Music is changing enough that you have to be your own brand and be a self- starter?
Adley: One hundred and ten percent. That’s really what I’ve been since day one. My office is right there on 16th and Edgehill and every day I’m watching people just sit back and wait for somebody to realize that they are talented and everybody is talented. No one else is going to help you. If you think about it; if you were in any other industry like a toy company you would never sit back. People would call you crazy. You wouldn’t say, “I have an amazing toy and I am going to wait for someone to realize how awesome my toy is. Come develop my toy for me and put money into my toy and distribute my toy and market my toy because it’s so awesome.” You’d be like, you’re crazy! You have to do that for yourself. You have to show, in my opinion, for this to work and have longevity and have a career that you really have some control in it and have the leverage to be able to get a deal.
TNB: I am sure not everybody has the skill to market themselves.
Adley: Lots of people, they find after two years that now they’re dropped [by their label or publisher]. I think you have artists knowing to do the work on their own now and it’s to exceed what artists define as success, to be one of those artists willing to take on the work. The more that I have done that and not waited for someone else to tell me what I can do, than I can be successful in the manner in which I am going to do so. It’s really empowering. You know you really can create a true entrepreneurial adventure to the inth degree of what you are in business for. You have to treat it like that. A complete full body, full mind and full spiritual focus to get to where you wanna go.
TNB: You are kind of self-contained in the sense that you are a songwriter, as well right?
Adley: Yes, yes.
TNB: Do you think that nowadays it is going to be harder to just be a vocalist as opposed to being a singer/songwriter?
Adley: I think they need to go hand in hand. Yeah, whether, you are independent and you are looking for a major label deal they are going to have you start writing anyway because of your publishing [royalties] if you are going to make their long term return. So, I think yeah it is creating more a part of the puzzle. I get fired up when I talk about this. I would never say, Brad, you got to go see this girl she is like a little bit of good but at everything. This girl sings her ass off or she plays guitar like crazy or she’s hilarious, whatever it is. I think it is a matter of knowing your strengths just like you would have to in any other industry.
TNB: Knowing your own strength and abilities is absolutely key to the situation.
Adley: You go with your group. You know where your strengths are and you go in there instead of trying to equalize and bring up your weaknesses. It’s the difference between knowing their strengths better than everybody else in their corner and not spending ten hours a week on production, ten hours a week on getting better at guitar, ten hours a week on vocal lessons, you know, I think you really have to be very self-aware and know your DNA and figure out how you can position yourself in the market.
TNB: What do you think your strength is?
Adley: I bet my strength is the business aspect of it, creating a product. I do want to write but you know it’s not just sitting there and writing every day and creating every day. If I want to actually be heard I have to take it upon myself to make it and be heard. A strength of mine has been partnering and having massive visibility and offering value propositions to them as to why it would be a no-brainer to partner with me. Right after I got off The Voice, I partnered with Little Black Dress and now I am working with Remington Arms and Logan’s Roadhouse.
TNB: It’s important to look at different opportunities outside just trying to retail.
Adley: Well, take for example my friends that` are on Sony. They are not getting shelf space at Walmart and Kroger and all of that but we are taking 90,000 bottles [Little Black Dress Wines] in just one region putting bottleneckers on them and giving away the “Little Black Dress” song for free and it’s clickable to go right to the website to see the rest of the album. I do an email chain to where I can watch that conversion rate. Now we are in Kroger and we are touring Kroger’s now. We tell them I will come in and do a performance or a radio remote or we will do a bottle meet and greet. Kroger buys a hundred cases of wine to facilitate that. They sell more wine and I get my music in Kroger and visibility in Kroger that matches the supply chain and get to stay on the road. I can sell more of my music independently. I get the numbers up in the media. It really is just a lot of strategic alliances. I do think for the independent artist the trend is going to swing that way as far as keeping the lights on in the short term.
TNB: Do you think that by showing people the business model in your book that it shortens the development time?
Adley: I don’t think that everybody can replicate the same business model. It goes back to knowing your strengths. I don’t want to fit in a van every day and go out and tour every day to build up in indie clubs. The power of TV is for me.
TNB: It seems like TV or radio still has to play a part to get widely known.
Adley: Yes, you’ve got to have TV or radio. It’s still the 800 pound gorilla for becoming a household name. Radio for independents is pretty much a crapshoot. You know, unless you, somehow, win the lottery. I’ve been an independent artist for quite a while. It’s really a marriage of getting together the right team, the right song, the right look and timing. The perfect storm. I think with the average artist you wouldn’t say”Hey, here is a half a million dollars! Go drop this into radio.” I’ve known independent artists to spend a million dollars on radio and they have a ton of tracks and they have TV and it didn’t work. I think if you have a half a million to spend, I think you can get a lot more return and visibility outside of radio because you are going to have to keep putting money into radio once you are there and that’s your mode of operation. So, for the average artist, I wouldn’t recommend it.
TNB: Wow, it seems like do I spend money on radio or not is a huge question for an independent artist.
Adley: I think it’s all different. There is no formula. There is no guarantee. Traditionally, the road is how you are going to build a music career. It’s gonna take several years. You have to want it as bad as you can breathe to be able to stay in there. It’s not chasing a dangling carrot that’s been out there in the distance because I believe God changes the method in which you get to that goal. I think you have to be really structured and struggling when it comes to your goals and what you want. You have to be really flexible in the methods to get there.
TNB: It’s strange how an Artist can be struggling and all of sudden things click.
Adley: The doors can swing wide open sometimes and when they swing wide open, you never saw it coming but, you’re hopeful. Along the way, it could be something totally unexpected that’s going to be the biggest blessing at that time in your career.
TNB: We didn’t get much of a chance to talk about your last single “Stay At Home Soldier.”
Adley: On “Stay At Home Soldier” we have used brands to capitalize on the launch with a decent amount of success. It’s a single that has been very exciting for me because it is different than the typical commercial single release; it’s going to take you back to the genesis as to why I’m an artist in the first place. It’s to write music that meets somebody where they are. We’ve put ourselves as songwriters in situations that we are not always in and this is definitely one of those. This has been a really special release for us.
Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN