If any mention of “DIY” only brings to mind the unintelligible screaming of safety-pinned punks, it might surprise you to hear about the incredible independent success of a country artist like Corey Smith. On the strength of his devoted fan base and catchy tunes, Smith has sold over 900,000 digital singles and over 200,000 records independently. Though he released his most recent album The Broken Record on Average Joe’s Entertainment, Smith has stayed true to his independent roots, re-recording past crowd favorites such as “Twenty-One” with new studio polish. We recently caught up with Smith to chat about his grassroots success, his collaboration with producer Rick Beato and how a teaching gig isn’t that different from a music career.
OS: You’ve had an incredible amount of success without any type of record label backing. How did you garner such a loyal grassroots following?
CS: I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this question over the past few years, and unfortunately I’m still a long ways from answering it. There are many, many tremendously talented artists out there and, for whatever reason, only a few of them are able to break through and gain a substantial fan base. If I knew the secret formula, I’d be able to make a fortune writing books, teaching classes or running my own record label.
There was a time when I thought I had the answers, when I thought I understood what was going on, but experience has proven me wrong time and time again. Fans aren’t a product of just the songwriting or just heavy touring or just social media or just file sharing. They are a product of all those things and more.
All I know is I love writing songs. I love recording them. I love performing them. I can’t imagine my life without music in it, without art in it. Like breathing or eating or drinking, it’s become a part of who I am and ultimately, the joy I get from the process of creating is the only true measure of my success.
Am I happy I have a fan base? Truly. Do I know how it came to happen? Not really. But I thank God that it did.