OK, here goes. So apparently Bobby Bones said something (again) that has ruffled a few feathers. Honestly, I think that is part of why he's so successful, drawing in listeners to hear "what will he say next," no matter if it's good or bad or "controversial." But this post really isn't about Bobby Bones. It's about Aaron Watson.
Last week, Aaron Watson's newly released record (produced by Keith Stegall) The Underdog hit #1 outselling Sam Hunt's juggernaut Montevallo (even on the streaming-influenced Billboard 200 chart). The sales were very strong and it is a second-consecutive week that an act without much national radio AirPlay debuted at #1 on the Top Country Albums chart when Southern Rock band Blackberry Smoke held fort with Holding All The Roses, their Rounder Records debut, slid into #1.
Watson's new record is a favorite of mine and it deserves any and all attention it gets. His music has always been good enough to play on nationwide formats but as he details in "Fence Post," a song on The Underdog, Watson couldn't allow himself to play the game some of the record execs from years gone by wanted him to play to move from regional star (in Texas) to national star. He simply didn't want to be a "Fence Post." He remained independent, fiercely committed to singing songs he wrote (from inspirations in his life) and its allowed him to remain a star who can sell out shows without much love from big radio stations, like Bobby Bones' syndicated markets.
Aaron Watson not only had a #1 album but he also,had multiple singles hit the iTunes Charts when the album was in the pre-order cycle. The album's stunning lead track, "That Look," even debuted in the Top 10 of iTunes country chart for an entire WEEK the week the song hit digital sales markets. It has out some some mainstream top 40 hits and by hitting that sales mark its first week, it even reached a higher sales point than a #1 single from Kenny Chesney ("Til It's Gone") ever did.
What's the point of all of this? It's that if Aaron Watson was some sort of "also-ran," he wouldn't have achieved these figures. He wouldn't have a fan base that allows him the freedom to have the life he has, to be able to pay off any bills that come every month, including the "paying off" of his wife's credit cards, as he's told us in a conversation we're soon to print in Roughstock. In that same conversation, Watson states that he's open to signing with big record companies, providing that it's done in a way that he's comfortable with. A deal that's probably more like the partnership he's gotten with Nashville's Thirty Tigers and Sony's Red Distribution, where the music leads.
And that's what this conversation, started by Bobby Bones after Aaron's response to Sony Nashville's Gary Overton, it's that fans love all kinds of country music and not just the same ole songs about moonlight, dirt roads, Dixie cups and bench seat pickup trucks. It's also that radio isn't the only avenue to find new music, even if it remains top dog in country music. Aaron Watson is living proof that there's a path to success outside of mainstream and country radio and nobody can tell him or me otherwise.