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Journal of the Music & Entertainment Industry Educators Association

Volume 23, Number 1 (2023)

Becoming an Award-Winning Country Musician: A Study of the Many Paths to Success

Brianna Simon

MBA, Nicholls State University

Juliann Allen

Nicholls State University

En Mao

Nicholls State University


Country music artists aspiring to sign with a major record label, win a music award, or achieve other goals associated with success in the music industry may experience difficulties in getting noticed by industry leaders and potential fans. Are there certain paths that are more productive, faster, or better overall for artists? The current study examines sixty-three award-winning country music artists who found success within the twenty-first century and the various paths they followed to signing record deals and earning awards. The authors identified and grouped paths into thirteen categories, such as performing at bars and events, participating in a singing competition, and moving to Nashville. The results conclude through data visualization and regression analysis that while some paths propel artists to sign a record deal or release a debut album in the least amount of time, other paths are more profitable, sustainable, and productive. For example, the results show that most artists move to Nashville, release music, and sign publishing deals as part of their paths to success. Most artists begin their journeys playing in a band or participating in live performances, both of which lead to the longest music careers and highest net worth amounts. Moving to Nashville remains one of the fastest paths to get signed by a major record label. The results also suggest that a social media following positively influences net worth for artists. The research presents career development guidance for up-and-coming country music artists who wish to achieve greater brand awareness and gain support from music industry intermediaries.

Keywords: country music, career development, career success, career path, music awards, record deal, singing competition, Nashville, music industry, music artist

Simon, Brianna, Juliann Allen, and En MaoBecoming an Award-Winning Country Musician: A Study of the Many Paths to Success." Journal of the Music and Entertainment Industry Educators Association 23, no. 1 (2023): 115-156. https://doi.org/10.25101/23.4.

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