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| 10 June 2015 | Reply

What do you do after you spent a season on The Voice?  You go out and record great songs and tour, hoping to keep the fan base rolling and growing… unless you are Adley Stump, of course.  She is taking on the world with both hands and a smile.  Adley is out there recording, creating partnerships, writing books, touring,etc.  You get the point.  After a couple timing issues – what do you mean she would rather lunch with Bill Clinton than speak with me via phone – we were able to hook up and talk all about her latest deluxe release, her new venture into writing, and various partnerships, whether philanthropic or otherwise.  What a fun conversation…

Adley Knit Cap-1

Toddstar: Adley, thank you so much for taking time out for us today, we really appreciate it.

Adley: Yes, yes. Likewise. Not a problem.

Toddstar: You are hard to get you on the phone. You’re a busy lady.

Adley: I’m sorry. It’s CMA week and the weeks leading up to this and being on the road has been crazy to say the least but in the office today, so all is well.

Toddstar: I would say in this day and age in the music business, busy is good.

Adley: It’s very good. It’s very good. I say all the time it’s about the nth degree of entrepreneurship as you can get is the modern music industry for an independent artist.

Toddstar: Very cool. Let’s talk about some of the things you’ve got going on. Let’s start with the deluxe edition of Like This. How is this thing being received out there? We love it, but how is it being received in general?

Adley: So far it’s been better than any of my records to date and that’s what you hope for is every record does better than the last and you can see that month over month growth in your business. We’ve definitely seen that with this one. The distribution’s a lot wider. The single leading the way is “Stay At Home Soldier” and that’s one that’s kind of a left turn for me. Before we’ve done the fun, we’ve got a fun blonde with a breakup song we think is really great, but this one kind of takes it back to the genesis of why you’re an artist in the first place is to release music that means something to people whether that’s in celebration or in healing. To have “Stay At Home Soldier” specifically be so well received, and now we’re touring a bunch of military bases in support of that, it feels really, really good. I’m very happy with how it’s going. Slow and steady growth. That’s what we hope for.

Toddstar: Cool. A lot of the songs on the disc, I mean you’re all over the place as far as emotion. Like you said you’ve got “Stay At Home Soldier” which is a poignant song, then you got something like “Fall” or “Like This” where it’s piss and vinegar so to speak. How do you find different spots within you to write such differently meaningful songs? Again, you’re getting songs that are just like this twanged out, pissed off Alanis Morissette. Some of the songs are a big middle finger and some are like you said like “Stay At Home Soldier” where it’s just… then you’ve got the bonus track of “Hallelujah.” How do you find yourself being able to mix those two emotions on the same disc or in the same program?

Adley: You know it is different. This album is unique in the fact that it’s a remastered release. When we did my partnership with Little Black Dress wine and became a spokesperson for them, we had mass distribution with Kroger and that song and wanted to be able to release the song also if you’re not buying a bottle of wine can you still get the song that has national promotion behind it? “Stay At Home Soldier” really was growing legs internally as well and we needed to put together an album very quick and release and put something out. So, a re-release made the most sense. That is why you get kind of an Adley sampler, kind of all different aspects of the human emotion. You also have to think about when writing a record you’re maybe going to have on an EP maybe two singles typically. Maybe three if you’re tackling radio. The rest really needs to be built for a live show. We want every song on the EP to be as good, like, could be a single, but you really have to release stuff that’s going to be great and round out your live show as well. I think a lot of people don’t think about that when they do release their record is having something that is well rounded, but also sonically makes sense and it’s a cohesive album. This one, you’re right to say it is more of an Adley sampler when you throw in “Walking Away” against “Hallelujah,” but I think it does give a good example of what you can expect from a live show. It’s fun, generally very, very upbeat. Then you have those songs that are very meaningful to me, like you said “Never Read This,” and “Fall,” and of course “Stay At Home Soldier.” It’s really exciting for me to be able to show all those different aspects. When you go play them live everybody knows all of them and you’re able to create moments throughout your set with an album that kind of shows all different facets of you as an artist.

Adley Reclining 2015

Toddstar: Cool. One of the tracks, actually, the title track was co-written by a couple guys I really dig, Cody Hanson and Marshal Dutton.

Adley: Yeah, how do you know Cody and Marshal?

Toddstar: From following Hinder. I’ve been following Hinder for a long time, so I’ve gotten to know about Cody and interview him a couple times over the years.

Adley: Oh, you can tell where “Like This” came from then. Wrote that one with him and yeah, they’re wonderful, wonderful guys. Very talented. I have another song that I’ve got with them that I can no wait to release. I think we’re going to put it on the next album. They’re very, very talented writers and producers.

Toddstar: Very cool. You’re such a multifaceted artist; you got your fingers seemingly in every pot. You mentioned Little Black Dress wine, give us a little guidance or what can you tell us about How They Sell Music?

Adley: That’s what I’m working on in the office right now. That’s been just sort of a passion project for me the last couple years. Coming off The Voice, I mean you’re looking… I did not expect to end up in the music industry. You’re trying to figure out how to do the thing and just watching people and I’ve been so fortunate to be full time since the day that I decided I was going to do music for a living. I’ve done a lot of it in really outside of the box unique ways and finding people who’ve been in Nashville for, god, eight years and have no idea how this system works. How the industry works, how networking works. They just wait for somebody else to discover that they’re talented and develop them and put money behind them and market them and distribute them. That’s not going to work in any other business and I don’t know why we think it can work in this one. With the relationships that I’ve been so blessed to have come into my life in the last couple years, those artists in the book and several industry relationships, I just caught myself thinking several times, people would kill to be a fly on the wall in this conversation right now, or at this party or whatever I’m doing and with the people that are there. Thought, initially I think there’s a way to monetize this conversation and this information and create a way for these artists to monetize an interview which we’re doing all the time anyway. Three fold is obviously helping independent artists try to navigate the new waters of how to become self-made. How do you do this on your own and not wait for some suit behind a desk to tell you that you can be successful? If you really want to do it on your own, you have to grow it like a startup. It’s a lot of innovation, it’s a lot of extra hours, a lot of hard work, but very, very doable. The twelve artists who I really respect really, some are rap, some are country, some are hip hop some are YouTube stars, some built it on the road for twenty years and each one basically wrote a chapter and did an interview on how the heck did you do it? Not what you’re going to read on their Wikipedia page of “I moved to Nashville, I got a pub deal. Then blah, bah, blah, blah, blah.” Okay, how? Did you meet this guy at a bar? How did you follow up? What’s the correct etiquette to follow up? What does somebody in their mom’s basement in Wisconsin need to know if they have no industry contacts and have no idea how to navigate the waters? All that really exists that I found when I was looking was ex-industry people or speculators saying, “This is how you book a show. This is how you get a manager.” Independent artists, they want to hear from somebody who’s done it. They want to sit in front Luke Bryan and say “Hey man, can I pick your brain for a minute? Can you give me any advice?” That’s who you want to hear from. Getting twelve artists, how the heck did you get three million YouTube subscribers? Please tell me how you did that. Each chapter is written like you kind of got to sit down and pick their brain and have coffee with them for an hour. I’ve spent probably about the last year and a half because god knows trying to get twelve artists, labels and management teams to collectively meet any sort of deadline has been my worst nightmare. Now I’m holding the copy of the book in my hands as we speak. My first week seeing it off a computer screen. I spent the money and spent the time making sure we have a great product and now it’s just getting it into the hands of the people who need to read it.

Adley - Barn-1

Toddstar: Very cool. Normally this is where I ask, “Who made you want to be a rock star or country musician or a singer or a guitar player?” The funny thing about you is it wasn’t a goal. You wanted to become rich and famous on Jeopardy.

Adley: You know, I did. That was me, the college days of course. I’m like, “I’m just going to go win some money. Be set.” The best things in life have happened to me because I never took anything too seriously. I’ve always been very focused on my goals and very stubborn with them but pretty flexible with the methods. Music, I didn’t dare to dream that big. I knew the odds, right? One of my sorority sisters, I was looking for Jeopardy, and obviously missed the deadline, one of them dared me to audition for The Voice just because we’d all go karaoke if we got enough Miller Lites in us on Wednesdays. That was really just a goofy thing, an excuse to drive to Nashville, listen to some music, take a road trip and definitely did not expect to make it on the show. When that happened, I had friends who wanted to sing since they were two. I took that blessing very, very, very seriously. I think about it every day. That was given to me. A huge leg up, a huge opportunity. I will earn everything else. I will outwork, I will out give, I will outperform. I’ll do everything, I’ll use every gift that god’s given me to try to make a difference and use this platform. It’s not a self-serving thing. Of course, it feels awesome to be able to have this career. It’s a lot of work, but something we’ve really, it’s been important to me is every blessing that I get, every time I get to release a new song or new album we try to do something to give back to the fans. They keep a roof over my head. So, whether we partner with Nissan to give a new truck away to tornado victims on a re-release like this and then we create this clothing line and partnerships with Remington and Little Black Dress to give back to American soldiers with this release. Ninety-nine percent of my day and this career, my life, is talking about myself. That gets really exhausting. The most fun part for me is being able to connect with fans and show up and surprise somebody and use this opportunity, the opportunities that I have to do something outside of myself. The more you tend to take care of people, the more they take care of you.

Toddstar: So true. Who influences you and your business acumen?

Adley: Artistically, actually, I look at artists and highly respected artists like Dolly and Reba and Beyoncé because I think they are entrepreneurs. Their entire enterprise and being an entrepreneur, but music is the way that they live that out. It’s not health care, it’s not an app, it’s not a franchise, and they’re artists. They were able to monetize an intangible asset like a voice and create multimillion dollar businesses with that. With people not necessarily buying music anymore, seventy-five percent of it being stolen, it’s really unique; it creates unique opportunities if you can recognize it and kind of figure out a way to move past that. You have to make people fall in love with you as a brand. That presents a lot of new challenges for artists and their labels and their management teams. What if you’re a really unlikable person? You can make really wonderful living now just finding your tribe, finding your niche of content that you put out and who you are and what you represent and what you’re going to be for people that like you and like what you create and like your art and like what you stand for. For me, success is not this dangling carrot out in the distance. Of course I dream of the acceptance speech in front of my peers and winning awards and all of that, but for me waking up and doing whatever the heck I want that day because I’ve created the freedom to be able to do that with the help of a team and several people, that’s, I love every day that I get to do this. My hands aren’t tied and I’m not locked into some terrible, terrible deal that I see day in and day out in this industry. The more I can retain that to be able to create the life that I want to live and be able to give the way I want to give, that’s what makes me so, so happy.

Toddstar: Very cool. Adley, you haven’t been at this for twenty, thirty, forty years like some of the idols or legends that you mentioned, but in the short time that you have built this career and this enterprise what are a couple things looking back that you’re most proud of so far?

Adley Baseball Cap-1

Adley: Interesting question. This whole thing is just funny to me. It’s really daily trying to find the marriage between my love for business and my love for creating. Creating business and creating art and how can I merge the two. Some ways that I’ve been able to do that is we created a really unique publishing model that I drafted a contract then I took it to my lawyer and said, “What do you think about this? I am thinking about offering this to some people for publishing?” He goes, “Adley, this is the best idea that I’ve seen in twenty-five years of publishing.” I had people fighting to give me a publishing deal and I had no hit songs, no number ones, no record had done really, really well and I was really proud of that. It’s been an amazing, amazing publishing partnership and I’ve been able to help make a publisher overturn in under a year, which is completely unheard of. Stuff like that I get really proud of. I feel like I’m making a difference. The shows, the stuff that I’m proud of is the stuff like we did with the giveaway, with Nissan and coming up with an idea to help Nissan get their PR, charity, goodwill, tax write-off and help me get millions of impressions using their name and their system and drive a lot of sales to Like This. What we’re able to do starting these businesses ground up like this clothing line, how are we going to get distribution on this? How are we going to watch our conversion rates? How are we going to do this and how can we give profits from the album to soldiers? Everything all works together and what I get really fired up about is trying to find ways to bring creative entities together and make win-win situations for everybody. That’s what’s been really fun with Little Black Dress. They’re trying to build up that brand in their portfolio, and I beat out several other women who are on massive tours because I said, “Listen, here’s what I’ll bring to the table. I know you’re not doing this to partner with me for me, I know you want to move more cases of wine. Here’s how I’m going to help you do that. Here’s what I’m willing to do.” In return, my face is all over Krogers. We’re doing this cool Kroger tour, sort of an alternative distribution system that’s been really fun to just feel like you kind of gave birth to. It’s creative and it’s outside the box and it’s not just musically creative, but it’s creative in business. That’s what makes me spring out of bed every day. I think creating opportunities like that that bring several entities together and you find win-win situations for everybody that are different and unique, I’d say that’s what I’m proud of and that’s what makes me happiest every day.

Toddstar: Great. Finally and most importantly, when are we going to see you in Detroit?

Adley: Michigan, let me see, I’m trying to think. I don’t know that that’s on our schedule right now. It should be, though, shouldn’t it?

Toddstar: Yeah, it should. Yeah, it’s not on there yet. I keep looking and waiting.

Adley: I will have to work on that. Let’s work on that because that would be fun. That would be fun. It seems to be we’ve been working on the calendar; we’ve been working on it all yesterday and this morning. There’s a bunch of dates they’re switching around and so trying to figure out what that looks like. It’s really different too. We’re not on a routed tour to where you just go play. People in Detroit, most of them have no idea who the heck I am, so I’d go and you’d have some people who inadvertently know who you are, but without radio, without TV there’s still the eight hundred pound gorilla to really make a living touring. Touring you’re going to spend more money than you make. Right now we have an animal in place that’s we’re actually making money touring and most of them are fly dates, fly in and out so that’s almost what we have to do right now. That’s when the bookings come to us and the price is right because of some of these other initiatives that we’re doing. I’ll tell you, I can’t wait to just get on a routed tour. We’re working with some things in television right now with two different networks that takes forever and a day to finally go back and forth with the contracts and let everything go through. It’s in the works and that would be really fun to get back on TV. That’s where it all started. Two days on TV gave me everything that I had to work with.

Adley - Denim - Couch-a

Toddstar: Awesome. Listen Adley, I know you’re busy so we want to wish you well with “Stay At Home Soldier” and everything you have that’s going on around that. We also wish you well with Like This and with the How They Sell Music book that you’re unleashing on the world.

Adley: Hey, buddy, thank you. I really appreciate you; really appreciate your kind words in that article too. Very sweet stuff of you to say.

Toddstar: Hey, cool. It’s all true.

Adley: Thank you, buddy. Don’t be a stranger, all right? Now if we make it up to Detroit, I’ll make sure we give you a call.

Toddstar: Sounds good, Adley, we’ll talk to you soon.

Adley: All right, Todd. Talk to you later.






Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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