For years, Music Row artists have used the tried-and-true and brutally expensive model of reaching country fans through radio and touring.
But a Texas singer and songwriter named CJaye LeRose has been reaching huge audiences of potential listeners and buyers through self-produced YouTube videos and via Twitter.
In August, Music Row magazine noted that LeRose had racked up more than 1 Million video views on YouTube and amassed over 10,000 followers on Twitter. By late November, that number had zoomed to more than 16,000.
She also received national airplay, when Nashville XM11, the satellite radio company's Nashville Channel, spun her song “The Porch.”
“I was so surprised that happened because I didn’t even know about it,” she says in a phone conversation from Texas in November. “My uncle called and said, `You’re on the radio right now!’ I was driving my car, and had to pull over because I was so excite!”
CJaye has already attracted Music Row attention. She posted her cover version of a new Kenny Chesney song on YouTube before Kenny’s album came out, and Sony Nashville folks contacted her to ask CJaye to run a YouTube contest to win autographed Kenny CDs.
In a way, LeRose, who lives in the Houston suburbs and commutes to Nashville routinely to perform, find new songs, and record, has become her own CMT. As soon as she finishes writing a song, she performs it in her living room and posts it on YouTube, with the lyrics scrolling down the right side of the page – an idea CMT and GAC would be wise to copy.
Her use of Twitter in growing her own fan base has also put LeRose far ahead of many country artists with the new tech. Taylor Swift has been one of the only country stars to draw a huge number of teen fans in part because of Taylor’s early embrace of MySpace, and CJaye is doing likewise with Twitter, a 3-year-old company and technology which allows a maximum of 140 characters per message – per Tweet, that is.
“I think kids sit at their computers all day long,” she says. “I’ll get them commenting on my Twitter or YouTube in the middle of the day, and I write back to say `I know you’re not old enough to be out of school yet.’ ”
Last February, LeRose contacted Jessica Northey from Full Throttle Country about Social Media optimization. “I got the funniest call with the cutest Southern accent,” Northey says from Tucson. “She said, `I’ve been checking you out online, and want to talk to you about Twitter.’ ”
These leading ladies soon teamed up, and the with guidance from Northey’s Social Media prowess, made huge strides online to carry the “CJaye LeRose” brand even further!
“I hope people in Nashville are noticing me or at least being entertained! I am having fun and still getting integrated to the Nashville scene, that’s what my lawyer told me to do,” LeRose says.
Hiring a lawyer is another hugely positive step CJaye has taken, and one that too many young artists overlook.
She is now putting the finishing touches on her debut album, slated for a March release. Right now you can actually go to her website and download her hit song,“The Porch” for free!
“Most people have found me on YouTube,” CJaye says. “I do the videos right here in my living room, I don’t have much production savvy. I just set up the camera.”
That’s the first part of the process, and Twitter helps her seal the deal.
“Twitter has gotten me to know the fans more,” she says. “It’s like going to a little party every day.”
Lots of Music Row labels, and perhaps those in LA and New York as well, are following CJaye’s little parties very closely, nowadays.
“People are obsessed with social media, so it works to my advantage,” she says of her phenomenal Web growth. “But I have to be honest, like Brad Paisley says, I'm so much cooler online.”
By Phil Sweetland