Recently, two country artists’ teams successfully deployed new singles and managed to keep their current singles on the rise. At the 44th edition of the CMA Awards, Brad Paisley and Jason Aldean both debuted songs other than their current singles. Thanks to years of hard work at radio by the artists and labels, the move has allowed them both to enjoy significant airplay on two titles apiece.
Aldean was joined by pop star Kelly Clarkson on “Don’t You Wanna Stay,” a slow burning ballad from his recent My Kinda Party album. Shortly after, Paisley performed a previously unheard song called “This Is Country Music” that managed to encapsulate the traditions of country music past and present. Before the week was over, both songs had been digitally shipped to country radio for immediate airplay.
Aldean’s “My Kinda Party” was doing well on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs at the time of the Awards, but the Broken Bow star didn’t have any nominations despite numerous chart successes and impressive album sales in 2010.
“The producers of the show needed a TV moment,” says Broken Bow Promotion VP Carson James. “And we still had ‘My Kinda Party’ working. It was going strong, researching and converting well. We didn’t necessarily want to kill it, but we also wanted the TV exposure with a dynamic song.”
James says the label knew “Don’t You Wanna Stay” would most likely be a single, but didn’t know exactly when. And with “My Kinda Party” at a critical stage in its chart ascent, it was a risk to release something new. “You always try to give radio what they want,” he adds. “But at the same time, we’re telling them we’re still actively pursuing ‘My Kinda Party.’ We’re not coming off of it.”
Paisley had a Top 5 single at the time with “Anything Like Me,” but felt passionately about playing the title cut from his upcoming album This Is Country Music. It was eventually going to be a single as well, but the reaction after the Awards was so swift and strong that Arista couldn’t ignore it.
“‘Anything Like Me’ was so strong rolling into the top of the chart that we really didn’t feel like it would be damaging at all,” says Sony Nashville Promotion VP Skip Bishop. “But the reason we came with the song [“This Is Country Music”] earlier than originally planned was that several stations had started using the audio from the television show and the quality wasn’t what we’d want them to be playing. So we played a little hurry up football and finished getting the actual mastered single together and got it down to radio.”
The gamble paid off in spades for both artists. “We really made a round of phone calls and said, ‘I know you’re playing the version off television. We want to do the right thing for you,’” recalls Bishop. “We said ‘Remember we’re not finished with ‘Anything Like Me’ and everyone pretty much said ‘We’re not either.’ There’s no reason to dampen that kind of enthusiasm.”
“It’s a testament to Jason as an artist and our radio strategy,” adds James. “We’re saying ‘Play ‘My Kinda Party’—play it in power, and play the duet in light. Why can’t you play two Jason Aldean records? Most of the folks in radio are going, ‘Now’s the time!’”
Paisley’s “Anything Like Me” did eventually reach its No. 1 peak on the Hot Country Songs chart, and has since worked its way off. “This Is Country Music” is at No. 19 and very strong as we head into the break.
Aldean’s future looks bright as well. As of this writing, “My Kinda Party” is at No. 3 and stlll rising, and “Don’t You Wanna Stay” is quickly piling on the impressions at No. 26.