Bobby Bones says he has finally comfortable in Nashville since his move from Austin in 2013. In an exclusive interview prior to Country Radio Seminar (CRS), Bones discusses with MusicRow his brand expansion apart from his radio show, The Bobby Bones Show, with a music career of his own, a future on television and a memoir he plans to release later this year.
In MusicRow‘s latest print magazine (February/March), Bones also discusses his $1 million FCC fine. He has raised double that amount for charity—on the other hand—while performing in his band Bobby Bones and the Raging Idiots, which is now signed to Black River Entertainment. Pick up a copy of MusicRow’s current issue to read the full interview.
This is my third year doing CRS. The first year I was scared to death because you walk in and everybody is here. It’s like the first time you go to a big city and see the tall skyscrapers. The legendary people were like the skyscrapers to me—the greatest radio people, the executives you read about, the artists. I had never seen that stuff before. The first year I stared a lot and hid in corners. It’s still weird to me, but now I have to play it cooler and act like I fit in. Now they ask me to speak, which is still weird to me. I’ll talk about branding, radio, music, breaking artists. I always feel stupid doing it, but its great—I feel like a resident of CRS rather than a tourist. If it’s your first CRS, just watch—it’s intimidating. If it’s your eighth CRS, don’t get so hammered on the first night that you don’t get to enjoy the second or third night.
On his record deal and band
It all started not because I think I’m going to win CMA Vocalist of the Year, but I had been doing standup comedy for years. As a teenager, my “band” was just a guitar I bought at a pawn shop. Bobby Bones and the Raging Idiots is a terrible name, but we kept it from years ago. A while ago we played some songs and told some jokes at a charity show in Nashville, which turned into a couple other shows. Then people started coming to shows like crazy. We never planned to sign to a record label because we were never taking it serious. The only thing we were taking serious was that we could do some positive things with it because all our ticket sales went to charity. [Producer] Eddie and I’s goal was to raise $1 million. After that we said we would talk about signing a record deal and putting out a comedy record. Eddie is a real musician and I’m a writer/comedian. Over a year and a half, we raised over $2 million. We had been on the road with Kelsea Ballerini on the weekends and I got to know the Black River people well and really liked them. We didn’t shop a deal, but thought, “Let’s do this together.” We just now have merch, which is basically white T-shirts with us writing our names on them. We also signed with ASCAP, CAA, and Red Light.
On his album tracks
I went to Black River with a kids record idea, and we put out a kids EP [in November 2015] and it was No. 1 on iTunes for two weeks. [A 12-track album will be out in the spring] with a lot of really great artists that have no business being on a record with me because they’re way too good. But I wrote every song on both records. I had help from some great writers and buddies I’ve written comedy with too. Eric Paslay, Phil Barton and I wrote “When I Grow Up,” a kids song. On this other record I wrote with everyone from Lee Thomas Miller, Keifer Thompson, Lindsay Ell, and Kristian Bush. I’m really appreciative they gave it a try. I can think of kind of funny lyrics or things to say, but they really carried me through the music part of it. There’s no stand-up, but there are comedy bits/skits as tracks in between songs.
On whether or not his music will be available for streaming
Of course. I get angry if I can’t stream something. I’m a dude who loves music! It will be played on the radio and I hope people buy it, and I hope the stream it and when their account goes dead, they play their purchased song.
On expanding his brand on and off the air
We did a Nashville alternative show, and a national sports show with iHeart (Clear Channel) with Andy Roddick. I had to quit the sports show about nine months ago because we’re on the road doing Raging Idiots shows. I was doing the book, and I have a TV deal with ABC. They said, you have to pick or you’re going to die! The ABC deal is not with Right Side Blind, the production company that iHeart owns half of. With Right Side Blind, I think we have nine shows in development right now, all at different stages. A couple with a couple country artists in town that hopefully get picked up. Pitching has already happened on a few, we’ve shot sizzle reels on some, and two are in pilot. There’s a lot of great personality in Nashville that the east and west coast don’t see. We have a couple really good shows I think that hopefully in 2016-17 will be out. You talk about something I went into blind—I wanted to do TV but not be on camera all the time, so iHeart was like, “Great, let’s build a production company.” I really should get iHeart tattooed on my body somewhere.
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