At the recent Country Radio Seminar, a couple of weeks back, you could find country performers ranging from Hall of Famer Mel Tillis to newcomer Danielle Bradbery making the rounds, visiting with the taste makers at radio. One such artist who was visiting with old friends during the week was Tracy Lawrence. Though he’s been at it for over two decades – “Sticks and Stones” first hit the charts for the singer in late 1991 – radio is just as vital today to his career as ever.
“It’s still an important part of what we do,” he tells Billboard. “It’s not about just getting current songs played, but there’s so much more to that body of work and content that is relative to keep alive, so you want to keep those relationships current with those that are out there. There’s still a lot of airplay for songs like ‘Paint Me A Birmingham,’ ‘Time Marches On,’ and ‘Texas Tornado.’ It’s not all about what you’re doing today or tomorrow.”
There are a few differences in his approach to the business as compared to 1993 or 1994. “I’m very much concentrated on the handful of things that I do. It’s more about quality than quantity at this stage. There’s a lot of things that I avoid now. It’s not about late nights or social outings. It’s a business. I focus on that, and my personal time is very much removed from the business. It’s private time with my family. I’m in a different place than I was then.”
Lawrence is in control of his career these days, as he is running his own label, Lawrence Music Group, and he admits that it is a full-time job, and one that takes a village. “From the timing of a release, and getting content out with all the day to day management of social media, it’s a huge undertaking that requires a lot of people. You’ve got to keep everything current and fresh and timely. There’s no way one person can do it all. They have me where I just type the things I want to say, and acknowledge the things that are going on, and then I send it in, and they manage it and put it out.”
The singer has just released his latest single, “Lie,” for which he has just filmed a new video – something he hasn’t done a lot of lately. “It’s our first video in about five years. We shot it in December, so it’s in the can and ready to go. My actor buddy, Michael Roark is the lead character in it. He was in ‘Dolphin Tale.’ The female role was done by a friend of mine who is a dance instructor here in town, and she did a great job. It’s a very steamy and sexy video with a great little plot twist in it.”
Since the summer 2013 release of “Headlights, Taillights, and Radios,” he says that radio and the press have had nothing but high praise for “Lie,” so he’s optimistic to see how the single does. “It’s been the one that people have been anxiously awaiting. From all indications, this might very well be somewhat of an impact record for us. It’s gotten the most comments off of the record.”
Lawrence also announced that he had just struck a deal to re-acquire his rights to the trio of albums he made for Rocky Comfort Records from 2007-2011, and he’s excited to have all of his post-Atlantic material under the same umbrella. “It’s a great feeling to build that catalog of content. What people don’t realize is that the initial sales of an album isn’t where the bulk of your returns come from. It happens over time, sitting in the catalog, picking up commercials, getting included on packages here and there, there’s years and years of pipeline money that goes on. That’s where real money comes from – building that body of work. I’m very excited about what the future holds.”