A few months ago, FUNL Music’s Sheila Shipley Biddy – the genius who signed such acts as Lee Ann Womack –began working with an established act. However, it had been a few years since the artist had new music out at country radio. So, wearing her marketing cap as always, she devised a promotion strategy of sending out his new music to radio without telling who it was – even conducting a contest among programmers.
The artist, Ty Herndon, admitted he thought it was a brilliant move on Biddy’s part. “I remember when they did that with Donny Osmond and ‘Soldier of Love’ some time back. He had a lot of success, and kind of went away for awhile. The song, ‘Stones,’ was a great one, of which the writers did such an amazing job,” he said. Listen:
Herndon smiles when he mentions that the big ‘mystery’ wasn’t one at all. “The after-effect was that most of the people went ‘Oh, that’s Ty Herndon.’ I don’t think anybody couldn’t guess. I think the point was to see how many people remembered me because we’re coming on strong with a new single and album. So, I thought it was a great idea.”
“Stones” is the latest release for Herndon – who came flying out of the gate in the spring of 1995 with the chart-topper “What Mattered Most.” He notes that times have changed a lot since he worked that first single to radio.
“I didn’t have to work too hard,” he allowed to Billboard. “I think that song still holds the record for being the most-added single at radio. I didn’t even have a clue what that meant. It’s like my family – ‘Oh, you made a record, so you put it out and they play it.’ That was my idea too. I was just playing honky-tonks and listening to the radio. I had no idea how that worked, and all the strategy planning that goes into it with the station to get the community to love the song. There’s fewer positions out there on fewer stations but there’s a lot more competition.”
Though he has been away from the country scene for a few years, he has been far from idle. He achieved success in the Gospel market with “When We Fly,” a collaboration with Lizzy Long that netted the singer a Dove Award. The track appeared on the inspirational album Journey On, which was nominated for a Grammy.
Returning to the country field is different now for another reason, he relates. “Another thing I find brilliant today is that you don’t really need to have a top-40 record to go out there and build a career. I’ve got some buddies in Texas that their song dropped three weeks ago, and they’ve had 750,000 downloads. For an artist with a top ten record nowadays, that’s really, really good. Social media has its’ own thing going on.”
Of his latest single, Herndon says he recorded the song before. “I fell in love with that song about fourteen years ago on a Sony album that never got released. Unfortunately, ‘Stones’ was one of those songs that went away, but I never forgot it. We were in a song meeting, and everybody went crazy. So, I said ‘I’ll re-cut it. I love it too.’ So, I’ve got all this new stuff that I’ve written, and I gave this one a face lift. I thought regardless of this being a top-30 record, or whatever happens with it, it’s a reminder of Ty Herndon as an artist. If you hear this record, you’ll remember those songs like ‘What Mattered Most’ and ‘Living In A Moment,” he said.
Herndon is busy working on a new disc that will feature duets with Jamie O’Neal, as well as Terri Clark, and he plans to do some tour dates with O’Neal, as well as Andy Griggs and Billy Dean. He has been performing “Stones” each night to great response.
“The reaction has been amazing,” he says. “I’ve got fans that remember it and love the new version of it. Some of the newer fans will say ‘This relates to something that is going on in my life.’
Herndon says he appreciates the accessibility that sites like Facebook and Twitter brings him to his fans. “I love it. It took me a while to get used to it. I did not have a Twitter account until about a year and a half ago. It’s fascinating to me. It’s kind of like a pyramid. It keeps building and building. But, you’ve got to feed it with new music and new stuff. You can’t ignore it or it will all go away quick,” he said of the social revolution.