If looking for an inside scoop on the crazy, competitive world that is Nashville’s music scene, Chris Bandi, the newcomer, is the perfect person to speak to.
In between shows in Iowa, the day after his new single “Gone Girl” came out, Bandi took my call. As Bandi is just starting out, he only has two singles released on Spotify, but he’s already showing potential for a successful country-music career.
Having heard the rhetoric of Nashville success stories, such as Taylor Swift and her label, Big Machine Records, voicing complaints about Spotify playing a hand in the dying of the record industry and failing to fairly compensate artists, I wanted to hear a voice from the other end of the spectrum. When you’re just starting out, all publicity is good publicity, so how could Bandi refuse the lure of such an important corporation?
“I am a huge believer that music has value,” he began, in reference to Big Machine’s “Music Has Value” campaign, but this was followed by an awkward search for the right words to respond to the modern industry dilemma.
“As an artist like myself, you know, just coming out of the gate, I think Spotify is a huge, huge, advocate," he said. "Fans, they’re always wanting new stuff, and things like Spotify make that so amazing, and they’ve been a huge player in the game, so that is awesome, but, um, I do know where Big Machine is coming from with the ‘Music Has Value,’ and all we can do is make the best music that we can and hope that people love it enough to buy it.”
So in terms of making the best music possible, yes, it’s about talent, but it’s also about connections, just like in any other career. Forest Glenn Whitehead, whom Bandi has written with, and Jesse Lee, whom he calls a friend, were the co-writers of “Peter Pan,” Kelsea Ballerini’s number one Billboard Hot Country song, creating the impression that a ticket to the inner circle of writers and producers is not far out of reach for new artists.
However, it’s always going to be hard and it’s always going to be competitive. Nobody in the music business wastes time kidding themselves; it’s a one in a million shot at the high life, that you have to be willing to take.
The thing about Nashville is that everyone’s talented, everyone’s hard-working and everyone is there chasing the same dream. You have to figure that luck plays into the mix, but when I asked Bandi what set him apart in the crazy world of country music, where artists still often play a major role in the production of their music, his answer was immediate and confident.
“I think we have a completely different sound,” Bandi said. “We’re a little more progressive than some of the stuff out right now in the country market and I think it’s really awesome that it’s working, but our songs tell stories too. They’re about life; country music’s about life and things that you can relate to.”
Bandi also stresses the importance of live performances. I asked him if he’s played at the Bluebird Café in Nashville, where Faith Hill and Taylor Swift were discovered. He told me about an acoustic set he played there and I couldn’t help but wonder how long it would be before the right person was sitting in that crowd, and the right record was made at the right time. As I said goodbye to Chris, I couldn’t help but wonder what it really takes to make it in Nashville.
Halle Weber is a freshman studying journalism with a focus in news and information at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. What are your hopes for Taylor Swift's next release? Let Halle know by emailing or tweeting her at firstname.lastname@example.org or @HalleWeber13, respectively.