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Jason Aldean Recalls Early Career Struggles at Billboard Country Music Summit in Nashville

Jason Aldean
Rick Diamond, Getty Images

Monday afternoon (June 6), country rocker Jason Aldean sat with a panel of key personnel in his career at Billboard’s Country Music Summit conference in Nashville, where he was profiled as their special guest on the Keynote Artist Development Case Study seminar. Joining the multi-platinum selling artist in the room filled with industry peers were representatives from Aldean’s booking agency (Kevin Neal, President of Buddy Lee Attractions), record label (Rick Shedd, Senior VP of Operations of Broken Bow Records) and management (Clarence Spalding and Chris Parr, managers at Spalding Entertainment).

Throughout the 45-minute profile on Aldean’s career since bursting onto the country music scene in 2005 with breakout hit ‘Hicktown,’ the singer spoke of his struggles through the early years and his determination that paid off years down the road.

“When I was a teenager, I knew that [Nashville] is ultimately where I needed to be if I wanted to do what I was trying to accomplish,” Aldean explained to the room. “I knew at some point it was going to take me moving to this town to make that happen. As far as moving here and it being what I thought … it’s not at all what I thought. I figured I’d come to town, be met with opened arms, sign a deal, cut a record, go out and start touring … it was not like that. I moved here in ’98, and the first single came out in 2005. It didn’t happen as quick as I hoped or thought it would.”

After doing over 40 showcases in town, Aldean still found himself without a deal, admitting that it was a frustrating time in his life. “You try to stay optimistic and hope that every day is going to be the day that something happens. It’s tough,” he explained. “You can only be positive for so long before you finally start going, ‘Man … am I out of my mind chasing this thing? What’s going to happen?’ You try to stay positive, but it’s tough. After a while with getting door after door slammed in your face, it’s pretty hard to wake up with a good attitude the next day.”

After a deal with Capitol Records, which did not produce any music with the Georgian, Aldean inked with Broken Bow Records in 2003. The marriage between the two was exactly what Aldean was hoping to land upon moving to Music City.

“I think in the early days, I did try to change and kind of conform to what I thought Nashville wanted … what I could do to get me a record deal the quickest,” said Aldean. “I didn’t necessarily stick to the things that I had done in the past. That was a promise I made to myself after getting dropped by Capitol Records, was just from there on out, I was going to do things my way. If people liked it, cool; if they didn’t, cool. I was going to fail on my terms if it didn’t work. I promised myself I was going to cut songs the way I wanted to, cut songs that I wanted, and not try to become something that I thought everybody wanted me to be. It’s easy to fall into that trap.”

Aldean stayed true to his word, and the rest is history. His fourth album, ‘My Kinda Party,’ is his third disc to go platinum and is also his fastest seller to date. The album is now currently approaching double platinum certification. His latest single, ‘Dirt Road Anthem,’ is just outside the Top 10 on Billboard’s country singles chart only weeks after its release to radio.

Next month, Aldean will hit the road on the second leg of his My Kinda Party Tour, featuring Chris Young and Thompson Square. For a complete list of dates where the tour will be stopping, click here.

Watch the Jason Aldean ‘My Kinda Party’ Video

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