Obtaining a contract with a record label, music publisher, booking agency or distribution company is no easy feat. A myriad of factors must align; a plethora of options must be weighed. In our Signing Stories, Music Connection seeks to demonstrate that every signing story is a unique journey that provides lessons to be learned by all artists about how art and commerce come together. We found the following artists’ journeys––whether for their dogged work ethic, industry smarts, perfect timing or sheer determination to stay true to their own vision—to be our favorites of the year.
Date Signed: September 2016
Label: River House Artists/Columbia Records
Type of Music: Modern Country
Management: Make Wake Artists
Legal: Noah McPike
A&R: Jim Cotino & Taylor Lindsay
Luke Combs has become a huge breakthrough success since our Signing Story on him back in May. His June-released debut album This One’s For You spent 18 weeks inside the Top 5 on Billboard Country Albums chart. The artist has been heralded by Rolling Stone and American Songwriter as one of country’s standout records of the year, garnering more than 371 million streams to date and generating Combs’ platinum-certified multi-week No. 1 hit single “Hurricane.” More recently his “When It Rains It Pours” has become his second multiweek No. 1 hit single, helping his fall headlining tour to be a pure sellout. The 26-year-old seriously began pursuing a musical career only five years ago. He was at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. “I was 21 and unhappy in school,” says Combs. “I was bored and there was a guitar sitting in the closet. I started learning some basic chords and went from there."
As luck would have it Combs was bitten by the showbiz bug. “I booked a show,” says the singer-songwriter, “and I made $200––that was more than I had made working two jobs. “Combs expanded to other regions in North Carolina, then moved to Nashville in September 2014. “I had two EP’s out and wrote more songs for seven or eight months without a publishing deal,” says the artist. “I had enough digital revenue from my songs that I was able to survive just as a musician.”
“It’s all kind of fallen together super-organically,” Combs concludes. “After I put out the EP (produced by Scott Moffatt), I got my booking deal and signed my independent deal with Lynn (Oliver-Cline) and River House Artists. And then all the major labels came to us. It wasn’t me knocking on doors or anything.”