Via Tom Roland Billboard.com
New artists are, according to an old adage, the lifeblood of the music industry, but the digital age has brought a transfusion to the very process that rolls artists out.
Where labels once discovered, developed and marketed acts, the current model often requires that the performers develop both their craft and an audience before they find their way onto a record-company roster. Thus, the seven artists that will launch their first album or EP for a prominent imprint during the first six months of 2019 have invariably created some kind of history on their own. That includes building an audience through heavy touring and/or producing EPs for self-release.
The creative class rolling out between January and June shows just how much the genre’s marketing formula and content is changing. EMI Nashville artist Jon Langston is releasing tracks one at a time rather than in a collectable bundle. Broken Bow artist BLANCO unites the country/hip-hop trend in a next-level blend. And three of the entries incorporate foreign roots: Twinnie, a singer/actor from the United Kingdom; Canadian singer/songwriter Aaron Goodvin; and King Calaway, a six-man ensemble with two European-bred members.
Here’s a look at the seven acts breaking out during the first half of 2019 with the equivalent of their first album or EP for a prominent country label:
Sam Grow (Average Joes) — With three self-released EPs under his belt, the Maryland-bred Grow is an experienced music maker with his first full country album due in the spring. Having played a reported 200 live dates in 2018, he’s a hard-working band leader with a smoky vocal tone who counts Elvis Presley, Sam Cooke and Willie Nelson among his influences. Still, there’s a slight Daughtry undercurrent to his first Average Joes single, “History Repeats Itself,” due in late January.
Lauren Jenkins (Big Machine) — Two years after issuing her inaugural EP, Jenkins lobs her first album, No Saint, into the market on March 15 with a voice that employs multiple personalities. Her lower resonance is haunting and spooky, while her upper register is biting and forceful. Quietly introduced on a 2014 Nashville album paying tribute to Mötley Crüe, her talents extend beyond the microphone: She wrote, co-produced and starred in a forthcoming short film, Running Out of Road.
To view the other four Country Artists to watch for, please view the entire article here.