Breaking into country music is hard, and it can take a long, long time—just ask Russell Dickerson. The singer-songwriter spent years writing, recording, and releasing music, but it wasn’t until his song “Yours,” a syrupy-sweet love song that feels like it was made for country radio and weddings in the South, began to grow in popularity on streaming platforms like Spotify that his career really took off. While the song was initially released in 2015, it took years before the larger country community paid attention, but once it did, he was off and running.
Now, Dickerson has landed a handful of hits in Nashville, and he’s poised to become the next true breakout star in the genre. If you don’t already know his work, now’s a good time to familiarize yourself, so you can say you knew him when.
A year in and your debut album 'Yours' is still going strong. Congrats! How does it feel to see the record resonate with so many people?
Russell Dickerson: Yeah it’s crazy! Writing and recording this record was such a long season of my life because it all started when we wrote “Yours” in 2014, and now to see this record still growing and expanding is what you hope for when you release music!
Your song "Yours" ended up being something of a surprise smash, as it was a slow climber that eventually topped the charts. How long did it take from when it was released to when it reached the top?
Dickerson: We wrote “Yours” in January of 2014, and it went to No. 1 in January of 2018! Haha! It was such a long road but I knew and my team knew that this song was something special and we just never gave up on it. I started my own record label with my manager and we released the song independently. Then after signing a deal and going to radio two years later, “Yours” then set a Billboard record for longest climb to No. 1 by a solo male’s debut! So just getting on the radio took years and then it was the longest climb in history!
You have actually landed a pair of No. 1s, and all without a major label.
Dickerson: We have a little label called Triple Tigers that’s actually under the Sony umbrella, but we operate completely freely. Triple Tigers has taken this dream of mine and completely blown it up! Country radio is still a huge part of this and they have definitely been dominating the airwaves!
What do you think it says about how the music industry is changing?
Dickerson: It’s much more diversified now. There are so many outlets for consumption now and if someone gives you a shot (say like a record label would’ve back in the day) and you crush it and your music starts working, you can take that data and spread it to other outlets. For example, we had solid streaming success before “Yours” hit radio. We were then able to take those streaming numbers and compare them to songs they were playing on the radio that had a fraction of the streams. It was great ammo for getting a debut single on the radio.
As I said, your album is a little more than a year old now. Are you working on new music?
Dickerson: Yes! We’ve been writing since the first record was done and I’m honestly so stoked to get these songs out! I feel like it’s next level for us!
How will your new music be different from what people already know you for?
Dickerson: This record represents a true season of my life because I wrote most of the songs on the road and that’s where we’ve lived our lives for the past two years. There’s some honest homesick songs I’m writing and some big ole crowd sing-alongs and everything in between.
What advice do you have for a musician who isn't signed to a large label that might help them "make it?”
Dickerson: Just go! Do something! Cover songs on Instagram, write songs even if they’re crap. I’ve written plenty of crap songs! Put them up on YouTube, Soundcloud, everywhere! Just follow your excitement. Don’t worry about what people think and just start swinging the bat! Go crush it!