Collin Raye could offer plenty of advice to other artists. The 57-year-old has 16 No. 1 hits to his credit, and released more than a dozen albums, including his recent 25 Years, 25 Hits.
With almost three decades in the business, Raye has some sage advice for artists currently trying to find success in country music, especially in light of how much the music industry continues to evolve.
"My first thing would be, can you do anything else? Because if you can, don't do this," Raye tells PopCulture.com. "And the reason I say that is, I would be so scared if I was a young artist in town now, good enough to know you can do it, good enough to get a record deal, but not knowing where to go. The industry's changed so drastically; they expect you to come with millions of dollars of your own."
When Raye came up in the early '90s, record labels were still helping to support artists on the road, which Raye says is not necessarily the case anymore.
"From what I understand, that's rare now," the country music icon explains. "They kind of expect you to show up with a bag of gold of your own, and how many people can do that? How many people can have an investor that is willing to fund that? The upside is you've got the internet and you've got social media, and we've seen over and over and over how a fire can be started, through the internet, online, Facebook, Twitter, etc.; that's the way to communicate. That's a good thing."
Raye's first four albums earned platinum certification for over a million sold, including his freshman All I Can Be, which, unfortunately, is a rarity these days.
"The days of that are pretty much over, unless you're Taylor Swift or One Direction," says Raye. "The business is changing. I don't think anyone's quite figured out exactly what the music business is going to be in the next 20 years. They're scrambling around. I have great sympathy for young artists today. So I would tell them to be prepared to build this fire on your own, because you're not going to get a lot of help."
Raye, who is touring both on his own and with Sammy Kershaw and Aaron Tippin as part of their Roots & Boots Tour, has thankfully reached a point in his career that is no longer dictated by album sales and chart positions.
"Thank God I have a loyal bastion of fans out there that are interested and fascinated by whatever it is I do,' he says. "And if I only sell stuff to them, or play to them, that's fine. I don't have to try to knock down any more walls or barriers. There's a freedom that comes with that, that I didn't know existed back in the day when we felt like it was all a foot race. Who's going to win the trophy? Who's going to race to the finish line first."
Purchase 25 Years, 25 Hits at CollinRaye.com.
Photo Credit: Instagram/collinrayeofficial