Ashley McBryde has been a fan favorite since long before she released her freshman Girl Going Nowhere album in 2018, selling out venues and racking up several awards nominations, taking home the ACM Award for New Female Vocalist of the Year in April. But the Arkansas native has struggled to have a hit at radio, with her highest chart success her freshman single, "A Little Dive Bar in Dahlonega," which barely cracked the Top 30.
McBryde was warned how challenging earning coveted time at radio would be, but she is just now realizing how difficult it really is, for her and other artists.
"At first when starting radio tour, I was told it would be a bunch of fluff and it’s a bunch of crap and you have to do a lot of butt-kissing you don’t wanna do — and it’s still not gonna get you anywhere," McBryde recalled to CMT. "I thought, 'Yeah, you gotta be making this stuff up. You’re telling me all I have to do is hang out with people and hope they like my music? That’s what I’ve done for years.' And then I did that and was like, 'Oh man, this is really hard.'
"But surely there are lots of people with giant hearts that really want to get into cool songs," she continued. "But they seriously don’t. This is, 'Are you looking at this? Is anybody else seeing this? You gotta be joking me.'"
McBryde might be flummoxed by the lack of radio support artists often receive these days, but she insists she isn't frustrated. Instead, the 36-year-old looks at the entire situation with compassion, and wisdom beyond her years.
"Being a radio program director is really hard," acknowledged McBryde. "It broke my heart for all of the artists that I know that are doing the thing, and are getting ready to do the thing, and it really breaks my heart for music directors and program directors because they are shackled on both hands and both legs. And even if they love your song, they can’t necessarily play it."
McBryde isn't one to give in to discouragement, but if she does start feeling down, she looks to her musical role model, and now good friend, Eric Church as an example of what is possible when the fans believe. McBryde knew Church when only a handful of people came to see him perform at a dive bar in Chicago, and was on hand earlier this year, when Church broke attendance records at Nissan Stadium, with more than 56,000 people in attendance.0comments
"He takes his music directly to people that want to hear it," McBryde said. "And they talk about it, and they buy the records, and they buy the merch, and they come to the shows, and they keep it alive. So I was told I have Eric Church Syndrome and I don’t think that’s a very bad disease to have."
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Erika Goldring