If you’re on TikTok, or have a kid or a younger sibling who uses TikTok, you’ve probably heard of the “Hype House.” It’s a house in Los Angeles full of “influencers” who live together and collaborate to make videos. Millennials, am I right?
Well, now Nashville has its answer to the Hype House: They call it the 615 House.
If you’re not familiar with the 615 House (consider yourself lucky), it’s basically a house where a bunch of millennial wannabe-country-ish music stars come together and… just record videos of themselves singing together. Or playing country music-centered drinking games. Think Jersey Shore meets Glee in 60-second clips.
Look at them, just some regular kids having fun and playing some “musical flip cup.”
As of right now, it looks like the 615 House consists of about 8 different members, and they have already managed to rack up 541,000 followers on TikTok after just launching their channel in August.
Now, let me go ahead and get something out of the way now: They’re good singers. I’m not attacking their talent.
But when you live in Nashville, EVERYBODY is a good singer. Walk into a random karaoke bar on a Tuesday night and you’re likely to stumble in on some of the best singers you’ve ever heard in your life. Nashville is full of talent, because this is where talented people come to try to make it in the country music industry. Being a good singer isn’t enough.
It takes more than talent to make it in the country music industry. The best singers are the ones who grind it out, the ones that you see every night playing to one or two people in a bar, slowly building up a base of fans who will travel halfway across the country to hear you perform live someday. There’s no shortcut to building a long and successful career in country music.
Koe Wetzel is the perfect example here. A guy who started out playing in bars and honky tonks in Texas and managed to build such a hardcore fan base that he’s selling out shows all over the country and drawing in crowds of 10,000 to his performances in Texas last year. Oh, and up until July 2020, he was doing it all without a record label.
Or if you really want to hear a story about a guy grinding it out to make a name for himself, go back and listen to Charley Crockett tell his story on Whiskey Riff Raff. That guy started from the absolute bottom and has been all over the world, and is finally making a name for himself. And while it pisses me off that he has fewer monthly listeners on Spotify than the 615 House has followers on TikTok, I can guaran-damn-tee you that when Charley Crockett shows up for a show, there are going to be more people in that crowd who know every single word to his songs and sing them back to him like they feel every word of it.
Now compare that to the 615 House: Sure, they have over half a million followers on TikTok, and they might even land a few songs on the iTunes charts between all of them. But how many of those followers are paying to see them live? How many of those followers are going to not just listen to their music on Spotify, but buy their albums or their merch? Is trying to go viral on TikTok a sustainable way to build a music career?
I saw Luke Combs play at a small bar in Birmingham in 2017. I saw Eric Church play on the riverfront in Huntington, WV in 2010. Those are shows that I’m always going to remember, because it’s a connection I have with those artists who have gone on to become superstars.
What connection is anybody going to have with the 615 House when they’re done making TikToks of themselves playing flip cup and singing to the guy delivering their food? Yeah, they actually did that…
Ultimately, we’ll probably never hear much from the 615 House after their 15 minutes of fame are up. TikTok might be th hot way to pop off a song right now, but that’s about it.
But luckily, we’ll still have artists like Koe Wetzel, Ashley McBryde, Luke Combs and Eric Church to listen to because it’s the ones who make great music, earning new fans the hard way, day in and day out that end up truly making their mark on the country music world.