Sara Evans Says She Feels Bad For New Artists Because They’re Expected To Have A Million Followers Before A Label Will Look At Them

Sara Evans
Diving In Deep with Sara Evans

TikTok has been a hot topic lately – not just in country music, but in general.

Of course President Joe Biden signed into law yesterday a bill that could ultimately ban the social media app in the United States, forcing Chinese owner ByteDance to either sell the app or be shut down in the US.

There are plenty of mixed feelings about the app, but it’s undeniable the impact that TikTok has had on music. Over the past few years, and especially since the COVID lockdowns, we’ve seen more and more new artists use TikTok to build an audience and parlay that into record deals and (in a few cases) actual success in the music business.

But Sara Evans isn’t a fan of the changing landscape of the industry.

During a recent episode of her Diving In Deep with Sara Evans podcast, the singer was joined by fellow country star Martina McBride

“These days, I feel really, really bad for singers and musicians who are coming to town and trying to get a deal, because they’re meant to have a million followers on TikTok and Instagram before a label will even look at them.”

And Martina agreed that she doesn’t even understand the current landscape of the Nashville music business:

“I don’t even know how labels work anymore. It’s like a whole different world…

We were so lucky that we had a label that had experienced executives that knew what they were doing and could sort of shepherd you. We were always in control of making the music, and then they helped us get the music out there.

These people today, I’m like, how are they doing it? I see young girls who are coming up and it seems like they don’t have what we had, the support.”

Sara added that even with all of her experience in the music business, she’s found herself unable to help her children who are interested in pursuing a career in music:

“I don’t know what to tell them. I have no idea.

We had so much force behind us.”

It’s not all social media though: Streaming has also played a big part in the changing landscape of the music industry – and the changing role of labels and artists.

“These days our music is basically given away for free…Now we have really nothing to sell, except ourselves on the road.”

Things have definitely changed in the music industry over the last decade or so, and it’s interesting to see the artists who have been able to adapt well to the changing landscape.

But as we’ve mentioned so many times before, followers doesn’t necessarily equal fans. I can point you to dozens of artists who have massive TikTok followings but couldn’t sell out their hometown dive bar. And there are incredible artists who don’t use social media at all but have hardcore fan bases that will sell out theaters and arenas – but those artists aren’t given a look by the labels because they don’t have the social media numbers.

It seems these days that labels are less interested in developing artists as they are capitalizing on them. Find an artist who already has a built-in group of listeners versus signing a new artist and helping them become a superstar.

And that’s not to say that one way’s right or wrong (though I obviously have my opinions on that too).

But in a time where it seems like it’s never been easier to discover new artists, it may be harder than ever for those artists to actually break through.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock