In this episode, Ryan Broshear, an independent recording artist and named a “Top Ten Artist to Watch” by Billboard magazine, talks about learning how to hunt and strumming a cord. Ryan talks about his passion as a singer and how hunting taught him life lessons from his younger years. He was introduced to the whitetail heritage tradition by his grandfather and his dad back in Ohio.
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Strumming a cord for Whitetails – Ryan Broshear
Ryan Broshear joins us from Nashville. He’s an independent recording artist. Billboard Magazine says he’s doing the job. He’s got some interesting takes on what it takes to be a country-western singer. More important than that, he’s got a whitetail heritage tradition from his grandfather and his dad that lives with him. He always looks forward to going back to Indiana or Ohio, and catching up with his family, spending a few days, sitting around, telling stories, sitting in a stand and chasing whitetails.
We’re heading down to Nashville and we’re going to meet up with Ryan Broshear. Ryan is a recording artist in Nashville. He’s got some songs we’re going to talk about as we go along. He originally hails out of Ohio. Ryan, welcome to the show.
How are you doing?
I’m doing good. I had a great warmup. I was telling old stories about Merle Haggard. Ryan, you played with Merle Haggard or were on stage with him.
I got to do a show with Merle Haggard. I’m a huge Merle fan. That was one of the most incredible opportunities. When I met him, I was going to have my picture taken with him. I was standing by him. I’ve gotten my picture taken with a lot of big stars, but Merle has been a class by himself. I had my arm out and I didn’t know if I should put my arm around him or if I should not touch the Hag. Should I touch the Hag? I ended up suspending my arm in the air and making it look like I was touching him. I don’t get nervous but that made me nervous. It was incredible.
He’s a legend. I can see where anybody might get nervous.
That was one of the times. I couldn’t ask for a more cool guy. When you meet your heroes, you hope that they’re going to stand up to what you wish that they would and he did not disappoint.
We’re going to cover a lot of ground. We’re going to talk about Ryan’s career and his music. We’re going to start off with the hunting tradition back in Ohio, what that meant to you and how you’re carrying it forward.
I grew up like many people. My dad taught me how to hunt. We did a lot of hunting from rabbit hunting to duck hunting. We were blessed to have about 40 acres of a wooded area. We got to do some deer hunting as well. Being in nature was something that was important in our family, and spending time with it. We love to eat what we brought home as well. It definitely started at an early age for me.
Were you a trophy hunter back then or just, “Let’s put the meat on the table?”If you're not prepared and you get out in the woods hunting, you're won't ready to focus and be in the moment. Click To Tweet
It was a scenario where my dad would have loved for me a few trophy bucks. At the same point, his scouting and his hard work to get the trophy buck, it would have been bittersweet for him. I never ended up getting one with my dad but we had a good time trying. It was, “Shoot what you can shoot.” We normally would go out during the muzzleloading season. He got on me one time because I didn’t take a shot, but it would seem like it was too far away. He said, “With that muzzleloader, you could shoot it.” I was about fourteen-years-old when I first went out. It was an awesome memory I’ll never forget.
What are some of the memories that you have taken forward, as well as lessons learned from your hunting career?
Some of the lessons that I’ve learned early on is to be prepared. If you’re not prepared and you get out into the woods or you get out into a duck blind or wherever it may be that you’re hunting, you’re not ready to focus in and be in the moment. Preparation is a big thing for me that I’ve learned and getting started early, whether it be getting up early in the morning and making sure that you’re in the stand way before first light so that you’re not making a ton of noise and you’ve let the woods calm back down before you’re ready to start hunting. Preparation is probably the biggest thing I’ve learned with everything.
You might say that you can transfer that to the music business because there must be gazillion things that have to happen before you hit that first chord.
That’s what you get paid for. When you hit the first chord and you start the song, you’re having fun and getting to the place on time. You’re traveling 400, 500, 600 miles or more, and a lot of circumstances. You have to be prepared for traffic, backups, breakdowns or whatever life throws at you. You know what happens in your normal daily life when you go on a trip. It’s being packed up when you get out to a show and you forget your cowboy boots, it’s not a good thing. I’ve done that. That’s the same with anything in life, making sure that you’re prepared to go accomplish the goals that you’re setting for, whether it be to shoot a trophy buck or go put on a great show in front of thousands of fans.
Why did you get started in music? What was the driver for you?
That started with my family. They had country music on the radio all the time. My dad was a foreman for a construction company. He would get up extremely early to call all his guys. His ritual was to smoke his morning cigarette, have a cup of coffee, and listen to country music. I woke up to it a lot of the times, about 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning. Those songs were permeating me at a young age. I fell in love with the stories behind the songs. He would put a record on the record player and play a song like George Strait’s Love Without End, Amen to tell me he loves me. He wasn’t much with words, but he loved to share music and the stories behind it. That’s how he taught me lessons in life. That was a big thing for me early on. At about twelve-years-old, I saw Garth Brooks perform for the first time on TV. It caught my eye. He looked super exciting. I got a guitar that Christmas. By fourteen, I had my first band and I fell in love with it. Being on the stage and in the spotlight was an exciting thing for me. That’s where it all began.
I’m thinking about DIY elk hunting or deer hunting, go into a brand-new parcel of land and say. “I’m going to kill the biggest buck on this sucker.” Sometimes, it happens. Most times, it doesn’t. How do you cope with that?
You’ve got to be secure in who you are to go out and do this. I first moved to Nashville in 2000 and I took a year’s worth of lumps then and moved back home. I regrouped, moved back in late 2001 to 2002. I took another year to crack at it. Life threw me a lot of curveballs. I went back home and thought that I had given up. I met a woman who I’m married to and have been with since 2004. We have created a good team. I came home from playing a show at a local bar in the Cincinnati area and she said, “Do you want to play cover music in bars or do you want to follow your dream?” I said, “I would like to follow my dreams.” She pushed me and we moved back. You’ve got to do it. You dive in and you’ve got to be secure in who you are and know what you’re setting up to accomplish and know that the odds are against you but don’t care. I’ve worked hard to do this business. I’m not the top-level superstar. I’m not making much money doing it at this point in my career. The things that I’ve gotten to do and the roads that my guitar and my music is taking me down, I wouldn’t trade for anything. It’s been an incredible ride so far.
The experience and the learning, I assume you’ve had a tremendous amount of learning, has superseded the income. How does income come? Not everybody’s going to have a gold-label record or somebody in the top ten. How do people make it in your industry?
People make it, a lot of hard work and putting in there, paying their dues. It comes from a lot of times live performance as a big income generator. You also have your music that’s streaming. That is very small aggregates of money per stream. There are fights for the rights of songwriters on behalf of that with different performing rights organizations. It can come from iTunes sales, streaming, merchandise sales, your t-shirts, your hats, your album sales and your live performances. You work hard to put that all together to build it into one big pot and hopefully you come out ahead. We haven’t made it rich, but it’s been enough to keep the wheels moving.
When somebody gets signed to a label, is that the top 10% of everybody in your industry?
Even getting signed to a label with the way the labels work, a lot of times you might get some money upfront. They’re recouping their money from spending it on your album, creation of your album or to promote your music. Every cup of coffee they drink while doing it, they charge you back. The label thing is a great deal. I would love to sign with a record label, but at the same point, there are a lot of artists who choose not to partner with a record label because they’ve done so much on their own. Partnering with a record label might cut back on the money that they’re making. It’s a dream I would have to have a team of people that would do all the hard work involved and let me go out and be an artist. Not at the sacrifice of losing control of being able to choose what songs and write my songs and what I choose to show myself as an artist. I’ve been blessed to be able to be an independent artist so far in my career, write my own songs, choose what goes on to an album and what comes out. There’s something to be said for being able to choose that.
You can write songs for other people and get paid for it.
That’s something that I’ve worked on. I’ve got some relationships with some songs trying to pitch them to other people. I haven’t gotten any cuts by anybody else. From what normally I see that happens is once you get discovered and you get that first one, then all of a sudden people are looking at your catalog and what you’ve got going on, and are interested in maybe cutting one of those. I’m in the process of writing new stuff, pitching those songs and trying to put them in front of people who may want to use them for their projects.
When you write a song, do you have to have all the notes and everything? Do you have to run it out, sing it yourself?
A lot of times, I’ll write a melody and the lyrics out to where I could sing it in my phone, but I don’t have guitar backing it or all the music to it yet. I’ll build the music later. Sometimes, you’ll write a song where you’re strumming the guitar and you make the words up to that music as you go along. Every song is a little different. For me, I do a lot of figuring out the melody and the words and what I want to say before I start worrying about the guitar. I’ll throw that in later and make notes on my phone. Each song has its own life that it begins as.
When you write a song, all the stuff is like writing a story or anything else. It comes from within. It amazes me in this industry. Somebody has to write every single song that Garth Brooks sings or Keith Urban sings or pick somebody. It’s amazing because they’re like the screenwriters of Hollywood. Without somebody being a screenwriter, there isn’t a movie.
A lot of times, if I’ve got a song that there’s a character in it, I think of it like a Hollywood movie. It’s like, “Where does that camera first pan in on this character? How are you first meeting this character? Is he at a bar or is he driving in his car? Is he out of the country? Is he in his deer stand?” Whatever it may be, but where that story begins, I think of it as a movie in that regard because I am telling a story and we’re putting it to a melody. That’s what it’s all about.
I’d work with some veterans groups. Have you ever been approached by a veterans group to do a song so they could make money off that song?
I haven’t been approached by any veteran’s groups to write any songs. I’ve got to perform for a lot of veteran’s groups. My hat is off to our veterans for sure. I haven’t been approached to write any specific songs, but I have had a song get put into a movie. They found my song online and it fit what they were doing. I would be open to anything if it came along.
If you’re involved with some of these veterans groups, I’m sure you could get ahold of Ryan. How would they get ahold of you if they wanted to chitchat?There's a point in your career that it's no longer about making money. Click To Tweet
Reach to him because he’s got it going and I like who he is. If one person picks up the phone, it’s going to make his hour beneficial and he can capitalize on it. He tells a good story. That’s what all these veterans groups that I’m aware of want to do. Check it out and think about it.
When you get into a song like that, it would be an extreme honor to do. To capture that moment and some of the stories of some of the veterans and things like that would be incredible to hear. I know that there’s a handful of decent songs out there that have been written from that point of view. I’d be willing to undertake any challenge and maybe build a relationship with someone along the way.
It’s a huge audience. You and I know that. Millions of dollars are spent supporting all different groups. If you got an interest, get hold of Ryan and see where it goes. Let’s talk about deer management. You said that’s one of the things you wanted to talk about. What’s that mean to you?
I’m fortunate to be around some knowledgeable guys. My father-in-law and my brother-in-law have been managing their property. They’ve got a couple of hundred acres in Indiana. Watching deer populations and watching the health of them, whether it be planning a food plot and making sure that you have a good spot to get good nourishment to the deer around. I’m fortunate to grow up in Southern Ohio and be around Southeast Indiana where the whitetails get big off the cornfields and the bean fields that are out there and the food resources.
There are some other parts of the country where their whitetails are a little bit smaller than what we have in that area. Certainly, you can see a direct correlation with the nutrition that you provide for your deer and the cover that they have in order to grow. Its responsible hunting practices. Unfortunately, there are guys that don’t take it seriously. They use spotlight at night and shoot with high-powered rifles. They harvest the large bucks and take them. It’s not sporting. If I could talk to anybody, “Let’s manage our resource a little bit better and let’s make sure that there’s a future herd of nice-size bucks and healthy animals that are out there for you and me to go hunt.”
Many times, we lose the buck of a lifetime on our property just because somebody does exactly what you did. They see it, they shoot it, they throw it in the back of their truck and they’re gone. They stole from me, they stole the adventure, the dream, the whole memory from it. Have I made mistakes hunting? Yes. I’ll be the first to admit it. When you look at overall, we’re losing people in the hunting industry every single year. Thousands of people aren’t hunting. We have to crank that back up the other way for a lot of reasons. One of the ways to do that is to say, “This is the way it is. This is how we’re going to play the game. We invite you to join us to do that.” You and I both know that there’s always going to be people that are takers. There’s no question about it. No matter what we do, you catch them and throw them in jail, it doesn’t matter. They’ll always be takers. For the most part, you and I and everybody reading, you don’t hunt five minutes after the shooting light goes out. You do the right thing for the right reasons.
As a hunter, there’s an integrity that comes along with that and rules that people follow religiously. I’d say the vast majority of hunters do that. The ones that do that are upset when somebody takes the buck of a lifetime off of your land. Something that you might have been watching on a trail cam for the last several years or maybe passed on that shot. It was a six-point buck and it was a good-looking buck, but you knew, “Put another season or two on that guy,” then you see it on your neighbor’s wall. It’s fine if they took it the right way. It’s still a bitter pill to swallow. It’s something that I couldn’t say enough about it. It’s the integrity of the hunt.
One thing you said was about farmers and hunting feeding the hungry.
It’s Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry. It’s FHFH.org. They reached out to me several years ago and showed an interest in my career and promoted me a little bit. It’s a Christian-based organization and they help take the bounty of nature. They’ll harvest a deer and take it to a food kitchen where the homeless can eat. One deer can feed 200 people. It can provide for those less fortunate and who certainly don’t have the resource to be able to go hunt. To be able to get a good healthy meal that’s provided by God and by nature. It’s an awesome organization and I was grateful they reached out to me. I follow them along and we help each other out as we got to get going into it and give a little shout-out to them.
Do you help promote them or what’s your role with them?
We’ve both help promote each other. They’ve drawn attention to shows that I might be in the area at times. I’ve promoted them with some of my followers who might go out and they don’t have room in the freezer to put two deer in. They may have their buck and they can’t go back out to get a buck. I encourage them, “Why don’t you go out and maybe get a doe and maybe donate it to the Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry? Take that extra time and do something special for somebody that’s less fortunate than you.”
Are they on social media?
Yes, they are. It’s FHFH.org. They’re on Facebook. There are hundreds of different butcher shops around that signed up with them for processing. They’ll process it for farmers and hunters take care of it from there once you donate it.
It’s another way that readers can help people in your area. I don’t care where you live. There’s somebody going hungry. There’s no food on the table.
That’s something that I’m fortunate to not know firsthand. I’ve seen it up close and it breaks your heart that there are people that go to bed hungry or don’t know where their next meal is going to come from. That’s a good way to help.
Ryan, what’s next for you in your career? Where is it going?
I’m excited. We came off of a new album. Paint It Red was the last EP I put out. We were thrilled, I had the opportunity. I spent seventeen weeks on Billboard’s chart with a single off of that called Spin Me. It was an album that we crowdfunded. Interestingly enough, my fans raised the money for the recording of the album. They raised over $21,000 to make it come true. We went out and paid our respects for them and spent the last couple of years promoting that album. To be able to spend seventeen weeks as an independent artist on Billboard’s Country Indicator Chart was a big deal. The music video to that went on Great American Country and got a little bit of TV time. That was cool.
Moving forward, I’ve been writing some new music that I’m anxious to get out. I’m in the early stages of planning for an album for 2020. I’m not sure if we’ll crowdfund it or we’ll find other ways of funding for it. We’re making new music to reach out to a new audience. I’ve signed a booking deal with a booking agency, Life Entertainment, out of the mid-Atlantic region. They’re going to be booking me on some stuff. I’m anxious to get out to some areas of the country where I haven’t performed a whole lot. Meet some new fans and meet some new people. Hopefully, it ties it into some areas of the country that I haven’t been doing awhile. I have a lot of fan base in and up in upstate New York and Long Island area, the northeast. I’m excited about that. We’ve put some new music out, playing it live. There’s always something new and exciting. That’s what’s so cool about it. I never know when I’m going to get the next cool phone call or cool person wanting me to come to play with them. That’s one of the things I love about this.
Let’s go back to the crowdfunding. Most of the readers know something about it. Tell me so I can tell them. How does that work?
What we did was we used a platform called Kickstarter. We had to lay out our plan of what we wanted to do. We wanted to do an album and we set at first five songs, but we ended up doing six. We offered prizes for people to get involved. For instance, if you spent $50, you got signed the autographed album when it came out. If you spent $100, you got an album and a t-shirt. We had prizes where if you spent so much money, we would come out and perform at your house for a party with myself. I would come or I would bring a band out for more money. I did several phone call interviews where I called people at their house and thanked them personally. We chatted on the phone. I talked to some people that knew me and some people that had never met me before, getting a chance to have a personal conversation. We gave away a few signed guitars.Success in the music industry is achieved through a lot of hard work. Click To Tweet
It was cool because everyone got involved and vested in it. With that particular thing, if you don’t get 100% of your goal amount, you get nothing. It was an all-or-nothing thing. You’ve got to set a goal that you think will get you the money you need to do the project you want to do. You’ve got to hit it. It was up to the last few days of the program. We set it for 45 days and we raised over $21,000. What was cool was, every time someone would donate, I would get a little email notification. We were getting email notifications of all these different things and then we keep all their information, so if we get it to make the prize.
Of course, we achieved our goal. We exceeded it. Once we did that, we called the producer and said, “We got the money. We’re able to do this album. Let’s do it.” He starts booking studio time, booking musicians and getting that together. It was an awesome process, start to finish. Being able to share every little update with people like, “We’re close,” or “We achieved it,” or “We booked the studio time.” It was awesome and everybody got to join in. It was a great experience. It was a lot of work. Obviously, it should be. They’re given their hard-earned money and it shouldn’t be throwing money into a bucket. It was a lot of hard work but it paid off. It was awesome to be able to share that with my fans.
Would you do that again?
It was so much work. I would do it again. We want to do a new album. My first album I paid for out of pocket. After a couple of years of touring, I didn’t have the funds sitting in an account ready to pay the thousands that it takes to record it. I should answer the question and say, “Yes,” but I would hope that we would find another way to fund it and not have to reach out for their money. At the same point, I know that they’d be there if we needed it.
Readers, if somebody invites you to get involved in this crowdfunding. If it resonates with you, go help them out because if it’s important to you, then invest in it.
After doing that, I invested in several other artist projects. It was fun and rewarding on the other side to see them sharing their joy of what they were doing and knowing that your money helped to make it happen. I’ve seen both sides of it and it’s a cool opportunity.
Ryan, how do people get in touch with you?
You can reach out to me at RyanBroshear.com. You can see my tour schedule and all my links to all my social media are there. Probably the easiest way is maybe through Facebook or through Twitter. I’m also on Instagram too. I don’t know if that’s the easiest way to send an actual message. You can reach out to me on those platforms. I run all of my stuff. I’d be more than happy to respond back personally and strike up the conversation. I’d be glad to hear from you.
This is the time of the show you get to do some shout-outs to whomever, family, friends and colleagues.
I’ll give a shout out to my hunting inspiration and hookup, Big Mike, up in Indiana and my brother-in-law, Mike Jr. or Mike Metz. They’re good people and good custodians of whitetail hunting. They’ve taught me a lot. I’m hoping that we have a good fall and we can put some meat in the freezer and maybe put one on the wall too.
Thank you to the thousands of readers across North America. I hope somebody turns in your radio station, iTunes, wherever it is, and listen to some of your songs. What’s your favorite song that they should listen to?
If you were going to listen to one song that would get you pumped up and maybe be that one song that lets you go, “Maybe I can download more of his music to listen more.” I have a song called Let Your Redneck Out. It’s about letting go. Everybody might have a little redneck side every now and then and sometimes you’ve got to let it out. It’s a fun party song. Check it out.
With that, we’re going to say thank you, Ryan Broshear, for being a guest on Whitetail Rendezvous.
It was my pleasure. Thank you for having me.
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About Bryan Broshear
Ryan Broshear’s energetic stage show and powerful voice immediately connects with audiences, even across genres. His traditional leaning country music with a new, edgy feel makes for an entertaining show from his first song to his last…and, almost always ending in the crowd demanding an encore.
Ryan has played for crowds from Texas to Chicago to NYC to Florida and opened for super stars Luke Bryan, Justin Moore, Chris Young, Lee Brice, Brantley Gilbert, Easton Corbin, Joe Nichols, Tracy Lawrence, Diamond Rio, Craig Morgan, David Allen Coe, Gretchen Wilson, and legends Randy Travis and Merle Haggard.
The first single from his latest EP, “Spin Me,” was featured on GAC TV and landed a 17-week spot on country radio’s Billboard Indicator chart. He has also had 2 songs in Music Row’s Country Breakout Chart and a featured song placement in the film “Sunlight Jr.,” starring Naomi Watts, Matt Dillon, and Norman Reedus.