Scotty McCreery admits that when he jumped from winning season 10 of “American Idol” into his country music career in 2011, he had a lot to learn about the business and what type of artist he wanted to be.
With his debut album due only a few months after he finished “Idol,” McCreery had to rely on outside writers for songs on his debut album, “Clear as Day,” and get right to recording. The rush to release paid off commercially. “Clear as Day” went platinum by selling more than 1 million copies and it spawned hit singles in “I Love You This Big” and “The Trouble with Girls.” But it didn’t necessarily make much of a statement about McCreery as an artist.
“You know, with the first album, it sold crazy well and it was exciting to see, but I really had no clue what I was doing,” McCreery said.
“I don’t think, we put that thing together after the show (‘American Idol’) and it was what it was. The second album (2013’s ‘See You Tonight’) was definitely a better look at who I am as an artist at the time.”
These days, it’s safe to say McCreery has a much better grasp on the kind of music he wants to make and more knowledge about how the country music industry, country record companies and country radio work, especially the pitfalls an artist can encounter in the business.
It’s been four years since he released “See You Tonight.” He recently released the single “Five More Minutes,” the first song released without a record label to chart on the Country Aircheck/Mediabase Top 50. In August, he inked a deal with Triple Tigers Records/Sony Music Entertainment.
The new contract comes after McCreery was dropped by his label, Mercury Records, extricated himself from his contract with “American Idol” and signed with new management – three events that will give any artist a good deal of perspective on the workings of the country music industry.
The turning point for McCreery came as he finished a third album for Mercury Records. Although he didn’t want to discuss too many specifics of what happened with Mercury and said he still isn’t sure why he was dropped, McCreery indicated there was a difference of opinion about what song should be the first single off of the third album. McCreery wanted to lead with “Five More Minutes.” The label favored “Southern Belle,” which was released.
“The first single off of that record was definitely a pivot from where I traditionally like to be at with my music,” McCreery said, “I’ve been very consistent with saying ‘Five More Minutes’ was my favorite song off of the record, which tells you what I was probably fighting for.”
“Southern Belle” stiffed at radio and the next thing McCreery knew, he was dropped from Mercury and his essentially finished third album went into limbo.
McCreery, who wrote “Five More Minutes” about his relationship with his grandfather in 2015 shortly after he died, performed the song in 2016 at the Grand Ole Opry. It soon became an internet sensation.
“We weren’t expecting that to go onto YouTube,” McCreery said.
“At first, I was like ‘Oh-oh, what did I do?’ But it was nice to see that folks were responding to that song.”
Now the native of Garner, North Carolina, hopes “Five More Minutes” will get his career back on track. For now, there are some concerts to play, and McCreery promises to deliver an entertaining show.