Watch Out, Chart-Toppers

steve moakler picIn December of 2015, Huffington Post published an article by Brittany Hodak titled “Top 20 Country Artists to Watch in 2016.” I’ll admit, although I am a lover of all things music, I don’t typically look into up-and-coming country artists. But, much to my surprise, I came across an artist I have been familiar with for a few years: Steve Moakler. I didn’t think that Steve qualified as Country, but since listening to his new stuff have come to realize that Country is definitely the mold into which he is casting himself. How did he get to #3 on Hodak’s list? Let me unpack it for ya.

Steve Moakler was born in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. Interesting, huh? Yankee-boy turned Country. In 2006, he picked up and moved to the Promised Land—Nashville, Tennessee—to pursue opportunity. And, just like thousands of others of his kind, he didn’t strike gold right away. Sweet Steve worked odd jobs while writing music in order to make his dream a reality. His expectations, like most Nashville-bound artists, were high and left him disappointed countless times.

When he had time, he played show after show to get his name out to a building fan-base and awaiting record-labels. “Thousands of songs later,” (according to his website) Steve released his first album by way of a Kickstarter funding campaign, under Free the Birds Records.

He’s come a long way. Steve has 115,000 monthly listeners on Spotify and his most recent album, Suitcase, produced by Creative Nation Records, has yet to release more than the single, “Suitcase,” which has already shot to number 187 on the iTunes Country charts. His record Watching Time Run rose to #1 on the Singer/Songwriter chart and was in the top 50 in overall charts. In addition, Steve’s music has been sung by notable artists such as Dierks Bentley, Jake Owen, Ben Rector, Matt Wertz, and Kellie Pickler, among others. Pretty impressive for a dude who produced his first album from a freaking KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN. It just goes to show how powerful his hipster-country fan-base truly is and makes me believe in the future of good music.

Not only is he a talented singer/songwriter, but he’s hilarious. Steve showcases his dry sense of humor on his Twitter and in his adorable friendship with Ben Rector. He’s also ridiculously photogenic—just check out his Instagram (@stevemoakler).

So what makes him different than any other charming, angelic-voiced country-singer? I would say what brought him to #3 on Hodak’s list of country artists to watch in 2016 is initiative. He completely financed his first album with funds from a donation website. Who are we to limit this guy?! I think Hodak sees his potential because of his willingness to make moves and humility to let other artists sing his music. Keep on doin’ you, Steve. It’s working.

Still not convinced? Watch this.


Filed under Blog Post 2, Reviews

9 Responses to Watch Out, Chart-Toppers

  1. Mackenzi McAfee

    I absolutely loved reading this post! Their is great humor and personality throughout the blog which makes it a really good read and kept my attention. I really like how the subject is an upcoming artist that seems to fit in the country music genre. Whats funny is that I didn’t recognize the name Steve Moakler at first, but thanks to the spotify clip thats included, I pushed play and knew every word of the song! I think I came across this song on a random spotify playlist a few months back and added it to one of my own, so I obviously love the song and can definitely relate to the lyrics. I don’t usually tend to listen to music that I can’t relate to on a personal level, and this song just hits home to me because it explains exactly how I feel about my boyfriend and I (5 years and counting). I would definitely agree with you that Steve Moakler is unique and extremely talented. I love that the song sounds country because of the instruments used, primarily piano and acoustic guitar, but his voice isn’t necessarily “country” with a strong twang. His voice is incredible and I too hope he makes it big in the country industry because you can tell his voice is genuine and his talent shouldn’t go unnoticed!

  2. Kevin Lefkowitz

    I do not usually pay attention to artists enough to know of up-and-comers, but I always enjoy reading about success stories for people who finally get their big break. It is always fun to predict someone’s success and this post shows that you were correct in predicting his success. Thank you for writing about him, he is very clearly a talented musician. I look forward to listening to his songs on the radio, if he continues to keep improving and gaining a following. Having him fund his first album by way of a kickstarter campaign is unbelievable and he absolutely sounds like someone who “gets it”. He seems to be in for a fun ride!

  3. Timothy Harakal

    Thanks for this post, Erin! I look forward to checking out some of Moakler’s music when I get a bit more time. This reminds me of a blog post I commented on earlier this semester about a hard-working musician who worked his butt off in Nashville to play as many shows as he could and really get his name out there. And I completely agree with you that his #3 position comes from his initiative. People don’t always realize that hard work, persistence, and resilient resolve are arguably even more important than being talented – because then talent can be trained and given appropriate time to be recognized. And I also find it interesting how much our current web culture has truly helped artists get there start! I can’t find it hard to imagine this same artist 30 years ago would have had a MUCH harder time building a fanbase and fundraising for his album (given the lack of social media and sites like Kickstarter).

  4. Paige Hinkle

    This is a really interesting post. I didn’t realize that funding albums on Kickstarter was a thing, especially traditionally anti-technology genres like country. I can imagine funding an album online must take a lot of dedication and people must be very drawn by Steve’s music. While Steve does seem like a hardworking guy, I found it difficult to believe some of the things he was saying in the video. It seemed like he was putting on an act when he was saying that he just wants to share his music with people and doesn’t care about money or fame. That being said, he seems like a wonderful singer/songwriter with an interesting country influence and certainly knows how to impact people with his music.

  5. Adrian Ortiz

    I really enjoyed reading your blog post about Steve Moakler’s success story, especially the part about how he utilized Kickstarter to finance his first album. I believe that more artists should take this approach because record labels are harder and harder to come by. Also, this allows him to ignore the middle man and take the maximum share of his sales. However, I hope he is picked up by a major label to continue his success.
    On another note, I listened to some of his songs after reading the post and I’ve grown to enjoy his style of music. I think his unique style makes him stand out from his counterparts, and I wish him the best of luck.

  6. Brittney Haynes

    Well, this blog was very informative because before reading I had never even heard of Steve Moakler. After reading your article, which was great by the way, and watching the video I can definitely see why he is on the “artists to watch for” list. I truly admire his diligence and perseverance to see his dream come true even though it didn’t happen automatically for him. (Just gives him more material to use when writing) I can’t wait to see what he does in the upcoming year and how far he is going to go. Like you said, who are we to limit him… He’s going to be great.

  7. Katerina Biancardi

    First off, I got so excited when I saw this because I have been a Steve Moakler fan since high school. One of my friends lived down the street from him in Pennsylvania for a little bit. So I was OMG STEVE. You did such a great job talking about his story. I actually read the same article by the Post, and was surprised that he on the country radar. Because like you, I have known him for his old stuff. However, when I saw he was doing some country and gave it a listen I was excited. (Because I think his voice in general sounds beautifully!) Also loved that shout out to Ben Rector because I am a big Ben fan too. Can’t wait to see what Steve does in the country music industry!

  8. Max Holter

    Perfect click bait. I just started scrolling and all of the sudden I had something telling me to watch out. I just had to click on it. Having good click bait is a great skill for getting your opinion through today. Unlike most click bait, this fantastic article title was followed up with some fabulous content. Before this I had never heard of this steve fellow, but after your embed videos and songs, and just your overall opinion of him I guess I will have to “watch out.” The tone seemed like you had just found out about him and ran through the door before class started to tell me as much as you could before class started. Exciting really. Great post!

  9. Lee Allen

    Great title of the post. After all, that’s what gets us to read it. And I’m glad I did! I’ve never heard of this “Steve” before, but I sure am lucky that you told me about him. I listened to his older music when you said it didn’t fit country, and I can totally agree with how it may have surprised you. New country is quite literally “New” country. Sounds are changing, times are changing. I can only imagine how excited and smart you felt when you saw that an up and coming artist was already on your radar prior to anyone else. It’s also crazy that he debuted his first album using kickstarter, something that Tim McGraw couldn’t have done years ago…time’s are changing. Awesome read!

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