Interviews Cody Johnson

Published on December 22nd, 2017 | by Darren Paltrowitz


Cody Johnson On Why He Chose TuneCore Over A Traditional Record Deal And More..

A Texas-based country singer/songwriter, Cody Johnson has released six studio albums. His latest, 2016’s Gotta Be Me, reached #2 on the Country albums chart of Billboard. Johnson’s prior release, 2014’s Cowboy Like Me, peaked at #7 on U.S. Country albums chart. Notable about this success is that all of Johnson’s recordings have been self-released with TuneCore overseeing the digital distribution.

After speaking with TuneCore’s CEO Scott Ackerman, I was connected with Johnson for some Q&A over e-mail. Johnson explained why he continues to remain an independent artist, and what he has coming up for him in 2018. More on Cody Johnson can be found online at

How did you first find out about TuneCore?

Cody Johnson: When I first signed with my manager, he brought several options to the table for distribution. TuneCore was one of those. It made the most sense for me because physical sales were declining and streaming was starting to pick up. It was a no-brainer for me.

Do you ever foresee a day when you would be signed to a major label and not handling your own releases?

Cody Johnson:I figure if it’s supposed to happen someday the right deal is going to get made and it will be with the right people, but for now we’re just sticking to our guns because quite frankly I feel we have a brand in country music that’s worth fighting for. We’ve got a lot of people out there supporting us and I don’t really want to change what we’ve got going on. I’m definitely not anti-label though.

Did you ever come close to signing with a major?

Cody Johnson:I spent a lot of time in Nashville, my manager and I, trying to fit in to get a record deal because we thought that’s what would perpetuate my career. Two or three different record labels really reached out at that time and tried to facilitate a deal, but it just didn’t make sense on the business side of things. If you are going to be an artist, you’d better have a hold of your business, that’s what drives it. We tried to make it work, and no matter which way we bent and which way they bent, it never did line up. A lot of that has to do with timing. It didn’t ever feel right so we sat down and had a talk about it. We prayed about it and we said, “It’s just not for us right now.”

What do the next six months of your career look like? Are you working on a follow-up to Gotta Be Me?

Cody Johnson:Touring of course. We have a little break at the end of the year, then it’s back to hitting the pavement in mid-January 2018. You can check out where we are playing across the country at As for a new album, I’m currently writing and listening to new songs for the next project. I have plans to be back in the studio February of 2018. It should be available sometime in August or September.

When not busy with your career, how do you like to spend your free time?

Cody Johnson:When not making music or performing live, most of my time these days is spent spending time with my wife and two little girls at home. I will also slip away from time to time to go hunting, horseback riding and roping.

What’s been your favorite album of 2017?

Cody Johnson:I haven’t had a lot of downtime this year to really dig deep into new albums. I’ve always liked the more traditional-sounding stuff, though. I feel like its starting to make a comeback on a national level.

Finally, Cody, any last words for the kids?

Cody Johnson:Go to college. Be prepared. It’s not a pretty business in the beginning. I couldn’t get booked to play anywhere to save my life. You have to fight and fight and keep pushing and not take “no” for an answer. Don’t be deterred by the doors that are closed in your face.

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About the Author

Darren Paltrowitz is a New York resident with over 20 years of entertainment industry experience. He began working around the music business as a teenager, interning for the manager of his then-favorite band Superdrag. Since then, he has worked with a wide array of artists including OK Go, They Might Be Giants, Mike Viola, Tracy Bonham, Loudness, Rachael Yamagata, and Amanda Palmer. Darren's writing has appeared in dozens of outlets including the New York Daily News, Inquisitr, The Daily Meal, The Hype Magazine, All Music Guide, Guitar World,, Businessweek, Chicago Tribune, L.A. Times, and the Jewish Journal. Beyond being "Editor At Large" for The Hype Magazine, Darren is also the host of the bi-weekly "Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz" podcast, as co-produced with V13 (formerly He has also co-authored two published books, 2018's "Pocket Change: Your Happy Money" (Book Web Publishing) and 2019's "Good Advice From Professional Wrestling" (6623 Press), with a second podcast set for a June 2020 launch.

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