Bri Bagwell kicks off the podcast talking about her songwriting and professional musician career as well as the passing of Kylie Rae Harris. This interview will strike a chord with her friends, peers, and mentors as Bri sheds light on the constant struggle that every touring musician battles: the rollercoaster of how live show attendance, record sales, and ticket counts are the benchmark of how performers are judged in this business, and the toll the size of the audience can take on their heart each night… all the while running her own organization.
Daran Herrman: I am here with Bri Bagwell, a good friend and amazing musician, artist…
Bri Bagwell: Good friend?
Daran Herrman: That’s right. Great friend.
Bri Bagwell: There we go.
Daran Herrman: For those who don’t know who you are, why don’t you tell us about yourself?
Bri Bagwell: Yeah, well it keeps changing, right? I’m just about to enter my 10th year of having a, a full band in the Texas country music scene, which is crazy. And before that I played acoustic for awhile. I’m from New Mexico and I’ve been playing live music now for 18 years. Yeah. So I guess I’m a singer, a singer songwriter. I graduated from UT, so I did that too. But I’m mainly just a performing musician over 150 days a year now. And how many albums I, well, I’m like four and a half. I have one that I hope no one ever hears. Yeah, I released a record Banned from Santa Fe in 2011 and then an EP in 2013 when a heartbreaks in 2015 and In My Defense just came out 2018.
Daran Herrman: How’d you get started? How does one become a musician?
Bri Bagwell: Yeah. Well for me, I’ve been singing ever since I was young. My family is very musical. My mom plays lap still, my dad plays guitar, my aunts sing harmony. I mean it’s just, it was kind of a natural thing for me. And I found an old piano in my garage and I’m an old keyboard and I taught myself kind of how to play. And my parents were like, shoot, maybe we should. So they bought me an old church piano and that’s how I taught myself how to write songs and play music. And my brothers and I started a band. I was 14 and they were 21. I was playing in the honkytonks at 14 years old. And my mom was like, not really sure that she should let me do that, but
Daran Herrman: Until she saw you on stage and then she’s like, okay, maybe
Bri Bagwell: Watching my bros drinking. And then I drive everyone you know, to waffle house and then home.
Daran Herrman: Yeah, that’s a lot of fun. So, all right. You’re a super young playing. Did you start writing songs at that time or,
Bri Bagwell: Yeah, I think my first song I was 13. It was called my most perfect night. And Oh, it was a love song back in the day when I believed in that kind of stuff. No, I’m joking. Totally joking. And I, I started writing, let’s see, and started playing my own songs live at 14 and that was when I kind of got hooked on that because I was playing a lot of covers, but I was also getting to play original songs at such a young age. So that was fun.
Daran Herrman: Yeah, it’s super fun. So let’s take me back to your very first CD. Like what, how did that feel to have your own physical album?
Bri Bagwell: Yeah, I think it changes because when you first do an album, you’re like, nothing sucks, everything’s amazing. You’re just like so happy and so excited and, and you’re, and then the older you get like this last record, the day before it came out, I like super second guessing everything and, and really in my own head about it and you know so I think it’s so fun when you’re young and I, I, and you don’t really know any better. I guess I was tell artists like, enjoy that because now you know, I’m texting Molly Brown with reckless Kelly and he’s like, Oh no, you’re going to second guess every record for the rest of your life. That’s just how it happens when you grow and change. So what’s your favorite like show you’ve ever played or festival or any of that stuff? Yeah, well I got to have I in green hall for the first time last year and I was hoping to sell it out cause I would have, I think been the first independent female to ever do that.
Bri Bagwell: We didn’t tell it out, but we got 550 tickets sold so, and they were, everyone was singing, it was like the first show where everyone was kind of singing along cause they were really all truly brief. And so everyone knew all the music and my parents drove in from New Mexico and so that was my favorite one. Super fun. Yeah. Those of you who don’t know green hall, that’s a super cool little town and it’s a fun little place and a honkytonk bar. George straits played there. Garth Brooks just played there, which is crazy. So crazy. Crazy. Yeah. That would have been a fun. It has no air conditioning. True story. Oh yeah, it definitely does. Yeah, that’s true. No. Yeah. Only beer and wine. No liquor to chew. Honky tonks. That’s fun. Super wood floors. Yes. So what position do you kind of look up to?
Bri Bagwell: Like what’s the, yeah, of course, Miranda. That makes sense. Whenever I first saw Miranda, my mom pulled me out of my bedroom and was like, you gotta see this girl? And that was the moment that I was like, okay, I want to do that. Like that’s what I want to do. And even though I’ve, you know, I started out kind of more Miranda than I am now, I think of, but I, that was the first person that like I modeled my songwriting and my singing and my live performing after and, and I’m very blessed to have been able to open for her and meet her and she was so nice, you know, like, you almost don’t want to meet your heroes in case the aired rude. And she was so amazing. So thankful for that. So what advice would you give somebody who wants to enter the world of rock and roll?
Bri Bagwell: Oh my gosh. Well, I think honestly someone told me early on it was Eli young band. They were like, man, we didn’t start selling tickets until seven years into being a band. I think persistence is, is the key in this industry and just not ever giving up. So if you’re not willing to really kind of stick it out for the long haul, then it’s not for you. And so, okay. All these years, you know, what has helped you keep going? Like year after year show off to show album after album. It’s definitely a roller coaster because those nights that you have those bad nights and nobody comes or you to make any money or I don’t know, the band breaks up or whatever it can be truly devastating. But I really feel like, at least for me, like God in the universe puts like that one magical show just when you need it. And for me, like a good listening room or I dunno, like a green hall night or something that, that it keeps, it keeps you going when you’re like, okay, I’m doing the right thing. And those things do come, they don’t come every night, but they, they come frequently enough to keep me going at least.
Daran Herrman: Well that’s, that’s great to hear. So w I mean, so what is your band situation now? Right. So, yeah, you know, obviously another changeover, which I mean, and I think a lot of people think that’s crazy, but I’m like how, how often do you keep the same job for four or five years? For two years. I mean, right. Everybody switches. And I think it’s very common, but so any, anything that you want to talk about in that situation?
Bri Bagwell: Yeah, that’s interesting because sometimes when you switch your band, you know, people perceive that as like, Oh she’s falling apart or whatever and you’re over here like, man, I’m making these great improvements. And I had my first guitar player, you know, Nathan for seven years, which is crazy emeritus. Yeah. And my first band I think for, for three and my last two guys that I just switched out, they were with me over two years each. So, and that’s a long time in a band. So it’s hard cause you have to really get the right fit. And a lot of times we’re grinding like on the road and we’ve started to use a bus occasionally, but like we’re in a van out 200 days a year. Like that is really tough on anybody. So I tell people like, turnover is just part of it and it sucks, but it’s just,
Daran Herrman: I just, yeah, it’s part of the tool. So a lot of people, which I’ve done the van life with you for like a week and a half. And that was way too much for me going all the way from Austin, Texas to Steamboat. Colorado. But walk, walk me through a day on the road, like just the average normal day. Like what’s that look like from, I’m talking about like, like the process through the day, like when you wake up, how that, you know, how that works, show prep. The whole thing.
Bri Bagwell: Yeah. Well, like now a typical day was gonna look like I can already foresee it, you know, Friday we’re, we have to leave at 6:00 AM drive to North of Fort worth in the van with the band and trailer to meet the bus and how long that takes. And since then, and trailer, ah, probably at least three hours, maybe four. Not terrible, but not terrible, but not fun at 6:00 AM because I have a show Thursday night, so I’ll be getting, you know, four or five hours of sleep maybe. So we get to the van call about 10, we’ll jump in the bus, I will go take a nap in the back while our best driver drives us to Lubbock. And then from then on it’s like we’re going to get to sound check and my drummer has to set up first I will find a nearby gym or a hotel gym or something that I can just sneak in or pay to use or put it on Facebook or try to find, try to find somewhere to work out like, and I only have like the time from when we get there and then they’re going to need me at soundcheck eventually.
Bri Bagwell: So
Daran Herrman: That’s it. That’s an interesting process too. I’m always a big fan with working out. Is the create some kind of consistent schedule or or something that’s convenient. You really don’t have either except that it sounds like you say the trigger for you is okay, we were going to pull in, I have from that time until when they have to do the vocal soundcheck or, or, or, or the your soundcheck part two, which is, I mean how long is that usually it’s like two hours. Four hours. Like maybe like one. Yeah. And you have to still, and this is a foreign town cause it’s not never your home time and hardly so I have to Uber. Yeah, sure. So that’s, that’s, that’s some so if people are thinking it’s hard to work out when you, you’re in your own house and you just gotta go down the street think about going to a different town and having a very short period of time and having to pay Uber to get there. It’s pretty impressive.
Bri Bagwell: Right. Or like being in the green room, trying to just, you know, do like a hit workout or something. But for me it’s like if I don’t work out when I’m on the road, I’m on the road two thirds of my life. So if I don’t do it, then I never do it. And you’ve known me for a long time. I think I’ve lost about 15 or 20 pounds since I started. It’s just like a way of life now and it sucks. We all try to eat healthy road. It’s really hard
Daran Herrman: In the middle of nowhere. There’s like, is your best option if,
Bri Bagwell: If I never had a smell a subway again, like the smell of it, even now, so much subway and it has a specific smell. Right, right. And now we have the, when we have the bus we can take meals, which is interesting. You know, we try to like preplan sure. More. so that’s helping. It’s, it’s just, it’s a crazy thing. It’s such a grind. And then like this weekend our load ends at five and we play at nine. So I’ll have to like work out soundcheck, you know, rinse off, get ready and be on stage all within a four hour timeframe. So stuff is crazy. And then we’ll get back on the bus after it’s over and we drive or we’re driving overnight. Back to Austin.
Daran Herrman: And this is this Friday. So this is, this is just, you’re like, this isn’t like an assumption, this is what’s happening like in a couple of days. Yeah. So what’s your favorite workout to do? Like if you, if you,
Bri Bagwell: Oh, I love cycling. I’m into spin class. I go to love here in Austin. And I met a girl who knows your wife actually. Yeah, at my spin class the other day and I love to go, but it’s it almost kills me. I don’t like cardio, but it’s to the beat of the music, so it makes me feel, you know, musician. Yeah, it’s fun. You can dance.
Daran Herrman: So walk me through like, okay, let’s talk about songwriting. So let’s just let’s talk about somebody who just wants to be a songwriter. What would you, what advice would you give them to get started?
Bri Bagwell: Yeah, well, unfortunately for me, and I think a lot of people, like I have to force myself to be creative, which sucks. I feel like every
Daran Herrman: One, I, I think it’s
Bri Bagwell: A myth that it just like now it does come to you sometimes I, and, and I, and I’ve also learned for myself is when I feel that like don’t like do something else or pick up your phone and get busy or watch TV, whatever. Go like when it does come, you better go right now cause it’s fleeting and it won’t be back all, it doesn’t always come back for a while. Right, right. Totally. And I think you know, when I got signed by Sony, I’d never been forced to write, but I would go you know, like Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and write a song or write two songs. And now I do this songwriting group actually just got out of it this last week, but I write one song a week religiously. And that doesn’t sound like a lot. It is so difficult to do. And I’ve done that for over a year now. So that’s what, 50, you know, I probably have like 60 songs in the last year that I’ve written, which is crazy. So I say force yourself to be creative. And for me that’s being a part of like an accountability group. And I think that’s the best thing I’ve ever done on my whole last record was written that way. So I’d never would have had any of those songs or maybe I would have had one or two.
Daran Herrman: I think this is a very interesting point here that I think a lot of people say, okay, well I’ve written five songs. It’s time for EAP. You know, I’ve written 10 it’s time for an album. You just, you just said something that you’ve written 50 or 60 over the last year. Like I’m ha, I mean that doesn’t mean you’re making four albums, maybe none of those were going to make the album. Right. Which is very interesting.
Bri Bagwell: Or you know, with a producer, a good producer, he or she will help you narrow that to, you know, not all 50 or 60 are great. And like you said, maybe none of them are great, but she can really pick out like what we did from my last record is I had all these songs that I’d written with Sony. I’d had like 150 songs I had written while I was there under contract and she, we were about to go into the studio and she was like, you know what, no, these songs sound like you were writing with a good co-writer five years ago, which is true. So we sat down and I started writing in that group and I wrote pretty much all new songs for this last album. And they’re current and they’re very meat. And then we took them and we fine tuned them until we thought they were perfect. So
Daran Herrman: Is there any truth to the song like you know, if you are a cowboy, is that, is that your kind of target audience that you’re wanting to, like when you’re dating, is that what you want? Like
Bri Bagwell: The story because I don’t, I have so many songs and my producer was like, Hey, I want to play you this song. No pressure. Just give it a listen. And that’s the only song on the album I did not write.
Daran Herrman: I think that’s great though. I think it’s kind of, I think a lot of musicians only want to, you know, do their own songs. And I understand that there’s some pride there and you’re putting, you know, you’ve written 150 songs. It’s like, why am I, why would I want to go buy somebody else’s song or work with somebody else’s song? But it also, it also shows a different range that you can take what somebody else have done, make it your own, change it up. I mean there’s still such a huge process in that it’s not like that’s given to ya and then it just come, you know, you take 40 seconds in the studio and it’s done. He’s still got to do all the arrangements, get to figure out how you’re going to do it. And it’s just what everybody else does too. I mean it’s a very common to, to have somebody else’s, cause a lot of people are just good songwriters and they don’t, they’re not, they don’t have the live aspect. Totally or that, or even the presence of the album. But yeah. And I think it shows maturity
Bri Bagwell: Be like, Hey, I don’t think I’m the best throng writer in the world. I think there’s other great songwriters, or like if you look at like a house that built me by Miranda, like she didn’t write that, but I mean, she, she broke down. She was so upset. I mean, just emotionally connected to that song. And when I heard if you were a cowboy, I was like, give me that. Like that’s me. Even though I didn’t ride it. And it’s something I could never ride as a really cool chord progression. I mean, not never right. But something I’ve never written and, and, and I, and my audience I knew would love it and I just had to have it.
Daran Herrman: Yeah. And I, I think that’s something like, you know, it’s, it’s it gives, I think your albums always need to have a variety of music to suit. So using somebody else’s songwriter, it, I, the, there’s, there’s a lot of pros. I mean, obviously it’s very enjoyable to have your only own music. But to me, if it’s good art, I don’t care who made it, you know, and who wrote it or co-wrote or whatever. As long as it’s more true to you and that, that obviously, I mean, that song, they’re like, it’s like, I know you. So I’m like, yeah, this totally makes sense. Totally makes sense
Bri Bagwell: To me. And I wouldn’t say I’m really good at writing like Anthony, like, eh, nah, nah, that’s not really my thing. But it’s fun. It’s so fun. And, and so I found a song that, that I can do that with and, and now I’m actually, the hallmark channel was interested in that song. I don’t know if that’s still a thing, but that might happen, which would be cool.
Daran Herrman: That’d be super cool. Yeah. But it’s just even interesting. It’s fun that they’re even interested, you know, that you said that, you know, it’s not just you that likes it. Right. Which, you know, we’re always so worried about our own art. Right. You know, we’re the, our own worst critic. So let’s talk about that. How do you, how do you deal with that? How do you, I mean, not everybody’s going to love your show. Not everybody’s going to love your music. Not everybody’s going to love their perception of you, whether, you know, cause everybody thinks they know what, who people are. But so how do you deal with that?
Bri Bagwell: Yeah, it’s always tough cause we always talk about like at the merge table we will get 50 great, amazing comments and then like one bad one and then it can ruin your whole night or it stays with you forever. I mean, I could probably sit here and tell you every bad thing somebody has ever said about me cause it just, I’ll never forget it, you know? And I just, I also think someone’s like, Oh, it’s the music business. You have to have thick skin. And I’m like, yeah, but I’m so sensitive. That’s why I write songs because I’m emotional. And so it’s kinda like a double edged sword I guess. I, I have to like talk about it and, and get it out and be like, this happened. And of course my close circle of people around me are like, Hey, that’s like you said, their perception is not true and you’re a rock star and we love you and okay, great. Like for me, it’s the circle of people around that I can always turn to for like validity, I guess
Daran Herrman: It’s funny, one negative comment can just replay in your head over [inaudible]
Bri Bagwell: Right, right. Like I just put out this video of Cheeto me, like I live video and you know, someone was like, I’m sorry, but those lyrics aren’t for me. And it’s like, why would you even comment or be, you know, like that to me is so odd, but I know that like that’s people’s outlet in their own way. And if they want to use it for negativity, then that’s not somebody I needed to even let bother me. Like, I want to use my internet power for positivity.
Daran Herrman: Right. And, and you know, that’s a mature way of looking at it. Like, look, it’s just, you’re, you’re obviously not somebody I would want to be around anyways. So it’s still, it’s still sits in there. So. Okay. You’ve been, you’ve been on it for you know, over a decade, almost two. What does success look like for you?
Bri Bagwell: Yeah, I’ve been thinking about this a lot. Because success is like sometimes in some people’s eyes, like if you’re not Carrie Underwood, you’re not successful or you know what I mean? And in the business for me, there’s all these different markers of success and and actually I would, I consider successful as has been these weird things that have happened to me that have been in my heart more important than anything else. Like we were on a cruise impact. Green was like, Hey, I gotta talk to you. And I was like, Oh, he’s like, I just want to tell you how proud I am and what you’ve done for the scene and you got to keep at it because the scene needs you. And I was like sobbing, you know? To me, that’s a big measure of success. So, it may not be that I’m selling a million records, but one of my heroes is treating me like I’m an important part of the music scene,
Daran Herrman: Which I’d have to agree. So I think some people might not understand what that means in a lot of ways besides being a very successful artists and having powerful music. There’s not many females, not just in Texas country and country in general. So, so I think that can be intimidating, but you know, like why, why do you stay in Texas country? Why don’t you go to Nashville? Like why, I mean, why do you keep doing this very difficult task if it’s kind of stacked against you? I mean, I,
Bri Bagwell: Yeah, no, totally. And, and a lot of people don’t really know how hard I did try in Nashville. And I went around to like multiple managers and record labels and I had pretty much all of them tell me no. And a couple of them told me I was too old, you know, that’s like a real thing. One of them was like, I can’t pour 50 grand into you. And then you decide to get married and have a baby in six months, which is still offensive. And, and, and that was, you know, probably five years ago. So I wasn’t even as old as I am now. So I did get told no a lot in Nashville, which I could have stayed, tried and tried harder or tried different ways. But for me, I was already making a living doing it here. And so a lot of fans here, right.
Bri Bagwell: And I didn’t want to like quit and go have to go to Nashville to, you know, quit what I’ve built here. Even though some people in Nashville really shrug it off, they’re like, Oh, you know, if you want to be a superstar, you got to give that up. It’s like, well, this, this has been my dream. I’ve been a fan. I’ve been playing Texas country music and a bar since I was 14 all I wanted to do was play Texas country music. And some people will shrug that off as a small dream or be like, we don’t want to work with her. Her dreams are too small. That was another thing that was actually said to me. And so it’s like, it’s so offensive, but it’s, I couldn’t quit and I don’t have a lot of money to just quit and go to Nashville and try to make it, you gotta go wait tables and hustle. And I’m like, why would I do that when I can play live music every weekend?
Daran Herrman: Well, and that’s the thing. And when you, I mean you’re booking 150 shows a year, which to me just sounds a little crazy. So, you know, obviously something’s working. So what, what do you think gets you to the next step in your and your ladder of success? Whatever that means.
Bri Bagwell: Yeah, cause I do feel like we’re on the verge of something bigger. We haven’t quite broke this next level. You know, we’ve always, and I was talking to some friends about that because it’s like, I feel like we’re close now. Like I feel like you’re close to, but what is close? Is it five months? Is it five years? Is it, cause I thought this last record was going to be what did it,
Daran Herrman: I think it’s one song sometimes. I mean, and for those who haven’t seen Bri Bagwell play live that is dialed in. So I mean I’ve seen you for years and years and years and like that is ready to go. Right. You know, I think that one’s wrapped up bow on it, ready to go. You know, have such a catalog of songs to play to, you know, and you know, it’s kinda like it might take another 10 years am I took another two days, you know, tried to hit a home run, you know?
Bri Bagwell: Yeah. And you know, I don’t want to play at this pace, like you said forever. But I have not tired of it right now, so I want to like push until I’m like, you know what? Okay, I’m a little, 150 might be too much. I would, I would like to of course, like play less and make more. That’s the, isn’t that what everyone play music lesson? But it’s coming slowly. Like our money is going up in, our dates are going down. So it’s doing what it’s supposed to be doing. And of course we’re getting more sponsorships and we’re getting more things like that that allow me to not have to place so many shows because I think I could do all these other really great things, but it’s like, man, I only have two or three days off the road and that’s just enough to catch my breath, do laundry, unpack repack and turn around and do it again.
Daran Herrman: So tell me, tell me about how you structure your music business. Cause you do it a little differently than some people. Forgive me if the, is it Bri Bagwell, LLC or so, so this, so walk us through how that is set up.
Bri Bagwell: Yeah. Well I mean now it’s, it’s me and then I have a manager and a booking agent. So they take their percentages. And then, but I own everything from the merchandise to the masters of the record. Sony did own a lot of my songs and will forever from the time that I was with them. But I have, you know, I pay my band per show. So everything else is pretty much just money that I can take and turn around. And, and now it’s, it’s, it’s, I am the sole decision maker and pretty much everything I consult with my, yeah, I consult with my manager of course. But it’s such a hard business to be in because right now I’m looking at, you know, I have this chunk of change. Do I want to put it into, you know, now there’s things like streaming promoters to get you onto these playlists and these, you know, so now like the business model keeps changing. Like, do I really want to put this chunk of change into a record when no one listens to records or really buys records anymore or do I want to take this and put it into pushing my online streaming or do I want to take it and invest it in a bunch of merge or do I want to go buy a new van cause my second band is almost done. It’s just, it’s fun being the sole decision maker, but it’s also really challenging.
Daran Herrman: Well, it’s a, it’s a lonely Island too. Yeah. Trust me, I’ve, I, you know, being my own decision maker as well, to same pains, whether you own a marketing agency, a photography business, or your position on the road. So a couple of things in there too, so, so, okay. Say the show doesn’t turn out way w you know, it’s not as big as it wanted to be. Whatever. They didn’t promote whatever happened or it’s raining out. So your band still gets the same. They get paid.
Bri Bagwell: It happened to us on Friday because we played in Houston, but it was the world series game. So like nobody came and it was a huge venue. So yeah, that’s one of those nights that I’d take a hit. They get a paycheck. But like thinking is I really nice guys. I mean, they were really upset. They, I mean, they didn’t give me any money back.
Daran Herrman: Yeah, they were upset as well. Yeah. And so this is something that, that it’s interesting is like you have to do all this creative stuff in a pressure there and performance as well as balancing working out [inaudible] and all this. But then there are also, you have a full different side. What, what was the decision process of it, of you instead of like going in with four other people, right. And say, okay, well this band owns everything. So like w how did that initially, when your probably first album or whenever it happened, what was that thought like?
Bri Bagwell: I think it’s because I was just playing acoustic. So when I did my first record, I didn’t have a band. And so it was all my songs. You know, I made this first record and I still didn’t have a band. But I was on a TV show that gave me the leverage to start a band. So when they all came in it was like, Hey, these are my songs, this is going to be my show. I did give them a name because I love it and I love, and I thought it was cute. And then it turned into this really cool thing. They’re called the band B, a. N. N. E. D. And so, but now still I write all the songs. I decide where we record them. I get the musicians I want to play on my record, which is not always my band. And I keep all the merge money, like, you know,
Daran Herrman: Yeah. But for better or worse, you also have to buy all the merchant. Right.
Bri Bagwell: Oh, I tell people that all the time because you know, I had [inaudible]
Daran Herrman: If you have a shirt that doesn’t sell, that’s on you. Yeah.
Bri Bagwell: And I’m like, when people, when we had a good show once and one of the band members was like, Oh, that private party, you know, she gonna give us more money. And I’m like, what do you want me to show you the eight shows last month that I lost money on? Or I just pay all the gear, the gear insurance and the trailer insurance and the van insurance and the, I mean there’s a lot that goes into it, but most of the time most band members are appreciative because they can come in and do their job very well and then go home and do something else.
Daran Herrman: But you’re also at a spot and I think you always have been since the CMTS next superstar gave you some leverage to where you get professional band people you know, that understand the business a little bit, have been around. They, they enjoy that, Hey, I can rely that I’m getting paid X dollars. It’s prenegotiated, it’s organic, it’s coming. You know, it’s not like a a up and down wave. Right. I mean it might be because of the amount of shows, but at least they know if they’re doing 14 shows this month, they have certain amount of money coming in.
Bri Bagwell: Yeah, right. And I’ve talked to guys that have bands, like some of our very good mutual friends and they’re like, it’s really tough. We might make three like $30 on one show, like each. And I’m like my guys, you know, like, and I, and I, they treat me really good and I treat them really good. And I think that’s the, to me that’s the best way. But then you look at like Randy Rogers, him and his band, they all are equal in it, which is fascinating to me. I just, I guess I like to make all those decisions and write all the songs myself.
Daran Herrman: There you go. Yeah. For better or worse yet yet. Yet you take all the responsibilities, but you get to make all the decisions. Both ways can work. So what’s your favorite memory related to this last album they put out?
Bri Bagwell: Actually this is weird. It’s again, like, I don’t know if it’s like a selfish thing, why, what sticks out to me and whatnot, but Willie Brown from reckless Kelly texted me that he loved this record and it was the reason that they put me on Bron brothers reunion in Idaho. I’d never played it. Is there a dog barking? You will get that down. No, it’s okay. It’s okay. And he said that my, my record was very Hemingway ask the way that I wrote it, which I thought, man, I really tried to write this record. Well and that was, that was a just a really good moment for me cause it didn’t completely change my life. I will say it improved our, our ticket sales and stuff, but it didn’t, I expected this record. I don’t know. You know, I was hoping it was just going to completely change everything. It was going to be the game change,
Daran Herrman: Which I think you have to have that, that’s a motivation to create it. I mean, and spend all the money to make a record and be, I mean, what a lot of people don’t understand is it’s very expensive to not only make a record, but you have to promote it too. So it’s like you have to have some that, that mentality and some people would say, you know, the old me that’s a little crazy to you that you’re literally spending a ton of money upfront that for a possibility of stuff running in. It’s very similar to what like a, an entrepreneur would have to do or a business owner or somebody who runs a store. I mean there isn’t the guarantee, but there’s no way to hit a home run without trying. Right.
Bri Bagwell: Right. And you’re actually now they’re calling records investments because you are never going to sell. Not never. That’s, but the chances of you selling enough records to recoup what you paid for it. I recorded this record in Nashville with 18 musicians plus the expenses of traveling back and forth in one of the best studios. I got the best mixing guy to mix it, which I had no idea that, that he was going to charge that much to mix it. But it sounds great. It really does. But I would have to sell so many records to pay for that. So it’s just an investment in my,
Daran Herrman: That’s part of the portfolio of being a musician is, you know, you have the records which help the live shows, which helped the merge. Right. And then which help with, the next piece I want to get into is how you make money doing sponsorships, social media. Like what was your very first non-musical paycheck that was outside, you know, that sponsor ask?
Bri Bagwell: Yeah, cause I was getting a lot of like free stuff, but I wasn’t getting, you have to get to a place where you can actually get money. Like right now it’s, people come to me all the time with like, we’ll trade you clothes for posts or we’ll trade you this for this. And I’m like, I don’t really need that anymore. I need money. And it took me a long time to get it there.
Daran Herrman: My, that might sound bad, but literally this is a part of the business now. Like if you do, if you don’t leverage this a, it would be kind of ridiculous. Like because I mean it’s, I mean, I think a lot, I mean they were talking about Messi, the soccer player. It makes more from Instagram that he does from his contract. So it’s, it’s just like, it used to be with commercials on TV, but now the commercials are on Instagram and Vixen.
Bri Bagwell: Right. And it is cool when it’s done correctly. I don’t want to ever like overexpose myself. I have a bunch of friends with clothing boutiques that they give me free clothes and of course, and I’ve of course tagged them and post about it, but I’m not looking looking for that. That’s just what’s in my life. But now I’m like, well now we got Rebecca Creek whiskey, which that has been seven or eight years. That was probably my first one.
Daran Herrman: And I’ve seen, I’ve, I’ve seen and had to drink their whiskey that has been around Bree. It’s, it’s always around. So that is definitely a product she uses. The band uses, it’s always around. It might be gone by the time you come around. We drink it on a mountain in the freezing cold, fun photo shoot. We didn’t Steamboat Springs to check it out, but it’s, it’s, to me that was like a thing where
Bri Bagwell: They were young and I was young and we grew together. So now they’re huge. And like, I’ve grown a lot and we still have this great partnership. You know, we have contracts and we have, we made it formal. But now I got I just got a Karbach beer, which is, yeah, it’s awesome too. I love, you know, look at me being spoiled, looking like an alcoholic with beer and whiskey. But and, and, and I have a jewelry sponsorship now, which we do differently. You know, that’s the kind of thing where I get either, you know, a percentage, a commission basically or in, he gives me a bunch of stuff to sell it merge so you can go to my merge table and buy a tee shirt and a pair of amazing earrings at. Yeah. Yeah. These are them. Yeah. And, and he lets me sell them at a major discount at my merge table, but I’m keeping the profits. So that helps me tremendously. And that’s an interesting way to do a sponsorship instead of like,
Daran Herrman: So I don’t even call that a sponsorship. That’s just a, that’s literally getting inventorying and selling it and like, yeah. But you know, sponsorships, easiest way to put it in there. But I think, I think it’s a great way of taking the business side again of cinder and say, okay, what do I like? And I have people coming to a spot, just like if, if you had a retail location, you would, it would be stupid to not have a storefront. Right, which you have the merge table already. You’re already going to shows people already enjoy your music and who you are. So why not. And I think a lot of people want to be part of that. Like, Oh, they see Bree wearing those England airings they want their rings. Right. Exactly. And I have like this great idea.
Bri Bagwell: I mean, if I could ever make it work, but I wanted to be able, because people always wanted my boots. So we were trying to get to remember where we could click and you could buy my boots. But the problem is a lot of the stuff that I wear is like custom, but I still at every night I’m like, if you want these, you know, if you forgot Valentine’s day, like you need to go over there and buy your lady these earrings that I’m on, she will love them. And, and it’s, you know, it’s just so much about like all the things that I want to do are so centered around making money to be able to do what I want to do. It’s not like I’m like, Oh, all I care about is money. It’s like no, everything in this business is. So
Daran Herrman: Yeah, I think what we’ll you should do is replace the word money with revenue. Here we go. Because cause that’s what it is. So I did in a day, this is all revenue for a business and it is, I mean it goes into LLC, but a lot of people will think that it’s, you know, going straight to you, which can when you pay yourself, but a lot of times it’s going to go to, like you said, that insurance and X, Y, Z. And I also don’t think it’s a negative to sit there and say, let’s say you were making $14 million a year, why would that be wrong? Right. As long as you’re providing value to people and they’re willing to pay for it. And in fact that would be better because I met you provided value to more people or a bigger value to more people too.
Bri Bagwell: I love that. I love that. And I don’t know why sometimes we’re all like that. And I read the book, you know, and it’s like we have all these negative connotations associated with money and that’s so wrong and it puts it in the universe that it’s this bad thing and it’s not, and,
Daran Herrman: And money gives you, it gives you power to do stuff. You can create more music. You can, you, you can take days off. You can pay musicians,
Bri Bagwell: Right? I can take that to her best every weekend. I, yeah,
Daran Herrman: I, I’ve been in that van. I don’t know how you do it.
Bri Bagwell: I know. And this bus has been such a game changer, but it’s, you know, I’m paying way more than I would pay for the van. But it’s like when you, sometimes when you have to make more, you do you find a way to make it work. Yeah. I’m like, we’re going to make it work because I have to have this, I know that even for my dog, like, cause she, she has, you know, I’m usually having to find a sitter for her or whatever. So she just loves, she’s lived her best life and the tour bus. I know she loves it, but it does, I mean, dogs always make life so much. Oh yeah. On the road for sure. Everywhere. Everywhere.
Daran Herrman: So so let’s, let’s say like, so how does a sponsor contact you? Do you contact them? Like what, what, what happens there and how could somebody who wants to be not even if they’re in the music business, how could they, and say they have a following for whatever, how could they get
Bri Bagwell: How could that, how can that happen? Yeah. I mean, I’ve been really lucky because this guy came up to me at green hall with this Texas shaped basket full of Rebecca Creek and said, Bri Bagwell, I want to be your whiskey, which is one of my songs. I want to beer whiskey. And I was like, you creepy. No. Like what is this? You know? And we laugh about that still. So I was approached by them. And now I’m approached because of just my sheer numbers. People approach me all the time. But I think man, there’s no harm in asking like, and, and too, if I would have been reaching out finding a company like Rebecca Creek that was young and willing to grow with you, I think that’s a really cool strategy to like, I don’t know if I would’ve gone after like bud light when I was brand new,
Daran Herrman: But even then they would just, they would give you some money, but not that, I mean Rebecca Creek like promotes you, right?
Bri Bagwell: And a younger maybe like craft distillery would be willing to work with you more and do cool things and you have direct contact. So like even a Karbach like they are huge. Of course they’re huge, but they are in Texas. And I went there and I met him and we drank a beer together and and it, and of course I think Jay being genuine about it, we talk about this a lot, me and you. But like I don’t endorse anything that I don’t love. Like I’ve had offers, I’ve had money offers from, from really big names that I’m like, man, you couldn’t pay me enough to drink that or wear that or rock that or whatever.
Daran Herrman: Right? Sure. And so it sounds like to me that, you know, to align yourself with something that you enjoy or like, and that might be smaller, but it’s best for the long run, not just for like, you know, two seconds and that it’s, I think it’s a little part of your kind of style because you have been around for a long time, you know, you’re not going anywhere. Right. So you also understand like, is this going to look good for me the next year, two years, three years?
Bri Bagwell: Yeah. If you’re switching, I mean I’ve had offers to switch whiskeys and it’s like, Hey, like loyalty for me goes a long way. And how good does it look to my people on Instagram if I’m switching around all the time.
Daran Herrman: Right. Sure. Although I like to switch my, my whiskeys, I do it all the time.
Bri Bagwell: Well, yeah, yeah, yeah. So I’ll drink anything free. No, I’m just not anything. Yeah, maybe when I was 21.
Daran Herrman: So let’s talk about when you were 20, 21. So I think when you’re talking about your start like let’s talk about like from being professional to not being professional and meaning like, I guess maybe when you started you were before your first album, like talk about those days. So the, you know, cause I think a lot of people that might be interested in like, okay, well I like to play music but how do I, how do I do this? Like, you know, and not have them be nervous and scared or whatever it be.
Bri Bagwell: Yeah. We, I had a big conversation with this guy on the cruise the other day and he was like, man, you know, I just can’t get out of these three to four hour restaurant, acoustic gigs and you know, how do you, how do you get to do what you do? And I said, dude, do you not think that I did those? I did every three hour and four hour long restaurant, acoustic gigs early on and I would load up my own speakers, drive myself, play the three hour gig, load up my speakers, drive back home and unload my speakers into my apartment. I mean, I did that for so long and I think people see me now and assume that I didn’t. And so I feel like the need to remind people of that because it’s like, Hey, no, this happened. Don’t you dare ground. And so I think part of like paying your dues I think is a real thing. It’s not just something that like Pew, you have to pay your dues. No, you, you normally do. It’s very, very rare that you don’t, and if you don’t, good for you. I mean
Daran Herrman: Good luck. That’s the, I think that’s like one in that the person who wins like a show or something that gets lucky like that, that that doesn’t happen. Yeah. It’s winning the lottery. Right. Exactly. Yeah. So that’s very interesting. So just keep going, keep, keep, keep. And I also think that makes you a better life.
Bri Bagwell: That’s a great point. Cause I really feel like all the jokes and all the happy hour songs and all the beer songs and you know, all of that came from having to play those happy hour gigs at mother Egan’s right when I first started, you know, like you kind of learn what keeps people drinking, what keeps people happy. And
Daran Herrman: So who has been the most important person in your life overall?
Bri Bagwell: That is crazy. I know my instincts are like my parents, but they, they’re not just like supportive, like they are beyond supportive. They’ve helped me so much and they are totally invested in my songwriting and my craft. And when people are like, you know, when are you going to get a real job? My parents are like, this is her real job. My dad’s like, do you want to see your taxes? She’s making, like she’s has a business. Like they’re, they’re very proud of, of what I’ve done. Yeah. I know. It’s crazy. I like did my taxes this year and obviously whatever you make you spend in this business, but my gross was impressive for what? And it’s like, man, this is really a business. But I think being able to have like that stability, I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have my parents there to listen to every song and support the accomplishments and be there when I cry. And you know, that would be that.
Daran Herrman: Yeah. And I, and I, I’ve seen them around so many different times at shows and stuff. I mean, I don’t, not always are they supportive, but I think they, they enjoy it.
Bri Bagwell: I think they do too. I mean, they grew up around music and, and so they, they love music.
Daran Herrman: Yeah. And plus it’s like, Oh, we got to see burry work, which, Oh, she’s playing in QS, fine. [inaudible] Green hall and drink beer. Right. Okay. So I do want to talk about something again, feel free if w if we don’t want to, but about Kylie Rae Harris. So how did you react when you heard?
Bri Bagwell: Well, I told you Miranda’s mom, Bev Lambert has always been like she would be my next answer after my parents, she’s been so supportive and found me singing on a bar stolen, helped me since then, but she called me at like 9:00 AM, which is, you know, odd. And I was actually driving the van and driving my band up to the bus. And so I was in the driver’s seat and she said, baby, have some bad news. And I knew it wasn’t going to be good, but I never thought it could be something like that. So pull over full on a cry. Of course my band was freaking out. They didn’t know what happened and I couldn’t explain it cause I was just hyperventilating and it’s still two months later, it doesn’t feel real. You know, she was such a great, amazing person and songwriter and we just, we miss her so much. All of us.
Daran Herrman: Yeah. I mean, I didn’t no where near as well as many people, but I’ve been around her plenty and hung out and you know, just always big smiles. That’s, that’s my always, that was my memory, you know, obviously when something tragic happens you kind of have some stuff burn in. But if there’s my memory before that, you know, it was just a, always a good, always, always big smile. Big, big voice has a huge voice. So how are you dealing with it now?
Bri Bagwell: Well I have like, I have my good days and bad days, but I was talking to a bunch of our friends on a group chat and I was like, Hey, I’m not dealing with this. Well, like I’m still really upset about it. I still break down and cry frequently. And, and it’s not just me, nobody is because it’s, I think too, there’s a lot to be said about like, we all drive late at night.
Daran Herrman: It’s like, please give me the driverless cars. Please can’t wait for those.
Bri Bagwell: I agree. Cause it’s, it’s just, it’s so dangerous out there. And how many times I’ve driven tired are you, like just after a show when I was just bawling, not there. And then the chance of, you know, that other little girl in the other car that was killed, that’s also equally as tragic. Of course. Like, Oh my gosh, how sad. And, and the suddenness of it is just been really hard to swallow. Like you still can’t believe that you’re not going to see that person again. It’s just weird.
Daran Herrman: Yeah. It’s interesting. I think it’s, I think you should grieve over it. There’s, I mean there’s, there’s, you know, it’s a celebration of somebody’s life and it’s very difficult because you know, that’s your, it’s in your circle, not only of your profession, but also your friends. So yeah, it’s gone. Double gone.
Bri Bagwell: I’m such a fan of hers. I told somebody, even if I didn’t know her, I would be devastated because I’m a fan of her and then we got to all sing at her funeral. And that was, Oh man, that was tough. But it was like eight of us girls on stage.
Daran Herrman: So I’m going to read something from her song 20 years from now, which is very interesting of a songwriter and almost prophesizing this happening, which is super intense, but it also makes you you know, I, I’m not a songwriter myself, but you know, it makes you almost like proud that somebody could use their, use the English language so well for something in it just so it’s an intensifies now. But you deserve, and this is for, she wrote for her daughter, you deserve nothing less than happiness. And so do I. 20 years from now. My prayer is that somehow you’ll forgive all my mistakes and be proud of the choice I made. God, I hope I’m still around 20 years from now.
Bri Bagwell: That’s intense. I know. And her Instagram story right before, I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to see that. I know it was almost like a prophesizing. That’s not a word. She, I feel like she was, I mean, she was such a real person. She was a little darken at times, you know, like she, I dunno, she just wasn’t ever fake about anything. And if she was having an emotion, she was crying and right before it was the day before, you know, she was bawling cause she’s like, it’s like everyone in my family members has died in this, in this city that she was going to sing in. I mean it was just, it’s crazy. It gives you goosebumps, but I mean, you just have to, I mean, Bev told me, I have to tell you, she, she knew Jesus and you know, I believe in that and I will see her again someday.
Daran Herrman: Yeah. I mean it’s like a, we were texting earlier, but you know, to me, I have a, you know, it’s a circle of life and it’s part of it, you know, and death is, it is interesting cause we’re, we’re, you know, we hate to talk about death and we, it’s very but it is, I mean every, it’s going to happen to everyone and it’s gonna happen to everyone that’s around you. But it’s still not fun,
Bri Bagwell: Especially when it’s such a good, good person. And I mean she was like my soul sister, but I got to hang out with her like two weeks before it happened. We played a show together and we roomed, we roomed together. And I got there and she was like, I’m having trouble with my voice. Shocker. Cause she’d always say that cause her and I both have like sensitive voices kinda. And for as much as we like to hang out and drink too. So I gave her my last steroid pill to help with her voice and like the whole next week I was like, dang it, girl, I gave you my last steroid and I needed it. And and it was just, I don’t know, it was just a funny story. I know that, that is interesting. That, yeah,
Daran Herrman: That makes sense. Gosh, I can’t claim, imagine your voice. Go hang out. [inaudible] I’m in Charlotte time. It’s not like you can be like, Oh, well my voice is only like 75% today, so I’m gonna cancel the show. And then people would go crazy.
Bri Bagwell: Right. My voice is always 75%. I’m like, if it’s a hundred, I don’t know what I would do. But it’s the constant struggle and I hate that because literally sleep and rest and water are the only things that can really fix it. And sometimes we just don’t have time to sleep. Right.
Daran Herrman: Even trying to sleep like while driving, I’ll be, that’s always, yeah. Yeah. You’re better at that than I am. Back to your career. Do you have any regrets
Bri Bagwell: And your music? I kind of feel like I’m, when I look back at those years that I had my deal with Sony, I was running a band playing two or three times a week and then I would get on a plane and go to Nashville and I would write Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, get on a plane, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, you know, and I was like I couldn’t do that now. Now that I’m older than I was, but my regret is I think that I only put, I was not able to put 100% into both things. Right. You know, like when you’re, so I was just so stretched thin and I also didn’t have a tour manager or a regular manager. I was doing everything myself. So I regret not, I think sometimes you need to put 100% into something instead of 50% in two things. One on hold probably. Yeah. And I could have done that or showed up or I don’t know that, that I might regret just not trying. Sure,
Daran Herrman: That makes sense. And you might have another chance of that. So just something to think about. If that comes up is I think it’d be really hard to put the live thing on hold for a minute. But yeah, that’s one of the sayings. And maybe it could be 75, 25 as opposed to 50, 50. I think every week is even just hear you say that, that and that you were doing that weekly.
Bri Bagwell: That’s just hard. It was so hard and I had no home and I had no time. And and but I like then I was like, why can’t lose all this momentum that I have in Texas? Well, it wasn’t near the moment. You know what I mean? Like it wasn’t near what I thought it was
Daran Herrman: Still though. I totally, totally. It totally makes sense. So how, so what’s it like dating a musician on the road? How is, how’s that? How’s that? Yes.
Bri Bagwell: Well, it’s really the hardest thing. I mean, imagine I wouldn’t want my boyfriend in a bar every night. So it takes a special person to like have their girlfriend in the bar every night. And then sometimes like you literally just can’t text back, or I go straight from the stage to merge and merge my take 30 minutes. It might take three hours or the bar owner might want to talk afterwards or, and then I get done and it’s 4:00 AM and you’re sleeping. Like, that’s like, it’s so tough. And it’s taken me a long time to realize like, I just have to have somebody that’s not jealous and that’s hard to find and it, but they’re, I mean, they’re out there.
Daran Herrman: Yeah. Just, I mean it’s, it’s a lot of self confidence.
Bri Bagwell: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And having someone who’s never home, I mean, I dated a really great guy and after a year he was like, look, I can’t, I mean, I loved him and he was just like, I can’t have you gone all the time. It was just too hard for him. And I get that.
Daran Herrman: It makes sense, but you know, it’s like a, this, I still want to have the dreams still. It’s still rocking and rolling. Right. Yeah. So
Bri Bagwell: What does the future hold for? Pretty Bagwell? Well I was, I’m thinking I’m going to do a little EAP in Spanish, which is exciting. I’m going to do I got the songs for like five songs. Yeah, I know. I’m so excited cause I sing in Spanish at my shows. You’ve seen it. And I’ve got a Christmas song coming out this year with my friend Sarah Hobbs. Oh great. And I have apparently according to my producer then my next two records written, she’s like, girl, we got to get on it. So I got more records coming. Have a couple of people cutting my songs right now. So I think I got like 12 cuts out, so I’m going to keep pursuing the songwriting thing. Like you said, it just takes one and it could be like a good paycheck one, but I’m already booking shows up into next year.
Bri Bagwell: I got my cover band on the side that’s really killing it, called the sediment of Joe’s. Me and my best friend Jody booth have that. So a little cover band. I’m adding all of these things into my life. Like I need more things to do. But I don’t, but I did. It’s like, well you have an idea. It might as well run with it. Yeah. Well I think there’s so much pressure with like ticket sales and people liking your music and it’s very emotional. It’s a roller coaster every week. And this cover band is like fun. Just have a good time. We’re just having a blast and it’s, it’s been great. It’s a cover band just like weekends only. We’re only actually doing weekdays cause I’m playing with my bands on a weekday weekends. But we’re getting like these private Christmas, like we just played one for, I think like Chevron last Tuesday for more money than I’m getting for my person.
Bri Bagwell: You know, the, those cover bands, like they’re very valuable if you do them right. Well and that’s using your brand of Bri Bagwell music. You don’t get that book. You don’t book that gig without like playing your other shows either. That’s true. Well thank you.
Daran Herrman:So last question. How would you like to be remembered?
Bri Bagwell: I mean, I always think about like, wow, she was such a, like if I had to do like another selfish one, I would say she was such a better songwriter than anybody realize that would be like, like maybe all of these work tapes and demos of them. Would I? I would. I don’t care about anything. Live records, whatever, anything sponsorships. It would be like just my songwriting. Yeah. I love it. That would be it. Anything else that you want to say before we sign off? No. This has been so fun. I’m so proud of you. Thank you for coming on. Yeah, of course. We got to hang out more often. We got to do more fun stuff, so I know I need to slow down, make, make more money and hang out with Daran
Daran Herrman: and more revenue.
Bri Bagwell: More revenue. Yes. Got it.
Daran Herrman: Thank you so much for being on the podcast.
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