Hey there, time traveller! This article was published 30/10/2017 (815 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
For a singer-songwriter known for the personal stories he tells in his lyrics, the decision to use a song written by someone else isn’t one made lightly; it has to be an exact fit.
When Winnipeg musician Don Amero’s manager played a song for him a few months back, he wasn’t particularly impressed and passed on it. A week later, she encouraged him to give it a second listen.
The lyrics began to stir up memories of his father, who died last year, and the connection between artist and song was cemented.
"This was the one that after a couple listens really sat well with me," he says, referring to Church, his new single.
The track, which came from Nashville writers Ashley Gorley, Matt Jenkins and Hillary Lindsey, showcases a more solidly country sound than Amero’s previous work, and he says the decision to turn his musical focus toward that genre was a conscious one.
"I think the country hat is something I’m wearing a little more proudly these days," he says. It’s in my blood, it’s in my veins; my parents were big country fans so I come by it pretty honestly. And my stuff has always tip-toed the line of country but this is more jumping in with both feet.
"I just have always been the writer that puts songs out that I really feel a connection to and I’m not so hung up on genre, except at this stage in my life, country seems to be the thing I keep going back to."
Music publishing companies have rights to songs written by non-performing writers hoping to catch the ears of big-name stars such as Tim McGraw and Carrie Underwood. Amero says if the songs don’t get picked up at that point, they "work their way down the ranks."
"Somehow, Church was not picked up yet," he says, adding he believes it’ll be a major hit.
"The songs coming from these writers are just next-level pop/country hits... ready for commercial radio.
"The big thing for me is I have to connect with the song and make it part of my story. If I can’t do that then I pass on the song."
Amero says he and his manager have been listening to pitches all week and he heard "amazing" songs but they just weren’t right for him.
"A lot of it was, for lack of a better term, the bro-country kind of feel, and it just wasn’t my fit," he says.
Amero says he has three tracks in the bank for a new album, and, if everything goes to plan, the completed project should be released next year.
But those anxious to hear new music can expect a couple of the unreleased tracks to make their way into his set at the Free Press’s Sunday Brunch Collective on Nov. 19.
"I’ll be playing some of the new stuff... I owe a lot to my previous catalogue, so that’s part of it still, but you can bet I’ll be bringing some of the new stuff to the table there," he says.
While on the road to creating and releasing the as-of-yet untitled new album, Amero is running a campaign on Patreon — a membership platform that allows anyone to create a subscription-content service. In Amero’s case, he’s using Patreon as a tool to help fund the record.
Unlike platforms such as Kickstarter or Pledgemusic, Patreon uses a subscription model that allows users to donate a specified amount of money each month to whatever project/artist/company they want to financially support.
"With the industry changing so much and streaming being the new way people access their music, it’s really cut out a lot of sales. I’ve felt it and I’m sure higher up the chain, they’ve felt it too. And so I just thought one of the ways to offset that is by going to your audience and saying, ‘If you like what I do and want to continue supporting me, this is one way to do it,’" he explains.
"Every artist has always survived by their fanbase supporting them; coming to shows, buying tickets, buying music. This is just sort of an extension of that.’
Amero says those who support him on Patreon get access to exclusive content and perks, and he has already had a few fans jump on board.
"It’s something, I know, that’s going to take years to build up to a really significant place, but already I’ve seen a number of people come to the table who are just really generous," he says.
"It’s so cool to know people are with you enough to invest and put their money where their love is."
Erin Lebar is a multimedia producer who spends most of her time writing music- and culture-related stories for the Arts & Life section. She also co-hosts the Winnipeg Free Press's weekly pop-culture podcast, Bury the Lede.