By Tricia DesPres
© 2013 CMA Close Up® News Service / Country Music Association®, Inc.
Justin Moore is a man who listens to his gut … and his gut was telling him that Off the Beaten Path, his third studio album on The Valory Music Co. label, was complete. In fact, he was sure that these 16 tracks would tell the story he wanted to tell, as an artist and a person, more clearly than anything he had recorded previously.
There was just one problem.
“I had 16 songs that I was attached to and 16 songs I was determined for my fans to hear,” he recalled. “In my mind, I had a complete album.”
His label agreed. So why, then, is the track list shorter on the standard release of Off the Beaten Path?
Because The Valory Music Co. decided that, with two Gold albums under his belt and a string of successful singles, Moore had a fan base that would support both that standard release as well as a deluxe version, which would feature all 16 songs.
It’s a situation confronted with increasing frequency by artists and labels. In an industry where the act of reinventing oneself is expected to some degree with each new album, deluxe editions have become more popular among fans as well as label executives. From exclusive content to additional tracks to different album covers, many artists now use deluxe versions of their album to go a bit … off the beaten path.
“Deluxe versions are created for the über fans who want more from their favorite artists,” explained Kelly Rich, Senior VP, Sales and Marketing, Big Machine Label Group. “Justin’s fans are very passionate, so this was an opportunity for him to give them more. His fan base continues to grow, and with that growth comes the opportunity to offer them additional content outside of the standard release.”
“I love the fact that if some folks can’t afford the $12.99 or $13.99, they can still get the majority of the 16 songs at a lower price,” said Moore. “It’s one of the best things about offering two versions of the album. I know how bad the economy is out there, and I know that I have fans out there that can’t afford to buy the entire album. They just can’t do it. It’s one of the biggest things that swayed us to do the two versions.
“I feel really blessed that I am at a point in my career to even do a deluxe album at all,” he continued. “The standard version is going to get the fans all the songs they will probably hear on the radio. The deluxe version has more of what I like to call my lifestyle songs, the songs that will ultimately give them a keen insight into who I really am. I’ve learned that it matters who people hear on the radio and see on the television, but it’s really more about what you are like as a person. These songs will give my diehard fans a keen insight into who I am.”
The titles alone of those five additional studio tracks on the deluxe version sound like the Justin Moore that his fans have grown to love, including “Beer” (written by Moore, Brandon Kinney and Jeremy Stover), “Big Ass Headache” (Moore, Kinney and Stover) and “Field Fulla Hillbillies” (Bobby Huff, Shane Minor and David Lee Murphy). But that wasn’t the only reason Moore chose them to save for his deluxe package.
“Putting an album together is like a puzzle,” he reflected. “You put in songs. You pull out songs. For me, the album I cut is the deluxe. The songs on the deluxe were chosen because of different reasons. With some choices, it was because of the fact that we already had similar songs chosen for the standard. In some cases, it was because of the song being a fan favorite already.”
Produced by Stover, the album comes as a welcome treat to Moore’s fans, who have waited for two years for some Moore music. “It’s crazy that this is my third album already,” said the young artist, who found his place on the map of a constantly changing Country genre with “Small Town USA” and “Til My Last Day” (both by Moore, Brian Maher and Stover) and “If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away” (Dallas Davidson, Robert Henry Hatch and Brett Jones).
It is also something of a change in direction, as Moore sees it. His first two albums, Justin Moore and Outlaws Like Me, were certified Gold, with Outlaws Like Me debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard Country Albums chart.
Even so, he knew full well that to remain current, he needed to be open to change. “With the business ever changing, it was my intention to also evolve as an artist and a songwriter and stretch my limits in order to grow my fan base to a point that it hasn’t been yet,” he said. “We’ve accomplished a lot and been very successful, but the end goal is to go out there and headline arenas. I felt like we needed to grow a bit on this album in order to do that.”
The effort is paying off. Moore’s most recent hit, “Point At You” (Ross Copperman, Rhett Akins and Ben Hayslip), was the fastest-rising single of his career. And on Nov. 1, he’ll be in Springfield, Mo., to commence a headlining tour, joined by Randy Houser and Josh Thompson.
“We have been able to not only accomplish so much with the first two albums, but also the singles and the shows,” Moore reflected. “It’s just been amazing. I’ve said for a long time that I was proud of both of them. It’s been one of the most humbling, rewarding and exciting things to watch both albums go Gold. It just doesn’t happen these days.”
On the Web: www.BigMachineLabelGroup.com/artist/Justin_Moore
On Twitter: @JustinColeMoore
Photo credit: Kristin Barlowe
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