Drew Smith



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EP 224: Drew Smith – Award Winning Songwriter and Country Artist (autogenerated)

Dane Reis: You booked it. Episode 224. All right. Let’s kick off today’s episode. I am stoked for my guests today. I’ve got drew Smith. Drew. Are you ready for.

Drew Smith: Man. I am

so ready for this. 

Dane Reis: Right on drew is an award-winning professional songwriter and country artist based in Nashville, Tennessee Drew’s work has been recorded in many countries, including the U S Canada, Ireland, Germany, and Australia among others. He also toured coast to coast for several years in his early career and a shared the stage with Merle Haggard, Dawn Williams, a big and rich Lee Brice lady, a and many others.

He’s the owner of gray sound recording, LLC, working as a producer and senior mixing engineer. And the creator of the before you record course for new artists drew, I know that is super condensed and, uh, Tight synopsis of who you are and what you’ve done, but why don’t you tell us a little bit more about yourself, fill in those gaps and a little bit more about what you do as a professional in the entertainment industry.

Drew Smith: Man. I, uh, I grew up first of all, thank you so much for having me here. I grew up in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, which is about the halfway point between Nashville and muscle Shoals, Alabama, to music meccas, in America. I live in Nashville now. I’m an artist, songwriter, producer, mixing engineer.

You, you pretty much covered it all, man. You did your homework there. Dang. and Yeah.

own grace and recording services and created the, you recorded.

Dane Reis: very cool. Well,I’m excited to dig into this. First, let’s get to this section and look drew. I am a sucker for a good quote. What is your favorite quote you’d like to share with everyone?

I will go with fortune favors, the bold, uh, which was the Roman poet, Virgil. they think he’s the guy that said it, either way. 

Dane Reis: yeah. Beautiful. can you expand a little bit on how you’ve applied that to your.

Dane you’ve been in the entertainment business. And, so you know that Y you gotta be pretty bold just to wake up in the morning and be in the entertainment business. Um,it’s, one of those, nothing is promised things and you just have to dive into it. And, I’ve learned to take chances that. 

Dane Reis: beautiful. Well, let’s get into this section here and drew, of course, you’re an entertainment professional. You’re an entertainer, I’m an entertainer. And I think that you’d agree that this industry can be one of the most subjective, brutally, honest and personally emotional industries in existence.

And you know,as well as I, that in order to create and have a successful career in this industry, like you’re having now a lot. Of dedication and hard work and while yup. There is an outrageous amount of fun, excitement fulfillment doing what we do also the not so good moments, those obstacles, those challenges, those failures that we’re going to have to experience, and we’re going to have to move forward through.

So tell us, what is one key challenge, obstacle or failure you’ve experienced in your career and how did you come out the other side better? Because.

Drew Smith: Man. So I started, before I had publishing deals and all that, and was writing songs full time. Uh,Touring full time, anywhere that they would let me and my band play and had an agent and was traveling around and, just not making much money at all. And as a result, the next year, 2009, I lost my house to foreclosure. shortly after that, I, my car was repossessed and those were two pretty big hits. in a lot of ways. And I really thought that was, I thought, okay, maybe this is not what I need to be doing. But then there was another part of me and a friend of mine helped me out with that and said, man,there’s nothing.

nothing left to lose. would you stop now? And so from that, I’ve realized that if you’re really going after something like this, That is such a huge risk. Anything that you can unload and get off of your shoulders, get rid of it. You don’t have to worry about it. It frees up so much of your time to be creative or whatever it is that you want to ride horses and make a living doing that, you’re not out worrying about all these bills and all these different things that you might have on your shoulders.

Dane Reis: Um, 

Drew Smith: of those things, it allows you to take more chances and take more. 

Dane Reis: so well said, nothing left to lose. So I stopped out. You said, and, or your friends said to you, and I think that’s so good. Now you bring up such a great point. I’m thinking of a book. I read, I feel like it’s probably like the four hour workweek by Tim 

Drew Smith: Yeah. Yeah. It’s 


Dane Reis: Yeah. And, uh, I’m pretty sure in that book, it’s been a long time since I’ve read it that he says you got to look at, you know, what we’re doing, whether it’s entrepreneurial-ism or being an artist.

And being professional at that, uh, Look at the grand scheme of things and you go, okay, what’s the worst thing that could possibly happen. And you start listing out the worst things that could possibly happen. And it’s actually a very manageable list of things.

Dane Reis: You’re like, most of the time you’re like, that’s fine. Like I could do with that. I could do with not having all of these things that I am, that my mind has created is being the worst possible scenario. you can still make it go forward. I think we oftentimes get in our heads so often.

we make problems larger and expand them, than they really need to be. And I think you’re so clever in saying, look, just unload that stuffs. Cause it gets away in your artistry and you can fully commit. Then

Drew Smith: It really does, man. and,at the time it seems like the end of the world. And so many of those things, just like you said, In the grand scheme of it. if you’re looking at everything as a whole and you just glance at the things that you have, or that you’re doing or that you’re committed to, or that you feel like you have to do you go, well, I can’t,I can’t let go of that.

Or I can’t stop doing this, or this will happen. And I can’t move over here because Then

this, and really man, if you really sit with it, so many of those things can go away and it doesn’t ruin your. And if anything, it probably enhances it, if it really, and it certainly enhances it, if it allows you to do what you really want to do and what you really love to 


Dane Reis: so well said, let’s move on to a time that I like to call your spotlight moment that, and that’s it one moment in time that you really. Yes, I am going to be an entertainer for a living or maybe it was, yes, this is what I need to be doing in the entertainment industry. Tell us about that.

Drew Smith: I was able to play the Ryman auditorium, had a great agent at the time. Lance Roberts, still a great friend of mine and, hopefully we’re going to be putting some stuff together again here real soon. Lance got me in at Ryman auditorium here in Nashville, Tennessee, which is the mother church of country.

Music is what they call it. And it’s been around for years and years. It’s a hundred old shirt, your a hundred year old church. And, been the home of the grand Ole Opry for many years. it still is. They split their time the Ryman and a,another auditorium just east of town.

But there’s so much magic that place. You know,Hank Williams, Sr. So many founding fathers of country music, have played there. The foo fighters have played there, so between Hank Williams and the foo fighters, and everyone in between, that was a stage that I’ve always wanted to stand on.

And I got to play, to a sold out crowd at the Ryman auditorium. And, it was just, it was that moment that I, all of the doubts that I had ever had, prior to that, the, all of those things just went away and I went, this is, I might die if I’m not able to do this for the rest of my life. that was that spotlight moment for me. that.

was probably proudest moment. One of my proudest most. 

Dane Reis: Mm,I love that story and I love those moments when they come on stage and, It doesn’t happen every time you’re on stage and it’s often on a special stage or for whatever. Sometimes it just happens out of nowhere. I find is you have these like clear epiphany moments when you’re on stage, when you’re doing the thing that you do.

Right.And it just kind ofoverwhelms you in a moment and. I don’t know. I don’t really know how to it beyond that, but it’s just this really special time that just happens every once in a while when you’re on a stage or like I said, in a, in an incredible venue, do you feel the same?

Drew Smith: I really do, man. And because you have been a performer for so many years, you totally get that. That’s one of those things that not everyone understands is that there are sometimes for no rhyme or reason, there are those magic moments. And it’s like you said, it doesn’t even have to be on a special stage.

It doesn’t have to be on a special night. Those things are great too. And they’re magic in their own way. But man, there’s just times as a performer, that for seemingly no reason at all, you just have, you just know that it’s magic and you know 

Dane Reis: Yeah. 

Drew Smith: to be there and not anywhere 

Dane Reis: Yeah. Yeah. 

Drew Smith: it’s greater than any drug you can ever do.

It’s an amazing thing. And it’s. I have a hard time putting it into words myself, because unless you felt it, there’s just really no way to describe 


yeah. A hundred percent. A hundred percent. let’s piggyback on that real quick. And let’s talk about your number one, booked it moment. Walk us through that day. What was going on in your life? And what about that moment? Makes it your favorite book? That moment?

Drew Smith: My, so my first major cut that I got as a songwriter, I was. Just a regular old day, man. And I had went into the office, I think I’d just finished a writing appointment with, some co-writers maybe. I had, I went into my creative managers, office and was sitting there on his couch talking to him.

And at the time my, my father was working in Nashville a lot. And every once in a while he would come by and, he would, he’d go into our. And he would, he’d sit down and catch up on his paperwork or emails or whatever he needed to do. And I had no idea that he was coming by. so I’m sitting there in my head, a creatives office and he and I are having a bit of a meeting and I hear somebody come in the front door and, our intern or whoever we had at the time, I’ve heard them greet somebody.

And I knew it sounded like my dad’s voice. And, he came around the corner and. And we waved him in through the glass doors, and he came in and sat down and I was catching up with my, myself and my head of creative and we’re just chatting. And man, about that time, my phone started going crazy.

my creative manager’s phone, his computer, all these things started going nuts. And I thought, man, what’s going on? 

Drew Smith: We under attack what’s happening. And, before I could even get to my phone to see what was happening, he said, man said, Randy Houser is, is recording your song right now. And I said, holy cow, man.

just that feeling, that emotion, that all those songs that I’d written for years and years, as long as I’d been writing songs, finally, One of them caught on. And, and it was great affirmation for myself and also for my publisher, because I hadn’t, this was the first publishing deal that I’d ever been in.

And so to be able to get a major label cut on a major artist,was great. That showed promise for me, with them. And then for my dad to be, there was a really cool moment to it. And he just, he hadn’t even been. Dane, I don’t know, maybe three, four minutes. 

Dane Reis: Yeah. 

Drew Smith: timing on everything.

And I got to call my mama. I got to call my granddad. I called, my grandparents and my other side. I called everybody. I could to tell them, but that was my number one. 

Dane Reis: Oh, that’s so cool. I’m very curious about,the song writing industry, just for our audience and the listeners. Are you able to I’m sure it’s huge. but delve into a bit of the detail of, okay, where do we even start?

If you’re going to be a songwriter, where do you submit things? How do people even find.

Drew Smith: Man, the best advice that I can give people is that, this is the entertainment industry as a whole. and not just with, within the country’s honor, but, rock and pop and everywhere else. it used to be in the seventies and eighties, people would go to LA or New York or Nashville and they would knock on doors of these, major record labels or publishing companies.

And they would, they try to, they’d go in with their guitar or their band or someone’s, Hey, can we play a couple songs or here’s my cassette, leave it for somebody. And the days of that are long over, they got security guards at all these places now, but what I always suggest to young writers, and I don’t mean young in age.

I mean,people that are just really getting into song writing and really getting serious about. When you go to one of those cities like that, whether it be LA or Nashville or New York or Atlanta, if you can find people to collaborate with that already have publishing deals. That’s your easiest way in you build relationships with them. find.

people that have those deals that you work well with. Continue to work with them. Play it. Cool. And then you’re showing up and you’re having these writing sessions at their publishing companies. So you’re meeting the people that are making these big decisions and that are signing songwriters.

They become familiar with you. They’re familiar with your work because now some of your work is in their catalog and you work that until hopefully one day they say, Hey man, why don’t you come in and sit down and let’s talk business. That’s the. 

Dane Reis: Yeah, very cool. And I really, what I’m picking up out of that is something that comes up a lot in this, on the show is the power of relationships and the necessity having relationships in this industry, because. Especially in the creative world I find. And in this artistic world, there’s not, there’s often not the opportunity to, you know,send a resume, like, you know,a regular nine to five job.

Right. I mean sure. There’s, you know, in theater and things like that, there are auditions, right. Where that’s basically the equivalent, so much of continued work and really. You look at people that have careers like yourself with songwriting or people that are in production. like how do you, like, how do they even get there?

How did that happen? the thing is, there’s not really a, a straight line path and it’s all built on relationships. There’s nowhere. You can just, a lot of the jobs, a lot of the positions are not things that are even listed. No one talks about them. They just. come to those who have positioned themselves with various relationships in various niches.

that’s such a huge takeaway because that’s really how the bulk of this industry really works in. That’s how you have longevity. It’s how you create sustainability in this industry is creating those industry relationships, no matter what part of the industry that you are most interested in,

Drew Smith: That’s exactly right. and, it’s one of those things when you’re trying to break into the. And industry. and as you said, even with acting and stuff, yeah. You have auditions, but still it’s not like most nine to five jobs where you go to school, you learn a trade or you get a degree. And so then you have a piece of paper that says whether you’re qualified or not, what we do, there’s nothing that says that until we’ve had some success. So when you’re first trying to land a gate, Or a job as a writer an actor or actress or whatever it may be there. There’s really nothing there that says, Hey, he’s been trained or she’s been trained to do this to the best of their ability.

And yeah, they can go to work for you. There’s nothing that says that. And in,

creating that on your own is really difficult. 

Dane Reis: Yep for sure. And, but it is part of the game. I think back on the time when I was in Vegas and was fortunate to be, I performed in nine different shows on the strip, and honestly, I only opened call for one. 

Drew Smith: Wow. 

Dane Reis: And that was the first. 

I should take that back to first one.

That two, but then whatever I got, into the second show later down the road, but not because of another open call audition, but it was all relationship-based 

Drew Smith: Yeah. 

Dane Reis: somewhere and that’s how the whole industry works. And even though shows will audition, ultimately people know.

The kind of work you do that you show up and you do good work and you fit the bill for the profile that they need to, to cast or you check all the boxes, then people would much rather do that. They much rather hire someone that they go, yep. I’m positive. They’re going to be great for this role, for this position, whatever it is.

from there, it doesn’t really matter.

Drew Smith: It’s really incredible. What having just one person vouch for you can really do. 

Dane Reis: Yeah, 

Drew Smith: had a friend of mine when I first came to town. We were discussing the industry. And he had been in the industry for a while man, and he was very,respected within the community. And he said, Drew, he said, presidents of record labels, don’t get you record deals, your friends get you record deals.

And that always stuck with. 

Dane Reis: Yeah, because like you said, they’ve got security note in his, because there’s a, they would be inundated with the amount of talent and the amount of opportunity, to look at people. And at the end of the day, people rely on those relationships to filter down what should be looked at.

Drew Smith: Absolutely. I mean,we’ve all seen the audition lines for American idol, 

re wraps around the building, you know,four times, even in a major city on a major city. 

Dane Reis: Exactly. Right. Well,let’s take a moment to talk about the present. What projects are you working on now? What are you looking forward to? And it’s been a crazy couple of years, right? With, the pandemic and everything, but how do you see this industry moving forward in the next couple of years? 

I it’s, that’s so hard to say Dane, because if you would’ve asked me a year and a half ago, how I thought things were going to shape up in the next six. As well, we’re going to be back to normal and, and I, I would have been very wrong about that. It has been a weird couple of years. right now I’m currently working on, I just released a new single it’s, the first one that I’ve put out in, I think, six years,I’ve been so 

Drew Smith: focused and so concentrated on writing songs for other people.

And I’ve had a great success with that. I’ve been very blessed with the success that I’ve had with that. but I was ready to put something. Myself as an artist again, and so released a new song called the truth. And that came out on October 29th. So a of 2021. So just a couple of months back and really just been beaten that thing to death, man, it’s been great.

we’ve had tons of streams,so many new listeners from all over the world. And so that is presently. Keeping me busy right now, and I want to continue that momentum and, currently working on, my, my new album. I’m going to just go ahead and put out a full album that should be out late spring, early summer, if everything goes well. as far as the industry and the direction that it’s. That I think it might be moving into in the next couple of years?

Drew Smith: I think we’re, in a space right now where we’ve plateaued into the streaming world and which is great. If you’re an independent artist, this is the absolute best time to be an independent artist, because you can do these things that you can release it on a worldwide level, all from the comfort of your recliner. Um, which is an amazing thing. And I think as we move forward, it’s only going to be a better opportunity an independent art. 

Dane Reis: very cool. I agree with you, also in the very top of the show and I was doing reading your bio, I mentioned the, before you record course, what I can imagine that would also be something that’d be helpful for, independent artists and things like this. and maybe that’s even what it’s built for, but could you dig into that a little bit?

Drew Smith: It is it’s built for independent artists,

bands, even songwriters. I’ve been writing songs since, probably 12 years old or so. And did my first demo session as a songwriter, Danny muscle Shoals, Alabama years ago. I had no idea what was going on. And a couple of years after that, was in my first publishing deal I did my first demo sessions in Nashville.

it was a terrifying experience 

Dane Reis: yeah. 

Drew Smith: they were using all this lingo that I was just not familiar with at all. It was moving at such a fast pace. I was not prepared for it because I had no idea what to prepare for, 

 once I got into recording and production and, producing other artists and mixing records and things like that.

I would be working with these artists and for a lot of them, it was their first project that they had ever recorded. So what I found was this carousel that was happening with every new artist that I was working with, where I would have to prep them for their studio session. And a couple of weeks away from it, I would start sending them information, okay, I need these work tapes on these songs that we’re going to record, just simple phone recordings, you in a guitar, you in piano, whatever, it doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but I need it from the intro all the way to the end of the song.

just, one clean take of every song that we’re going to record in the studio. And I need lyric sheets and I need them typed in this format with this kind of font. I need those printed, X amount of times. And then, the day that we go into the studio and did you do this? And it was just this laundry list of things that I had to continue to explain.

Drew Smith: And at one point I thought, man, I should just, I should, why don’t I just write this down and put it like in a PDF or something? That way I don’t have to do this every time I’ll work with the new artist. And so it was from that idea that I thought. I don’t know, dummy. How about make a course and walk everyone through it just make it easier on everybody, because it is man,it’s a place and it’s a thing that you can really get lost in as an artist or a band or as a songwriter and not even know where to start.

And if you do figure out where to start, there’s still so many things that go along with it that you don’t know until it’s too late. And so you end up in the studio, ill prepared. Mistakes are made you forget things. there’s surprises and are very costly things. they can be very costly.

And so the more that you know about that process, the more that you can prepare the better off you’re going to be. You’re going to, you’re going to look more professional. Of course, everybody’s got some have you’ve been doing this for a while. He gets it. He knows what. And it’s also going to save you money because there’s going to be things that not going to have to go back and fix because you didn’t know better at the time.

so that’s the entire premise of the. 

Dane Reis: very cool. Very helpful. Loved that. So everyone check it out. I’ll make sure that we can link to that in the show notes for sure. And. It is now time to move on to one of my favorite sections in the interview. I call it the grease lightning round. I’m going to ask you a handful of questions. I want you to answer them as quickly and concisely as possible one after another.

Are you ready? All right. First question. What was the one thing holding you back from committing to a career in the entertainment industry?

Drew Smith: Um,health insurance and money 

Dane Reis: Second question. What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

Drew Smith: don’t ever let them steal your 


Dane Reis: Yes. question. What is something that is working for you right now?

Drew Smith: You know what, right now it’s just going for it. Just going forward. I’ve been putting out content of different sorts and the thing is no one can like it if you don’t put it out. So I’ve just been putting out all kinds of stuff and it’s been so much 


Dane Reis: well said, no one can like it. if they don’t know it’s there. Right.There you go. Fourth question. What is your best resource? Whether that is a book, a movie, a YouTube video, maybe a podcast or a piece of technology you found is helping your career right now.

Drew Smith: As of late, the Beatles came out called get back and,it’s a fascinating piece. there’s no narration during the entire thing. It’s strictly. An eight hour films documentary of these guys in real time and their process. And it’s everything from plans about doing a show and can we make it the greatest show that we’ve ever done?

Because we haven’t played together in three years, or how do we make this next record? How do we make this record? should this song be and what tempo? And man, it’s very inspiring. very 

Dane Reis: Yeah, very cool. I’ve been reading about, or I’ve seen various articles about that documentary and it’s on my short list of getting to watch. 

Drew Smith: Highly 

Dane Reis: Very cool. Yes. Beautiful. And the fifth question, if you had to start your career from scratch, but you still had all the knowledge and experience you’ve collected from your career in this industry, what would you do or not do?

Would you do anything differently or would you keep it the same?

the one thing that I would do differently is I would not get comfortable. I went through this period some years ago where I was having some success as a songwriter and things were going well. And I thought, all right, man, I can kick back and relax a little bit now. And there’s other people here that,I’ve done my part.

Drew Smith: And so I’m sure they’ll keep doing their part and I’ll continue to be successful. And that’s just not how it works at all. You’ve got to keep this. 

Dane Reis: yeah, just gotta keep digging. Last question. What is the golden nugget knowledge to drop you’ve learned from your successful career in the industry you’d like to leave with.

Drew Smith: It doesn’t matter what you want to do. if you want to, if you want to work at a filling station, if you want to be an entertainer, anything always be a great hang all over. 

Dane Reis: Yes, it brings it back to relationships. Right?

Drew Smith: It does. Yeah. Every time. 

Dane Reis: Beautiful. And to wrap up this interview, drew, it is time to give yourself a plug. Where can we find you? How do our listeners connect with you? Is there anything want to promote?

my website is up. It’s drew Smith, alive.com on social media. So Instagram, Facebook. A YouTube, Twitter, Tik TOK, all of those things. My handle is the same on all social media. It’s just drew Smith live just like my website, drew Smith, live.com. All the social handles are all the same. So please say hello. 

Dane Reis: Perfect. And for everyone listening out there, I’ve put the links to everything. Drew just set into the description of this episode. So you can easily check him out and all of his music and everything he does. And also be sure to share this podcast with your fellow entertainers, teachers, coaches, arts, and entertainment educators, and anyone, you know,aspiring to create a career in the entertainment industry.

You booked. It is the number one resource of expertise on how to actually create a successful entertainment career case in point, everything Dru gave us today from the music side of the industry. If you enjoyed this episode, make sure you hit that subscribe button. So you don’t miss the next one. Drew, thank you so much for coming on the show today.

It’s been an absolute pleasure getting to chat with you and wonderful getting to know you.

Drew Smith: And Dan, thank you so much, brother. I really,really appreciate it. I’ve enjoyed it and hope we get to do it again soon. 

Dane Reis: Absolutely.