Jason Aldean only spoke for a few minutes during his platinum celebration for My Kinda Party on Tuesday afternoon (March 1) in Nashville, first making sure to thank country radio, his wife and parents and his management and label team for their support.
"You know me well enough to know how much I appreciate what you guys do, so if I didn't mention your name, I'm sorry, but I'll kiss you on the cheek later," he told the industry audience. "A million records is a huge thing, so thank you all very much and I appreciate it."
My Kinda Party was certified platinum for shipments of 1 million copies just 11 weeks after its release. So far, its hit singles include the raucous title track and "Don't You Wanna Stay," a powerful duet with Kelly Clarkson that topped the country chart on Aldean's birthday. At the conclusion of the party, all of the 140 radio stations that report their airplay to Billboard magazine were presented with platinum plaques.
Although his remarks at the podium were quite brief, Aldean chatted with reporters for about an hour prior to the event. During the interview, he elaborated about his headlining tour, his pick for the next single and the secret to his success.
"I tell you, 2011 is shaping up to be a banner year so far," he said. "I don't know if anything else could be going any better right now. We've had No. 1 hits in the past, and we've had platinum albums in the past, but for all of it to be happening at one time is a good feeling. It makes you feel like everything is going in the right direction and the hard work we've put in over the last few years is really, really paying off for us. That's a good feeling to have."
Asked about what his success has afforded him creatively, Aldean replied, "I think from a touring aspect, it affords you the luxury to go out and put on the kind of show, visually, that I would want to see as a fan. When you're starting out and you're only making $5,000 a show, you can't go out and spend $10,000 to put on a show. It doesn't really work that way. So now we're playing bigger venues, and those shows are doing well. It affords us the luxury of ... video screens, lights and staging -- things that we were never able to do before.
"I think that's exciting for us and also for the people who are coming to check out the show. When people pay money to buy a ticket to see your show, you want to give them the best show you can give them. It takes money sometimes to make it look and sound the way you want it to. That's one thing that, I'm glad to say, we finally got to the point we're able to do that now."
Aldean said he hasn't even started listening to potential songs for his next album, which means that My Kinda Party will be going on for quite a while.
"I definitely think we've got four singles for sure," Aldean said. "I feel like we've got six strong singles -- if we wanted to go that far. A lot of times, record companies have different plans for that just because they're ready to get some new music out. And, quite honestly, we are, too, by the end of the fourth single. We've never put out five singles off a record. When it gets to that point, you're kind of anxious to start recording new music. We definitely have four, and then the fifth one is a possibility. We'll just have to see when we get there."
However he couldn't confirm that "Dirt Road Anthem," a distinctive crowd favorite that blends country and rap, would be his next single.
"The reaction to 'Dirt Road Anthem' is unbelievable," he acknowledged. "When you get people in a concert singing the words to a song that's not a single yet, that's a good sign. That was actually a song that charted without us even trying to chart it. It just kind of charted from people playing it once the album came out.
"It's definitely my pick for the next single. I would love to see that happen, but I don't know if they'd kill me if I said for sure what it would be, so I'm just going to say that. I think that's going to be a big song for us, though. I really do, whether it's the next single or the following single. Just the reaction it's getting in our shows right now -- if that's any indication, it's going to be a big song, I think."
Taking into account his headlining tour, a platinum album and numerous No. 1 hits, Aldean was asked to elaborate about how he took his career to the next level.
"People say this all the time, so it sounds like a broken record, but it's the truth: I think it boils down to the songs," he replied. "I think you have certain artists who come out and just explode right off the bat. It didn't really happen that way for us. We started out building our career one song at a time and one fan at a time. I think it's taken people a while to see what it is we've been doing. I think with each song it's gotten bigger and bigger."
He continued, "The Wide Open album, obviously, was a big one for us. 'She's Country' and 'Big Green Tractor' were career-type songs. And with 'The Truth,' having three No. 1 songs from that album made everybody go, 'OK.' ... Then coming out with 'My Kinda Party' and this thing with Kelly that's so different, it just drove the nail home a little bit for us. With each album, we've been able to build it and hopefully lay a good foundation for my career so we'll be able to stick around for a while and not be a shooting star that fades out really quick. That was never our plan.
"It boils down to the songs. The songs are what people relate to. If you don't have that, you don't really have much. We've just been able to find great songs."