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Corey Smith Finds Independence Rewarding

of the Oakland Press

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Corey Smith says his career plan “has been really not to have a big plan.” And that’s certainly served him well.

Since quitting his job as a high school social studies teacher and becoming a recording artist a decade ago, the Athens, Ga.-based singer-songwriter has released six albums independently and gradually built a fan base via the Internet and heavy touring. Constant contact and accessibility have been his primary tools — aside from the songs, of course.

“Our plan has been to let fans decide how they want to spread the music,” explains Smith, 32, who’s married with two young children. “We haven’t pursued a huge PR campaign or really worked this music to radio. We’ve just let fans decide what they want to listen to and if they want to share it, and everything has grown from that.

“That way we will have a more devoted, long-term sort of fan as opposed to fans who come from radio but are only there as long as you have a song on the radio.”

Smith’s sales and attendance numbers have attracted attention from the music industry; he’s sold more than 100,000 albums and 600,000 singles to date, and his latest release, “Keeping Up With the Joneses,” hit No. 1 on iTunes’ singer-songwriter chart. He’s had the option to sign with a label rather than staying independent on his own Undertones imprint, but Smith says he’s in no hurry to make the leap.

“We’ve had our conversations with the major labels — we still do,” notes Smith, who has recorded two-album and a DVD project that will come out as “The Rialto Sessions” later this year. “I’m very pragmatic. I don’t do something unless I think it makes sense for everybody involved, and I’ve just never been to that place where (a major label makes sense).

“It may make sense next year. It may make sense 10 years from now. Or it may never makes sense. I don’t know, but I’m not close-minded.”

Corey Smith and Matt MacKelcan perform Thursday, June 10, at the Magic Bag, 22920 Woodward Ave., Ferndale. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12. Call 248-544-3030 or visit www.themagicbag.com.

Web Site: www.themagicbag.com

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