Tyler Ward has built himself an impressive fan following during the past three years -- but without using conventional avenues such as radio play or music video TV channels.
Instead, the Denver singer-songwriter has made his case online, with active social media and a YouTube channel with more than a million subscribers that have featured a mix of original tunes and cover versions, starting with "We Are the World" during the 2010 Olympics. He's made enough of an impact to appear on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" and tour with Boyce Avenue, and he also performed with the Band Perry at the 2011 Academy of Country Music Awards.
"Initially I went into it thinking, 'Hey, I could do a few songs, put them online and show people I can play a little bit of music," says Ward, 24, who also operates his own studios in Denver, Boulder, Nashville and Los Angeles. "then it turned into something that was like, 'Whoa! This could be a legit way to break into the music industry.'
"So I just continued to be consistent and show some different covers I felt would hit well, and people have searched and found me and it's kept building and growing. It's been pretty wild."
Ward's goal, of course, is to turn those fans on to his new music. He released the first half of his debut album, "Hello.Love.Heartbreak," during September on iTunes, and he plans to finish the second half in January for an early 2013 release. And, of course, Ward's success has brought record companies into his orbit, though he's been cautious and, so far, hasn't signed with anyone yet.
"For the last two years I've had offers on the table, but the right, 100 percent deal has never been there," he explains. "They're getting closer and closer, and I'm sure one day it will happen and I will feel comfortable doing a major label deal.
"I do need a deal. Eventually I'll hit a ceiling where I can only get so far with the online community, and I want to take a step over to more of the mainstream world. If I want to break radio, I think I do need a deal. So it will happen, but I want it to be the right deal and I'll wait for it."
Tyler Ward, Twenty For Seven and the Kickstand Band perform Friday, Dec. 21, at the Magic Stick, 4120 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15. Call 313-833-9700 or visit www.majesticdetroit.com.
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