|How Do You Spell Success? Todd Fritsch |
Anyone out there like experiments? If so, try this one sometime at work. Simply ask a friend to define the word “success.” After checking your drink for liquid substances not allowed on the job, he’ll probably give you a funny look. That’s OK. Keep asking. I’ll bet that if you talk to six people, you’ll receive six different responses. Why? Defining success is tough. It’s not an easily identifiable object like a baseball, so everyone describes it using his or her own opinion.
So maybe you’re thinking, “OK, writer- guy, you tell me. What is success?” Heck if I know. Some people say it’s all about wealth, while others believe good health is the right answer. Other ideas include job satisfaction, lots of friends, or owning the biggest mansion on the block. But one thing is true. Success doesn’t just happen. No magic potions, no fairies with wands. Success takes time, effort, and a plan.
Just ask Todd Fritsch. This cattle-ranching cowboy and native of Willow Springs, Texas, has spent the past two years traveling over 200,000 miles around the planet, bringing his no-holds-barred country to the masses. His plan? To keep real country alive and well, and there are 12 good reasons he’ll succeed:
Reason #1—He never rests on his laurels. Todd’s 2005 self-titled release earned him Top Ten status on the Texas Music Charts for two singles, including “Small Town Radio” and “I Don’t Live Here Anymore.” Though it’s been two years since his award-winning release hit the airwaves, he hasn’t allowed any grass to grow under his well-scuffed boots, performing at the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo (and setting a new attendance record in the process), as well as CMA’s Music Fest, and he’s had the good fortune of sharing stages with musical heavyweights Cross Canadian Ragweed, Lee Ann Womack, and Joe Nichols, in addition to being scheduled to open for the legendary Ronnie Milsap in April. His newest countryto- the-core masterpiece, Sawdust was released on April 17th, and the first single, “What’s Wrong With Me” has taken up residence in the Texas Music Chart since January.
Reason #2—He’ll put in the mileage to expand his audience. Todd made the International Country Hot Disc Chart Top 10 list his European home away from home in 2006, with four cuts from Todd Fritsch making the grade, including his cover of the Eddy Raven classic, “I Got Mexico,” as well as “Small Town Radio,” “I Don’t Live Here Anymore,” and his western swing classic “Bob Wills Song,” which resided for six weeks in the #1 spot. A fan favorite due in part to multiple tours of Europe, Todd was named Male Vocalist of the Year by the European Country Music Association, which also recognized Todd Fritsch as their Album of the Year. Most recently, “Every Honky Tonkin’ Hero (Has His Day),” his duet with Gary P. Nunn, peaked at #3 on the European CMA charts in January of 2007.
Reason #3—He can laugh at himself. If there are any doubts regarding Todd’s sense of humor, simply take a look at his recent video, “What’s Wrong With Me,” which showcases his ability to laugh at his own expense, courtesy of a fall from a miniature donkey, and a fateful county fair dunking booth experience with none other than the legendary Houston Astros’ flamethrower, “Rocket” Roger Clemens. We’re talking about a guy who refuses to take life so seriously. Hey, it’s music. It’s supposed to be fun.
Reason #4—He seeks out successful songwriters. “I can get hit by songs pretty hard,” stated Todd, “I’ve always been a George Strait fan. When I heard ‘That’s My Kind of Woman’ I really loved the lyrics, ‘She can drive a truck and rope and ride. She feels at home right by my side.’ That reminds me so much of my fiancé . I also love Bruce Robison. He is just a bad-ass songwriter. I love his delivery, and he’s a straight shooter. He just puts on his boots and sings.”
Reason #5—He’s not afraid to work hard. Simply stated, Todd is a real-life, honest-to-goodness rancher. When not on the road, he works 16-17 hours days at his home in Texas doing whatever needs to be done, including fixing barbed wire fences, welding, cutting hay, or doctoring cattle that are sick or injured. “Man, when you’re on the radio, people think you’re rich and you’ve got big cars,” he stated, “But I really work. Sometimes I’ll get home off the road at 5 a.m. and I’ll have to be up again at 6 or 7 in the morning. Later in the day I’ll be covered in grease or cow shit, but that’s just part of the job.”
Reason #6—He’s a student of the game. It’s true that the music industry can be a cutthroat business, but according to Todd, some of most valuable lessons he has ever learned were shared with him by musical household names. “A couple of weeks ago I had a show in College Station, and we drove up to Lake Fork (northwest of Tyler) and got in about 5 or 6 in the morning,” he said. “And that morning I had breakfast with Clay Walker. We had a good sit-down. He had done a show up there the night before, and we met to talk about the business. I’ve always admired him, and he’s a really open guy. He shared a lot about radio with me.”
Reason #7—He’s willing to think “outside the box” to achieve success. In 2005 Todd made news when his label, Diamond Music Group, utilized a previously unheard-of marketing strategy when they shipped copies of his single “Small-Town Radio” to every radio station in Texas. The distribution of the single, a tribute to the influence of rural radio stations similar to one from his own hometown in Texas, paid big dividends, as the song handpicked from his self-titled release raced to a Top 10 listing in the Texas Music Chart.
Reason #8—He never meets a stranger. “I love to meet the fans,” Todd stated, “I can even remember the first time I signed autographs. I was playing in Houston out between the Astro Arena and the Astrodome, and afterwards these folks came up to meet me. They had no idea who I was, but it really helped me to believe in myself and what I was doing. I remember thinking how cool it was, and I still love that today. When I’m finished, I love to visit, shake hands, sign autographs, and drink a beer with folks. Man, without them buying my records, I’d have to hang it up.”
Reason #9—He’s musically flexible. “I enjoy listening to 80s hair bands,” laughed Todd, “AC/DC, Journey, Def Leppard. These guys are really talented artists, and I love their guitar sounds. A lot of new bands out today come out with all pedals and gadgets, and a bunch of it is just watered-down, crappy rock. I mean, I really enjoy all the old traditional country, but I love guitars, too. I really like Aerosmith, and I listen to their greatest hits a lot.”
Reason #10—He wants more than a 15-minute career. “I want to put on a show my granny can come to,” stated Todd, “You’re not going to catch me cussin’, and that’s just the way it should be. Sure, we play college towns and dancehalls, but I really want to gain a fan base of young and old. I don’t want to be a fad, and I think I can appeal to everyone with songs they can grab onto.”
Reason #11—He realizes the impact of his music. “Tell you a story,” said Todd, “After we released ‘Small Town Radio,’ I was at a station in Oklahoma, and the lady that ran the place asked me to step outside to talk to her for a moment. She told me, ‘I had been considering selling the station to a large company, but after hearing your song, I realize how much the station means to our town, and now, we’re not going to sell, and I’m going to keep it as long as I can.’ You don’t know how much that meant to me.”
Reason #12—He’s, well, just a nice guy. Simply put, Todd is a genuinely good person. If there were a Hall of Fame for folks who respect their family, peers, fans, and the value of hard work, Todd would already be enshrined.
Defining success can be tough, but in the case of real country music it’s easy to see. Just be on the lookout for Todd Fritsch.
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