Music

How Bryan Martin’s ‘We Ride’ Scored Average Joes Entertainment Its First Top 10 Hit in Over a Decade

When Bryan Martin’s “We Ride” entered the top 10 of Billboard’s Country Airplay chart two weeks ago, the raw, stripped-down tune became not only the Louisiana native’s first hit, but it also marked the first time in more than a dozen years that Martin’s label, Average Joes Entertainment, achieved a Top 10.  

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The song, which rises to No. 9 today (May 31), is Average Joes’ first Top 10 since duo Montgomery Gentry reached No. 8 in March 2012 with “Where I Come From.” That feat came the year after Average Joes’ current president, Forrest Latta, joined the label as a product manager, rising through the ranks to vp of A&R and now president. Founded in 2008 by country rapper Jason “Colt Ford” Brown and producer Shannon Houchins, who is the company’s CEO, Average Joes served as an early label home to such acts as Brantley Gilbert and LoCash, and also has a thriving film and television division, as well as publishing company. 

Average Joes hired indie promotion team New Revolution to work “We Ride” to terrestrial radio stations. The radio push was part of a multi-tiered campaign that started more than a year and a half ago with “We Ride,” and its ongoing success earns Latta the title of Billboard’s Executive of the Week. 

Here, Latta talks about “We Ride’s” slow build at streaming outlets before the move to radio and the patient approach he and his team took to breaking the song. “I don’t think we would be seeing the same level of success without the right team executing in each phase,” he says.  

You released “We Ride” in October 2022. When did you decide to take it to terrestrial country radio and how long had it been since Average Joes made a  push to terrestrial radio? 

We started having conversations about it in May of last year and ended up deciding to pull the trigger with an impact date in September, the same week the record went gold.  Prior to this, our last approach to radio was 2017 with “Better Me,” in the wake of Troy Gentry‘s tragic passing. [Gentry, one half of Montgomery Gentry, died in a helicopter accident in 2017.] 

Bryan’s music has an honest rawness to it like Zach Bryan, Warren Zeiders, Oliver Anthony and Koe Wetzel. Is there strength in numbers that radio can’t ignore as we see a wave of artists like this telling their truth? 

I think the market has shown that it is hungry for this style, and I think country radio does a great job of keeping their finger on the pulse of the market. That said, the level of success of others was not part of our conversation when we made the decision to take “We Ride” to radio. 

What were the key steps you took to make it happen? 
 
Building out the right team was really important. We met with many people and had to make some tough decisions to get the right people with a strategy that aligned. Ultimately, the strategy took form in three phases — pre-release social push; post-release digital-first approach with our internal team; followed by a big push at radio with the New Revolution team. I don’t think we would be seeing the same level of success without the right team executing in each phase.  

This is Average Joes’ first Top 10 on Country Airplay since 2012. What did you hear in the song that made you know you should push it? 

We knew we had something when we heard the work tape. Bryan is a great songwriter, and this is a great example of it. The vibe is unique, and the song is uniquely Bryan. We also heard the response from the market. Being able to take a song that already had that kind of data, we didn’t have to ask radio to take as big of a chance on it because it was already a proven winner. 

How much of Bryan’s success is how open he is with his very compelling story, including attempting suicide and his struggles with alcohol? And as someone who is newly sober, how did the label take steps to protect his sobriety? 

 All credit for Bryan’s sobriety goes to him — he’s one of the most determined people I know, and he is doing great so far. We absolutely seek to support him, whether it was helping facilitate treatment by taking a month off from recording, playing shows, and radio promo, as well as providing a safe environment to work in, and making sure he has a healthy team around him. 

How important was TikTok to fans learning about the song?  

It was huge building up to release. Andrew Davis, our vp of marketing, and his team put together a long lead plan focused on the platform and fought hard for it, even when some of us started to get antsy about setting a release. They deserve a lot of credit for that. 

“We Ride” has more than 190 million streams on Spotify, far and away his biggest streaming song. How has streaming helped propel its success, and what was the key component to the digital campaign?  

It was a little slow coming out the gates — DSPs weren’t as familiar with Bryan initially — but once they noticed the groundswell, they were quick to jump on board, and really helped grow the song early on.  

Will terrestrial radio be part of Bryan’s story going forward?

Absolutely. They have been great partners, and we look forward to continuing that relationship. 

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