How To Upturn An Industry: Vocal Artist Cali Tucker On Women's Empowerment, Music Industry Change
As with every form of entrepreneurship, however, an evolving or suffering model for business is also an opportunity to innovate change. One such entrepreneur and agent for change is Cali Tucker, a rising country music star, who has been the first female artist and country star to release her music on the blockchain, as a new means of delivering music directly to consumers in all parts of the world.
Tucker was born into a legacy of music in the famous Tucker family that includes her mother, LaCosta Tucker, who recorded with Capital Records as a country music artist, toured nationwide with greats like Bob Hope, Dolly Parton, Alabama and others and appeared on television from the early 1970s to the mid 1990s. One of Cali’s childhood memories includes peeking out from behind the curtains watching her mother perform for thousands, lighting the fire of the career that would become her destiny as well. She recalls the stories of her mother’s journey into stardom that seemed so different from the struggles that face rising artists today.
It was once based on pure talent and marketability, however in this day and age there are many other requirements (such as size of social media following) that factor in to getting signed with a label or publisher. What does it take to succeed? Talent, money from backers, social media numbers, luck or all of the above? Cali has a clear vision that emerging technologies such as blockchain will help to level the playing field by allowing artists to distribute and profit from their offerings directly, while allowing recording labels and artists to evolve the traditional model together.
These days, Cali is making her own mark as a one-of-a-kind vocalist, public speaker, and advocate for women’s issues and interests. Now 34, Cali made her formal premier on NBC’s “The Voice” Season 6, where she performed with Team Blake. It was a breakthrough event, but perhaps thankfully did not become a binding event (winners of each season are provided with resources but are contractually bound to the show for several years beyond).
Following the show, Cali had a strong feeling that destiny was bigger than Nashville and moved to Las Vegas in 2014, where she’s become a sought-after vocalist in Vegas and throughout the U.S. and beyond. In early 2017, Cali released her album “Cover Girl” and a set of music videos.
However, it is hard work for an emerging artist to break out as a star. Without a recording label, the artist must handle or fund everything from business management, tour management, recording, production and PR on their own. On the path, Cali has increasingly honed not only her singing voice—big enough to resonate through the Dolby theater, as listeners can attest—but has become an increasingly strong mouthpiece for women’s empowerment as well.
Recent interviews with Reba McEntire have lamented the persisting “bro culture” in country music. As one of the most successful women in the sector, who's hosted the Academy of Country Music Awards, 15 times, she expressed her dismay that the top award in the 2019 program has not produced a single female nominee.
Cali has noted the unequal journey for women as well, conducting her own research by keeping count as she listens to country radio stations as the playlist presents 15 songs by men for every 3 by a female singer. She examined the Billboard list as well and found the odds just as bad: At the end of March 2019, the list of 50 country artists included only 8 who were women. Yes, the Billboard list represents consumer downloads and purchase, but how are female performers to break through when the majority of the performances presented are by men?
In her own journey as a single woman she has faced multiple situations where men of power promising career assistance have turned out to be primarily or even abusively interested in her for non-professional reasons instead.