Photo by Paul Janovitz
Boston singer-songwriter Will Dailey has had a busy year, following the release of his latest album, last summer’s National Throat, which was named Album of the Year last month at the 2015 New England Music Awards.
Having recently released a deluxe version of the album, the Variance FutureSounds vet has spent much of the past few months touring and promoting his new material, including his Tom Petty-flavored bonus cut “300 Dollar Man.”
While the track has a certain classic aura to it, Dailey says he “wrote that song in a few minutes, lyrics and music,” he recalls, speaking to Variance between shows. “I didn’t think much about it until I was playing it with the band. But that sound is refreshing to me—Springsteen, Tom Petty, those guys. That’s my happy place.”
He might still be an unfamiliar name for many music lovers, but Dailey is no stranger to the industry. He’s racked up 3 million plays on Spotify and shared the stage with the likes of Dave Matthews and Neil Young. Yet despite his love for playing the festival circuit and larger halls, he’s developed a keen appreciation for secret pop-up shows.
"The focus is so intense. And the whole aspect about wondering whether you like this person or not goes away, you just enjoy the moment and the music.”
“I just played one and they’re really great,” he says. “It’s the pop-up show concept, but where you don’t know the venue you’re playing at and no one knows who they’re going to see. It’s like 50 to 70 people, it’s really cool. They have chapters in cities all over the world.”
“It takes the pressure away,” Daily confesses. “I don’t know what it is but no one’s concerned about cell phones and distractions. Somehow at these events, the focus is so intense. And the whole aspect about wondering whether you like this person or not goes away, you just enjoy the moment and the music.”
And that’s Dailey’s focus: the music. While many of his peers are contemplating the pros and cons of Spotify, he says he spends his energy on what he can change. “Every play is a potential fan,” he explains. “‘Let’s double this fan base.’ That’s my goal. Wherever we’re at, let’s see twice as much. And it comes down to emails and zip codes, knowing where the fans are. So that’s what we focus on. Are people coming in? Are they coming along with you?”
Despite Spotify’s flaws, which Dailey acknowledges, he says his current tour has reminded him of the streaming platform’s perks.
"Vinyl is expensive to make but everyone expects it on your merch table. Spotify costs me nothing."
“Touring the East Coast and the South, everyone wants vinyl, out of everything these days,” the singer discloses. “And vinyl is expensive to make but everyone expects it on your merch table. Spotify costs me nothing. Should they pay more? Of course. But shouldn’t we all pay more for stuff? The thing for me is that we keep having people coming to shows who discovered the music on Spotify and then they buy the vinyl, so I guess it works out. But from my perspective, if you put in the effort, you can find a way to make it work.”
Dailey’s tour continues this weekend in New York and runs through June before heading overseas this summer. For his upcoming shows, click here.