With more than 6.6 million followers on the social media platform TikTok, North Carolina native Cooper Alan is a rising country artist who is transforming those follows, likes, and comments into fans buying tickets to shows and streaming his music. Alan chatted with Music Mayhem about the evolution of his career and his current single, “Can’t Dance.”
Alan was a student at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill when he crossed paths with hit singer/songwriter Victoria Shaw, who co-wrote “The River” by Garth Brooks. A family friend from Alan’s hometown of Winston-Salem, North Carolina offered to introduce him to Shaw.
“I was living up in New York City the summer after my junior year in college, working a corporate internship, and I went to one of Victoria’s shows,” Alan told Music Mayhem. “We got breakfast the next day. She was super nice and said, ‘Let’s keep in touch. Finish college, but give me a call if you’re really serious about coming out to Nashville.’ And so like four days after graduation, I did. I showed up at her door and she believed in me enough to sign me to a publishing deal. I’ve gotten to learn from her since I’ve been in town, meet some her friends and just get better from learning from one of the best.”
Alan has leveraged TikTok to grow his fan base, with cover songs and original music. A pivotal moment for Alan was when his first original song went viral on TikTok. “I had viral videos like cover content before, but seeing an original song go off was super cool, knowing that there was a market for original music on there,” said Alan.
It wasn’t long before that social media engagement translated into a profit for Alan. His mentor, Victoria Shaw, also became a business partner.
“As we released music, we saw some money coming in and realized it’s an opportunity to kind of start our own business,” said Alan. “So we partnered in starting a record label. Cooped Up Records is me and Victoria Shaw.”
Not only were they seeing an increase in music sales, but they also started seeing more fans come out to shows.
“It was just numbers on screen and it was just likes and comments and all that stuff. That first tour run we did… Louisville, Kentucky, that first room we played where there were 500 people there. These were real people that drove a couple of hours, paid real money to come watch me sing. That was really, really cool. That’s why I got into this in the first place. ‘Cause I love performing and I just love to leave it all out there on the stage, give people hopefully a night that they don’t forget time soon.”
Alan’s current single, “Can’t Dance,” is a tribute to anyone who struggles to find rhythm on the dance floor – and knows it. The music video features an amusing cast of guys with cringe-worthy dance skills, including Alan’s father.
“It was a nice motley crew of white awkward dudes,” Alan laughed. “Mr. Tim [Alan’s dad], he’s the lead and then Thomas Mack, another TikTok artist I was touring with for a lot of last year; Chris Ruediger, who was the founder of the 615 House, also a TikTok guy; Tommy O’Keeffe, one of my buddies in town who’s an awesome singer-songwriter; then Ed Rode is a photographer who took my pictures like the week before; then Jim Caruso, who’s one of Victoria’s friends up in New York.”
Alan is currently on his first headlining tour, “Cooped Up,” which runs through June 4 in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Fans can also catch him performing with Mitchell Tenpenny on June 23 in Central City, Iowa and with Walker Hayes on July 29 in Paris, Illinois. For more info, visit cooperalanmusic.com.