Toby Keith Shares Brutally Honest Thoughts On Current State Of The Music Industry: “I’m Not Gonna Change”

Keith also shared that he will not succumb to new songwriting trends. He also opened up about new artists seeming to have no longevity.

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Andrew Wendowski

Andrew Wendowski is the Founder and CEO of Music Mayhem. As a 29-year-old entrepreneur, he oversees content as the Editor-In-Chief for the independent brand. Wendowski, who splits time between Philadelphia, Penn., and Nashville, Tenn., has an extensive background in multimedia. Before launching Music Mayhem in 2014, he worked as a highly sought-after photojournalist and tour photographer, collaborating with such labels as Interscope Records and Republic Records. He has captured photos of some of the biggest names, including Taylor Swift, Metallica, Harry Styles, P!NK, Morgan Wallen, Carrie Underwood, The Rolling Stones, Madonna, Shania Twain, and hundreds more. Wendowski’s photos and freelance work have appeared nationwide and can be seen everywhere from ad campaigns to various publications, including Billboard and Rolling Stone. When Wendowski isn’t running Music Mayhem, he enjoys spending time at concerts, traveling, and capturing photos.

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Posted on August 21, 2023

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Toby Keith; Photo Courtesy of Shock Ink/Toby Keith Foundation

Toby Keith, 61, shared his thoughts on the current state of the music industry and revealed why he isn’t writing as much as he used to.

During an interview with The Oklahoman at his 19th Toby Keith & Friends Golf Classic, Keith shared an honest response about why his songwriting has slowed down in recent years, telling the publication, “because I have nowhere to go with it.”

Slammed Radio

The Songwriters Hall of Famer was brutally honest when he elaborated on his response.

“You can get it … streamed, and you’ve got your fans who’ll play it. But as far as getting air play, what we do and what I made my hall of fame living doing, they don’t want that,” he said, referring to radio. “So, you’re kind of wasting your time.”

Toby Keith; Photo Courtesy of Suzanne Cordeiro
Toby Keith; Photo Courtesy of Suzanne Cordeiro

With 32 No.1 singles and 40 million albums sold, Toby Keith is no stranger to Country radio. He is often regarded as one of country music’s biggest hitmakers as he wrote a chart-topping hit every year for 20 consecutive years.

But according to Keith, things have changed.

“All those years of owning it, and being that guy where you just put it out and they’ll automatically play it, well, none of us are that guy anymore,” he noted.

New Artist Don’t Have Longevity

The “Oklahoma Breakdown” singer pointed out that new artists don’t seem to have much longevity these days.

“Even the new people don’t seem to last as long: They come and go pretty quick because it’s flavor-of-the-month stuff,” he stated.

Toby Keith; Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images for BMI
Toby Keith; Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images for BMI

Never one to succumb to trends, the BMI Icon Award recipient promised to stay true to himself and his songwriting. 

“I’ve just never been that guy — and I’m not going to change and write that kind of stuff. … But with all the songs we got, I could play four hours of straight hits,” Keith pointed out. 

“Oklahoma Breakdown”

His latest single, “Oklahoma Breakdown” was one of the most-added songs at country radio upon its release, however, the song did not chart. It appears his latest song to climbs the charts at Country radio was “Happy Birthday America” in 2021. 

The singer/songwriter has remained relatively out of the spotlight for the past year due to his ongoing battle with stomach cancer, however, he recently shared a promising update and admitted he was “feeling pretty good.” In fact, he hopes to return to the road this fall.

“I feel better; I’ve got more wind. And I’m thinking about bringing the band in and setting up, playing two or three days somewhere just to see if I can get through two hours,” Keith said in early June, adding, “And if I do, (I’ll) be out on the road this fall. All I got to do is see if I can get through two or three nights of work and get a little break in this chemo, and we’ll go back to work. I’m ready.”

Recently Returned To The Stage Amid Cancer Battle

He made his return to the stage in July with two pop-up performances at his Hollywood Corners venue in Norman, Oklahoma.

A post to Toby Keith’s official social media accounts read, “Toby‘s first rehearsal turned into a 2 1/2 hour pop-up show. He sang all the hits plus the Bus Songs…Toby is back.”

The superstar has yet to release any official tour plans.

Country Icon Award At People’s Choice Country Awards

Toby Keith’s iconic career will soon be recognized when he receives the Country Icon Award at the inaugural People’s Choice Country Awards, which will take place at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville on Thursday, September 28. 

“We’re overjoyed to honor legendary artist Toby Keith with the first-ever Country Icon Award,” said Cassandra Tryon, Senior Vice President, Entertainment Live Events, NBCUniversal Television and Streaming. “As a talented songwriter and powerhouse performer, Keith has touched the hearts of fans across the globe. His illustrious career and passion for philanthropy has cemented his place as an icon in country music history.”

Toby Keith; Photo Courtesy of Suzanne Cordeiro
Toby Keith; Photo Courtesy of Suzanne Cordeiro

Fellow Oklahoman and country superstar, Blake Shelton, will be on hand to present Keith with the award. 

Hosted by award-winning group, Little Big Town, the People’s Choice Country Awards will air live on Sept. 28 at 8 p.m. ET/PT across NBC and Peacock.

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Andrew Wendowski is the Founder and CEO of Music Mayhem. As a 29-year-old entrepreneur, he oversees content as the Editor-In-Chief for the independent brand. Wendowski, who splits time between Philadelphia, Penn., and Nashville, Tenn., has an extensive background in multimedia. Before launching Music Mayhem in 2014, he worked as a highly sought-after photojournalist and tour photographer, collaborating with such labels as Interscope Records and Republic Records. He has captured photos of some of the biggest names, including Taylor Swift, Metallica, Harry Styles, P!NK, Morgan Wallen, Carrie Underwood, The Rolling Stones, Madonna, Shania Twain, and hundreds more. Wendowski’s photos and freelance work have appeared nationwide and can be seen everywhere from ad campaigns to various publications, including Billboard and Rolling Stone. When Wendowski isn’t running Music Mayhem, he enjoys spending time at concerts, traveling, and capturing photos.

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