How Radio Shaped Jelly Roll’s Rise In ‘Son of a Sinner’ Push


In front of a packed house at CRS 2024, country radio’s newest superstar, Jelly Roll, unpacked his smash hit “Son of a Sinner.” The 50-minute conversation showed how radio still affects how artists can become a household name and complement streaming success.

The panel featured Emily Belote, Principal Music Curator at Amazon Music, Jelly Roll himself, his manager John Meneilly, JoJaime Hahr, EVP of BMG Nashville, and Mike Moore, Cumulus Atlanta Program Director.

Hahr opened the panel by sharing an anecdote about how Jelly Roll caught her attention six years ago, thanks to her brother’s recommendation. At the time, Jelly was a rising star but wasn’t signed in the country world. Meneilly discussed navigating the industry as a free agent before landing a deal with Broken Bow Records, a process that highlighted the importance of patience.

Jelly Roll recounted the song’s inception, saying the inspiration came from a night of smoking marijuana and reflection with friends. He says the deal with BBR, marked the beginning of the song’s organic growth, fueled by streaming numbers and partnerships.

Belote reflected on her decision to feature Jelly Roll on Amazon Music’s playlists, which led to its radio roots. Her discovery of Jelly Roll through a Vice documentary on hip-hop in Nashville led to his inclusion in the Country Heat playlist, significantly broadening his audience across genres.

Moore emphasized the role of country radio in the song’s popularity. He said when Hahr introduced the song to him, its sound was immediately a perfect fit for the radio, reminiscent of what a hit from Chris Stapleton might sound like. The track’s reception on his station was overwhelmingly positive, with listeners actively requesting it, highlighting country radio’s enduring impact on music discovery.

Jelly Roll spoke about the strategic decision to release a rock album first, catering to his existing fan base, before delving into country music – a move propelled by the radio success of “Son of a Sinner.” This strategy has led to a rapid ascent from theaters to amphitheaters and eventually to arena tours, with the support of radio and streaming platforms playing a crucial role.

The authenticity Jelly Roll brings to his music and public persona has been key to his connection with fans. Mike Moore praised his genuine nature and advocacy, particularly his efforts to address the fentanyl crisis before Congress. Jelly Roll’s commitment to staying relatable, despite his success, resonates deeply with his audience.

When asked for advice for underdogs, Jelly Roll’s response was to “Embrace it.” He highlighted the importance of being true to oneself, saying, “If you’re a yellow duck in a white duck pond, you don’t have to quack to get attention.”

Read our cover interview with Jelly Roll in this month’s issue of Radio Ink. Order your digital or print subscription today.


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