It’s time for our Influencer Spotlight Interview: a monthly series designed to provide our influencer community with valuable insider information about the industry. This month, I chatted with my dear friend, Kelleigh Bannen.

Kelleigh is a Nashville-based singer, song-writer and trailblazer. Her career has included major-label singles, independent releases, Top 50 hits, and shows alongside icons like Hank Williams Jr. and Luke Bryan. Yet one of the most admirable things about Kelleigh is how she has consistently called her own shots (#girlboss).

“Her influence reaches far beyond the stage, too. This Nashville Life, a new podcast launched and hosted by Kelleigh, shines a light on the “business” side of the music business. Featuring guest interviews, stories, industry tips and plenty of insight from promoters, radio execs and fellow songwriters, the podcast has received glowing reviews not only from Kelleigh’s fans, but from outlets like iTunes, where This Nashville Life was named a “new and noteworthy” release. Kelleigh is still chasing her own dream, but she’s sharing advice with others, too, equipping a generation of dreamers with the tools they need to create their own careers.”

I admire so much about Kelleigh’s tenacity and the way she approaches business in general, so I knew she would have unique and valuable information to share about the industry through the lens of an influencer across multiple verticals.  Here is some of the insight she had to share!:


WH:  Your area of influence is somewhat unique compared to others. You are a country artist AND a podcast host. Tell us about your journey with each, and which one came first?

KB: Music is my first love and always will be— but the podcast is really a passion project that came out of my career as a songwriter and artist. There are so many amazing stories behind the business and behind the songs and I wanted to be able to spotlight some of those. I also wanted to give listeners access to some of the amazing people in the music business. You can’t learn a lot of this stuff in school, and I want the podcast to help people who want to learn about the industry.


WH: How do you find balance prioritizing and juggling the work to be done for each area of your platform?

KB: I have that internal “urgent vs important” argument with myself a lot. Every day has to be about songwriting and music first. It has to be, if you want to be competitive. But for the podcast I just set really specific deadlines for myself so I can keep up with it. For example, this new season that will be out in the next month or so was all written and recorded over the last year, well in advance of release so we were never in a situation where we were “behind” on episodes.

WH:  What has been the biggest shift in the influencer landscape you’ve seen during your career, and how have you adapted?

KB: On the music front it has definitely been the rise of the digital age (streaming vs sales)…but I think you can see that hand off into the influencer market as well. For example, we’re consuming a TON, but we’re not paying for as much. So my team and I spend a lot of time trying to build value in the context we’re giving away for free (the podcast for example) and believe that over time the business will work itself out if we’re bringing great content to the table.


WH:  At a time when imagery seems to be more of an focus than ever, tell us about your content creation process and how you navigate that given the fact that audio is such a crucial part of both your music and your podcast?

KB: We think a lot about making visuals that specifically tie into the music. And visuals that are about making music. For example, great photos from live shows are increasingly important. We’ve also been experimenting with motion graphics a lot more.

WH: You’ve done a lot with Facebook live. Tell us about why you decided to leverage that tool and why you think it’s been successful for you.

KB: Everyone has seen such dramatic drop in engagement on Facebook, that it has made Facebook Live even more important. We generally use it around big releases, to get an extra layer of connection with fans, but I think it’s valuable as an ongoing way to build and keep report with your followers.


WH: Tell us about how collaborations have played a role in your business. And any favorites you’ve participated in to date?

KB: Because I’m a musician, that brand has to supersede all other branding decisions. For example, if fans that are on my channels because they love music feel like they’re getting too much “lifestyle”, or too much “fashion,” they tune out. So I try to make sure that when we’re doing a collab it really holds hands with my brand as an artist. The recent Babor beauty campaign that I did is a great example. It was about artists empowering women, and defining beauty in terms of passion. It got better engagement than the average post because it was really on brand, and it was a group of country artists teaming up together.


WH: What advice would you offer to an influencer who is looking to land more successful brand collaborations?

KB: Go above and beyond when you’re new to a relationship. Over deliver. Give them 15% more than they specifically asked for.


WH:  What are some of the the most important qualities you think are required to be successful in the influencer space?

KB: Authenticity & consistency. I think you can build a brand on those two alone.



WH:  Any predictions about where influencer marketing is headed?

KB: I think with the growth of stories and ITM connection we’ll see more light hearted, less serious campaigns. I think the power of stories is teaching us that followers/fans want to see the “less perfect” you.



WH: Any other wisdom you’ve gained that you want to share?

KB: This is advice I’m giving to myself too: take 20 minutes that you would spend scrolling, and spend it creating, or planning. When you’re watching other peoples’ work you’re not doing your own.

Find and Follow Kelleigh:

Website: Kelleigh Bannen | This Nashville Life

Instagram: @kelleighbannen | @thisnashvillelife

Twitter: @kelleighbannen

Facebook: Kelleigh Bannen