Corey Smith: 5 Things You Should Know

Corey Smith stopped by our UGA Music Business class yesterday to kick off the new semester in style. The former teacher stood in front of a great crowd of students, musicians, and others from the Athens music community and told his story about how he has made a living from his music.

I’ve said before that Athens music doesn’t have a “sound.” Which is true. But Athens does have an ethic and an inventiveness that keeps it going when other scenes die out. Corey understands. So here are 5 little things you should know about COREY SMITH.

1) He’s a millionare. Sorta.
Last year, Smith grossed over $1.7 million. No record label. No huge staff. Just 8 or 9 guys and some fans.

2) He gives his music away for free.
“You want to break down the barrier between the band and the fan.”
Smith offers up most of his songs for free downloading on his site. Other times fans request songs from him and he just emails them! This seems crazy right? Giving away what you could use for profit. But this freegan attitude towards his songs has allowed Smith to reach fans in a way few have. A fan will download a song, tell a friend, then that friend downloads the song.
“Eventually, they start paying for songs because they attach value to it.”

3) Corey Smith concerts are $5.
Seriously. Pre-order tickets and certain main shows are five bucks. The most he goes up to is $20 for a show. How can he stay in business? Well,….

4) He doesn’t believe in guitar techs.
“I don’t need to pay 100 bucks for someone to put my strings on my guitar when I can do it myself.”
Due to the really high cost of touring, Corey Smith likes to keep stuff very simple. He and his small crew haul their own gear, string their own guitars, maintain their own equipment, pretty much everything they could pay someone else to do.

5)He’s not kidding himself.
“This is more than a dream come true.”
Smith is well aware that his profession is in a fickle field but he seemed content with that. As for long term fame goals, he has none.
“I just want to make a living doing music for as many people for as long a time as possible.”

His website
His myspace
UGA Music Business Program


  1. Hi AMJ, I like your post about his lecture. He didn’t talk rocket sience, but what he said seems to be right. Good summary! I posted something about the lecture, too, from a little different angle.

  2. It’s handy to know that this business model works well (and in his case extremely well). Keeping things simple, maximizing value to the fans, and increasing visibility seem like noble core goals. I find it fascinating and inspiring that he has no long-term goals at this moment – great to have leg space to evolve and not conform to predetermined ideals.

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