In 2006, Rascal Flatts was on top of the music world. Their song “What Hurts the Most” reached No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Adult Contemporary chart for nine weeks. The album featuring the song, Me and My Gang, spent 15 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Country Chart and finished the year as the second-highest selling album, totaling 3.5 million in sales.
They were achieving records that had been unseen in country music for decades.
In late 2006, they had nine stops left on their Me & My Gang Tour, when a disagreement caused them to cut ties with their supporting act, Eric Church. In need of an opening act, the group turned to a relativity unknown 16-year-old blonde girl.
The girl was brought on to finish out the tour, with stops in Moline, IL, Bossier City, LA, and Albany NY. Not exactly, Chicago, New Orleans and New York City, but the 16-year-old was thrilled, nonetheless.
Fast forward to 2013, and the young blonde girl went on to become the biggest superstar in the music world. In just seven years, Taylor Swift, went from Rascal Flatts’ opening act, to repaying the favor.
On September 20, 2013, in the middle of three sold-out shows at Bridgetone Arena in Nashville, Swift surprised the crowd by bringing out Rascal Flatts to share the stage.
“Nashville is all about remembering where you came from,” Swift said when she introduced her special guests.
And remembering the people who are your absolute idols and remembering the people who helped you out in the very beginning and took you on their arena tour, their sold-out tour, and nobody knew your name. For me, I have this artist, this band, who took me on tour when nobody knew who I was, and about five years ago, I opened up for them here in this building.”
If we can learn anything from Rascal Flatts and Taylor Swift, it is the importance of sharing the stage. A stage can be one of two things — a platform or a point along a process — both of which we have the ability to share.
When Swift was an artist few music followers had heard of, Rascal Flatts shared their platform. The guys gave a 16-year-old girl the chance of a lifetime and shared her with millions of new fans. In addition, they also shared stage meaning number two – a particular point in time during a process. They had music knowledge she did not, so they lent support to Swift, who was on a similar journey.
Swift never forgot either gift and repaid the favor when her stage was big enough to share. In addition to Rascal Flatts, Swift thanked one more person who responsible for her joining that 2006 tour.
In 2011, when she achieved her first gold record, she shared a copy with Eric Church.
It came with a note: ‘Thanks for playing too long and too loud on the Flatts tour. I sincerely appreciate it. Taylor,'” said Church.
Whether we are trying to make it in music, writing, or anything else, the process is intimidating. But it becomes a little less scary when we are we are at it along with others. Think strength in numbers.
We may never have a gold record to share, but no matter where we are in our process, we need to remember to share the stage.