Reigning American Idol winner Chayce Beckham has come a long way. The Season 19 champion went from being a forklift driver to the first person to win American Idol with an original song. While the autobiographical, self-penned “23” topped numerous viral charts and amassed more than 75 million on-demand streams, Beckham further introduced himself to the country genre in April with the personal six-track EP Doin’ It Right via 19 Recordings in partnership with BBR Music Group/Wheelhouse Records.
Beckham’s 2022 continues to pick up steam as he has tour dates booked with Luke Combs and Jimmie Allen. His debut single, “Can’t Do Without Me” with labelmate Lindsay Ell, also is in the top 40 of the country charts.
Tonight, a new Idol will be crowned winner during the Season 20 finale of the singing competition. A year after Beckham was voted winner, the singer-songwriter reflects on the many business lessons he’s experienced firsthand to further his country music career. “I learned that nothing is handed to you after you win a TV show,” he tells me. “You still have to go out there and work your butt off. You come out on top, but you also come out at the bottom of the ranks of everybody else who’s actually doing this for a career.”
In the year since his win, Beckham admits he’s learned many lessons the hard way when it comes to running a business. Previously he’d accept any show that came his way. However, Beckham soon learned firsthand all the expenses that came with a concert scheduled out of town. Between paying his business manager, lawyer, manager, booking agents, record label, band and crew as well as coordinating travel for everyone, Beckham would see very little of the money he agreed on.
“I figured out how much it cost to run a show, how much it cost to get all these guys on the road, how much it cost to pay everybody who works for me,” he says. “You have to have a business manager at this level. … You have to have people helping you do this stuff, watching your money and making sure that you’re not spending too much. The most important thing I’d say is get a business manager. Getting management right away coming off Idol, that was one of the best things that I did.”
Beckham signed with KP Entertainment for management and says it was important to surround himself with people who believed in him, because it’s those people who will take risks when it comes to his career. His stepfather, Beckham’s former manager who signed him up for American Idol, is still involved in everything he does.
“I want him aware of my bank account, I want him aware of what’s going on, what’s getting spent where, how much money we’re pulling from and when we make decisions,” Beckham says. “I take his advice extremely seriously. I value it because he’s never led me astray.
“I think even if it’s your mom or your dad or it’s your brother or somebody who believes in you, work with those people and hang on to them and be loyal to them and they’ll be loyal to you. I think that eventually you’ll find success if you keep on trying.”
The singer says the best advice he’s received is to start thinking of his career as a business before going out on the road. As the person steering the ship, he says it’s very important to know how much he’s getting paid at every show as well as how much it’s going to cost him and his team to travel.
“It took me a long time to figure all this stuff out and I’m still learning as I go,” he says, “but if you want to do a career in music, I advise learning it before you launch it.”
Beckham adds that he’s also had to have difficult conversations with his team. While those conversations are often unnatural for the singer, he says they are necessary as he is in charge of his career. Beckham looks at it as being the boss of a corporation and says it’s important to be vocal about what he wants in his career.
The singer openly admits that the music business is new to him. Before his time on American Idol, Beckham often was living paycheck to paycheck as a forklift driver. He admits to being financially irresponsible and says it’s those times of being broke and hungry that drive him to take his business seriously today.
“That drives me to be successful,” he says. “Looking back on how financially illiterate I was prior to this … there’s so much more for me to learn. I’m just barely getting started. I don’t comprehend everything that’s going on because some of the stuff is so foreign to me when I was a forklift driver. I know how to operate a forklift and how to dig holes but I’m not too savvy with the business side of stuff. When you get the opportunity to run a business and do what you love for a living, you take it seriously.”
Beckham says he’s learned a lot in the year following his Idol win and is grateful to the country community for embracing him in the writing room so he can further share his story with listeners.
“When people talk about country music, I want them to talk about my music,” he says. “I want to solidify my career in that way, and I feel like everybody in Nashville has done nothing but embrace me and help lift me up to get to that goal. I’ve got a great team of people; great record label, great management and great band and crew on the road. I’m blessed to have all those things.”