Matt Burrill was one of the first people I met in Nashville. He was one of the people that helped me get the ball rolling with UPstar. Music, alongside Ethan Willis and Hunter Jordan. In Matt's words "In the Round is a podcast that I've been doing since March 2019. We talk with artists and songwriters here in Nashville and help shine a light on the incredible talent here". During COVID, in March 2020, Matt helped me host the pre-show for the living room concert series. He introduced me to many of the artists and songwriters I work with today. Matt has seen great success with In the Round, and has become a household name in Music City. I sat down with Matt to talk about the growth of both his podcast and writer's round, growing up in New York and quickly finding a home and career in Nashville, as well as some of his most memorable moments thus far with In the Round.
Get To Know Matt
"Grew up in New York, shoutout the Empire State! I’m from an area called Rockland County, about 30 miles outside of New York City. I got into Country Music at a pretty young age, my first show being Tim McGraw on the Dancehall Doctor Doctors tour. That's when he was doing the Eric Church type of show where he would play for 2-3 hours with no opener. I saw that show when I was in the 3rd grade, so around 8 or 9 years old. I remember listening to Country Music, but also a lot of other things too. Obviously the rap game in New York is huge and I listened to rock as well. But when it came to Country, I always enjoyed the storytelling and it was something my family enjoyed. I went down to New Jersey for college and got into radio. I originally wanted to go the sports route and be the next big guy on ESPN or MSG or YES. Instead, I ended up doing Country Music stuff at Rider University and really got in touch with the local scene. I went to a ton of shows. One year I think I hit around 70 shows, basically anything that was in the tri-state area. I just fell in love with the music scene. Rock is cool, pop is cool, sports are cool, but there is something special about the Country scene and working with artists and songwriters who have a great appreciation for what we do. The artists are very accessible, easy to get in touch with and great people - many who have become friends. Now fast forward, October 25th will be 3 years of me living in Nashville and the time has flown by. I feel by being here I've lived three different lives. For one I was working security on Broadway, where I got to meet some up and comers who were playing the gigs on Broadway. There were guys like Skyelor Anderson, Jacob Lutz, Henry Martin and Tigirlily who I didn't know real well but got to watch. Another opportunity was with Tyler Lessard, who I started the podcast with. He picked up the front of house production gig with Muscadine Bloodline, a great independent duo. I was able to go out on the road with them and sell merch for them. By my second weekend they offered me a gig. As a result of that, I got to experience tour life, travel all across the country and experience concerts on the other side of things. I also interacted with "The Vines", who are the fan group of Muscadine Bloodline and are passionate about supporting the band. Very grateful for those guys and the 10 months I was consistently out with them. I got to meet, it was like fate, you (Jamie Shoemaker) and got in touch with the UPstar. Family. We had our partnership going when nothing was going on during COVID. Then when things settled down a little bit, I moved back to Nashville and started playing kickball and met the "No Hits" crew. I became family with that crew of Alex Maxwell, Dawson Edwards, Trey Bonner, Ella Langley, Joybeth Taylor, Mitch Wallis, Clay Barker and of course, the guy who signs my paychecks now and is like an older brother to me, Trey Lewis. It's been an honor to be able to see the rocket ship take off with "Dicked Down in Dallas''. I started doing merch for him and now I'm helping out with tour management. I’m doing stuff within the business that I never thought I would do. Originally I thought I would move down to Nashville to be in radio and make shit money, but I’m lucky to do some other stuff."
Q & A With Matt Burrill
Q: How did you come up with the idea for In the Round and how did this journey start for you?
A: "I had tried some stuff up in New York. Tried to make a Country Music platform up there, but I couldn't do it by myself. When I moved down, originally Broadway was my life. I was down there 6-7 days a week and my grind was bouncing and being on Broadway. That's all I thought was really in Nashville. First I thought of the concept "round", as in writer's round, since that's a big thing in the community. I started to take the concept seriously, probably 3 or 4 episodes in, because people started to come up to me in Nashville and be like "hey man I really love your podcast”. I had no idea who they were. It felt good to feel like we were a part of the community. I remember when I first moved here and went to Whiskey Jam. I was intimidated and did not want to talk to anybody. Then I started seeing people in the community wanting to be a part of In the Round and that was when it really started growing. The writer's round really helped to expand the brand of In the Round. A few people were a part of making that happen. Hasen Lott, one of the owners and partners of Live Oak on Demonbreun, has been a big supporter of In the Round and has become like family. He actually approached our buddy Ethan Willis about doing a round one night and Ethan didn't know what to call it. He said "hey what if we attach the podcast to it" and me and Tyler (Lessard) rolled with it. That round was our rocket ship. Without that round, I don't think we are as far along as we are. We've been lucky to have some big rounds. There are now sponsors - a little outside of the box, Trailside CBD, Wales and Whale Tale Media and Saxman Studios. Everything has been going well with both the round and the podcast. We are about to put out our 82nd episode."
Q: Most Memorable moment so far with In the Round?
A: "There are definitely a few. I would say the first few podcasts were really cool because we were figuring it out. Podcasting is very different from radio. On the radio I would get 2-3 minutes tops to talk and the info is right in front of me. Podcasting is a much longer form so it was interesting making that adjustment. But one of my favorite moments was having the boys from Muscadine Bloodline on. Those guys have been like family and the fact that they wanted to do an episode with us was really cool. To date, that has been our 2nd most listened to episode. Our first was Trey Lewis, just as "Dicked Down and Dallas" was blowing up. I can't say In the Round was the only reason the song blew up, but it was cool to have a part in it. From sitting at the fire listening to it, Matt McKinney was actually the first one to play it because Trey was on the road. He was sleeping with his band in a Ford van, because they couldn't afford a hotel. We were at the 'Bama house - Trey, Ella, Clay and Mitch's house - sitting around playing music. When I heard Trey play it I wanted to get him on a round and play his 3 originals. He played with Alex Maxwell, Joybeth Taylor and Ella Langley and everyone gets 3 songs. I told Trey I wanted him to play "Dicked Down in Dallas" as a 4th bonus song. At that point he was already going to cut it and agreed to play it. That moment of him playing "Dicked Down in Dallas" was incredible. Most of the crowd was our friends and everyone was in on it. We all sang it really loud. Up there with Trey are Ella and Joybeth, who are these younger girls singing their hearts out. Nicky T, from Raised Rowdy, took video of the whole thing and posted it. The video blew up and Trey Bonner got it in the Call Her Daddy Group. Matt McKinney being the Georgia SEC boy, has a really good connection at Old Row and it blew up on that. For that moment to happen at our round was really cool. It was one of the first times "Dicked Down in Dallas" was played in Nashville. After, we had Trey on the podcast and got a ton of traction. All of the sudden people are like "who the fuck is Trey Lewis?". Later on we do a special birthday bash for Alex who produced it and Trey at our writer’s round. It was at In the Round and we had Raised Rowdy and Whale Tale partner on it. This was December 2020, when the song had just come out. COVID was still a thing and there were regulations to follow, but the place was packed. There were a bunch of label people there. The pulse of Nashville that night was at Live Oak, at our round. I got to watch two of my best friends. Three or four of the people that played that night credit that round for getting their publishing deal. There have been a lot of cool things so far. We have a lot of tricks up our sleeve going forward. Just started doing videos for the podcast so that's really cool. Episodes will soon be available on YouTube."
Q: What is your vision for In the Round and what do you get out of it?
A: "I want people to find a new songwriter or artist and enjoy the conversations we have on the podcast. We are outside the box; there is a lot of cussing and some episodes have been smoky and hazy courtesy of our sponsor Trailside CBD. I don't want people to come in and feel like they have to do the “serious thing”. We do have deep conversations sometimes, because I'm not afraid to talk about real shit either. My vision is to keep doing writer's rounds, and merchandising will be very cool. I want to mix in some full band stuff and explore other opportunities. I hope people come to Nashville and know they can come to an In the Round event to see some good live music."
Q: What advice do you have for anyone who's trying to become an entrepreneur and start their own podcast, business, service etc.?
A: "I would say to figure out the skeleton of what you want to do. You don't need to know every little detail right away. If you are going the podcast route, it is worth putting money into the equipment. Eventually you will make that money back. Keep grinding and as the saying goes, if you truly are doing something you love, you will never work a day in your life."