Spencer Crandall shares her vulnerability with listeners throughout her 20-track album western, available now. The project includes stories of love and loss, anxiety and healing, and juggling work and personal life. Crandall’s honesty is nothing new to fans, as the singer has revealed his life on social media for years.
An independent artist with more than 2.6 million followers on TikTok, Crandall has made a name for himself in the country community as a sought-after headliner who puts his fans first. The singer, who joined TikTok in 2019, says he viewed the internet as “undervalued real estate” and focused on making three to seven videos a day. Along the way, his interactions on TikTok have helped him amass a text list of over 35,000 fans.
“I went hard after TikTok and through that I built a real fanbase that nobody could take away from me,” Crandall tells me. “As an independent artist, I can do a headlining tour, I can play the Grand Ole Opry. I can do these things independently and own my masters, and that’s really special and that’s thanks to the fans. … I don’t have a career or can’t do what I love without our people, so I’m very grateful for that.
At the end of every video posted on social media, Crandall adds a text number so he can communicate with his fans. He says his texts have a higher open rate than his mailing list.
“The text list is a much better way to connect with fans,” he says. “I can text them a selfie and just ask them what’s going on. I can text back to them. I was really able to pull it off. I can text people on the album. I can send Texting people about how I’m doing, sanity checkups, it’s such a special way to really talk to our fans.
Crandall is open about his mental health journey with fans and within his music. On “K[no]w Better,” he sings about meeting his therapist, who’s “trying to talk me off a ledge,” while “Get Away From Me” has Crandall confess to all the ways he avoids his own thoughts and feelings.
Crandall says it was his challenge to share every aspect of him – the good and the bad – throughout western‘s 20 songs.
“If I’m going to write an album about the hero’s journey and chase your dream, I don’t want to do the Disney version where you cut out all the bad stuff,” he says. “I want to be an artist that’s part of the conversation, especially about mental health and men’s mental health. I don’t feel like there are a lot of guys out there who are willing to talk even though I’ve talked to all my friends and we’re all going through the same thing. … I knew that by telling my story, I could give people permission to not feel alone and to tell their story.
Opening up through his songs and TikTok videos, Crandall’s fans reacted. He says people were openly sharing their own stories of sobriety, love and sex addiction.
“They were putting their hearts into the comments section of the text community issue,” he says. “I was getting so many great messages and immediately knew we did the right thing. I think by telling this story in a real, vulnerable way, we have a better chance of having a real impact. about people’s lives and I’m really proud that we chose to tell the story in an authentic way.
Crandall compares western to everyone’s story. For him, it also pays homage to his ancestry as his great-grandparents from West Virginia coal mines and Kentucky howlers picked up and moved to western Colorado to build better lives and continue their own dreams.
“We all have a version of a western where we have to pick up and go where we know we’re called,” he says. “This album answers some important questions for me: where am I from, who am I now and where am I going?
Along the way, Crandall shares a piece of himself in every song. From the ‘Side of the Stage’ confessional, where he questions, ‘Do I trade my dream of a family trying to fill each one of them with stadium seats’, to ‘Made’, a song by Thoughtful love where he sings ‘soul mates aren’t I didn’t find they were made’, it leaves a mark on the listener. Covers of Shania Twain’s “You’re Still the One” and Justin Bieber’s “Anyone” are other highlights of the project.
“I hope people see the vulnerability and the authenticity [and] it invites people to do the same,” he says. “I always ask myself, ‘How do I add as much value as possible to the lives of my fans?’ … I think the way you build a real fan base without a label is to add more value than you take.