When women get the courage to stand up for themselves, the world has two reactions. They immediately place blame and call them out for being troublemakers, or they rally around them, supporting what they’ve been through and trying to help guide them to happier, healthier place. It’s safe to say that both reactions are swirling around Katie Armiger, who just last year went through an unfortunate falling out with her record label, Cold River Records. Most people in the industry know the story of her losing access to her socials and apparently decided to retire, on the eve of releasing a brand new record. “I was having disagreements with the label as far as how I should conduct myself and how everything should continue going forward. It came to a head when they fired me in June of 2015. When I assumed that I could then perform or record music, since I believed I was fired, they filed suit against me.” In the coming months, Armiger has finally been able to come forward with some of the issues that women across the industry are facing every single day.
The issue of image and behavior. Sexing it up for the right people, behaving a certain way to get airplay, and being asked to be someone you aren’t in order to impress the people in power. Armiger is an artists, first and foremost, and it was only when she was asked to take the attention away from the music that she lost the support of the one team that was supposed to be 100% behind her. In the process, she lost the rights to perform and release the album she’d spent two years working on, saying “I completed an album right before all of this happen, I don’t know what will happen with that, so that’s what we’re trying to figure out. If I can get it back or purchase the rights to it, that would be ideal, because I do really love that album. It was a lot of time and a lot of my life, and I’m hoping it gets heard sometime in the future.”
It’s been a hard road over the last year, where she has shifted her focus to building a new team of supportive champions, and finding the confidence to speak out about what had happened. For many women, and men alike, there’s always an issue of having to fit into a box, something that Armiger wants people to really fight against. “Everybody’s situation is different, but I would say that I know that you can make it on integrity, with good music, and with being yourself. If you’re with a team that tries to convince you otherwise, find people out there that do absolutely believe in you, your album, and your vision. Those champions are out there, you can find them. Don’t settle or change your values or your music to try and fit into a box that someone is trying to fit you into. And that’s with any industry, males and females, you know? Peer pressure is really hard, it’s hard to stand up and say ‘No’ when everyone around you is saying ‘yes.'”
Armiger has found her champions, people that have rallied around her and helped to get the word out that, no, she is not done with country music, despite a June press release that said otherwise. This team has been a shining light amidst a lot of really tough battles she’s fighting. Not to mention, the support of radio, some of who have come to her defense, angry with the things she was asked to do. “My new team, they might be small, but they’re amazing and so supportive. I was definitely nervous to come forward with my story, I didn’t know if it would ever be shared publicly, and the support has been overwhelming. A ton of people in radio and this industry have said, ‘we love music, we love your music, and we support females. We don’t condoned the things that were asked of you.’ They want to play music because it’s good and that’s been so amazing to hear.”
Though she’s still fighting an uphill battle, that will likely take her to court numerous times over the next few months, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. “It was only this past month that I was approved to start performing, writing, or recording music again. Because I got into an exclusive agreement with them (Cold River), which was recording, video, publishing and management – I wasn’t allowed to do those things for a while. When it went to court in January, they gave me permission to do so.” And just in time, too. Katie is hitting the road this year an an all-female tour. It’s one of the things she’s most excited about as she looks towards moving forward and away from the drama surrounding her label. “The tour is ‘It’s A Girl Thing’ with Jamie O’Neal, Hannah Blaylock, and Andrea Pearson – they’re all amazing. So I’m looking forward to getting out and performing and showing people that I am not leaving country music. That was not ever the case and, more than anything, I want people to understand that was never my intention.”
The fight is far from over, but there’s no doubt that Katie Armiger has found the right people to surround herself with as she takes steps to re-energize her career. The confidence and strength it takes to step forward and allow
your voice and opinions to be heard is never easy, no matter who you are. What I hope young artists and professionals take away from Armiger’s journey is that the courage to stand up for what’s right is never something to be afraid of. The path of least resistance might be easy, but that doesn’t mean it’s the one worth taking.
Thanks you to Katie for sharing her incredible journey with me. Go see her on the “It’s A Girl Thing” tour when she hits the road this summer!