NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Country star Jason Aldean rarely has time to be a tourist when he’s touring, but during a recent trip to New York, he and his wife, Brittany, found some downtime to walk around the city. The crowds afford the Georgia-born singer a little anonymity that he doesn’t always get back home.
“I can go wherever here and you just kind of blend in with everybody else,” said the reigning Academy of Country Music’s entertainer of the year. “When there are a hundred people walking down the street, you just kind of slip on in there.”
A couple of nights later, Aldean and Kid Rock headlined a doubleheader at Fenway Park in Boston in front of tens of thousands of fans.
Despite his star status, Aldean still holds onto his everyman qualities. He isn’t a big TV star like some of his country music peers, but he regularly sells out stadiums and arenas and is the first country artist this year to top the Billboard 200 albums chart with his seventh effort, “They Don’t Know,” released this month.
The title track is an anthem to Aldean’s core audience, the small town working class.
“People work hard just to be able to go out on the weekend and have fun,” Aldean said of his fans. “They are not flashy. They aren’t working on Wall Street. They are just simple people.”
But he doesn’t shun all recognition. Aldean admits he was confused that he was shut out of the nominations for this year’s Country Music Association Awards when the nominees were announced last month. Although his new album wasn’t eligible for this year’s awards, he was eligible for other nominations such as entertainer of the year or male vocalist.
“It’s a little weird to me that you can win the highest honor that one award show has to offer and you can’t get a single nomination from the other,” Aldean said. “It is frustrating and disappointing. You feel like you’re out there and that you’ve done well and you feel like you’ve got as good a shot as anybody of being there and you’re not.”
In the past three years, he’s only been nominated for one award at the CMAs, which was album of the year for his last platinum-selling record, “Old Boots, New Dirt.” He admits he’s a competitive person and he definitely wants to win, but he’s come to a conclusion about it.
“Everyone that gets nominated wants to feel like they have a legitimate shot (of winning),” said Aldean, who has received Grammy nominations in the past unlike some of his peers, including Luke Bryan and Florida Georgia Line. “At this point, if we can’t even get enough votes to get a nomination, we’re definitely not going to win it, so what’s the point in getting a nomination?”
One of country’s music biggest digital artists, Aldean decided to keep his new album off streaming services for a month, including Tidal, where he is one of the artist-owners along with Jay Z, Beyonce, Madonna and others. As he has said before, he doesn’t think songwriters, producers and musicians are being compensated fairly through streaming services.
“Instead of people paying $10 an album, they are paying $10 for a million albums,” Aldean said. “You can only split $10 so many ways until there is really nothing left.”
Although he says he understands why music fans are drawn to streaming, he said the practice has devalued music. He removed all of his music from Spotify for a year, but he felt like he was the only artist in Nashville to take a stand.
“It was one of those things where everything sort of backfired and made me look like I was sort of greedy for doing it,” Aldean said. “In reality, I am trying to look out for everybody else. And I turn around I am the only guy holding the flag. OK, I guess I am a one-man show.”