Caroline Romano: “Marketing strategy is to just be yourself”

There’s only one you. I think so many artists, including myself, have been guilty at some point or another of trying to find something to make them “different.” The thing is, if you’re truly being yourself, you already are different. It sounds a little cheesy, but you have to stay true to you. Everyone’s already […]

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There’s only one you. I think so many artists, including myself, have been guilty at some point or another of trying to find something to make them “different.” The thing is, if you’re truly being yourself, you already are different. It sounds a little cheesy, but you have to stay true to you. Everyone’s already come up with everyone else. The best marketing strategy is to just be yourself.

As part of our series about Nashville’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Caroline Romano.

At just 19, pop singer/songwriter Caroline Romano is already on her way to stardom. Named “music’s next big thing” by AOL, her magnetic single “Ready” earned a Top 3 spot on Radio Disney’s Top 30 Chart. Caroline recently released a new single “Power Suit” — an upbeat female empowerment song which she co-wrote with Tammi Kidd Hutton, Emily Falvey, and Hayley McLean. She’s shared the stage with Shawn Mendes, Daya, Why Don’t We among others and teamed up with DJ R3HAB for her last single, “I Still Remember (Remix).” A unique and passionate force in the music world, Romano is a breath of fresh air who is forging a path of her own in the industry.

Thank you so much for joining us in this series! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit of the ‘backstory’ of how you grew up?

Thank you for having me! I grew up in a small town in southern Mississippi, and I was a very shy, anxious, and reserved little kid. I went to this really small school, and I didn’t have a lot of friends there. Because I didn’t have many friends, I turned to music at a very early age as a way to express myself. I dealt with some bullying through elementary and middle school, so I’d go home at the end of the day, put on a Taylor Swift record, and write about what happened that day in a journal. I eventually started putting what I wrote down in my journal to guitar, and that’s how I started songwriting. Songwriting got me through some of the toughest times at school, and it’s what made me realize I wanted to pursue this career. My parents have always been my best friends, and they were so supportive from the very beginning. I feel incredibly blessed to have had a wonderful childhood overall, and growing up in Mississippi definitely provided a lot of rich, historical music inspiration. I’m so grateful for the love and support my family has shown me from the very beginning.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

I wrote my first song when I was twelve, and I quickly knew that I wanted to pursue a career as an artist and songwriter. I was hooked on songwriting immediately, and I begged my parents to take me to Nashville for my thirteenth birthday to play open mic nights around the city. So, in July of 2015, I went to Nashville with the songs I’d written over the past year, and I played anywhere and everywhere I could. That first week, I played places like the Bluebird, Douglas Corner, and other famous open mics. I fell so in love with performing on that trip. It was my first experience watching people connect with my music in real time. It was the greatest feeling in the world, and I felt God leading me to pursue a career in music on that trip. It’s been a wild ride since those first performances in 2015, but I’m so proud of how far I’ve come. I think 13-year-old me would be proud of us.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

I think the most memorable story, mostly because it was the first time I’d ever experienced something like it, happened at the 2018 RDMAs. I was 16, and it was my very first red carpet, so I brought my parents with me. We were heading backstage to the green room, and we were put on this elevator with Echosmith. I was internally freaking out because I’d been covering Echosmith songs since I first started playing guitar. It was a very full circle moment. Then, the elevator opened on the wrong floor, and Carrie Underwood was standing on the other side of the elevator waiting to get in. My mom just said, “Hi, Carrie Underwood,” and then the elevator doors closed and we went up to the green room. It was such a weird, but fantastic, first red carpet experience.

Can you share with us an interesting story about living in Nashville?

I think an interesting thing about living in Nashville is how it can still feel like a small town, but you get all of the perks of a big city. You don’t have LA freeway traffic, but you still run into really cool people all the time. I’ve bumped into Tori Kelly and Lauren Daigle at the coffee shop next to my house, you see Reba and Thomas Rhett at Whole Foods, and Taylor Swift premiered the “Lover” album across the street from my first apartment. Nashville is a lot of fun, to say the least!

Can you share with us a few of the best parts of living in Nashville? We’d love to hear some specific examples or stories about that.

One of my favorite parts about living in Nashville is that, for the most part, everyone is doing what they love to do. It’s such a creative city, and everywhere from the restaurants to the record stores have a giddy and musical tone. I feel like I never stop working when I’m in town, and I love it. There’s so much opportunity and history to the city, and the best things to happen in my life have happened in Nashville.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

One of the funniest mistakes I made when first starting out happened when I went to perform on a television show. I didn’t have in-ears at the time, and I honestly didn’t think I needed them. So I get out on set to go perform this song (live in front of a studio audience), and I can’t hear the music. The mic and the music playing over the speakers were out of sync, so I was just singing trying to catch up with one of them. When the show aired, the song sounded awful because it was so out of time, and you can tell how panicked I was! The biggest lesson I learned from this is, if you don’t think you need something, you’re probably going to need it. Lesson learned!

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I wouldn’t be anywhere without my mom and dad. They’ve believed in me and my dreams since I first came to them with a handful of songs. My parents have supported me in every way a parent could, and they’ve traveled across the country to help make my dreams come true. The sacrifices they’ve made for me and my career are countless, and I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. So, mom and dad, if you’re reading this, thank you.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

The songs I wrote over quarantine are really different than anything I’ve released thus far. It’s a new sound, and it’s a side of me I haven’t really shared so far in my music. I’m putting a lot into these upcoming releases, and I’ve got some really exciting collabs coming in 2021! There’s not much I can say as of now, but I can’t wait for you to hear (and see) what’s in the works!

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

1) No one’s an overnight success. I think the industry often tries to paint a picture of artists or groups “exploding” into overnight sensations. I used to believe that was the case, but the longer I’ve been behind the scenes of the music industry, the more I realize how untrue it is. I personally know artists who have been deemed overnight successes by the media, but have been working for years and years to make it.

2) The only way you fail is by giving up. One of my managers once told me that the only way I could possibly not make it is if I give up. I’ve never had the urge to even dream of quitting, but it’s a nice encouragement nonetheless. The odds are, you CAN make it. The only way you can’t is if you quit. Perseverance is key in this business.

3) There’s only one you. I think so many artists, including myself, have been guilty at some point or another of trying to find something to make them “different.” The thing is, if you’re truly being yourself, you already are different. It sounds a little cheesy, but you have to stay true to you. Everyone’s already come up with everyone else. The best marketing strategy is to just be yourself.

4) If you think you’re prepared, prepare some more. So many things can go wrong in this business. Whether it’s a performance, an interview, a photo shoot, or a concert, you seriously cannot be too prepared. Practice, practice, practice, and rehearse the most minuscule of details.

5) Don’t lose your why. It’s easy to get into this industry and lose sight of why you started. Nowadays, so much of being an artist is your online presence, how many followers you have, or the amount of views on your music video. Those things aren’t my why. I write music because it’s my oxygen. I perform because nothing in this world brings me more joy. I’ve learned that my longtime success isn’t defined by how many people like my picture online, and the numbers I have now don’t define what they’ll be in the future. Your why is what will make you “make it.” Don’t ever lose it, as it lights your fire.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

I think the best recommendation I could give to others in the industry to prevent burnout is to try and tell your story differently each time you write. Even if it’s the same narrative (which it often is for me), try writing about it or singing it from a different perspective. Everyone has their bad days. Don’t stress too much over writer’s block or your voice giving out every now and then. Write about it. Channel that frustration into something creative. And approach every scenario like the whole world is going to see it and hear it someday.

If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

This is tough for me, as there’s so many different movements and topics I feel passionate about. Something I feel like I could be of the best help to would be a movement that helps teens and young adults find their passion and cultivate it. I think it’s an issue that is often overlooked but many people struggle with. I feel very blessed to have known what I wanted to do with my life from a very early age. However, I know that’s not the case for a lot of people. I’ve seen how much pressure society puts on teens and young adults to know what they want to do with the rest of their lives by the time they graduate high school. And I’ve seen what a terrible impact that can have on a person. I’d want to inspire a movement that not only helps teens and young adults try different scenarios to help them find and cultivate their dreams and aspirations, but also create an environment that lets them know it’s OKAY to not know what you want to do for the rest of your life. It’s a big decision, and everyone moves at different paces and in different places in life. You don’t have to do one thing forever, and you don’t have to go about it the same way everybody else does. I think reassurance and understanding is something this world can never use enough of.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life.

There’s a quote by C.S. Lewis, and I’m quite enamored with it.

“If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”

I’ve thought a lot about this quote and what it means, and I feel like the biggest lesson of my life can be learned from it. It’s easy for me to get caught up in this career and all of the pretty things it brings. But I know there will come a day when I look back and realize that my career didn’t bring me everything I’d ever wanted. I’m so grateful that I get to do what I love, and I plan on pursuing this passion of mine with everything I am, until the day I die. However, I know that music isn’t everything, but it’s merely the closest thing I have to the Something. There are things in my heart and soul that I feel and I desire so greatly, and music is the closest thing I have to putting it into words. However, music is not the thing itself, nor is anything else in this world. At the end of the day, God made me, He made all of us, creatures belonging to another world. We are in this world, but not of it. In that, I find a peace and happiness that coincides with my dreams in the most beautiful way. It’s how I live my life.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?

I’d love to have a meal with Taylor Swift. I think I’d just love to see how her mind works. She’s one of the greatest songwriters to ever be, in my opinion, and to just hear from her how it all came together would be infatuating. I think she’s a certified genius, and she’s inspired so much of my career as an artist and songwriter. Taylor is the dream dinner date.

How can our readers follow you online?

You can find me on Instagram (@carolineromanomusic), TikTok (@carolineromanomusic), Twitter (@CarolineRomano), Facebook @carolineromanomusic), and YouTube (Caroline Romano)! I post about all of the music things, and the rest is pretty much me and my cat. Would love for you to join us!

This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

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