Hailey Whitters Wrote ‘Ten Year Town’ When She Was ‘Bitter, Frustrated and Just Tired’ With the Music Industry
Artists trying to make it in Nashville's competitive country music industry often refer to Music City as a "10-year town": For the lucky few who do become successful, it takes about a decade. For years, artists tread water, struggling to build momentum in their careers -- then, seemingly out of the blue, they put out a song that changes everything.
While not every artist's career follows that trajectory, Hailey Whitters' sure did; in fact, she wrote her breakout song at her lowest, most discouraged point. Whitters' "Ten Year Town" is a weary meditation on the music industry that the singer wrote when she herself had already exceeded that 10-year milestone and was beginning to doubt that she'd ever find success in the business.
"I had to really let go of it and just be like, 'This may never happen for you, and you gotta find a way to be cool with it,'" Whitters recalls to The Boot.
Even finding the right co-writer to create the song took time, patience and a dose of rejection. "I'd had that idea for a while. I'd thrown it out to a few people, and they were like, 'I already have a song about that, but you should still write it,'" Whitters remembers.
Finally, she sat down with Brandy Clark. "I think the stars just aligned that day, and Brandy was who I was supposed to write it with," Whitters offers. "She's been here for a while, too, and faced a lot of similar struggles.
"We just hung out for hours and got started on that song," she continues, "just shooting the s--t about the industry and life."
When Whitters took the song home to her boyfriend and producer, Jake Gear, he had a small tweak in mind for the first line, "I'm 12 years into a 10-year town." "He said, 'Yeah, but you're only 10 years into a 10-year town, so you should change that line,'" Whitters shares. Ultimately, though, she decided to keep it as originally written.
That line became all the more fitting when they eventually released the song, two years later -- at which point, Whitters was, indeed, 12 years into a 10-year town. "It's just this weird thing where sometimes you're writing songs and they become more relevant the older they are," she reflects.
"This next song could turn it all around," Whitters sings in the last line of "Ten Year Town," and it did. Upon the song's release, fans quickly began to flock to her. She found a supporter in Maren Morris, who loved Whitters' music so much that she eventually asked Whitters to join her on tour.
"I had been so bitter and so frustrated and just tired with the music business. It allowed me to kinda let go of it and see it through a new lens," the singer explains of how her perspective shifted when she wrote the song. "A fresh lens -- maybe the one I had when I was 17 years old and first moved to town, and I was like, 'Gosh, how lucky am I to be here and to get to write these songs?'"
Who Is Hailey Whitters? 5 Things You Need to Know