Straight Outta Boyceville: Madilyn Bailey
young musician hits it huge on YouTube
Eighteen-year-old Madilyn Bailey sits calmly, her wavy blonde hair resting on her shoulders as she cradles her self-proclaimed “best friend” – a golden acoustic guitar. With the strum of a chord she starts to sing, releasing a rich voice that resonates the control of a trained professional. Bailey, who graduated from high school in January, keeps the talking to a minimum. With each song she sets a mood – sometimes her eyes smile with ease, others her eyebrows furrow in deep emotion, displaying the genuine passion that attracts thousands of attentive fans.
Known as “Maddy” to her friends, Bailey isn’t on stage or headlining a tour. She’s sitting on her carpeted steps, a cozy couch, or in the comfort of her bedroom, recording a video for YouTube, the video-sharing site that has served as the career-launching pad for many performers.
Along with five siblings, Bailey spent her childhood in Boyceville, just northwest of Eau Claire. With about 1,000 residents, Boyceville may be a far cry from Hollywood, but location didn’t hinder this small-town girl from sharing her love of music with people all around the world. A year-and-a-half ago, Bailey started using YouTube as a virtual venue after being influenced by now-signed YouTube sensations Kina Grannis and Marie Digby.
Today, with more than 40,000 subscribers and total upload views topping two million, Bailey is becoming a celebrity. So how exactly did she gain such a solid fan base? Besides her obvious talent and sincerity, Bailey chooses cover songs that appeal to the masses.
“My goal with my music is I’m trying to reach as many people as I can and be able to connect with those people at the same time,” she explains. With almost half a million hits, her chilling rendition of Eminem’s I’m Not Afraid has reached its level of fame not only for its originality, but also because she happened to post it around the same time as the video release. “Picking songs that are already currently popular means that they’re going to be going on YouTube and [people are] going to be looking up those songs.”
As of right now, Bailey plans on delaying college in order to focus on her music career. Creating and maintaining a successful and well-trafficked YouTube channel requires plenty of patience and dedication. She seems to master the art, keeping her listeners engaged by posting every other week (posting a video every week can be “annoying” and every three weeks is “boring,” she clarifies.)
“As I progress with my YouTube channel, I’ve gotten a lot better at picking those songs out,” says Bailey. When I’m making my videos I try to pick a different location every time so that it almost makes the viewers feel like each song has its own characteristics.”
Although time consuming, she tries to individually read, respond, and thank fans for comments and support. “The people who follow me are absolutely the most amazing people,” she praises, her voice bubbling with affection. “I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people; they’re just really inviting and so kind.”
“Her career is not a matter of if, but when.” – Music promoter Daniel Blackman on Madilyn Bailey
Her fans are also incredibly loyal. In reading through her video responses, encouraging comments such as, “This is one of the best original songs I have heard on YouTube! Your voice is amazing and the lyrics are so relatable!! Keep it up girl!,” “Maddy your music is as beautiful as you are,” and “You inspire me” far outnumber negativity.
Daniel Blackman, a longtime supporter and friend of Maddy with a background in musical promotion, believes she has the indescribable yet crucial “It Factor.” “In all of my years of marketing and producing artists and the music they create, I have not seen pure and natural talent like what Maddy represents,” he says.
In the future, Bailey hopes to sign with a record label, have her own tour, and continue to write original songs. Her current goals include buying a high-definition camera and high-quality microphone for her upcoming videos, recording radio-quality originals, and loading songs onto iTunes.
“Maddy is a breath of fresh air for the music industry and the world,” says Blackman. “Her career is not a matter of if, but when.”
Check out Madilyn Bailey’s well-viewed YouTube videos.