When we look back on “Feathered Indians” by Tyler Childers being Certified Gold—which it just was by the RIAA on February 21st—it won’t be just be about the song and the artist. Undoubtedly, it is a huge accomplishment for Childers, and for a song that wasn’t even really a featured track from his breakout album Purgatory released back in 2017 on Thirty Tigers. “Lady May” and “Whitehouse Road” were the two “singles” released before the record. But thanks to the simple organic appeal of the song, and a live studio performance from LR Baggs on YouTube that has garnered over 14 million views itself, “Feathered Indians” has done something even many up-and-coming mainstream singles can’t accomplish, which is going Gold in the increasingly-crowded music market.
The numbers for the song, and for Tyler Childers in general are incredible. “Feathered Indians” has not only gone Gold due to reaching over 500,000 units in sales, downloads, and streaming equivalents, it actually currently sits at 731,000 in total, meaning it’s on the way to being Certified Platinum. The song has received over 47 million stream on Spotify alone, and 97 million streams total. The RIAA counts 150 streams as a sale or download equivalent for their certification purposes.
But looking bigger picture at the accomplishment, this will be about the opening of a new era in music where non-radio, independently-minded musicians with creative control of their music began to compete with their mainstream counterparts in regards to sales and streams. We can’t call Tyler Childers truly independent anymore since he’s officially signed with RCA/Sony through his Hickman Holler imprint, but “Feathered Indians” comes from his time on Thirty Tigers. Tyler Childers owns “Feathered Indians” himself, and receives that vast majority of the revenue being generated from the song, not a major label.
But Tyler Childers won’t be alone atop that mountain for very long. Cody Jinks and “Loud And Heavy” are about to be Certified Platinum, Saving Country Music is able to confirm. They only reason the song wasn’t announced as a new Gold single in the last round of RIAA Certifications is because it turned platinum during the process. Expect that information to be made public soon. Jinks has another song, “Hippies & Cowboys,” that’s on the way to being Certified Gold as well. There are some other songs from the independent country realm also getting close to certification, like “Long Hot Summer Day” from the Turnpike Troubadours.
“Feathered Indians” going Gold is another shattering of a glass ceiling for artists that are being virtually ignored by the mainstream. Even without radio play or acknowledgement from the CMA, these artists who have creative control over their music are finding success like never before in the modern era, and expect as time goes on, that success to continue to be expanded and amplified as listeners continue to discover they have better options beyond mainstream radio.