From a small-town girl from Illinois to opening for some of the biggest names in country music, Elizabeth Lyons is independently hustling her way to the top of the country charts. In addition to singing and writing her own music, Lyons currently serves as the CEO of her business ElizabethLyonsMusic and is managing her own indie label Roar Records, LLC. As an independent DIY or ‘Do-it-yourself’ artist, Lyons controls all of the marketing, promotion, and business decisions for her brand. She has even booked her own shows, sharing the stage with Luke Bryan, Sam Hunt, and Thomas Rhett. Most recently, this Vydia artist dropped a new video for her bubbly single, ‘Champagne’ which peaked at No. 1 on the iTunes Country Music Videos charts.

We had the opportunity to interview Lyons to take a deeper lookin into her life as a DIY artist and to learn more her new video ‘Champagne’. Here’s what she had to say:

When did you start playing music?
Music and performing have always been a part of my life! At the age of four, I learned my letters so I could start playing the piano. In total, I played classical piano, sang in church choir, took dance classes, wrote music in classes at school, created shows in my backyard for the neighborhood, put on shows every 4th of July with my cousins and sisters, and performed in over 18 musicals. I was also an ice skater and that would perform to music. I had always dreamed of being an artist but didn’t know how to make something like that happen. An opportunity opened in Nashville during the summer when I interned at a music publishing company as a freshman in college. My boss helped me learn the music business while also helping guide my pursuit of being an artist–– writing, recording and building my live show. I caught the Nashville bug and transferred from the University of Wisconsin-Madison to Vanderbilt University by the next summer. I released my first self-titled EP my senior year at Vanderbilt and have been performing and writing my music ever since.

Where do you draw your biggest inspiration?
I wanted to be the next Taylor Swift, Britney Spears, Spice Girls, Shania Twain, or Dixie Chicks. I grew up surrounded by all genres of music. My Dad had us listening to rock n’ roll so Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Earth Wind and Fire and Paul McCartney. My Mom has us listening to Madonna, Carole King, the 70s channel plus those top 40 albums you would buy at Party City which I loved. My Great-Grandpa used to play pure country music like Hank Williams. In high school, we listened to everything from rap to R&B to country music. In college as a film studies major, I grew to love soundtracks as well. Today, I’m truly inspired by artists who are not only successful in creating music but also successful understanding their brand. The ones that are business savvy and holding the reins to their own careers like Taylor Swift, Luke Bryan, Lady Gaga or Florida Georgia Line.

Completing your degree at Vanderbilt University while releasing your first EP is quite the accomplishment. How were you able to balance going to school and launching your career?
I think managing many things was a concept ingrained in me at a young age. My Mom kept us busy so I’d go from school to musical rehearsals to tennis lessons to quickly grabbing dinner before doing homework. In high school, I didn’t take a lunch so I could do choir. I took 18 hours every semester at Vanderbilt so I could graduate on time plus keep up with my internship so I could continue to learn and have the guidance of my boss. All while performing, writing music, and recording. I make a to-do list daily, monthly, yearly. I write down everything and manage my time/schedule meticulously. I’m always thinking about songs, bookings, branding, videos, and networking. When it’s a passion you find the time and have the drive, even if it involves giving something else up…like sleep. I remember the night I released my EP, I stayed up all night promoting to socials and my network. Then I went to a class where we couldn’t have laptops out, so when I got out I had several texts that it was climbing up the charts. They go hand-in-hand–– my classmates, sorority sisters, and the Greek life I spent weekends with bought the EP which helped launch my career. I love to entertain and make people happy. I also hope and try to be a strong advocate to young musicians that you can do both: finish college and do music.

Nashville seems to be the hub for most country artists, how did you make your decision to move to New York City and how did it affect you as an artist?
I spent every summer interning in music publishing and artist management since my freshman year of college in Nashville. I spent my last two years of college and graduated from Vanderbilt University in Nashville. Then spent the last four years after graduating pursuing my music career full time. So the last six years have been in Nashville. I remember my Dad said, “if you don’t change then nothing will change.” That resonated with me. I felt like it was time to think outside the confines of Nashville and look beyond. I felt like I had played all the venues several times and to the same people. It was time for a change and to reach a new audience. I wanted to broaden my horizons, music influences, fan demographic, and knowledge of the music entertainment industry. It’s a big world out there; while Nashville still is in my heart and soul I go back and forth a lot, I have two homes now. Old ways won’t open new doors.

Your latest single ‘Champagne’ has already been featured on iTunes ‘Hot Tracks’ and various Spotify playlists, what was the story behind the video for hit track?
First of all, I love champagne, who doesn’t! I wanted a song about celebrating life and having fun. I wrote the song visualizing the music video as it is, which is my life. Pre-gaming with at my friend Carolyn’s apartment then going out. She always plays my music or has a guitar at her apartment for me to play so it was so natural. Everyone in the video was my friend. I bought the alcohol we drank and the confetti we popped and even cleaned it all up after. As if I was throwing a party with my friend the director Adam Defrin filming it. You drink champagne when things are being celebrated (graduating, engagement, birthdays) hopefully this song and video makes you feel good and brings you to those good memories. Country fans are all walks of life including my aunt whose nickname is ‘happy bubbles’ who loves Veuve Cliquot and would bring us to the VIP sections of country festivals growing up. So I know other country fans would love ‘Champagne’ too. I think we need to celebrate each day as it truly is a gift. Lots to be thankful for and celebrate!

I saw your Instagram that you were very busy promoting your new video ‘Champagne’. From country music festivals to singing the national anthem at Fenway Park, what has been your favorite experience so far?
Any experience with my family is my favorite! I couldn’t do it without them. We’ve had many up and down experiences together through this musical journey. From meeting and being backstage with Blake Shelton, Sam Hunt, and Luke Bryan when I opened for them at the different festivals to singing at Fenway Park and having them all get to be on the field with me. Being from the Midwest, I’ve played Summerfest six years in a row and it’s one of my favorite summer days of the year because my family is always there. My first single ‘Everything Tonight’ was on SiriusXM the Highway #OntheHorizon and was featured on Hot 30 countdown close to Christmas time, so I got to hear it on the radio with my family in the car. The #PartyRules music video went number one and my family was at the video shoot that day. I feel blessed that I’m so close to my family. I call them a few times a day and we have a family group chat.

Not only are you a successful musician, but you also own and run your own record label, Roar Records! What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a ‘DIY independent artist’ and how were you able to overcome it?
My biggest challenges are my biggest strengths … First, I’ve been told I’m good at managing the business aspect of my career like booking, creating branding/marketing. Managers and agents are like what can I do for you if you’re doing it all; however, as you know it takes a village to take it to the next level. I’m not your typical female artist as I graduated from college and have a business mind. I only can do so much, so now I’m leaving it up to the fate that someone will come and help grow my vision. My second strength is entertaining. I feel like Nashville is so focused on songwriting, which I totally understand as it’s all about the song, but going outside Nashville the fans want someone to have a personal interaction, connection, and to be entertained. I think people in Nashville lose sight of some of the most important traits the biggest artists have: Blake, Luke, FGL, Taylor, Kelsea Ballerini all have personalities, are entertainers, and business minded.

What’s the greatest piece of advice you have received as a ‘DIY independent artist’?
I’ve been lucky and honored to meet with several mentors in the industry regularly. I think the biggest thing is focusing on ‘Who you are’, ‘What’s Your Message’, ‘Are you ready to work hard’, and ‘Are you ready to put in the years?’ Things take time and you really do have to put in your years; no one has a career without putting in the hours and hard work. It’s a ten-year town. I’ve grown as a performer and songwriter and understand now why it takes time. In the beginning, I wanted, even demanded, to play on X stage but really, all good things take time and I’ve realized that. Sometimes I wish I hadn’t been so demanding but when you don’t know how hard it is or that there are no dreams that are too big you just think anything is possible and really I have had success with putting myself out there. You never know until you do. And of course, I always live by a quote on my high school tennis sweatshirt “Patience, Perseverance, and Persistence”.

Pulling from your own personal experience, is there any message you would share with all of the aspiring independent creators out there?
Everyone has their own story. Make your own. Think outside the box and don’t be afraid to go after something and make it happen. Don’t take no for an answer! I just booked a show where I’ve been asking them to put me in the lineup for five years and they finally did. Be nice to everyone treat them as though they are family. I’ve played Milwaukee Summerfest six years in a row, the crew has become family. Most importantly be yourself and surround yourself with the best people. Be loyal, my band has been with me the last three years they’ve become family. Last, Always take time for the ones you love.

One last question: What is a fun fact that no one knows about you?
I love bagels. When I first moved to NYC I had a bagel every day for the first three months. NYC truly has the best bagels, must be the water!

This past summer gave Elizabeth Lyons a lot to cheers about, but there is no stopping this driven country star. To ensure you don’t miss out on Elizabeth Lyons next move, follow her on social media and subscribe to her Vevo channel. Don’t forget to watch ‘Champagne’ and share it with your friends.