Upon first glance, Matt Walden looks like a typical teen heartthrob: blonde hair, blue-green eyes, and the perfect bone structure for selfies. With thousands of social media followers, and girls commenting “MARRY ME, MATT” on his Instagram pictures, you’d expect a 20-year-old guy on the cusp of stardom to get an ego. However, when discussing his humble beginnings, his true passion for music, and how he’s learning to market his burgeoning career, Walden becomes a lot less “Harry Styles” and a lot more “boy-next-door.”
“I was 13 years old when I realized I wanted to be a musician,” Walden begins. He started with piano lessons and recitals as a child, and later received a guitar from accomplished local musician, Billy Rice. As the years passed, Walden grew to realize that being a singer/songwriter was his dream.
“I can’t sit in a cubicle my entire life,” he says with a shrug. So far, it doesn’t look like he’ll have to. Walden’s first single, “Flipped the Script,” was released in May 2015 and gave him his first taste of real success.
“My single hit the charts overnight, and I ended up at number 38.” The momentum from his single led to a successful launch of his EP, “Life,” which hit number 7 on the iTunes chart, and stayed in the top 10 for 4 days. “That’s when I really started freaking out,” he says with a smile, “that’s when I realized we had something.”
When it comes to writing songs, Walden claims he doesn’t have a process. “Everyone always thinks there’s a certain pattern when it comes to writing songs. I don’t have a pattern,” he says. “Sometimes it’ll take me six months to write a song, and sometimes it’ll take me 10 minutes,” he says.
His first single, however, almost never came to be. “I had the chorus, but I didn’t know what to do with it, so I just kept it tucked away in the back of my book. One day, I brought it back out, and with the help of my buddy, we were able to finish the rest of the song over milkshakes one night,” he says.
Walden is on the cusp of something special, but what really determines the difference between getting discovered and staying local is the ability to market himself. “Marketing is the biggest tool that I can use to get out there more,” Walden says. Nowadays, with social media apps like Vine, Instagram, and Twitter, it’s easier than ever to gain fans around the world, many of whom flood his posts with adoring comments.
“I have to start putting better quality things out there,” Walden realizes, “I can’t just post random selfies on my Instagram anymore. I need to start looking like a professional if I want to be taken seriously as an artist.” Luckily, Walden has some talented friends to help. In fact, a friend photographed and designed the black-and-white art for his single, which the pros at LexJet then used to print posters, banners, and t-shirts.
“My friend Tyler and I were fooling around with the colors and eventually were able to create this effect that made me look like a black and white sticker on a red background,” he says. “It ended up being really cool.”
“Cool” certainly describes the image because when Walden made the posters available for his fans online, the ensuing high traffic crashed his website. Those posters, printed on 8 mil Production Satin SUV 180g, were part of a marketing kit that LexJet put together for Walden, which also included a hanging banner on Poly Select Medium, a stand-up banner on 6.5 mil Opaque Gloss Display Film, and 100% cotton t-shirts printed with Epson’s new SureColor F2000 direct-to-garment inkjet printer.
Having these new marketing tools gives Walden a sense of professionalism and legitimacy, even though, he says, “I never expected to see myself on a poster or a t-shirt, so this is all very weird to me.”
It looks like Walden will have to get used to it with the direction his career is going. Plans of an album release are on the horizon as well as hopes to connect with larger marketing companies that could give Walden an extra push in the right direction. Whatever his next steps are, we look forward to seeing him succeed.