Each year, hundreds of hopeful dreamers flock to Nashville for their chance at stardom. Having taken the long road, Jerrod Niemann shares one tip he picked up along the way to his 2010 No. 1 hit, "Lover, Lover":

"One of the best pieces of advice I received when I moved to Nashville was, for the learning phase -- which you realize soon never ends -- is to keep your ears open and your mouth shut," recalls the "Shinin' on Me" singer, who self-released his first album in 1999. "Once you finally have something to say, after keeping your mouth shut for a while, people actually care to listen. I kept my ears open and couldn't keep my mouth shut, so maybe that's why it took me 10 years. [laughs]"

The other key to success, Jerrod notes, is experience ... and lots of it. Whether performing for a crowd of two or 2,000, every live show is a learning tool.

"There are some moments on stage that if something were to happen, and it were to be disastrous, normally you may run off the stage and jump off a cliff," he says. "But having the opportunity and experience of all these kind people who run fairs and clubs and honky-tonks letting you come play, you learn. You think you're paying your dues and you are, but it's also an education. Especially in Nashville, there are so many great musicians, great songwriters, and people who have been in the business so long that they can answer many questions. For me, the one thing I learned is when you're in the trenches, it's like going to school. But the great thing about country music is if you want to go to school, even as a kid, all you have to do is turn on the radio."

Jerrod's current single "Shinin' on Me" is in the Top 25 on the radio charts. His upcoming album, Free the Music, is due out Oct. 2.

Watch Jerrod's "Shinin' on Me" Video