Derek Sholl

“But It Was”

CO5 Nashville

“But It Was” is Derek Sholl’s newest release to country radio. Penned by Joe Doyle and Tim Johnson, the song appears on Sholl’s album Here, which hit shelves in October 2008. His previous single “(I’ll Be) Here” charted in the top 50 of MusicRow’s CountryBreakout™ chart.

Sholl’s journey from pro baseball hopeful to fast-rising country star is a true-to-life tale of one big man, two big talents, and countless nights of dues-paying gigs that took the singer/songwriter from local bars in his native southern California to state-of-the-art stages in Vegas, to Nashville’s top recording studios, all the way to his current touring base in Texas.

“I first started listening to country music when I got drafted by the Kansas City Royals,” Sholl recalls. “I’d come into the clubhouse singing Randy Travis and Alan Jackson in my ‘new’ country voice. I was half kidding, but everybody would always say, ‘Hey, that’s really good.’ I was learning a lot of songs, but baseball was my first love. I still thought I was going to be a professional ball player.”

Baseball was his life until a series of injuries effectively ended his sports career. He began to delve into country music, honing his high energy live act, which has taken him to places like the Mirage in Las Vegas, where he supported appearances by TV host Jay Leno.

“I take a lot of pride in our live stage show,” he says. “What I’m doing up there is not an act. On a big stage or in a small bar, it’s high energy and it’s exactly who I am.”

Music Marketing Crosses Platforms

All seven American Idol winners join Mickey Mouse to celebrate the new attraction at Disney World.

Cross-promotion and corporate tie-ins are an ever-growing part of the music business. Here are some of the latest and most creative examples, with Disney and 19 Entertainment leading the way.

“The American Idol Experience,” a new attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida, is opening this week. Guests can audition to take the spotlight onstage, while fellow guests cheer from the audience and vote for their favorite singer. Developed by Walt Disney Imagineering in conjunction with FremantleMedia Enterprises and 19 Entertainment, the show is designed to give park guests the feel of a live television production. Winners of the daily competition will receive a “Dream Ticket” to the front-of-the-line at a regional audition for the television show.

The world’s best-selling CD compilation series NOW That’s What I Call Music! is coming to television and the Internet through a new interactive program. Though details are still under wraps, it will be the result of a partnership with 19 Entertainment founder/Idol creator Simon Fuller. The 10-year-old NOW That’s What I Call Music! series is a joint venture from EMI, Sony, and Universal, and has sold over 72 million units in the US and over 200 million worldwide.

The Jonas Brothers are heading to the 3-D big screen in a Walt Disney Pictures rockumentary. The film blends excerpts from the Brothers’ Burning Up concert tour, including guest performances from Taylor Swift and Demi Lovato, with exclusive behind-the-scenes footage, a never-before-heard song and more. The Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience debuts Feb. 26 at midnight and fans are already scooping up advance tickets at Fandango ticket buyers will receive a free download of the Jonas Brothers’ music video, “Tonight.”

MTV is the latest company to get in the 360 game. They have teamed with Snoop Dogg for a global 360 deal including a new album, TV show, and Rock Band video game. The TV show, Dogg After Dark, is described as a “nightclub” variety talk show premiering Feb. 17.

MAC Presents Hires Ruth Gonzalez

Ruth Gonzalez

Music sponsorship specialists MAC Presents has added Operations Manager Ruth Gonzalez to its team. She brings more than fifteen years of experience as a talent agent to the Nashville-based firm, including nine years at Creative Artists Agency in Beverly Hills, where she was responsible for artists including Jesse McCartney and Ashlee Simpson. She also represented all CAA music talent for booking into West Coast territory club venues, as well as Mid South Casino and Performing Arts Centers.

MAC Presents President Marcie Allen Cardwell says she has known Gonzalez since the beginning of her own career in the music industry. Originally from Atlanta, Gonzalez has also worked for the Dark Horse Tavern, The Point, Alienation Inc., and as stage manager for the Music Midtown festival.

Flatts Fans Pick New Album Art

Rascal Flatts members Gary LeVox, Jay DeMarcus and Joe Don Rooney revealed the cover for their April 7 release, Unstoppable, before last night’s (2/12) sold-out show at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The guys selected four finalists for the cover art from thousands of entries submitted through the People’s Choice Awards Web site and invited fans to choose their favorite design. The winner was designed by Chris Kubik from Arlington Heights, IL.

Pictured (l-r): Fred Nelson, President People's Choice; Jay DeMarcus; Joe Don Rooney and Gary LeVox. Photo: Zach Henderson

Spotify Offers Free Streaming

A new online listening service is getting rave reviews from users in Europe. Originally from Sweden and now available in the UK, Spotify allows free ad-supported streaming of personalized playlists. Because the streaming is unlimited, proponents of the system say it provides an incentive not to download illegally. Spotify reportedly has an exceptional catalog through deals with many labels, but has also had its share of legal trouble and was forced to remove thousands of tracks over licensing issues. It claims its catalog is doubling in size every few weeks. Listeners also have the option of paying 99 pence for a single day of ad-free access, or £10 a month for no ads at all.

DISClaimer 2/13/09

This week, the major labels are stepping up to the plate with quality.

Mercury has two excellent singles, by the Randy Rogers Band and Holly Williams. Warner Bros. Records is offering us a dandy uptempo by Jessica Harp. Columbia has the DisCovery Award winners, Caitlin & Will.

But at the end of the listening session, an indie walked off with the Disc of the Day prize. That would be Broken Bow with its Megan Mullins & Randy Owen duet of a dynamite Dolly Parton tune.

Duets rule.

Writer: Johnny Edward Pierce/Otha Young; Producer: none listed; Publisher: Oh the Music/Sony-ATV Tree; Maiden Texas (817-283-7984)
—This Dallas-Ft. Worth trio is composed of Stephanie Mulder, Krista Hughes and DeAnna Edwards. Their revival of this 1989 Forester Sisters single has sprightly energy and flawless three-part harmony throughout. A winner.

Writer: Randy Rogers/Sean McConnell; Producer: Radney Foster; Publisher: Warner-Tamerlane/Lonely Motel/WBM, BMI/SESAC; Mercury Nashville (CDX)
—The gently loping rhythm and spare instrumental work throw the spotlight on the country-soulful, slightly raspy lead vocal. The hillbilly boy trying to hit on someone else’s dance partner is completely sweet and believable. Whether for this outfit or somebody else, this is a hit song.

Writer: Casey Beathard/Karen Rochelle; Producer: Chris Lindsey; Publisher: none listed; Columbia (CDX)
—They both sing splendidly, and the pristine production is marvelously supportive on this lovelorn little slice of heartache. Well worth your attention.

Writer: Dolly Parton; Producer: John Rich & Sean Pennington; Publisher: Velvet Apple, BMI; BBR (CDX)
—From production to songwriting, this has pedigree credentials. The prodigiously gifted Miss Mullins more than holds her own with her Country Music Hall of Fame duet partner. The heartbeat thump in the track is goose-bump inducing. And the song is a thing of perfect wonder.

Writer: Hillary Lindsey/Luke Laird; Producer: Justin Niebank; Publisher: Raylene/BPJ/Universal-Careers/High Powered Machine, ASCAP/BMI; Mercury Nashville
—By far her finest vocal performance on disc to date. There’s passion and personality in this that she hasn’t displayed before. Her sister has co-written a dandy kiss-off tune, and Niebank’s production has just enough raggedy rock edge to keep your ears perked up. I’m in.

SHELLEY LYNCH/You Can’t Look Back
Writer: Shelley Lynch; Producer: Shelley Lynch & Les Bolen; Publisher: Lynch, ASCAP/SOCAN; Lynch (CDX) (
—The echo is laid on just a little too thick. The verse lyrics are a mite wordy. And the high-end in her vocal is a kinda weak.

Writer: Jerry Flowers; Producer: Jerry Flowers; Publisher: EMI Blackwood/JFLO, BMI; Warner Bros.
—Former Wreckers member Harp has a snappy solo outing. The rocking rhythm and cool repeated guitar riff back a sassy lyric about finding a guy who’s just like her, right down to the drinkin’ and makin’ love parts. She wails it. Solid work.

Writer: Natasha James; Producer: Natasha James & Ronnie Rivera; Publisher: 40 Miles of Road, ASCAP; Highway One (
—This comes to us from California, where apparently they record in cardboard shipping crates.

Writer: Byron Hill/Jennifer Schott; Producer: Byron Hill; Publisher: Byron Hill/Sony-ATV Tree, ASCAP/BMI; BHP (track) (
—I love Nashville songwriter albums. Byron’s is a 12-tune dandy showcasing his burnished baritone in wonderfully produced tracks. The title tune is a gentle, winning, mid-tempo invitation to romance that’s as warm as a hearth. Over the years, he’s won 10 ASCAP Awards and had more than 575 cuts. “Fool Hearted Memory,” “Nothing On But The Radio,” “Pickin’ Up Strangers,” “Lifestyles Of The Not So Rich And Famous,” “Born Country” and “Size Matters” are all in his vast catalog. So the man knows what he’s doing. Highly recommended.

BEN KWELLER/Homeward Bound
Writer: Jemima James/Michael Mason; Producer: Ben Kweller; Publisher: none listed, BMI; ATO (track)
—Austin resident Kweller wrote all the tunes on his Changing Horses CD except this set-closing ballad. It’s about a lost soul heading for the other side. His cracked delivery and the funeral-march rhythm are both deeply affecting. Check him out.

TV Goes Country With Cable Guy Roast, New “Crossroads”

Larry The Cable Guy will be the subject of much jeering on Comedy Central’s 2009 Roast. On hand to give Larry some good-natured ribbing will be Toby Keith, Jeff Foxworthy, Drew Carey, Nick DiPaolo, Greg Giraldo, Lisa Lampanelli, Dan Marino, Jeffrey Ross, and many others to be announced. The show tapes in Los Angeles at the Warner Bros. Studio lot on Sun., March 1 and will premiere Sun., March 15 at 9 PM/CT.


Others getting tube time next month include Shooter Jennings and Jamey Johnson who are the latest pairing for CMT Crossroads. The show, where artists sing their own songs as well as each other’s, will tape before an invitation only audience in Nashville later this month and premiere Mon., March 23 at 9 PM/CT on CMT.


Also at CMT, the network is planning season two of its original singing competition Can You Duet. An open casting call will be March 7 at the Wildhorse Saloon. Doors open at 8 AM. For up-to-date casting information and instructions for sending in a video tape submission, visit

McBride Takes Fresh Approach To New Release

Martina McBride decided it was time for a change when she started contemplating her tenth studio album, set for release March 24 on longtime label home RCA Records. She says teaming with chart-topping producer Dann Huff to record Shine forced her out of her comfort zone and rekindled her creativity. “I think it was time to find somebody with a different, fresh perspective on my music,” she explains. “Creatively I have a renewed energy and I feel like this album reflects that.”

The album title comes from lyrics on three different tracks, including “I Just Call You Mine,” “Sunny Side Up” (written by McBride and the Warren Brothers) and the first single “Ride.” With top tunesmiths like Tom Shapiro, Darrell Scott, Neil Thrasher, and Hillary Lindsey contributing tracks, the songs on Shine share McBride’s signature uplifting messages, but with a new twist.

To date, McBride has sold 18 million albums, charted 22 Top 10 singles, and scored six No. 1s.

Is Fan Voting The Future? ACM Enlists Fans To Validate Industry Choices

Like it is for all Awards shows, the ACM final nominees announcement was a cause of joy and pain for various artists whose names did and did not appear on the coveted list. Some mainstream brands were missing in categories where they seemed essential and a few relative newcomers caught a wave that some might say was larger than the stage of their career. But the ACMs have a built in reality meter—the fans—who this year will again vote for Entertainer and for the first time also choose a Top New Artist.

So what is the case for and against fan voting? Years ago, there was no practical way to reach and tabulate votes from millions of fans in a short time. Today’s new media encourages a one-on-one relationship which makes voting easy and has the added benefit of possibly continuing the dialog with each fan during the year. Awards shows and networks are also dedicated to winning the ratings wars, so it makes sense to find out directly from the fans who they consider entertaining and will tune in to watch. It also seems reasonable to assert that regardless of the purity of the process or safeguards taken, industry voters will stretch to affirm their vested interests.

To balance these issues, ACM has chosen to rely on industry experts to do the heavy lifting and choose the final nominees. “We use our official membership to vette the new talents and ultimately put forth what we the industry feel are the five best nominees in each category,” says ACM Executive Director Bob Romeo. “When that process is done correctly, then one could assume that if we ask the fans to weigh in at that point we would be happy regardless of which of the five acts were to win. The process builds on industry wisdom and then gives the fans a chance to engage.”

Romeo sees the fans as a type of fail-safe mechanism. “If the industry makes a mistake and there is some kind of irregularity, then the fans will ultimately validate what the best choice should be. When it’s said and done, I don’t think you can bullshit the fans. If someone gets nominated for Entertainer that perhaps isn’t ready, then with all due respect, the fans won’t vote them in.”

After successfully experimenting with fan voting for its Entertainer category last year, this year ACM will introduce three fan-voted New Artist categories—Top New Male, Female and Vocal Duo/Group. A winner from each category will then be entered into the Top New Artist race, again voted upon by the fans.

Unfortunately, while plans were being set for these New Artist honors, an issue arose over the album category. Part of the ACM Best Album criteria required a nominee to have sold over 300,000 units. This year that meant cutting the list of final noms severely. “We were focused on the newcomer awards and album criteria became an oversight,” explains Romeo. “Our board voted to drop the 300,000 sales requirement for this year. We have a mechanism set up for industry to redo the balloting process so we will have our final five in time for the final ballots.”

Is fan voting the future? “I believe my board would be open to additional fan voting ideas,” says Romeo. “But one step at a time. We’re going to validate it again this year, plus open up the Entertainer vote to text voting. So Entertainer ballots will be cast via online and text. If it goes as well as it did last year and we engage even more people—they are telling me that adding text could engage multiple millions more—I’m sure our board will be interested to see those numbers. If it was only up to me I’d be pushing to let the membership shape the final ballot and then have the fans weigh in on every category. You can say what you want about last year, but it was an exciting race. All five of the Entertainer noms knew the outcome wasn’t in the hands of any politics, it was controlled by the fans. When it was all done, the fans validated Kenny Chesney.”

Last year’s ACM show, with fan voting, drew 11.7 million viewers, an increase of 26% from the previous year. Other Awards shows (and their networks) will surely be watching CBS this April 5, to see if ratcheting up the engagement and interactivity continues to bring glad viewership tidings. If it does, one could bet that knocking sound will be the other networks demanding more of the same.

Investigation Launches For Live Nation/Ticketmaster Merger

The Justice Department has begun an antitrust investigation into the proposed Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger. Many lawmakers, fans and artists believe that combining the two huge companies would result in unfair competition, giving one powerhouse too much control over the live entertainment industry.

The federal agency is moving forward with the inquiry after only one day, even though it had up to 30 days to decide whether or not to investigate. points out that a Justice Department inquiry—which could take about six months—is often more strict than one by the Federal Trade Commission.