Belmont Welcomes Paisley, Mattea

On Tuesday, April 27, Belmont’s College of Entertainment and Music Business welcomed country star and program alum Brad Paisley to a special edition of The Insider’s View in the Curb Event Center. A consummate singer, songwriter, guitarist and entertainer, Paisley shared stories about his experiences networking, playing and recording music in the Belmont campus studios, and interning on Music Row. He advised students to think outside the box for new ways to work in the ever-changing music industry.

The much-awarded Paisley is the reigning ACM Male Vocalist of the Year with accumulated sales of over 10 million units. His most recent album, American Saturday Night, was ranked as Time magazine’s 2009 No. 1 album of the year in any genre of music.

Also visiting Belmont recently were acclaimed country artist Kathy Mattea and her husband, Grammy-winning songwriter Jon Vezner. Completing a year long campus-wide focus on sustainability, the couple visited Belmont’s cam

Jon Vezner

pus for a convocation event at the Troutt Theater on Wednesday, April 28. Mattea’s long history of activism has led her to bring public attention to several current environmental issues, including global warming and mining practices in her native Appalachia. The work and the music have joined together to produce her latest Grammy-nominated CD, Coal, featuring songs from the coal country and culture of “her place and her people.”

Belmont University programs offered in response to the 2009-2010 theme A Paradise Lost? have engaged a myriad of questions surrounding issues of sustainability. Other guests of note for the year include: Eric Schlosser, author of “Fast Food Nation” and co-producer of the award-winning documentary “Food, Inc.” and renowned poet Mary Oliver.

Digital Nashville Presents Tim DuBois

As part of its Music Business Education Series, Digital Nashville will present What Have You Done To My Song?, a presentation featuring ASCAP Vice President/Managing Executive Tim DuBois.

The highly respected music industry veteran will offer insights on how technology has transformed the record business over the past decade. DuBois will talk about the positive and negative impact of technology beyond Napster, illegal file sharing and P2P and how the music industry can harness the power of the digital world.
The event is scheduled for May 12 from 6:00-8:00 PM at Averbuch Auditorium at Vanderbilt’s Owen Graduate School of Management.

Admission to What Have You Done To My Song? is free for Digital Nashville members and Owen Graduate School students and $20 for non-members.

Click here for more information about Digital Nashville’s Digital Strategy Series.

Publishers: Stout Hearts And Big Pocketbooks

Wally Wilson

“Publishing is like the canary in the coal mine,” smiles Skyline Music Managing Partner and publishing veteran, Wally Wilson. “Even though we have a shrinking industry, people have been thinking, ‘We’re ok, publishing is safe.’ Now we realize, after seeing the big changes at Sony and the closing of Lyric Street, if those large entities aren’t safe, then maybe nothing is. And radio is also shrinking, in many cases there’s one person operating an entire station. Just like the economy affects any other business, it will also be reflected in what happens to publishing.”

“It’s all about singles, that’s where the big money is,” says Noble Vision Music Group President Hal Oven. “The talk about performances shrinking is not good news. And the fall in mechanical income has been devastating for both the independent and major publishers. But even with those revenues shrinking, getting a Top 5 single is still what creates the big money. If we can get a few of those Top 5s, we’ll be fine. As an indie we don’t have a whole lot of leverage, so you just try and increase your number of cuts and hope that some of them emerge as singles. I hate to admit it, but getting my writers to write with artists is also important. We try to do that and present the best songs we can.”

Hal Oven

“What is troubling and has caused us to change our model,” says Wilson, “is we see on the charts now that all but 5-10% of the songs are written or published by the artist or producer. It’s always been a game to be played, but now it’s such a large share of the business. The old traditional songwriting staff therefore has got to change and the values of publishing have to adapt because the business has changed underneath us. I am expecting to see performance royalties shrink in the near future, but I don’t expect it to be so terribly dramatic that people start jumping off buildings or anything. But clearly publishing remains a game for people with stout hearts and big pocketbooks.”

“We had three staff writers until recently when a deal ended,” says Oven. “We’ll definitely be watching carefully to see if/when we can add a third writer again. Due to all the recent consolidations, there’s a lot of great writers out there looking for deals.”

“One strategy is going to be to sign some artists,” says Wilson. “Also, the writers we have and/or are looking for will need to have great relationships with artists and the creative forces such as producers and A&R execs. Unfortunately, some of the creative staff we’ve all relied upon will get left behind. The songplugger has to change their business model. It can’t just be about breeding great songs by bringing top writers together. That was a good plan in the mid-nineties; now you have to be ready to get on the bus and find both the baby and the big acts.”

Ashley Ray To Release 5-Song EP

This Tuesday (5/4) Show Dog-Universal Music artist Ashley Ray will release her first 5-Song EP, with several tracks written by the Kansas bred singer/songwriter.

For the past 18 months, Ray has been on the road opening for artists like Jason Aldean, Randy Rogers Band, Willie Nelson, Wade Bowen, Miranda Lambert and Cross Canadian Ragweed. She spent the better part of this past year touring with Eric Church, opening shows on his Young & Wild Tour.
According to her label, Tuesday’s EP release is an attempt to meet the demands for music from her ever-growing legion of fans.

Ray’s current single, “Dirt Cheap” which features Mike Eli of the Eli Young Band, has broken into the Top 20 and continues to climb the male-dominated Texas Music Chart.

On May 14, Ray kicks off the Country Throwdown Tour in Tampa, Florida. The festival-style tour features over ten artists including headliners Montgomery Gentry and Jamey Johnson.

Tunecore/MySpace Music Expand Offerings for Musicians

TuneCore, the world’s largest digital distribution and promotion service, has established a marketing partnership with MySpace Music that will allow MySpace Music artists a 50% discount for TuneCore digital distribution. Registration with TuneCore will enable artists to now earn royalties on their licensed content and have any of their music and/or ringtones distributed to the iTunes Store, AmazonMP3, eMusic and many others stores while keeping all of their rights and getting all of the money from the sale and use of their music.

In addition, MySpace Music is providing a MyAds credit to market and promote themselves on MySpace as well as all the additional marketing and promotion, sales data, educational and other services of TuneCore.

In the coming months, MySpace artists will be able to log into TuneCore using their MySpace ID, providing a more seamless experience.

More details are available here.

Apple Shuts Down Streaming Service Lala

Apple will shut down the recently acquired on May 31, 2010, according to a message on its website. The announcement has prompted speculation that Apple is ready to make use of Lala’s staff and technology to roll out its own cloud-based service. Apple acquired Lala in December 2009.

Lala allowed users to access their music content from a Web-based interface. Songs could be listened to one time for free and users could purchase Web-only, non-downloadable versions of singles called Web songs at 10 cents per song, and purchase mp3 music downloads. At the time of its purchase by Apple, Lala boasted more than 8 million songs in its catalog.

Current Lala users will be able to log in until the end of May, and any credit in the form of Lala web song purchases will be applied to purchases at the iTunes Store.

Although Apple has not announced plans to offer its own music-streaming service, the shuttering of Lala is being  interpreted as the next stage in the creation of a rumored web- or subscription-based upgrade to the iTunes Store.

Kid Rock to Host CMT Awards

Kid Rock announced today (4/29), via his website, that he will be hosting the upcoming 2010 CMT Music Awards.

“The rumors are true,” Kid Rock says. “I’m hosting the CMT Awards live from Nashville on June 9. All I can promise is I will be awesome.”

The 2010 CMT Music Awards will air live on June 9 at &:00 PM CT from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena. Toby Keith, Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban are already confirmed to perform on the show.

Kid Rock’s history with CMT including his 2001 appearance on CMT Crossroads with Hank Williams Jr. At last year’s CMT Music Awards, he won in the Wide Open Country Video of the Year category for his song, “All Summer Long.”

Kid Rock is currently hosting his Chillin’ the Most Cruise to the Cayman Islands. Later this summer, he will be performing on Bon Jovi’s tour of stadiums in the U.S., Canada and England.

Jackson To Play For West Virginia Miners

Country music superstar Alan Jackson will dedicate his May 22nd show at the Charleston, WV Civic Center to the families who lost loved ones in the Upper Big Branch Mining Disaster in Montcoal, West Virginia. Profits from the show will go to the Montcoal Mining Disaster Fund administrated by the West Virginia Council of Churches.

“This is a very wonderful donation from Alan and, on behalf of our state, I’m honored for our miners, their families and the rescue workers,” said West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin. “Alan is a world-famous entertainer who has never forgotten his small-town roots and the importance of family.”

“We are thrilled that Alan Jackson, an entertainer who sings about the working family, has committed his upcoming show in Charleston to the families of the fallen miners at the Upper Big Branch mine,” said The Rev. Dennis Sparks, Ex. Dir. WV Council of Churches. “On behalf of the Montcoal Mining Disaster Fund, thank you Alan and we look forward to a great concert in West Virginia.”

On April 5th, 2010, 29 miners lost their lives and two were injured in the tragedy at the Upper Big Branch Mine, about 30 miles south of Charleston.  It was the country’s worst mining disaster in four decades.

Douglas Corner Hosts Tribute to Norro Wilson

An SRO crowd of Nashville music industry figures came out to Douglas Corner Wednesday night (4-28) to salute famed writer/producer/Grammy winner and Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member Norro Wilson. The evening featured music from Wilson backed by retro-country band, 45 RPM.

Wilson, who has produced or co-produced such stars as Reba McEntire, Kenny Chesney, Shania Twain, John Anderson, Sammy Kershaw and George Jones, thrilled the crowd when he got up to sing a few of his self-penned hits – “The Grand Tour,” “A Picture of Me Without You” (both made famous by George Jones) and the No. 1 hit by Charlie Rich, “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World,” among others.

Wilson teased his former business partner and co-producer, Buddy Cannon, who was in the audience, saying, “There’s no way you’ll tune this!” Also sighted in the  crowd were Cannon’s daughter, the bluegrass singer Melonie Cannon, producer Garth Fundis, singer Darryle Singletary and former Music Row executives Chuck and Sandy Neese.

The 45 RPM band is entirely made up of either Nashville session players and/or songwriters. The band’s mission is to play only classic, traditional country music, performing nothing released later than the ‘70s.

Among the evening’s performers were Jimmy Melton, Dirk Johnson, Mark Johnson, Mike Johnson, Joanie Keller Johnson, Gregg Galbraith, Joe Spivey and Eddy Anderson.

Norro Wilson (center at the mic) is pictured performing with the 45 RPM Band

Int’l Country Music Festival Returns to Belmont

The 27th Annual International Country Music Festival will be held at Belmont University Thursday, May 27 through Saturday, May 29. Co-Chairs for the event are Don Cusic and James Akenson.

This year’s program features over 40 scholars of country music from across the nation presenting a wide variety of topics. 

The Keynote, Rounder Records at 40: History, Present and Future by Ken Irwin and Marian Levy, co-founders of Rounder, and scholar Dr. Michael Scully, will be on Thursday evening.

On Friday evening, there will be a panel, Backing the Hits: Backup Singers Reflect On Their Role in Making Hits Happen, moderated by Dr. John Rumble, Senior Historian at the Country Music Hall of Fame. This event will be held at Historic RCA Studio B and feature background singers Gordon Stoker, Millie Kirkham, Delores Edgin and Louis Nunley.

At the Friday luncheon, the Belmont Book Award, given annually for the Best Book on Country Music published the preceding year and the Lifetime Achievement award “for linking books with country music” will be given along with the Charlie Lamb Excellence in Country Music Journalism Awards.

Scholars and writers speaking at the conference include Dr. Bill Malone, Dr. Neil Rosenberg, Dr. David Pruett, Dr. Don Cusic, Dr. Ray White, Mr. Packy Smith, Dr. Jocelyn Neal, Dr. Wayne Daniel, and Mr. Tony Russell.