Kobalt Inks Deal With Brave Music

Brave Music, the artist development/publishing and production company owned by Jeremy Spillman, has signed an exclusive worldwide administration deal with Kobalt Music Publishing America.

In addition to songs penned by Spillman, Brave Music publishes songs by artist/writer Jared Crump. Brave Music has several cuts on Canadian band High Valley’s current album including singles, “Let It Be Me” and “Love You for a Long Time.” Brave also has songs on upcoming albums by Crump, fellow Kobalt writer Travis Meadows, Keith Urban, Randy Rogers Band, and more.

(L-R) front row: Brave Music artist/songwriter Jared Crump and Brave Music owner and songwriter Jeremy Spillman. Back row: Kobalt team members Stephanie Cox, VP Creative; Whitney Daane, SVP Creative; Jeff Skaggs, Creative Director; and Kendall Lettow, Creative Assistant.

McGraw Announces New Album

Tim McGraw will get 2013 into gear by releasing Two Lanes of Freedom, his first album for Big Machine Records, on Feb. 5. The album includes McGraw’s new single “One of Those Nights,” which he will debut during ABC’s broadcast of the 46th Annual CMA Awards Thursday, Nov. 1.

“I always go into the studio to make the best record I can possibly make, and this one is no different. But ‘Freedom’ is a powerful word,” said McGraw. “To come into a situation where there’s some weight lifted, some refreshment going on, you can feel that in the music. I think you can feel the horses gallop on this record, and where I might go and what I might do when my engines are revving.”

McGraw served as co-producer on Two Lanes of Freedom, along with his longtime collaborator Byron Gallimore. Fans can hear a preview of “One of Those Nights” today (10/30) when McGraw appears on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

Exclusive: Cassetty Entertainment Launches

Todd Cassetty today announced the launch of Cassetty Entertainment, an artist management enterprise which has signed Scotty McCreery.

Cassetty is stepping away from his day-to-day roles with Hi-Fi Fusion and Todd Cassetty Welding Service but the online and video marketing companies will continue operation. Additional details regarding Hi-Fi Fusion will be forthcoming.

For the past 18 months, Cassetty has been working with McCreery on multiple projects from television shows to promotional campaigns to music videos. Says McCreery, “Todd has been involved in my career since I first came to Nashville after American Idol, and our great working relationship made the management scenario a no-brainer.”

Cassetty adds, “For years, I’ve been looking for an artist to inspire me to integrate 20 years of experience into an artist management role. Scotty McCreery is that artist. His vocal talent and authenticity as an entertainer are the impetus behind Cassetty Entertainment, and I could not be more excited to work with him.”

After winning American Idol season 10, McCreery became the youngest man in history to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200 all-genre albums chart with his first release, the platinum-selling Clear As Day. Since then, McCreery has been named New Artist of the Year at the Academy of Country Music Awards and the American Country Awards. He took home the USA Weekend Breakthrough Video of the Year Award at the 2012 CMT Music Awards. More recently, he toured with Brad Paisley and released Christmas With Scotty McCreery, which sold over 40,000 units to become the top selling holiday album year-to-date.

Cassetty’s music industry career began in the early ‘90s with marketing and promotion stints at Country Radio Seminar, Warner/Reprise and Gaylord Entertainment’s MusicCountry.com. From there, he started Hi-Fi Fusion, Nashville’s first digital marketing company, which works with every major record label and many of the biggest artists in music. In 2007, he launched Todd Cassetty Welding Service, a television, video and film production company that has since created TV specials and music videos for McCreery, Blake Shelton, Reba McEntire and Taylor Swift.

[Updated Arrangements] Songwriter Tim Johnson Passes

Tim Johnson

A memorial service for Tim Johnson will be held Thurs., Nov. 1, 2 to 4 p.m. at the Cheekwood Botanical Garden’s Massey Hall. There will be no admission charge for attendees. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to MusiCares at www.grammy.org/musicares/donate.

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Songwriter Tim Johnson passed away Sun., Oct. 21, following a two-year battle with cancer. He was 52 and died at home. The established member of Nashville’s music community had more than 100 major label cuts to his credit, with some of his biggest hits including Diamond Rio’s “God Only Cries,” Jimmy Wayne’s “Do You Believe Me Now,” and Daryle Singletary’s “I Let Her Lie.”

His list of singles and cuts also includes Joey + Rory’s “Remember Me” and “That’s Important to Me,” Tim Rushlow’s “She Misses Him,” Jeannie Kendall’s “Out of Loneliness,” Rockie Lynne’s “I Can’t Believe It’s Me,” Tracy Lawrence’s “Up to Him,” Blaine Larsen’s “The Best Man,” Derek Sholl’s “When They Come Back,” and Doug Stone’s “Nice Problem.” Johnson’s “I Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” written with Jon Wolfe and James Dean Hicks, was recorded by Joe Nichols for his 2011 album release.

Johnson’s talent extended to the studio, where he produced artists including Blaine Larsen. The respected songwriter was active with NSAI, where he served on its Song Camp faculty and was a longtime board member. He assisted the organization with its legislative work in Washington, D.C. Friends say he was a champion of songs and songwriters, and always encouraged aspiring writers. He also founded the Songwriter’s Institute.

In 2007 Johnson teamed with Rory Feek and Jeff Skillen to establish the Song Trust, which had success with “Bring Him Home Santa,” a song about fathers who serve in the military. Feek and his wife, Joey, said they are “saddened with the loss of our good friend. His passing leaves a big hole in our hearts and an even bigger one in the heart of country music.”

Growing up in Noti, Oregon, one of Johnson’s early songwriting influences was Mickey Newbury.

Johnson is survived by wife Meg, son Jack and daughter CeyMusicRow extends sincere condolences to his loved ones.

Funeral arrangements have not been announced. Check MusicRow.com for updates.

Friend and songwriter James Dean Hicks shared his thoughts on Tim:

He was one of the biggest personalities and talents that I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. He made this world a better place in all ways and was a great friend to so many. He was one of the best songwriters and was a master at writing alone. “I Let Her Lie” and “She Misses Him” are a couple of the supreme works that Tim created alone. I believe what made him happiest was writing songs with his buddies and lifting us up and sharing success with us. His mission in life was to make sure songwriters got paid and recognized for their talents. And he always made us all smile. He was the funniest guy I have ever known. He was writing until the very end and was at the top of his game. I know we will be blessed to hear many of his songs in the future. Our loss is heaven’s gain. God bless Tim Johnson and his beautiful family.

Swift Super-Serves Radio and the Fans

This week at MusicRow The Taylor Tribune, we have the understanding that Big Machine Label Group doesn’t do anything halfway. Case in point: no-stone-unturned, full-throttle launch of Taylor Swift’s fourth album Red, which hit stores Oct. 22 and will undoubtedly shift a mind-boggling number of units in the process.

To aid Red’s launch on the radio side, Big Machine hosted a unique remote broadcast event on Friday (10/26) that was designed to super-serve Swift-friendly markets with a whole batch of exclusive content and prize giveaways (guitars, food, etc). Surrounded by a gorgeous panorama of downtown Nashville on the 21st floor of the Pinnacle Building, a total of 72 radio outlets were selected for the broadcast. Many of the usual suspects were present, including Mike Hammond from Knoxville and Captain Jack from Las Vegas, but there were also stations present from such far flung locales as South Africa, India, New Zealand, and Germany.

During the afternoon session (half the stations did their remote broadcasts in the morning), 36 stations operated out of makeshift cubicle studios appointed with red accent lighting. The lounge furniture was also red, as were the floral decorations in the catering area. Brand partner Papa John’s had its wares out on the tables, and company founder John H. Schnatter was milling around. Moving from station to station to give five minute interviews were Swift, Borchetta, Papa, and Swift band member Grant Mickelson.

At every turn there was a video screen or plaque celebrating Taylor’s many successes, and in the corners of the Pinnacle building were some of the elaborate costumes from her stage show. Visiting stations had access to a row of net-ready computers for show prep. Nearby, BMLG staffers were uploading the recordings of every station’s interviews so they could be used immediately. It was a whole turnkey experience for those stations lucky enough to participate.

Whether or not Red will be Swift’s second consecutive first week million-seller will bear out soon enough (all signs point to yes, and then some), but the masterfully executed marketing campaign is worthy of mention. Look at the timing: one week prior to the CMA Awards (where she is nominated for Entertainer of the Year), primed for holiday shopping season, and almost six years to the day since her 5x-Platinum self-titled debut album was released. These things don’t happen by accident.

One interesting facet of this gigantic rollout and promotion is that the first news of Red’s release happened on August 13, followed by single debut of “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” That’s a very short time ago, and yet there was virtually no chatter leading up to the announcement. According to Big Machine CEO Scott Borchetta, Swift had been working on the music for several months and felt it was important she make the announcement herself.

“We try to stay quiet between records as much as we can,” says Borchetta. “With someone who’s so dynamic it’s really hard, but it’s a lot more fun for all of us [having] the moment where she announces when the record is coming. That way she’s talking directly, with all due respect, to who’s most important: the fans.”

On the retail side, Swift and team carefully assembled brand partnerships that fit her personality and image. Cover Girl, Target, Keds, Papa John’s, and an innovative “store within a store” concept for Walgreens are all key components of the campaign, and representative of the Taylor brand. “You won’t see her name and likeness on hundreds of items,” notes Borchetta. “She only puts her mark on things she really believes in and likes.”

Borchetta feels confident that Red’s first week sales will eclipse those of Speak Now, which set the bar with a lofty 1.047 million debut week units in 2010. That didn’t deter the Big Machine team in the slightest, if anything it probably encouraged them, and the release has been delivered with gusto. Swift will also embark on a huge tour to support it, and co-host the Grammy Nominations Concert in Nashville.

“You have to understand what the market is, what it will bear, and where is she right now. Last time around with Speak Now, to some extent, it was like, ‘Oh you guys again,’ and it’s like, ‘Yeah, us again.’ This time it’s like, ‘Let’s get out of the way and let Taylor have her moment.’ The fact that everybody understands the magnitude of her and the brilliant record she’s made to back it up, we almost have an open lane right now.”

WSM Partners With ASCAP For New Show

Beginning Wednesday (10/31), 650 AM WSM/Nashville will premiere The ASCAP Songwriters Show,” an exclusive weekly songwriter show in partnership with ASCAP . The program will air Wednesdays from 2-3 pm and spotlight a different ASCAP songwriter each week. The writers will talk about the stories behind their hit songs, play live in the studio, and feature new songs currently being pitched to some of the biggest artists in music today.

“More than possibly any other radio station in America, 650 AM WSM understands that it all begins with a songwriter,” says WSM General Manager Tom English. “After all, the phrase ‘Music City USA’ was coined on our airwaves, and we are thrilled to partner with ASCAP and Regions Bank to provide this one-of-a-kind showcase of incredible Nashville talent on our one-of-a-kind radio station.”

“Regions Bank is delighted and honored to sponsor The ASCAP Songwriters Show on the legendary 650 AM WSM,” says Regions Senior Vice-President Lisa Harless. “Regions remains committed to the songwriting community and is excited that many of Nashville’s top songwriters will be showcased on WSM.”

ASCAP’s LeAnn Phelan added “ASCAP Nashville is home to some of the greatest songwriters in the world and thanks to this partnership with WSM and Regions Bank, the WSM listeners will get to experience their talents first hand.”

ASCAP Songwriter Ben Hayslip (“Gimmie That Girl,” “Long, Slow Kisses,” “Put A Girl In It,” and “All About Tonight”) will be joined by publisher Rusty Gaston (This Music/Warner Chappell) for the premiere. Additional ASCAP songwriters confirmed for upcoming shows include Dave Turnbull, Odie Blackmon, Jeff Allen, Hannah Dasher, Josh Osborn, Trevor Rosen, James LeBlanc and Lynn Hutton. A calendar of show guests is available at www.wsmonline.com.

Aldean Adds Second Fenway Show; Raises Over $500k For Komen

Jason Aldean has announced a second show at Boston’s Fenway Park, scheduled for Friday July 12, after selling out his first date (7/13) in just seven minutes.

Miranda Lambert, and special guests Jake Owen and Thomas Rhett will perform during both Fenway Shows as part of his 2013 Night Train Tour.

Tickets for the second date go on sale to the general public on Fri., Nov. 2 with pre-sale starting with Aldean’s fan club (Oct. 30), Red Sox season ticket holders (Oct. 31) and through WKLB (Nov. 1).

Over Saturday Oct. 27, Aldean rounded off the final date of his 2012 My Kinda Party Tour in Dallas, TX when he performed his seventh Concert For the Cure to raise money for the Susan G. Komen For the Cure. The event raised $509,125 to help support the fight against breast cancer, with over 20,000 in attendance at the Gexa Energy Pavilion.

For more information, visit www.jasonaldean.com.

Underwood Extends “Blown Away Tour”

Carrie Underwood’s Blown Away Tour has added 40 North American dates beginning Feb. 13 in Colorado Springs, Colo. Following an international run in June, this will bring the tour’s combined total to over 100 shows. Hunter Hayes will continue as special guest.

The donation of $1 from each ticket sold on the North American leg of the outing will support Red Cross disaster relief.

The Blown Away Tour is presented and hydrated by vitaminwater® and promoted by AEG Live. Tickets will be available for the 2013 dates in select markets beginning Friday, Nov. 2. Please go to www.carrieunderwood.fm for details.

Underwood is nominated for Female Vocalist of the Year at the Nov. 1 CMA Awards and will co-host the show with Brad Paisley.

Chesney to Rock Cowboys Stadium For Salvation Army

The Salvation Army and the Dallas Cowboys have announced that Kenny Chesney will rock the Cowboys Stadium on Thanksgiving Day to kick-off The Salvation Army’s 122nd annual Red Kettle Campaign.

Chesney’s performance will be televised live nationally on FOX during halftime of the Dallas Cowboys Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 22) game against the Washington Redskins at 3:15 PM/CT. The concert marks the 16th year of the Thanksgiving Day partnership between the Dallas Cowboys and The Salvation Army, during which time the Red Kettle Campaign has raised more than $1.5 billion.

“There are great traditions in America — especially Thanksgiving, family and football. For 16 years the Dallas Cowboys and The Salvation Army have been an American tradition and I’m happy to be a part of it,” said Chesney. “I’m calling on all of my fans to not only give back this year but also send in their best football highlights videos for a chance to see me live in Dallas on Thanksgiving Day.”

Also, now through Nov. 11, fans of the Cowboys and Chesney can visit www.SalvationArmyUSA.org/BoysofFall for a chance to win a trip for four to Dallas to see the Thanksgiving Day game, including on-field passes for the halftime show performance and a meet-and-greet with Chesney. Complete contest rules and details are available here.

UMG Names New Executive Team

Clockwise from top left: Tom Becci, Brian Wright, Royce Risser, Cindy Mabe

Mike Dungan, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Universal Music Group Nashville, today announced part of his new senior management team for the company, which encompasses Mercury Nashville, Capitol Records Nashville, MCA Records and EMI Records Nashville. These appointments follow the recent close by parent Universal Music Group (UMG) of its acquisition of EMI Recorded Music. Each of these new appointments will report directly to Dungan and will be based in UMG’s downtown Nashville headquarters:

* Former Capitol Records SVP/COO, Tom Becci, will assume the same post at UMG Nashville

* UMG Nashville SVP of A&R, Brian Wright, will continue as SVP/Head of A&R for the UMG Nashville family of labels

* Former Capitol SVP of Marketing, Cindy Mabe, will assume broad based responsibility as SVP of Marketing at UMG Nashville

* UMG Nashville SVP/Head of Promotion, Royce Risser, will oversee all promotion efforts in the new UMG four-imprint structure

“Our new company embodies the very best of both Universal and EMI,” stated Dungan. “The integration of these two great companies presents a rare opportunity to create a Nashville-based music entertainment organization that is well positioned for creative innovation and profitable growth. Tom, Brian, Cindy, and Royce represent the very best in creative leadership and business management. Throughout each of their careers, they have displayed a real track record of success and innovation, and will play a key role in ensuring the smoothest possible transition for everyone involved. I have no doubt that they will help us maintain our position as the world’s leading country music company for years to come.”

Additional management appointments include:

* Capitol SVP of Promotion Steve Hodges will now assume responsibility for the Capitol Label promotion team

* Mercury Records VP of Promotion Damon Moberly and MCA Records VP of Promotion Van Haze, will continue in their respective roles

* Jimmy Rector has been appointed VP of EMI Records Promotion

* UMG Nashville VP Radio Marketing, Katie Dean, will continue in that role for all four labels

* Capitol VP Shane Allen will now become UMG Nashville VP of Promotion for all four labels

* Lori Christian has been appointed UMG Nashville VP of Media Marketing

* Dawn Gates has been appointed UMG Nashville VP of Digital Marketing

Friday MusicRow reported on several staffers who have exited as a result of the acquisition.