Top Country Tours of 2012

Brothers of the Sun

Brothers of the Sun

Eight country stars ranked on the Top 50 Worldwide Tours list, recently released by Pollstar and based on gross box office receipts for 2012. Leading the country set by a longshot is the Tim McGraw/Kenny Chesney Brothers of the Sun package, which brought in 96.5 million to rank No. 7 on the overall list.

Madonna scored the No. 1 slot with a gross of $296.1 million, followed by Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band at No. 2 ($210.2 million), and Roger Waters at No. 3 ($186.4 million).
Combined gross receipts, ticket sales and ticket prices for the chart were slightly down from 2011, and way off from 2009’s robust touring year. Details here and complete Top 50 chart here.
Top Grossing Country tours
No. 7 Tim McGraw/Kenny Chesney, 96.5 million
No. 24 Jason Aldean, 40 million
No. 28 Brad Paisley, 36.8 million
No. 32 Lady Antebellum, 35.7 million
No. 42 Zac Brown Band, 31.3 million
No. 43 Eric Church, 31.2 million
No. 47 Carrie Underwood, 29.2 million
No. 48 Rascal Flatts, 29.1 million

News Updates (1/7/13)

• Sony Music and BMG could be back in bed. The New York Post reports the companies have re-teamed for an approximately $500 million bid for Universal Music Group’s Parlophone records, home to Kylie Minogue and The Pet Shop Boys. Parlophone is among the assets being divulged to satisfy antitrust regulators as part of Universal’s acquisition of EMI.
Nashville Symphony has announced Monique Lhuillier as the featured designer for the Symphony Spring Fashion Show, taking place April 9, 2013, at Schermerhorn Symphony Center. Television personality Allison DeMarcus will host. Proceeds will assist the Nashville Symphony in reaching more than 250,000 children and adults through free music education programs and community concerts. A performer has not been announced, but past entertainers include Carrie Underwood and Little Big Town.
Infinity Cat Records, the label owned by songwriter Robert Ellis Orrall and sons Jamin and Jake, plans to open a retail storefront this year.
• iHeartRadio’s latest offering allows users to create stations based on moods and activities. The “Perfect For” tool selects music that is “perfect for” cleaning, studying, working out, driving, etc.

Americana's Top Albums of the Year

The Americana Music Association has announced its year-end Top 10 & Top 100 Albums of the Year. The Top 100 albums are based on those records reported to the Americana Airplay Chart during the period of November 15, 2011 through November 17, 2012.

JD McPherson’s album, Signs & Signifiers, ranks No. 1 most played album for 2012 on the Americana Airplay chart.

JD McPherson’s album ranked No. 1 most played album for 2012 on the Americana Airplay chart.

This year’s Top Ten most played albums include:
1) JD McPherson, Signs And Signifiers/Rounder
2) Darrell Scott, Long Ride Home/Full Light
3) Rodney Crowell, KIN: Songs By Mary Karr & Rodney Crowell/Vanguard
4) Justin Townes Earle, Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way… /Bloodshot
5) Little Willies, For The Good Times/Milking Bull/EMI
6) Willie Nelson, Heroes/Legacy
7) Lyle Lovett, Release Me/Lost Highway
8) Ray Wylie Hubbard, The Grifter’s Hymnal/Bordello Records
9) Old Crow Medicine Show, Carry Me Back/ATO
10) Ryan Adams, Ashes & Fire / PAX-AM/Capitol
For the list of Top 100 albums visit and click the link in the right column of the homepage.

Facelift Expected for Bridgestone Arena

200px-Bridgestone_Arena_Logo.svgThe Bridgestone Arena is expected to see $7 million worth of improvements along its south side, on Demonbreun, as part of Mayor Karl Dean’s latest proposal to the capital spending budget.
The city’s investment is expected to take advantage of new foot traffic and parking spaces from the adjacent Music City Center when it opens this May.
Plans from the mayor’s office include updates to the 16-year-old arena exterior, replacing existing concrete structures with glass, and adding retail and restaurants along Demonbreun and Fifth Avenue.
“It’s like any building,” notes Metro Finance Director Rich Riebeling of the arena in a report from The Tennessean. “You have to spend some money on it. You don’t want a building to look old and outdated when you have a billion dollars being spent right across the street and catty-corner to it.”
The news outlet additionally reports the arena’s original architectural firm, Kansas City-based Populous Inc., is in the process of designing the updates.
Plans are not expected to remove arena rehearsal space at Fifth and Demonbreun.
Changes will also come to the arena’s opposite side when the Metro Police Central Precinct vacates for a new building on Korean Veterans’ Boulevard. The opened space will allow for expansion initiatives inside the arena. Officials are reportedly working to establish private investment for the development.
The newly filed spending plan will first be voted on Jan. 15 by the council, after which the Metro Nashville Sports Authority would have to sign off on the arena changes.
This news comes on the heels of a collective bargaining agreement between the NHL and players, which is expected to end the hockey lockout.

Bigger Picture Group Promotes Michael Powers

Michael Powers

Michael Powers

Bigger Picture Group (BPG) Chief Executive Officer David Robkin and Chairman/Chief Creative Officer Keith Stegall announced today (Jan. 7) that Michael Powers has been promoted to President of the entire company.
Powers will oversee all aspects of the operation, including radio promotion, artist management, marketing, and sales. He previously served as President of Bigger Picture Artist Ventures, a division within the Bigger Picture Group.
“Michael has been instrumental in Bigger Picture Artist Ventures, as demonstrated with his success with Zac Brown Band, Chris Cagle, and Craig Campbell,” said Robkin. “He is the perfect choice for this role.”
“I thoroughly enjoy working with David, Keith, and the entire team at BPG and am excited to take on this expanded role,” added Powers. “We are working with some amazing talents and I look forward to helping them reach new heights.”
Additionally, Bigger Picture Group’s management team has bought out original investor Red Stripe Plane Group’s interest in the company.
Though BPG and marketing company Idea Den will no longer be associated through Red Stripe Plane Group, BPG will continue to use Idea Den’s services and platforms on behalf of its artists.
“This new arrangement is solely about narrowing our focus so that we can concentrate completely on our artists and help them build their careers,” said Robkin. “We want to thank Red Stripe Plane Group for helping us successfully launch BPG, and we wish them continued success. We are excited to continue working with Idea Den on ways to enhance our artists’ brands.”
In addition to Robkin, Stegall, and Powers, Bigger Picture Group executives include Bigger Picture Artist Ventures Executive Vice President/General Manager Bob Cahill, Songs of Bigger Picture President Alan Kates, and Chief Financial Officer Glen Thomasson.

Grand Ole Opry To Make Debut At CRS 2013

crsCountry Radio Seminar has announced that a performance of country music’s most famous show, the Grand Ole Opry, will kick-off CRS 2013 on Wednesday, Feb. 27. The event will be held inside the Performance Hall at the Nashville Convention Center.
Artists confirmed to perform are Grand Ole Opry members Brad Paisley, Darius Rucker and Vince Gill along with Dustin Lynch and Scotty McCreery. Additional performers will be released in the coming weeks. The two-hour event will commence at 7 p.m., immediately following the annual CRS Artist/Attendee Welcome Reception. All CRS attendees can attend.
“Every week, the Grand Ole Opry showcases an unforgettable, one-of-a-kind mix of country music’s new stars, superstars, and legends for country music fans from around the world. We’re excited to deliver a special show featuring some of radio’s biggest current hit-makers who are also some of the most popular artists who visit our stage for all our friends in country radio when CRS returns to town next month,” said Opry Vice President and General Manager Pete Fisher.
Bill Mayne, CRS Executive Director, notes “This marks the first time in the history of the seminar, which is over 40 years, that we welcome the Grand Ole Opry to our stage. It has been a long time coming, but will be well worth the wait. My thanks to Pete Fisher and the Opry staff for allowing me to present this show on the opening night of CRS 2013, as both events are such a great fit for each other.”

2012 Music Sales Recap: Country's Cup Runneth Over


Country placed four artists and five albums on the 2012 best seller lists.

Each year—after the holiday cheer—comes the industry accounting. Time to congratulate the hot sellers of 2012, spot the trends, and balance things like “digital vs. physical,” “albums vs. tracks” and “performance by genre.” Thankfully, Nielsen SoundScan together with Billboard create a detailed year-end report that helps makes this pursuit manageable and was a key source for the following analysis.
Some writers will try to put a positive spin on the year by saying that overall music transactions were up 3.1% to 1.661 billion units sold. But that number really doesn’t tell the story. Overall album sales were off -4.4% (physical was off -13.5%) and Overall Album Sales with TEA, a key metric which includes albums (physical and digital) plus digital track sales was also down -1.8% (Track Equivalent Albums; 10 tracks=1 album).
But although overall purchases lagged, country music was up and the best performer of all the genre categories. Read on…
Digital Landscape
Consumers got more into downloading this year, driving total digital sales up 9% over 2011. Digital albums increased 14.1% and tracks were up 5.1% giving digital a majority 55.9% of the total business for 2012. In fact, 37% of all album purchases were in digital format. (In country music the online tide pushed digital albums up 38% and tracks up 12.8%. However, even with the increases, only 25.3% percent of total country album sales were digital, far lower than the 37% all-genre average.)
By Genre
Yes, overall album purchases slid in 2012, but there were still two genre winners— most noticeably Country which was up 4.2%. Rock was also in positive territory, eking out a 2% gain. Big losers included Jazz (-26.2%), Classical (-20.5%) and Latin (-17.6%).
The Country Hit Parade
Artists: Country music was well represented among 2012’s Top Selling Artists. For example, Taylor Swift (No. 2; 4.062 million), Jason Aldean (No. 6; 1.855 million), Carrie Underwood (No. 9; 1.497 million) and Luke Bryan (No. 10; 1.432 million) placed inside the year’s Top Ten Artists by total album sales. Joining them were Adele (No. 1; 5.167 million), One Direction (No. 3; 2.978 million), Mumford & Sons (No. 4; 2.149 million), Justin Bieber (No. 5; 1.897 million), Whitney Houston (No. 7; 1.789 million) and Maroon 5 (No. 8; 1.54 million).
Albums: Country also owned half of the positions on the Top 10 Selling Albums chart. Gracing the list were No. 2-Taylor Swift, Red; No. 7-Carrie Underwood, Blown Away; No. 8-Luke Bryan, Tailgates & Tanlines; No. 9-Lionel Richie, Tuskegee; and No. 10-Jason Aldean, Night Train. Filling in the gaps were No. 1-Adele, 21; No. 3-One Direction, Up All Night; No. 4-Mumford & Sons, Babel; No. 5-One Direction, Take Me Home; and No. 6-Justin Bieber, Believe. 
Holiday Cheer
Nashville’s three high profile seasonal albums failed to keep pace with frontrunners Rod Stewart (No. 1; 858k) and Michael Buble (No. 2; 622k), but followed closely. Lady Antebellum, On This Winter’s Night (No. 3; 439k); Blake Shelton, Cheers It’s Christmas (No. 4;428k); and Scotty McCreery, Christmas With Scotty (No. 5; 348k) all came close to turning gold.
ref=dp_image_z_0-2And what a thrill to see Little Miss Dynamite, the legendary Brenda Lee come storming in with the Top Selling Song in the Holiday Season (11/5/12-12/30/12)—”Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” (No. 1; 1.775 million units). Yes, during the above mentioned period Lee’s track outsold runner ups Bruno Mars “Locked Out Of Heaven” (No. 2; 1.732 million), PSY “Gangnam Style” (No. 3; 1.462 million) and Taylor Swift “I Knew You Were Trouble” (No. 4; 1.383 million). (Note: “Rockin Around…” was written by Johnny Marks and recorded by Brenda Lee in 1958. Marks also wrote “Rudolph, The Red Nosed Reindeer”).
Access—Going With The Flow
Taylor Swift was 2012’s No. 1 Streamed Artist, and the only Nashville alum to make that Top Ten list. (The data for this list is “aggregated from Nielsen BDS streaming data sources including: Akoo, Guvera, Medianet, Rhapsody, Rdio, Slacker, Spotify, Thumbplay, Vevo, Yahoo! and others.” Note that heavyweight Pandoara is absent.)
Cocktail Chatter
• In 2012, 108 songs exceeded the one million sales mark.
Adele’s 21 was the biggest selling album with just over 4.4 million sales, marking the first time an album has been the year’s best seller for two consecutive years. The album has now eclipsed the 10 million unit mark.
• For the second year, Katy Perry was the most played radio artist with over 1.4 million spins.
• For the first time more albums were sold in digital music stores (37%) than in any other strata. Mass merchants like Target and Walmart had been the largest.
• Physical sales and downloads no longer comprise the complete picture with respect to music sales. Revenues from streaming in the form of subscription and digital performance payments are becoming a factor that needs to be addressed. Hopefully Nielsen SoundScan is considering how to add that to its impressive data system.
• SoundScan measures units, not money. Although the unit sales show a relatively stable or slightly contracted landscape, when looking at prices, costs, margins and ultimately profits, the picture is likely to be less rosy. For example, according to SoundScan, album sales in the year 2000 were over 785 million units. This year the number was 316 million, or 450 million if we include TEA. In the year 2000 CDs cost over $16. Today they average about half that price.
Garth Brooks remains the Top Selling SoundScan Era Artist (since 1993) racking up 68.617 million albums. Joining the Okie on that Top Ten list is George Strait (No. 6; 43.932 million), Tim McGraw (No. 8; 40.993 million) and Alan Jackson (No. 9; 39.63 million). The Beatles are No. 2 with 64.158 million units sold.

Upcoming Releases

Lulu RomanLulu Roman, known for her role on Hee Haw, is set to release her first-ever musical standards album, At Last. The 12-song set will release on Jan. 15 (Homesick Entertainment). The project also contains several familiar voices. Dolly Parton joins Roman on “I Will Always Love You,” while T. Graham Brown appears on “You Are So Beautiful” and Georgette Jones can be heard on her mother’s (Tammy Wynette) original hit, “Til I Can Make It On My Own.” Other classic covers include “At Last,” “Get Here” and “Precious Lord, Take My Hand.”

• • •

John CorbettSinger-actor John Corbett (best known for his roles in Sex and the City and My Big Fat Greek Wedding) will release the album Leaving Nothin’ Behind on Feb. 5. Corbett is set to kick off the Leaving Nothin’ Behind Tour on Feb. 24 in support of the release, including stops in New York, N.Y.; Sellersville, Pa.; Folsom, Calif. and Hot Springs, Ark., among other places.

Shelton Gets New ACM Awards Co-Host

3927_blake_sheltonBlake Shelton, who was previously confirmed as a host for the upcoming Academy of Country Music Awards, has a new co-host for this year’s awards show, and the Academy of Country Music has kicked off a “Tweet to Unlock” campaign to reveal Shelton’s mystery awards show partner and the date of the 2013 ACM Awards.
Once the campaign reaches 25,000 tweets, the new co-host and air date will be revealed.
To take part in the campaign, visit
The 48th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards will air on CBS. Last year, Shelton co-hosted with longtime ACM host Reba McEntire, who will not be returning as a co-host for 2013.

Watch Blake Shelton discuss finding a co-host for the upcoming ACM Awards

Applications Due for CRS 2013 Humanitarian Award

CRS 2013Submissions will be accepted through Tuesday (Jan. 8) for the CRS 2013 Radio Humanitarian Awards.
The awards are presented each year during Country Radio Seminar to full-time Country radio stations for their efforts to improve the quality of life for their communities. Awards are given in the Large (markets 1-50), Medium (markets 51-130) and Small (markets 131+) market categories.
A written two-page maximum presentation can be submitted to [email protected], summarizing the station’s community service efforts performed between Nov. 1, 2011 and Dec. 31, 2012. Photos must also be included. Click here for more information.
Registration is currently open for CRS 2013, scheduled in Nashville between Feb. 27 and Mar. 1.