‘MusicRow’ Exclusive: John Grady to Helm New Nashville Label

John Grady to lead I.R.S. Nashville

John Grady to lead I.R.S. Nashville

John Grady together with Capitol Music Group’s CEO Steve Barnett and Dominic Pandiscia of Caroline, the independent services division of CMG, announced Tuesday (Oct. 22) the formation of a new, independent label I.R.S. Nashville.

Providing A&R and marketing resources, the new record company will release Country genres in addition to other music genres calling Nashville home. Radio promotion and licensing support will be sourced through Caroline.

As President, Grady will initially launch the Nashville-based label with its first artist, music duo Striking Matches. A posthumous project from 2013 CMHoF inductee Cowboy Jack Clement, produced by Dave Ferguson and T Bone Burnett, is also planned. Clement’s material was recorded last year with Vince Gill, John Prine, Emmylou Harris and others.

Originally home to bands like The Police, Black Sabbath, R.E.M., The Go-Go’s and The Fleshtones; International Record Syndication (I.R.S.) released a handful of rock releases in recent years before the 2012 EMI/Universal merger and Nashville relaunch.

“Nashville is home to one of the most vibrant and exciting music communities in the world, and John Grady is the perfect executive to tap into that world and attract the best independent artists to I.R.S. Nashville,” said Pandiscia. “With his diverse background and decades of experience in music – both on the label side and as an artist manager – I.R.S. Nashville could not be in better hands.”

“Nashville is the home to great music, and it’s both vital and overdue for Caroline to have a presence there,” said Capitol Music Group EVP Michelle Jubelirer. “All of us at CMG welcome John and I.R.S. Nashville to the family and pledge our strong support for their success.”

Concurrent with his new role as I.R.S. Nashville president, Grady will continue as a partner at Crush Management, representing Warner Bros. recording artist Ashley Monroe, Sony Recording artist Kristen Kelly and Striking Matches.

Grady is a 38-year veteran based in Nashville for the past 20 years, helping to jump-start the careers of Toby Keith, Shania Twain, Gretchen Wilson, Miranda Lambert, and played a major role in the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack.

MusicRow Exclusive:

MusicRow: How did you end up heading this new Nashville Label?
John Grady: They came to me with this idea to bring I.R.S. back with headquarters in Nashville. I actually competed with I.R.S. in the 80s as a promotion and salesman when they had enormous success in emerging from the alternative world to the pop world.

How have your experiences prepared you to lead I.R.S.
JG: Everything I have done has prepared me for what I will do next. The first 15 years of my career were spent in pop music, the last 21 in Nashville. I’ve always been interested in a lot more than one musical genre. Nashville has now become a melting pot of all those genres, like the Kings of Leon, The Black Keys, The Civil Wars and the whole Christian industry. It’s a lot easier to be in the music business than other cities because all the facilities are in Nashville, I don’t think artists should have to leave to release their music.

What Nashville staffing resources will be required?
JG: The company will grow with it’s releases. I.R.S.’ licensing will be done by Caroline, the rest of the A&R and marketing will probably generate from Nashville. We really aren’t planning on getting off the ground with real estate towards the first of the year. Promotion, publicity is a moving target–you need to hire experts for different genres. We’ll build toward releases. We’ll start with a certain amount of staff—anything involving social media/digital marketing is of the upmost importance and we’ll have a dedicated staff for that.

What new music do you plan to release?
JG: I’ve been developing Striking Matches for three years. It’s finally time to make a record and all of a sudden I have a record company to make it on. Dave Ferguson and the guys making the Cowboy Jack project are friends of mine. To me, Jack is the epitome of the artist I.R.S. would have signed, had they been in Nashville in the ‘70s-80s. He was the original renegade. I would like to honor Jack and people like Dave Ferguson for having the foresight to record these songs last summer when Jack was terminally ill.

How will your Crush duties coincide with this appointment?
Fortunately, everyone has agreed to let both duties coincide. That was a deal breaker for me. I will continue to manage Ashley Monroe, Kristen Kelly and Striking Matches, but not every I.R.S. artist will have to be managed by Crush. One thing I learned is there’s not much difference between management and running a record company. I’ve got 11-years of my life working with Ashley, and three years each for the rest—I’m glad I don’t have to turn that over to anyone else. Except now, I don’t have a record company to blame for anyone’s shortcomings!” he laughs, “I’ll have to blame myself.


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Eric T. Parker oversees operations and contributes editorial for MusicRow's print magazine, MusicRow.com, the RowFax tip sheet and the MusicRow CountryBreakout chart. He also facilitates annual events for the enterprise, including MusicRow Awards, CountryBreakout Awards and the Rising Women on the Row. [email protected] | @EricTParker

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