Exclusive Interview: John Hamlin Launches Production, Management Venture

John Hamlin

John Hamlin

After eight years of providing country music fans with engaging live music shows such as the genre-bending “CMT Crossroads” and the fan favorite summertime award show “CMT Music Awards” while working as CMT’s Sr. VP of Music Events and Talent, John Hamlin is set to expand his portfolio of quality music programming through the launch of his content production and artist management company, Switched On Entertainment.

Switched On Entertainment has inked a multi-year production deal with CMT.  Under the new arrangement, Hamlin will executive produce live events for CMT including “CMT Crossroads,” “CMT Artists of the Year,” and “CMT Music Awards.” “I’ll be the show runner and executive producer of the shows in a very similar capacity, trying to continue to make these shows with a very distinct CMT personality point of view,” Hamlin says. “The arrangement gives me a chance to focus 100 percent on the creative production of these live shows for CMT. It’s also very gracious of CMT, because it allows me to have my own company where I’m not exclusive in terms of events outside of the country music space.”

Hamlin will continue to be based in Nashville, and will retain an office space at CMT.

Hamlin says he is already in negotiations to work on an upcoming non-country music event show. “I can do a select few [non-country] productions for other networks, but CMT has the ‘first look’ on country music programming from me. If I have a great country idea, I run it by [CMT President] Brian [Philips] and Jayson [Dinsmore] to see if they want it at CMT. If they choose to pass on it, I can take it elsewhere. I do not have an exclusive on anything non-country.”

Jayson Dinsmore

Jayson Dinsmore

As a result of Hamlin’s changing role at the network, Dinsmore and fellow senior CMT executive Leslie Fram will take on new responsibilities. As CMT’s Executive VP of Development, Dinsmore will oversee production on all music series and events. Meanwhile, Sr. VP of Music Strategy Fram will oversee CMT’s music talent department.

“My working relationship with Leslie and Jayson is terrific,” Hamlin comments. “They are both really good at giving me the tools I need to be successful. They are both great collaborators and great problem solvers, and I’m really lucky to have them as co-conspirators on the ‘CMT Music Awards,’ ‘CMT Artists of the Year,’ and everything else in between. Brian Philips has the uncanny ability to get the best out of his executives. Now that I am no longer an in-house staffer for CMT, I am an executive and show runner who Brian, Jayson and Leslie are relying upon to continue to grow the personality and brand of CMT’s live music shows.”

Hamlin’s career encompasses a range of media experience to draw from, including touring stints with Tina Turner and Journey. He spent 20 years as a producer for CBS News’ award-winning show, “60 Minutes,” producing segments on The Rolling Stones, Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, and others. He still occasionally contributes to the program.

Leslie Fram

Leslie Fram

Simultaneously, Hamlin will continue management duties for Nashville pop band Hot Chelle Rae and IRS Nashville/Capitol Records artist Marc Scibilia, bringing them under Switched On Entertainment’s management division.

“All of the people I admire in Nashville who are very successful—Scott Borchetta, Ken Levitan, Clarence Spalding, and Coran Capshaw among them—all of those people have a multitude of businesses under the banner of their core companies,” Hamlin reasons. “Vector represents chefs and restaurants now, and rock artists. In 2015, if you are an entrepreneur in the entertainment space, having a diverse company is just smart business.”

Fortunately, artist management and live music programming production require many of the same skills. “They have in common managing expectations, as well as managing the needs, desires and business goals of music artists. Both of those career paths rely on a similar set of people skills, corralling people together to do what is in the best interests of everybody. Management is not easy, and if I didn’t enjoy managing the artists I manage, I wouldn’t do it. Managing people you like makes a hard job a lot easier.

“This is the best possible scenario for CMT and for me,” Hamlin sums. “We are doing this as partners, collaborators and supporters of one another’s business goals. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship. They are helping me to build my own business, and we continue to build and expand upon the important core brand of CMT, which is live music.”

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About the Author

Jessica Nicholson serves as the Managing Editor for MusicRow magazine. Her previous music journalism experience includes work with Country Weekly magazine and Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) magazine. She holds a BBA degree in Music Business and Marketing from Belmont University. She welcomes your feedback at [email protected]

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