2016 MusicRow Awards: Breakthrough Songwriter Of The Year Nominees


The 10 nominees for MusicRow’s Breakthrough Songwriter of the Year each earned their first Top 10 single as a songwriter during the eligibility period (May 1, 2015 to April 30, 2016).

Finalists for the 2016 MusicRow Awards, Nashville’s longest-running music industry trade publication honors, were revealed earlier this week.


Jaron Boyer landed two major hits with Dierks Bentley’s “Somewhere on a Beach” and Dustin Lynch’s “Hell of a Night.” Growing up as a fan of country and hip-hop, musical influences come through in his songwriting.

Corey Crowder made a name for himself in songwriting circles through his back-to-back No. 1 singles for Chris Young: “I’m Comin’ Over” and “Think of You,” the latter featuring special guest Cassadee Pope.


Matt Dragstrem co-wrote Florida Georgia Line’s “Sippin’ on Fire” on the same day he signed his songwriting deal with Big Loud Shirt. His first cut was Kenny Chesney’s “Rock Bottom,” co-written with Craig Wiseman.

Josh Hoge is a co-founder of Whiskey Jam, which has grown into a destination for music discovery in publishing circles. Hoge co-wrote six songs on Chris Young’s latest album, I’m Comin’ Over, including the chart-topping title track.

Josh Kerr quickly found a comfortable co-writing arrangement with Kelsea Ballerini. Their shared writing credits include “Love Me Like You Mean It” and “Dibs,” which were both gold-certified No. 1 country hits.

Maren Morris made the industry take notice with “My Church,” the powerful lead single from her 2016 Columbia Nashville project. She’s also landed cuts with Kelly Clarkson, Tim McGraw and the cast of ABC’s Nashville.

John and TJ Osborne of Brothers Osborne became entrenched in Nashville’s songwriting community long before their No. 1 hit, “Stay a Little Longer.” Letting their blues and country roots shine through, they co-wrote every song on their debut EMI Records Nashville album, Pawn Shop.

Jody Stevens built his career as an artist and producer before racing up the country chart as a songwriter. Top credits include “Let Me See Ya Girl” for Cole Swindell and “Home Alone Tonight” for Luke Bryan and Karen Fairchild.

Cole Taylor moved to Nashville in 2013 and landed a publishing deal that same year. Since then, he’s secured cuts like Luke Bryan and Karen Fairchild’s “Home Alone Tonight” and Florida Georgia Line’s “Sippin’ On Fire.”

Justin Wilson, a Nashville resident since 1995, struggled through label mergers and disappointing publishing deals before finally landing hits with Michael Ray’s “Kiss You in the Morning” and Randy Houser’s “We Went.”

The MusicRow Awards will be presented at a private ceremony at BMI on Wednesday, June 29. Winners are determined solely by MusicRow subscribers. See the final nominees.

Voting closes on Tuesday, May 24 at 5 p.m. If you do not have a subscription, you may subscribe to receive your ballot.



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Craig Shelburne is the General Manager at MusicRow.

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