Inside ‘MusicRow’s’ Touring Issue: Agents Talk Acting

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MusicRow recently welcomed a select group of Nashville’s top talent agents to our offices for a roundtable discussion. Here’s what Steve Lassiter (APA Sr. VP/partner), Nick Meinema (UTA Sr. VP), Darin Murphy (CAA Nashville co-head), and Jay Williams (WME partner) had to say about artists who want to venture into the world of film and TV.

Pick up a copy of MusicRow’s new Touring Issue for their in-depth discussion with the agents about the country music touring landscape.

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MusicRow: What advice do you give artists who want to expand their careers into acting?

Darin Murphy: Acting is definitely an option if you have a client who is great in front of the camera. We’ve all seen the success of Blake Shelton on The Voice, and it was great for Keith Urban on American Idol. Kellie Pickler on CMT is a hit. Trace Adkins just finished filming his twelfth movie. But you have to dedicate time to it.

Jay Williams: Artists should make the decision early in their careers, so we can plug them in with [WME’s] L.A. office for film or TV. They will have to take a lot of acting classes. I think they should be open to it, because there are so many more outlets like Netflix, Hulu, and other platforms. A lot of the artists I work with get requests all the time, but they are too busy to stop their main focus of music. That said, it might come later down the road for Dierks or somebody.

Nick Meinema: On the other hand, the number of outlets now dilutes the number of eyeballs. The reality is that building up that side of a career is a process. It’s not an Ed Sullivan situation where you go on TV and all of a sudden your business is flipped. Dwight Yoakam is in Goliath with Billy Bob Thornton, and that will build an audience. Tim McGraw has done it really well; he’s committed to it. An artist has to be committed to it.

Steve Lassiter: Television is an exposure vehicle for the artist. It’s equal to a couple of No. 1 records. But the acting talent has to be there. Travis Tritt is probably not going to get on major country radio anymore, but he is a good actor and he had three or four bit parts this year. What makes it tough is that he is playing 130 shows a year, so we have to pass on a lot of acting opportunities because he’s not available. He lives in Atlanta, which has a major television and film industry, so if he has two days at home, he can go do that. Billy Ray Cyrus has a new show on CMT and it’s doing great. They ordered a second season before the first was over.

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Pictured at the offices of MusicRow magazine. (L-R): Darin Murphy, Jay Williams, Nick Meinema, and Steve Lassiter.

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Sarah Skates has worked in the music business for more than a decade and is a longtime contributor to MusicRow.

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