Grand Ole Opry Earns First Grammy Nomination

Opry concert DVD

The Grand Ole Opry has earned a Grammy nomination for Best Music Film for its first concert film, American Saturday Night: Live From the Grand Ole Opry.

The nod marks the first Grammy nomination for the Grand Ole Opry in the institution’s 91-year history.

American Saturday Night: Live From The Grand Ole Opry is directed by George J. Flanigen IV. Executive Producers are Steve Buchanan, Robert Deaton, Pete Fisher, and Flanigen. Producers are John Burke and Lindsey Clark.

American Saturday Night: Live From the Grand Ole Opry debuted in 2015 in 200-plus cinemas across the U.S. The feature film offers audiences a virtual front row seat and VIP all-access pass to the Opry, including live performances and backstage conversations with members Brad Paisley, Blake Shelton, and Darius Rucker as well as The Band Perry and Brett Eldredge.


CMA Foundation Donates $1 Million To Music Education, Names New Board

NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 06: Singer-songwriter Kelsea Ballerini speaks to the Oliver Middle School wind Ensemble during the CMA Foundation's Announcement of a $1 million donation to the Metro Nashville public schools 'Music makes us' progam at Oliver Middle School on December 6, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Terry Wyatt/Getty Images)

Kelsea Ballerini visited the Oliver Middle School wind ensemble Tuesday during the CMA Foundation’s announcement of a $1 million donation to the Metro Nashville Public Schools’ Music Makes Us program. Photo: Terry Wyatt/Getty Images.

Kelsea Ballerini and the CMA Foundation celebrated a long-standing commitment to Metro Nashville Public Schools Tuesday (Dec. 6), awarding a $1 million grant aimed at strengthening music education programs. This donation brings CMA’s support of music teachers and education in Nashville to $11 million since 2006; one of the largest local, private investments in the district’s public school system.

Funds for the 2017 grant were raised through CMA Music Festival. In 2017, the CMA Foundation has earmarked a record $3.1 million to 44 music education programs across the country, bringing the Foundation’s total contributions to date to $17.5 million.

Additionally, the Country Music Association has announced the new Board of Directors for the CMA Foundation. The appointments are effective on Jan. 1, 2017.

Joe Galante, Chairman of Galante Entertainment Organization, will serve as Chairman, and Lon Helton, CEO of Country Aircheck, will serve as Vice Chairman.

Other members of the 2017 CMA Foundation Board include:
Kix Brooks
Frank Bumstead, Flood, Bumstead, McCready & McCarthy, Inc.
Karen Fairchild, Little Big Town
Blair Garner, Cumulus Media
Ed Hardy, Hardy Media and Entertainment Group
John Huie, Creative Artists Agency
Ron Samuels, Pinnacle Financial Partners
Victoria Shaw, AvaRu Productions
Jennie Smythe, Girlilla Marketing
Sally Williams, Ryman Auditorium
Kitty Moon Emery, Foundation Emeritus
CMA Foundation

Kobalt Music Publishing, Songs For FCM Publishing Sign Riley Friesen

Pictured (L-R): Seth Mosley, Riley Friesen, Stacey Wilbur. Photo: Celi Mosley

Pictured (L-R): Seth Mosley, Riley Friesen, Stacey Wilbur. Photo: Celi Mosley

Songs for FCM Publishing, along with Kobalt Music Publishing Global, have signed writer Riley Friesen to a publishing deal. Friesen’s credits include songs for Family Force 5, Michael W Smith, Jordan Feliz, Audio Adrenaline and Group 1 Crew.

Full Circle Music is led by Seth Mosley, who earned a Grammy nomination earlier today (Dec. 6) for “Priceless” (for KING & COUNTRY) in the Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance category. Mosley earned his first Grammy honor in 2014, for producing for KING & COUNTRY’s album Run Wild. Live Free. Love Strong.

“I love getting to work with people that I am already a fan of, and Riley Friesen is one of those people. I became a mega fan of his production chops and songwriting sensibilities on his work on the previous Family Force 5 record. I was producing other tracks on the record and just hearing his songs, made me want to step my game up because iron sharpens iron,” shares Mosley. “I am so excited about the future of Riley Friesen and getting to be a part of the journey with him.”

Artist Updates: Bobby Bones, Granger Smith, Shane Owens

Bobby Bones Adds To Stand Up Comedy Tour

Bobby Bones 570x570

Tickets for shows on Bobby Bones’ recently-announced Funny And Alone Stand Up Comedy Tour sold out quickly on Friday (Dec. 2), prompting Bones to add more dates to the nationwide tour. Bones has announced more shows in Bakersfield, California (March 31); Grand Forks, North Dakota (March 25); and Wichita, Kansas (May 20). For more information and tour dates visit


Granger Smith Recovering After Sustaining Injury During Concert

Granger Smith

Granger Smith

Following a serious fall that resulted in two broken ribs and a punctured and partially collapsed lung this past Friday evening during a show at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, New Jersey, Granger Smith is back in Texas, resting and recovering with his family.

The remainder of shows for 2016 have been canceled. “I’ve had so many emails and tweets. It’s pretty amazing that so many people have reached out from across the country,” said Smith. “I feel so blessed to have more than just support for my music from fans and radio. It’s deeply humbling to have fans that personally care so much.”


Shane Owens’ Where I’m Coming From Releases Dec. 9

shane-owensTraditional-leaning country artist Shane Owens is set to release his debut album, Where I’m Comin’ From, on Friday, Dec. 9. The Amerimonte Records artist counts James Stroud as producer on his album.


Eventbrite And Bandsintown Partner For Marketing And One-Stop Shopping

eventbrightbandsintownEventbrite, the ticketing and event technology platform, and Bandsintown, the concert discovery app, have announced a partnership allowing Eventbrite organizers access to Bandsintown’s ad platform (Bandsintown Promoter). This lets music venues, promoters, and festival organizers access to specific fans of artists performing at their shows (and “affinity artists,” or artists that are similar) via Bandsintown concert email alerts.

The second phase of the partnership launches early 2017, allowing music fans to complete their entire Eventbrite concert ticket purchase without ever leaving Bandsintown’s website or app. This will be the first time the show ticket will appear within the Bandsintown app as a barcode for simple scan entry.

“Concerts and live music experiences have always been an incredibly important part of Eventbrite, and this new partnership with Bandsintown provides our organizers with a super-targeted, direct connection to the most passionate of music fans,” said Julia Hartz, CEO and Co-Founder, Eventbrite. “We’re proud to continue innovating with a best-in-class music partner to create exciting new products that ultimately get more concert-goers to the shows they love.”

“Over 50 percent of our concert-goers frequently go to see artists they had never heard of before they discovered them on Bandsintown,” said Fabrice Sergent, Managing Partner, Bandsintown. “This makes Bandsintown a fertile discovery ground for Eventbrite’s event creators.”

The partnership is an extension of Eventbrite’s distributed commerce strategy, which launched earlier this year with the ability to buy tickets to events on Facebook. The strategy opens up the Eventbrite marketplace to third party audiences.

Touring News: Luke Bryan, Vince Gill, Lyle Lovett, Jambo Country

Luke Bryan’s Crash My Playa Adds To Lineup


Luke Bryan and CID Presents are adding more artists to the lineup for Bryan’s Crash My Playa all-inclusive concert vacation, set for Jan. 19-22, 2017 in Riviera Maya, Mexico. Old Dominion, Kelleigh Bannen, Brooke Eden, Adam Craig and Lucie Silvas, along with DJ Rock, will join the list of special guests in addition to headliners Bryan, Blake Shelton and Little Big Town and previously announced artists Randy Houser, Dustin Lynch and Brothers Osborne.

Little Big Town will headline the Thursday (Jan. 19) show, followed by Luke Bryan (Jan. 20 and 22 shows) and Blake Shelton (Jan. 21).

View the full performance lineup at


Vince Gill, Lyle Lovett Reunite For Tour Dates In 2017

Vince Gill, Lyle Lovett

Vince Gill, Lyle Lovett

Vince Gill and Lyle Lovett will reunite for a nine-city tour beginning in March 2017. The duo previously teamed for a series of shows in 2015 and 2016. Each show will include solo performances and collaborations, and the artists will serve as their own accompanists.

“For a night like this, there is no plan,” Gill said. “I know Lyle won’t have a plan, and I won’t either. What he plays will inspire me, and probably vice-versa. It’ll be like playing ping-pong. Whatever song he chooses to sing will inspire the next song that comes out of me.”

“I enjoy shows that are not planned out,” Lovett observes. “This will be two songwriters in the round. It’s informal, so there will be lots of ad-libbing. It will be like little snapshots of our experiences.”

“Just two guys sitting on stools, telling stories and singing songs,” Gill says. “No big bands.  I saw James Taylor once with just him and his guitar, and after that show I felt like I knew him a whole lot better than I ever did before. That’s what’ll happen between Lyle and me, too, and I’m looking forward to it.”

Tour Dates:
March 22: Thousand Oaks, Calif.; Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza
March 23: Mesa, Ariz.; Mesa Arts Center – Ikeda Theatre
March 24: Las Vegas; The Smith Center for the Performing Arts – Reynolds Hall
March 25: Reno, Nev. Reno Ballroom
March 26: San Francisco; Nourse Theatre
March 27: San Rafael, Calif.; Marin Center
March 28: San Jose, Calif.. City National Civic
March 29: Visalia, Calif.; Visalia Fox Theatre
March 30: Santa Ynez, Calif.; Chumash Casino


Jamboree In The Hills Rebrands As Jambo Country

jambologoBack to celebrate its 41st year with an all-new name and logo, 2017’s Jambo Country music festival will take place over three days from July 13 – 15, once again drawing more than 100,000 fans to Belmont County, Ohio. Formerly known as Jamboree in the Hills, the fans that have attended this landmark festival for decades have always called it “Jambo.”

2017’s headliners will include Thomas Rhett, Jason Aldean, and Lady Antebellum.

Eugenia Hall Rehearsal and Performance Center Opens in Nashville

(L-R: Michael Ford Jr., Mike Ford, and Ben Ford)

(L-R): Owners Michael Ford Jr., Mike Ford, and Ben Ford

Eugenia Hall, a professionally-designed rehearsal and performance center, has opened in Nashville’s Berry Hill area.

Eugenia Hall is owned and operated by the Ford Family; father, Mike Ford and brothers, Ben and Michael Jr., who have been players on the Nashville music scene since 2005. As principal members of folk-rock band The Apache Relay and now, Airpark, the brothers have performed around the globe and had their music placed in a variety of films and media programs.

The studio was designed by Steve Durr and constructed by Chris McCollum. The 35’ x 40’ space has a 19’ vaulted ceiling which provides musicians and crew a unique, private environment. It is equipped with state-of-the-art creative tools and amenities including a Midas PRO2C house console, Clair monitors and PA System, and a 6’1 Yamaha C3 grand piano. The facility also houses a production room, a covered load-in area, and lounge. The layout allows clients to use the space for multiple artistic purposes such as photography, filming and special events.

For more information call (615) 730-0022 or visit


‘MusicRow’ Inaugural Touring Issue Features ASCAP Songwriter Kelsea Ballerini


ASCAP songwriter and Black River Entertainment recording artist Kelsea Ballerini is featured as the cover artist for MusicRow Magazine’s inaugural 2017 Touring Issue.

Ballerini has made a name for herself, becoming the only female artist in country music history to chart three consecutive No. 1 singles from her debut album, The First Time. She is currently on her first solo headlining tour, by the same title as her album. The headlining tour follows opening slots for Rascal Flatts and Lady Antebellum. Earlier today (Dec. 6), Ballerini earned a Grammy nomination in the Best New Artist category.

Earlier this year, Ballerini was named Female Artist of the Year and Breakout Artist of the Year at MusicRow‘s CountryBreakout Awards. She was also named as one of CMT’s Next Women of Country, and co-hosted ABC’s summer series Greatest Hits.

Also inside MusicRow’s Touring Issue print magazine, exclusive editorial examines numerous aspects of road life, including Lou Taylor‘s business management role for concert budgeting and Scott Scovill‘s success as one of Nashville’s concert creation and production leaders. An agent roundtable brings together Darin Murphy (CAA), Jay Williams (WME), Nick Meinema (UTA) and Steve Lassiter (APA).

The January issue will also delve into event security, examined with insurance companies Anderson Benson and Frost Specialty. VIP experiences are discussed with CID Presents, while merchandising is highlighted with Richards & Southern, and Chris Lisle gives insights from his concert lighting business.

Single copies of MusicRow‘s Touring Issue are available for purchase at for $30, and are included with yearly subscriptions at no additional cost.

Music At Sea: Sixthman’s Rising Tide

Anthony Diaz, CEO of Sixthman

Anthony Diaz, CEO of Sixthman

“Every night I read the guests’ comment cards, because retaining guests is our only way to success. Ideally, we want you to come back and to bring friends because you are so excited about it,” says Anthony Diaz, CEO of Sixthman, which for the past 15 years has worked to bring together fans and bands for unique, intimate music experiences via themed music cruises.

Sixthman’s emphasis on listening to customers’ wants, as well as facilitating a more intimate fan-artist relationship, has been a core value for Sixthman founder and now Chairman Andy Levine since he launched the venture.

Diaz and Levine’s working relationship began when they were college students in the early ‘90s. As bandmates in a group popular at the University of Florida, they had dreams of music stardom. “We recorded a CD in Nashville, did showcases, and thought we were going to be rock stars, but never got that record deal,” Diaz recalls. The band broke up and some members joined with an acoustic duo, Ken and Drew. The new group would rebrand as Sister Hazel.

Levine booked shows for the band and later managed Sister Hazel for several years. They would sign with Universal and score the 1997 hit “All For You.”

Nikki Lane goes bowling with fans during the 2016 Outlaw Country Cruise. Photo: Will Byington

Nikki Lane goes bowling with fans during the 2016 Outlaw Country Cruise. Photo: Will Byington

“They always made the pledge that they would put the fans first,” Diaz recalls. To that end, Levine sought ways to have the band spend time hanging with members of its avid street team. A change meeting with a travel agent during a flight convinced Levine to take a chance on a cruise with the band and team.

In 2001, Sister Hazel, Levine, and 400 of the band’s biggest supporters set sail from Tampa to Key West and Mexico, marking the launch of Sixthman’s flagship festival. The next year, they invited music friends including Edwin McCain and Cowboy Mouth, bringing in a total of nearly 2,000 guests for Sixthman’s first fully chartered ship, The Rock Boat. The initial outing wasn’t without a few learning curves (for instance, The Rock Boat ran out of beer and had to borrow from another Carnival ship). Still, the initial outing was a success and Sixthman was born.

A fully chartered outing became the genesis of a model Sixthman still uses. “We program stages, branding, activities, drink specials and shore excursions. That way it can be a fully immersive experience,” says Diaz.

For years, Diaz watched from afar as Levine’s company grew, adding concerts from Lynyrd Skynyrd and John Mayer. To date, Sixthman has chartered 94 full ships, and hosted more than 835,000 festival vacation days at sea for 207,000 fans, with artists including KISS, Kid Rock, Zac Brown Band, Train, Pitbull, Florida Georgia Line, Paramore, Chris Stapleton and more. The company’s 45 full-time employees work from Sixthman’s headquarters in Atlanta.

Kid Rock performs on his cruise during 2016. Photo: Will Byington

Kid Rock performs on his cruise during 2016. Photo: Will Byington

Diaz joined Sixthman five years ago as Chief Marketing Officer. Since then, he’s been on 45 cruises, and been promoted to Chief Operating Officer, and as of May, to the role of CEO. Prior to joining Sixthman, Diaz spent 13 years with media company Gannett, rising to VP, Sales Strategy and Development, where he was responsible for media sales efforts for 23 television stations and a 250-person sales force.

Diaz says cruises offer a unique concert environment by offering fans more up-close, personal interactions with their favorite artists. “There are only 2,600 people on the ship. You are legitimately on vacation with the band. When Kid Rock is sitting on the pool deck early in the morning with a coffee and just talking to fans, it just blows everyone’s minds. There are no sharpies and selfies.”

A smaller audience and the unique venue has allowed for magical, spontaneous moments over the years. One year, Sister Hazel performed until 6 a.m. when the ship pulled back into port. Another year, the alternative rock band Wideawake performed for two hours during a storm, while fans lined seven stories of the ship’s railing to watch the performance. During one of Kid Rock’s annual cruises, he took over the ship’s PA system at 1:30 a.m., inviting everyone to the pool deck, where he DJ’d for three hours.

For artists, cruises offer the time and space to collaborate with fellow artists. “In the regular festival model, bus number one pulls in, an artist plays a set, goes back to the bus and goes to the next festival. The next artist does the same. Maybe there is some backstage intermingling. With us, they are out there for five days, they are hanging out and they start to collaborate. All of a sudden you have Andy Grammer with Train all singing one of their songs.”

Chris Stapleton and Morgane Stapleton perform during a Sixthman cruise outing. Photo: Will Byington

Chris Stapleton and Morgane Stapleton perform during a Sixthman cruise outing. Photo: Will Byington

While the ships primarily sail November through April, the company’s operations team spends its off season from May through October arranging every nuance of the experience and planning for every contingency: which ports artists should fly into, emergency plans if bad weather hit, what cranes are needed to get artists’ production gear on and off the ship, and even bar setups and napkin branding.

“Every time, I’m amazed at the marvel of logistics that has to happen to put these events on. You are dealing with the elements at sea, and the fact that you sail with what you’ve got. You’re not running down to Home Depot to get more. It forces you to be very disciplined with advanced planning.”

Clustering cruises back-to-back is one efficient use of time and space. “We get on Feb. 3 and do seven cruises in a row,” says Diaz, who notes the cost of chartering a ship alone can enter seven figures. Guests typically exit a ship at 8 a.m., and guests begin boarding for the next cruise at 11:30 a.m. “Our team will fly people in and out to keep fresh troops. You put the full deck stage up once for multiple music festivals, instead of having to put it up and take it down over and over again.”

In the midst of the plethora of planning, Diaz keeps his focus sharp.

“I have three things I have to do: Make the team and guests the star, grow the festivals and take care of our artist partners. The joy I see on guests’ faces when we are pulling away from port and there is sunshine and their favorite band starts a chord on the pool deck, that’s why we do it.”

Upcoming Sixthman cruises for 2017 include the 2nd Annual Walker Stalker Cruise (Feb. 3-6), The Rock Boat XVII (Feb. 10-15), 2nd Annual Outlaw Country Cruise (Feb. 26-March 2), and Kid Rock’s 8th Chillin’ The Most Cruise (April 4-9).

Zac Brown Band performs during a Sixthman sailing. Photo: Will Byington

Zac Brown Band performs during a Sixthman sailing. Photo: Will Byington

Kid Rock performs during one of his Chillin' The Most cruises. Photo: Will Byington

Kid Rock performs during one of his Chillin’ The Most cruises. Photo: Will Byington

Industry Ink: Pam Browne, Liz Rose, Emily Shackelton, Drew Baldridge, APA

Pam Browne, Mike Panaggia Launch DME Entertainment

Former head of Belmont University’s Mike Curb Music Business Program, Pam Browne, has partnered with DME Delivers/DME Sports President, Mike Panaggio, to launch marketing/management company, DME Entertainment Group. Based in Daytona Beach, Florida, the client roster includes Curb Records’ Larry Gordon and indie pop artist, Aprilann.

Browne also serves as Executive Director of the Curb Institute at Bethune-Cookman University. Her career includes time as an entertainment attorney, NFL agent and manager of the multi-platinum group Tag Team (“Whoomp There It Is”).

Panaggio founded DME Delivers, a full-service, direct marketing agency, over 20 years ago. As President of the DME umbrella, he developed DME Sports, a major player in sports marketing and sports training.

Pam Browne

Pam Browne



Liz Rose, Emily Shackelton Pen Song For Girl Scouts

Warner/Chappell and Girl Scouts of the USA have teamed to release the organization’s first original song, written by WCM/Liz Rose Music songwriters Liz Rose and Emily Shackelton. The song, “Watch Me Shine,” will be spotlighted in Girl Scouts’ new PSA and features Girl Scouts singing backup vocals.



Drew Baldridge Donates To T.J. Martell Foundation

Cold River Records’ Drew Baldridge recently presented a check for $4,000 to the T.J. Martell Foundation to support medical research focused on finding cures for leukemia, cancer and AIDS. The monies raised were from the country newcomer’s “Rebound from Cancer” campaign in which he teamed up with Premiere Networks and Super 8 for a month-long fundraiser selling limited edition T-shirts at his shows.

Pictured from L-R: Rick Murray, VP Integrated Marketing/Promotions at Premiere Networks, Cold River’s Drew Baldridge, and Tinti Moffat, Executive Director for The T.J. Martell Foundation; Southern Region.

Pictured (L-R): Rick Murray, VP Integrated Marketing/Promotions at Premiere Networks, Cold River’s Drew Baldridge, and Tinti Moffat, Executive Director for The T.J. Martell Foundation; Southern Region.




APA Happy Hour

APA Nashville hosted the Nashville office of the fastest growing music rights management company, ole, for APA Happy Hour recently. Steve Lassiter, SVP/Head of Concerts and team held the gathering in their penthouse suite of One Nashville Place overlooking Music City.