The Academy of Country Music announced today (Jan. 9) that Pete Fisher has been selected as the Academy’s new Chief Executive Officer. He will take the helm beginning Monday, January 30, 2017 and will relocate with his wife from Nashville, TN to Los Angeles, CA.
Fisher has served as the Vice President and General Manager of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, a post he held for 17 years that will end on January 20. Fisher oversaw the Opry through significant transformation over the years and was instrumental in navigating the Opry through the historic Nashville flood in 2010 with a $20 million renovation of the Opry House.
Ken Tucker, Chairman of the Academy’s Board of Directors, says “Pete is a team builder, a champion of the importance of office culture and a person who believes strongly in discerning and following a strategic path alongside those around him. Through Pete’s successful leadership, the Opry became a place that recognized the importance of exposing legendary, contemporary and emerging artists equally. Tucker adds, “The Board thanks Tiffany Moon for her command through this interim search period as well as the staff for keeping the Academy on a forward trajectory. We feel very lucky to have Pete’s leadership in the next phase of the Academy’s growth and presence on the world’s entertainment stage, heading into 2017.”
“Our mission when we started the selection process was to take our time and do it right,” says Duane Clark, ACM Vice President and co-chairman of the CEO selection committee. “We wanted to have a process that was thorough and one that opened the doors so we had every opportunity to find the right candidate. We were very fortunate to have had such a wide range of great candidates and we were all very excited when Pete voiced his interest in the position.” Clark also shared with MusicRow some of the key criteria in filling the position. These traits included someone with leadership experience, TV and entertainment background, the ability to be an ambassador for the Academy and to represent the face and voice of the Academy moving forward. Other important qualities included strong brand awareness and strong partnership management skills.
Fisher will be only the second Chief Executive Officer in the Academy’s 53-year-history. Bob Romeo stepped down from the post in May of 2016 after 13 years at the organization. Prior to that, the Academy was managed day-to-day by Fran Boyd and Bill Boyd, dating back to the Academy’s inception in 1964.
Fisher spoke to MusicRow to discuss his new leadership position with the ACM:
With such a significant career change after many successful years at the Opry, what are you feeling right now?
I am thrilled. My 17 years at the Opry have been extraordinary and I’m so proud of what the team has accomplished during that time and now it’s time to start a new chapter in my career. Industry service and music industry trade organizations have always been a passion of mine and when this opportunity came up, I didn’t hesitate to throw my name in the hat.
What attracted you to the CEO position with the Academy of Country Music?
First of all, I’ve been a board member and a believer of everything the Academy represents since 2003. A few years later, I became a board member of ACM Lifting Lives as well. Throughout my career, I’ve always made it a priority to serve industry organizations. It has been a passion of mine and very fulfilling. When I look at the Academy of Country Music, it’s a perfect alignment with the things I love to do. As CEO, I think I bring the skill sets that will help this organization grow into the future and enjoy new accomplishments and build upon everything that has been accomplished so far.
What have you learned at the Opry that you will be taking with you in this new leadership role?
The Opry has prepared me so well. I am so grateful to people like Colin Reed, Mark Fioravanti and Steve Buchanan for all they have taught me over the years. The Grand Ole Opry is one of the world’s renowned brands so I have developed a great understanding of branded entertainment and brand development. I have been involved in the production of over 300 television shows, specials, DVDs and audio projects. My time at the Opry has fed me an incredible array of relationships throughout the music industry both in Nashville and Los Angeles. I have developed close and sometimes personal relationships with almost all of the artists in the country music industry. The Opry is a showcase for the entire country music artist community so over the years, I have literally grown up with many of those careers and consider many of those artists my friends. Also, being in a corporate environment that the Opry is part of, I learned some incredible ‘best practices’ for how to run a successful organization. I have learned to appreciate the importance of people first, culture second, and strategy third. If you don’t get people and culture right, the best strategy in the world is not going to be executed with success.
Speaking of strategy, are you looking to expand the brand and reach of the ACM?
My first commitment to the organization is to listen and learn from the staff, the board, and from the music industry at large. I want to understand their perceptions of the academy and hear their ideas for what the academy can become. Then we plan to move into a successful awards show in Vegas. Lastly, we will enter into a collaborative strategic planning process with the board, revisit the mission, and create a roadmap to that vision.
After 32 years in Nashville, relocating to Los Angeles is a big move. How will that affect your relationship with Nashville?
My job will be to be as connected as I’ve ever been to Nashville. I really want to increase the presence of the Academy of Country Music in Nashville and also discover what the Academy might be able to bring from the west coast to country music to help broaden and strengthen its reach.
Colin Reed, Chairman and CEO of Ryman Hospitality Properties, released a statement regarding Fisher and the GM/VP position at the Grand Ole Opry. “We are excited for Pete and believe this position is a tremendous opportunity for him, the ACM and our industry,” said Reed. “I feel certain that the Opry will continue to have a great relationship with him in this new capacity. We have begun our search for someone to fill this key role within our organization and will have more to share once we have identified that individual.”
To send congratulations, you can reach Pete Fisher at [email protected].