UMPG Signs Songwriter Derrick Southerland

Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG) has signed an exclusive global publishing deal with country music songwriter Derrick Southerland.

“Universal has such an incredible team and I feel lucky to be a part of it. The artists and writers at UMPG are inspiring and humbling to be around, and the pluggers are the kind of champions every writer is searching for on Music Row,” said Southerland. “I’m so thankful that Kent and Missy made me a part of such a talented roster, and I’m looking forward to sharing success together!”

Kent Earls, UMPG Nashville Executive Vice President and General Manager, said, “An exciting addition to our UMPG Nashville roster, Derrick is a wonderfully gifted songwriter with a talent for collaborating with writers across genres to create hits. Between his work ethic and lyrical sensibilities, we are honored that he has joined us and look forward to his future success.”

Within six months of his first publishing deal, Southerland had a major label cut for “Breaking” (The Swon Brothers) and his song “Be My Girl” was featured on ABC’s Nashville. Southerland also wrote “Mexico,” which was recorded by Carrie Underwood. He also had single success in Canada, Australia and the U.K. with “Young, Alive and in Love” (Tim Hicks) and “Be My Girl” (John & Jacob).

The deal was led by UMPG Nashville’s Missy Roberts.

Stephanie Ruyle Named Exec. VP/Head Of Licensing For ASCAP

Stephanie Ruyle

ASCAP has appointed media executive Stephanie Ruyle as Executive Vice President and Head of Licensing, reporting directly to ASCAP CEO Elizabeth Matthews.

Ruyle succeeds Vincent Candilora, who led ASCAP’s licensing since 1995, and who in 2016 announced he would be retiring at the end of 2017. As a key member of ASCAP’s leadership team, Ruyle will be responsible for ASCAP’s licensing revenues and operations across all platforms including broadcast and cable television, terrestrial and satellite radio, digital, live concerts, venues, retail, restaurants, bars, background music, etc.

Prior to joining ASCAP, Ruyle was Executive Vice President, Distribution and Affiliate Relations, for Participant Media’s television venture Pivot, a millennial targeted television network focused on socially relevant content.

Ruyle began her career in entertainment and media with Viacom in their distribution group. She served in a series of ascending positions within Viacom over a career that spanned 17 years with leadership positions in national accounts, field sales, affiliate marketing, and affiliate ad sales. In addition, Ruyle led the distribution efforts for Viacom’s international content in the U.S., the initial launch of EPIX as well as leading the strategy and negotiations for a number of major MVPDs.

Ruyle obtained her MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, and earned her B.A. from the University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business. Ruyle also served on Kellogg’s Alumni Board of Directors, is a Betsy Magness Leadership Institute Fellow, and attended ongoing leadership development programs at both Harvard and Stanford Universities.

ASCAP CEO Matthews says, “Stephanie brings a wealth of experience driving revenue growth and negotiating multifaceted licensing agreements, which is vitally important to the execution of our strategic plan of transformation and modernization in an increasingly complex and evolving media environment. Her deep understanding of content strategy, distribution, sales and affiliate marketing across media platforms will prove incredibly valuable to ASCAP as we innovate to provide our members and our licensing partners with new opportunities for success through music.”

Ruyle says: “I have seen firsthand how important music is to the success of any media venture. ASCAP has the strongest repertory of music in the world and that is why I am so excited to be part of ASCAP’s mission to ensure that the music of its members is recognized in the marketplace for the enormous value it brings to our licensing partners.”

Interscope Records Makes First Direct Country Signing With Dylan Schneider

Dylan Schneider

Interscope Records’ Nashville office has made its first direct country signing as rising artist Dylan Schneider has joined the label’s roster. The label released Schneider’s new single “No Problem” on Nov. 24. Schneider has 640K monthly listeners on Spotify, and more than 700K Facebook likes.

“Signing with a label the caliber of Interscope is incredible… Being their first direct country signing? What an honor,” said Schneider. “I’m looking forward to seeing what mountains we can move in the country genre together.”

Since opening in 2016, Interscope’s Nashville office (led by Kevin Williamson) has primarily signed rock/pop artists including Goodbye June, Billy Raffoul, and Elizabeth Huett. Interscope Records is known for its superstar signings including Madonna, Sting, U2, and more.

“While we’re not certain what our entrance into this market is going to look like months or years down the road, it’s an exciting time and we’re looking forward to what’s to come,” Williamson tells MusicRow. “The artists we sign will determine the growth and direction our Nashville office heads in.”

“We’re interested in artists that are progressive—on the cusp of whatever genre they’re in,” he adds. “We’re looking for outside the box, for whatever hasn’t been done. Dylan’s exactly that. As a label, we’re excited to come alongside Dylan and the team that’s in place, helping his already rapidly growing career.”

Interscope’s Nashville office is located at 401 Commerce Street, in the same building as UMG Nashville’s office. Interscope has previously signed several country artists to joint ventures, all with UMG Nashville and/or its Mercury Nashville imprint. Those joint ventures include The Band Perry (Interscope/UMG Nashville), and newcomer Kassi Ashton (Interscope/UMG Nashville). American Idol alum Lauren Alaina is also signed to 19/Interscope/Mercury.

Schneider is currently on the road as an opener on Chris Lane’s Take Back Home Tour and Granger Smith’s Don’t Tread On Me Tour.

Cracker Barrel Serves Up Country Gold On New Vinyl Compilations

UMe/UMG Nashville’s pair of country compilations on vinyl, I Love 80’s Country and I Love 90’s Country have been released and are available at Cracker Barrel Country Store locations nationwide and online at

I Love 80’s Country highlights the music of 12 superstars who have collectively sold a staggering 200 million albums. Included in the chart-toppers on this collection are Reba McEntire on “Whoever’s In New England,” The Oak Ridge Boys’ signature song “Elvira,” Lee Greenwood’s patriotic anthem “God Bless The U.S.A.,” Kathy Mattea’s truck driver’s retirement tale, “Eighteen Wheels And A Dozen Roses,” and Barbara Mandrell‘s “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool,” that features George Jones and was recorded in Nashville in 1981.

I Love 90’s Country features the hits of a dozen country superstars including another performance by Reba McEntire on her cover of Bobbie Gentry’s anthem “Fancy,” Billy Ray Cyrus’ chart-topping debut “Achy Breaky Heart,” Trisha Yearwood’s “She’s In Love With The Boy,” Shania Twain’s “The Woman In Me (Needs The Man In You),” and Vince Gill’s “I Still Believe In You.”

Love 80’s Country
Side A
1.  The Oak Ridge Boys: “Elvira”
2.  Kathy Mattea: “Eighteen Wheels and A Dozen Roses”
3.  Lee Greenwood: “God Bless The U.S.A.”
4.  Don Williams: “Lord, I Hope This Day Is Good”
5.  Eddie Rabbit Featuring Crystal Gayle: “You And I”
6.  Conway Twitty: “That’s My Job”

Side B
1.  Patty Loveless: “Timber I’m Falling in Love”
2.  Reba McEntire: “Whoever’s In New England”
3.  Dan Seals: “Bop”
4.  The Oak Ridge Boys: “(I’m Settin’) Fancy Free”
5.  T. Graham Brown: “Hell and High Water”
6.  Barbara Mandrell Featuring George Jones: “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool”

I Love 90’s Country
Side A
1.  Billy Ray Cyrus: “Achy Breaky Heart”
2.  Deana Carter: “Strawberry Wine”
3.  Trisha Yearwood: “She’s in Love with The Boy”
4.  David Lee Murphy: “Dust on The Bottle”
5.  Shania Twain: “The Woman in Me (Needs the Man in You)”
6.  Reba McEntire: “Fancy”

Side B
1.  Tanya Tucker: “Two Sparrows in A Hurricane”
2.  Vince Gill: “I Still Believe In You”
3.  Tracy Byrd: “The Keeper of The Stars”
4.  Mark Chesnutt: “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing”
5.  Mark Collie: “Even the Man in The Moon Is Crying”
6.  Lee Ann Womack Featuring Jason Sellers: “A Little Past Little Rock”


Opry Entertainment Debuts Two New Winter Digital Series

Opry Entertainment is rolling out its winter slate of digital series this week with the release of Fandom: Fully Committed and Opry Milestones. The new series are being released following the successful fall release of eight new series, which amassed over four million views and can be found on the Opry YouTube Channel.

Fandom: Fully Committed
takes a look inside country’s biggest fan bases and the devoted leaders who run them.
The first episode follows two of BG Nation’s most fanatical members, Marc and Tina, whose lives revolve around their admiration for Brantley Gilbert. From their home décor to their Wi-Fi password, this couple showcases the extreme lengths they go to for their favorite celebrity.

“When the Opry people came to us about kicking off their series Fandom: Fully Committed, I was all about it. We didn’t quite know how it was going to work, but I knew wherever they went, they were going to find the best people in the world,” says Brantley. “When we got into taping, it was so much about Marc and Tina (Schardan) — I loved that! Loved the idea that viewers would get a sense of how blessed I am, because they were going to get to see what I see, the kind of soul I see every night when I go out and meet the people who love this music.”

Upcoming Fandom: Fully Committed series installments feature Zac Brown Band’s “Zamily” and more.

Opry Milestones celebrates the biggest moments for some of the Opry’s biggest stars. The premiere episode debuts November 30, and celebrates Reba McEntire’s 40thanniversary of her Opry debut. The episode features commentary from Reba reflecting on her debut night, exclusive footage of rehearsing “Does He Love You” with Carrie Underwood, and more.

“It’s really incredible, 40 years later here we are at the Grand Ole Opry where 40 years ago I got to walk on that stage that I had been listening to on WSM for many many years,” said McEntire on the eve of her anniversary. “You’re sitting there thinking is it even possible to dream that one day I’ll get to stand up there. And thank God I got to.”

Other installments of Opry Milestones include Josh Turner’s 10th Opry member anniversary, Darius Rucker’s 5th Opry member anniversary and more.


PR Signings: Absolute Publicity, 117 Publicity

Craig Wayne Boyd Signs With Absolute Publicity

Pictured (L-R): Craig Wayne Boyd, Don Murry Grubbs (Absolute Publicity)


Craig Wayne Boyd, season 7 winner of NBC’s The Voice, has signed on with Nashville-based Absolute Publicity for exclusive public relations representation.
“Craig Wayne Boyd is a phenomenal talent, as proven on NBC’s The Voice,” says Absolute Publicity company president Don Murry Grubbs. “He’s a welcome addition to our roster and we’re thrilled he chose Absolute to handle his publicity needs. Welcome aboard, Craig!”


Exile Inks Deal With 117 Publicity


Band Exile, known for the hits “Kiss You All Over” and “Give Me One More Chance,” has signed with 117 Publicity for exclusive PR representation. The band’s Wrapped Up In Your Arms For Christmas Tour will visit Nashville’s City Winery on Dec. 6.

“Exile is one the top trailblazing crossover bands in the history of music. They’ve toured with the top names in various genres, charted majorly successful hits and paved a path of nearly 55 years for future acts. To have them on our roster is not only an honor, but a sincere pleasure as they are some of the kindest and down-to-Earth guys I’ve ever met,” said Zach Farnum, President & CEO of 117 Entertainment Group.

David Israelite Inks Five-Year Extension Deal With NMPA

The National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) Board of Directors have announced that David Israelite has accepted a five-year contract extension to continue his role as President and CEO through 2022. David joined NMPA in 2005 after serving in senior positions at the United States Department of Justice and the United States Senate.

“David has led NMPA into a new era of recognition of the value of songwriters and music publishers,” said NMPA Board Chairman Irwin Robinson. “He has brought songwriter struggles to the forefront of the debate, and he is leading the charge for creators to be treated fairly by working to modernize laws and policies that govern the music industry.”

Israelite added, “Serving music publishers and songwriters as NMPA’s President and CEO has been the greatest honor of my career. Working with the NMPA Board is a privilege, and I am grateful that they have asked me to continue leading the fight on behalf of all songwriters and music publishers.”

Israelite is responsible for overseeing all aspects of NMPA’s operations, from legal strategy and implementation to government affairs and advocacy. NMPA’s legal program has amassed over $600 million for songwriters and music publishers.

Prior to leading NMPA, Israelite held high level posts in various capacities for the U.S. government including at the Department of Justice where he was appointed Chairman of the Department’s Task Force on Intellectual Property and in the U.S. Senate where he was chief of staff for Missouri Senator Kit Bond. Israelite earned his Juris Doctor from the University of Missouri and his undergraduate degree from William Jewell College. David lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife and two daughters.

Ryan Griffin Signs Publishing/Development Deal With busbee, BMG Nashville

Pictured (L-R): Dan Franquemont (Morris Higham); Nate Ritches (Morris Higham); Jess Rosen (Greenberg Traurig, LLP); Clint Higham (Morris Higham); Will Hitchcock (Morris Higham); Ryan Griffin; Talia Griffin; busbee; Daniel Lee (BMG)

Artist/songwriter Ryan Griffin has entered into a joint publishing and development deal with songwriter/producer busbee and BMG Nashville.

A client of management firm Morris Higham, Griffin has amassed over four million streams on Spotify and was a recent Highway Find on Sirius XM’s The Highway. He has opened for Old Dominion, Kelsea Ballerini, Lady Antebellum, and more, and was the cowriter on Kelsea Ballerini’s No. 1 single “Dibs.” Ryan and busbee recently recorded his first project, which is slated for release in early 2018.

Griffin visited the MusicRow offices earlier this year to preview music from his recent EP, Sake of the Summer, which features the track, “Back Seats and Burnt CDs.”


Save The Date: 2018 MusicRow Awards

MusicRow Magazine, Nashville’s leading trade publication, is proud to announce the date for its 2018 invite-only MusicRow Awards, to be held Wednesday, June 27, 2018 (evening).

The invitation-only, evening event will feature award presentations for Breakthrough Artist of the Year, Song of the Year, Producer of the Year and Breakthrough Songwriter/Artist of the Year. Winners of these categories will be determined by the votes of subscribed members to MusicRow.

In addition, the publication will announce recipients of the 2018 Top 10 Album All-Star Musician Awards. These honors are determined by tabulating the work of Nashville’s session players. Each player earns one credit for each instrument played on any qualifying album, making the Top 10 of Billboard’s Country Album Chart during MusicRow’s eligibly period.

Invitations with time and location, in addition to ballots for the 30th Annual MusicRow Awards, will be sent to MusicRow print subscribers in 2018. To become a subscribed member to MusicRow, click here.

Read more about last year’s exciting event: Bobby Karl Works The Room: 2017 MusicRow Awards

Video is from 2016 event

60th Annual Grammy Nominations Announced

Nominees were announced for the upcoming 60th Annual Grammy Awards on Tuesday morning (Nov. 28).

Chris Stapleton earned three nods, with “Either Way” up for Best Country Solo Performance and From A Room: Vol. 1 up for Best Country Album, and “Broken Halos” up for Best Country Song.

Little Big Town earned Grammy nods for Best Country Song (“Better Man”), Best Country Album (The Breaker) and Best Country Duo/Group Performance (“Better Man”). Taylor Swift is nominated in the Best Country Song category, as the sole writer behind Little Big Town’s “Better Man.”

Midland earned two nominations, with “Drinkin’ Problem” up for Best Country Song and Best Country Duo/Group Performance.

Sam Hunt‘s “Body Like A Back Road” earned two nominations, for Best Country Song and Best Country Solo Performance.

Lady Antebellum also earned two nominations. Heart Break is up for Best Country Album, and “You Look Good” is up for Best Country Duo/Group Performance.

Miranda Lambert also earned two nominations, with “Tin Man” up for Best Country SonG and Best Country Solo Performance.

“Arkansas Farmboy,” a track from the late Glen Campbell‘s final Adios album, earned a nod for Best American Roots Performance, as did “I Never Cared For You,” a track from Alison Krauss’ Windy City album.

Reba McEntire‘s Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope, was also nominated for Best Roots Gospel Album.

Notably, there were no country nominees in overall categories Best New Artist and Album of the Year.

Already a 21-time GRAMMY winner, JAY-Z leads with eight nominations, followed by Kendrick Lamar (7), Bruno Mars (6), Childish Gambino (5), Khalid (5), No I.D. (5), and SZA (5). Selected from more than 22,000 submissions across 84 categories, the nominations showcase some of the most gifted music makers of the past awards year (Oct. 1, 2016–Sept. 30, 2017). As the only peer-selected music award, the GRAMMY is voted on by the Recording Academy’s membership body of music makers, who represent all genres and creative disciplines, including recording artists, songwriters, producers, mixers, and engineers.

“I’m inspired by this year’s nominees and the incredible talent each possesses,” said Neil Portnow, President/CEO of the Recording Academy. “Their recordings are a true testament to how creatively alive and meaningful our music industry has become. Each nominee uses their craft to inspire, uplift, and tell stories of our world through their artistry. They provide a vibrant soundtrack that represents the highest level of excellence and continues to impact and reflect our culture.”

The final round of GRAMMY voting is Dec. 7–21, 2017. The Recording Academy will present the GRAMMY Awards® on Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018, live from Madison Square Garden in New York and broadcast on the CBS Television Network from 7:30–11:00 p.m. ET/4:30–8:00 p.m. PT.

Best Country Song (A songwriter’s award):
“Better Man,” Taylor Swift, songwriter (Little Big Town)
“Body Like A Back Road,” Zach Crowell, Sam Hunt, Shane McAnally & Josh Osborne, songwriters (Sam Hunt)
“Broken Halos,” Mike Henderson & Chris Stapleton, songwriters (Chris Stapleton)
“Drinkin’ Problem,” Jess Carson, Cameron Duddy, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne & Mark Wystrach, songwriters (Midland)
“Tin Man,” Jack Ingram, Miranda Lambert & Jon Randall, songwriters (Miranda Lambert)

Best Country Solo Performance:
“Body Like A Back Road,” Sam Hunt
“Losing You,” Alison Krauss
“Tin Man,” Miranda Lambert
“I Could Use A Love Song,” Maren Morris
“Either Way,” Chris Stapleton

Best Country Album:
Cosmic Hallelujah — Kenny Chesney
Heart Break — Lady Antebellum
The Breaker — Little Big Town
Life Changes — Thomas Rhett
From A Room: Volume 1 — Chris Stapleton

Best Country Duo/Group Performance:
“It Ain’t My Fault,” Brothers Osborne
“My Old Man,” Zac Brown Band
“You Look good,” Lady Antebellum
“Better Man,” Little Big Town
“Drinkin’ Problem,” Midland

Best Americana Album:
Southern Blood — Gregg Allman
Shine On Rainy Day — Brent Cobb
Beast Epic — Iron & Wine
The Nashville Sound — Jason Isbell And The 400 Unit
Brand New Day — The Mavericks

Best American Roots Performance:
“Killer Diller Blues,” Alabama Shakes
“Let My Mother Live,” Blind Boys Of Alabama
“Arkansas Farmboy,” Glen Campbell
“Steer Your Way,” Leonard Cohen
“I Never Cared For You,” Alison Krauss

Best American Roots Song:
“Cumberland Gap,” David Rawlings
“I Wish You Well,” The Mavericks
“If We Were Vampires,” Jason Isbell And The 400 Unit
“It Ain’t Over Yet,” Rodney Crowell Featuring Rosanne Cash & John Paul White
“My Only True Friend,” Gregg Allman

Record Of The Year:
“Redbone” — Childish Gambino
“Despacito” — Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee Featuring Justin Bieber
“The Story Of O.J.” — JAY-Z
“HUMBLE.” — Kendrick Lamar
“24K Magic” — Bruno Mars

Album Of The Year:
“Awaken, My Love!” — Childish Gambino
4:44 — JAY-Z
DAMN. — Kendrick Lamar
Melodrama — Lorde
24K Magic — Bruno Mars

Song Of The Year:
“Despacito” — Ramón Ayala, Justin Bieber, Jason “Poo Bear” Boyd, Erika Ender, Luis Fonsi & Marty James Garton, songwriters (Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee Featuring Justin Bieber)
“4:44” — Shawn Carter & Dion Wilson, songwriters (JAY-Z)
“Issues” — Benny Blanco, Mikkel Storleer Eriksen, Tor Erik Hermansen, Julia Michaels & Justin Drew Tranter, songwriters (Julia Michaels)
“1-800-273-8255” — Alessia Caracciolo, Sir Robert Bryson Hall II, Arjun Ivatury, Khalid Robinson, songwriters (Logic Featuring Alessia Cara & Khalid)
“That’s What I Like” — Christopher Brody Brown, James Fauntleroy, Philip Lawrence, Bruno Mars, Ray Charles McCullough II, Jeremy Reeves, Ray Romulus & Jonathan Yip, songwriters (Bruno Mars)

Best New Artist:
Alessia Cara
Lil Uzi Vert
Julia Michaels

Best Pop Solo Performance:
“Love So Soft” — Kelly Clarkson
“Praying” — Kesha
“Million Reasons” — Lady Gaga
“What About Us” — P!nk
“Shape Of You” — Ed Sheeran

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance:
“Something Just Like This” ­— The Chainsmokers & Coldplay
“Despacito” — Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee Featuring Justin Bieber
“Thunder” — Imagine Dragons
“Feel It Still” — Portugal. The Man
“Stay” — Zedd & Alessia Cara

Best Dance/Electronic Album:
Migration — Bonobo
3-D The Catalogue — Kraftwerk
Mura Masa — Mura Masa
A Moment Apart — Odesza
What Now — Sylvan Esso

Best Rock Performance:
“You Want It Darker” — Leonard Cohen
“The Promise” — Chris Cornell
“Run” — Foo Fighters
“No Good” — Kaleo
“Go To War” — Nothing More

Best Rap Album:
4:44 — JAY-Z
DAMN. — Kendrick Lamar
Culture — Migos
Laila’s Wisdom — Rapsody
Flower Boy — Tyler, The Creator

Best Gospel Album:
Crossover — Travis Greene
Bigger Than Me — Le’Andria
Close — Marvin Sapp
Sunday Song — Anita Wilson
Let Them Fall In Love — Cece Winans

Best Contemporary Christian Music Album:
Rise — Danny Gokey
Echoes (Deluxe Edition) — Matt Maher
Lifer — MercyMe
Hills And Valleys — Tauren Wells
Chain Breaker — Zach Williams

Best Latin Pop Album:
Lo Único Constante — Alex Cuba
Mis Planes Son Amarte — Juanes
Amar Y Vivir En Vivo Desde La Cuidad De México, 2017 — La Santa Cecilia
Musas (Un Homenaje Al Folclore Latinoamericano En Manos De Los Macorinos) — Natalia Lafourcade
El Dorado — Shakira

Best Song Written For Visual Media:
“City Of Stars” — Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek & Justin Paul, songwriters (Ryan Gosling & Emma Stone), Track from La La Land
“How Far I’ll Go” — Lin-Manuel Miranda, songwriter (Auli’i Cravalho), Track from Moana: The Songs
“I Don’t Wanna Live Forever (Fifty Shades Darker) — Jack Antonoff, Sam Dew & Taylor Swift, songwriters (ZAYN & Taylor Swift), Track from Fifty Shades Darker
“Never Give Up” — Sia Furler & Gregg Kurstin, songwriters (Sia), Track from Lion
“Stand Up For Something” — Common & Diane Warren, songwriters (Andra Day Featuring Common), Track from Marshall

Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical:
Calvin Harris
No I.D.
Greg Kurstin
Blake Mills
The Stereotypes

For a full list of nominees, visit