‘MusicRow’ Reveals 2018 Next Big Thing List

MusicRow is proud to reveal its list of artists, who in 2018, are predicted to become the Next Big Thing (NBT). The 4th annual NBT list features 11 artists, who are each profiled in MusicRow‘s latest 2018 Touring Issue print magazine, which hits shelves Tuesday, Dec. 5.

As in years past, MusicRow‘s Next Big Thing artists range from established hit makers prepping their next moves, to newcomers ready to claim their turns in the spotlight.

“It’s a privilege to bestow MusicRow‘s 2018 Next Big Thing title to these talented artists who are set to excel to higher prominence in the coming year,” says MusicRow Owner/Publisher Sherod Robertson. “There’s no doubt these deserving artists will have a significant impact in 2018 and we look forward to following them every step of the way.”

Be sure to pick up your copy of the 2018 Touring Issue print magazine here, or receive your copy with purchase of a yearly subscription.

NBT edit by: Sarah Skates

MusicRow‘s 2018 Next Big Thing List

Ashley McBryde

Atlantic-Warner Music Nashville / Q Prime / WME / The Song Factory / BMI

Ashley McBryde. Photo: John Peets

Ashley McBryde is the traditional female songstress that country music has been missing. Her songs are filled with stories of honesty and hope, carried through the microphone by warm lilting vocals. While expertly conjuring classic country elements, McBryde still manages to be radio ready.

Her debut single for Atlantic/Warner Music Nashville, “A Little Dive Bar in Dahlonega,” reached No. 1 on SiriusXM The Highway’s Hot 30 in 2017. When it recently hit terrestrial radio she was welcomed with open arms as the most added new artist and most added female.

McBryde is prepping the upcoming release of her album Girl Goin’ Nowhere, produced by studio wiz Jay Joyce. In the meantime, the singer is staying busy on the road. McBryde and Dinah (her trusty Gibson J-45 acoustic) have shared the stage with Chris Stapleton, Eric Church, and are joining Luke Combs on tour in 2018.


Brent Cobb

Low Country Sound-Elektra Records / Red Light Management / Paradigm Agency / Carnival Music / BMI

Brent Cobb. Photo: Don VanCleave

Brent Cobb etched a mark on the country/Americana scene with the release of his major label debut Shine On Rainy Day. His southern rock sound was embraced by fans and critics, yielding the Georgia native an Americana Music Award nomination for Emerging Artist of the Year. The album recently earned Cobb a Grammy nomination in the Best Americana Album category.

For more than a decade, Cobb has been making music and building a career, scoring cuts by Miranda Lambert, Luke Bryan and Little Big Town. He has paid his dues on the road, and in 2017 completed a sold-out European headlining run, then joined Chris Stapleton’s extensive U.S. tour.

Ramping up for 2018, Cobb is poised to make an even bigger impact, including opening for Lambert and releasing a new album. He returned to the studio with Grammy-winner Dave Cobb (also his cousin), and fans are enjoying a groovy preview of the project thanks to soulful lead single “Ain’t A Road Too Long.”


Carly Pearce

Big Machine Records-BMLG / Vector Management / CAA / BMG / ASCAP

Carly Pearce. Photo: Courtesy Big Machine Records

The sparse production and soft-spoken delivery of Carly Pearce’s breakout single “Every Little Thing” offers a stark contrast to many of the songs on country radio, but therein lies its appeal. The track has consistently attracted listeners since its first spin on SiriusXM in December 2016. A year later, the single was certified Gold and reached No. 1 on the Mediabase and Billboard Airplay charts, making her one of only four solo females to reach the top of the charts with a debut single in 15 years. With such powerful momentum, Pearce released the follow-up “If My Name Was Whiskey,” scoring her second chart-topper on SiriusXM.

Pearce has been dreaming of a career in country music since she was a five-year-old girl in Kentucky. By age 11 she was honing her traditional vocal stylings with a bluegrass band, and at age 16 she left high school to perform in six shows a day at Dollywood.

After moving to Nashville eight years ago, Pearce continued running down her dream which is coming true piece by piece: She signed with Big Machine Records, released her debut album Every Little Thing, and has opened tours for Thomas Rhett and Blake Shelton.


Devin Dawson

Atlantic Records-Warner Music Nashville / Sandbox Entertainment / CAA / Neon Cross-Warner/Chappell / BMI

Devin Dawson. Photo: Courtesy Warner Music Nashville

The story of talented newcomer Devin Dawson begins in a house nestled in the shadows of legendary Folsom Prison in California, where he grew up absorbing the sounds of Johnny Cash, Alan Jackson, Marvin Gaye and Creedence Clearwater Revival. He followed that love of music across the country to study at Nashville’s Belmont University. Before graduation, he already had a viral hit with a unique mash-up of two Taylor Swift songs.

Dawson’s vibey blend of pop/rock can be found on his Top 20 and climbing single “All On Me,” which has tallied over 30 million on-demand streams. The music video, which was shot in mostly black-and-white at the infamous Tennessee State Prison, has been viewed almost two million times.

A talented songwriter, Dawson co-wrote all 12 cuts on his debut album, Dark Horse, including the deeply personal title track. Jay Joyce produced the set, which will release Jan. 19. Dawson is on the road through the end of the year with labelmate Michael Ray.


Dylan Scott

Curb Records / McMurry Entertainment Group / WME

Dylan Scott. Photo: Joseph Llanes

Dylan Scott’s upbeat hit “My Girl” sent his career into overdrive, becoming his first No. 1 and first Platinum-certified song. Now his steamy follow-up single, “Hooked,” is ascending the country radio charts and has surpassed 12 million Spotify streams.

Scott has been growing his career since the release of his first single in 2013. His debut album followed in 2016, spawning the major hit “My Girl.” With that success, he met fan demand by offering a deluxe version of the self-titled debut and releasing his first holiday EP, Merry Christmas. A hard-touring artist, Scott spent 2017 playing his own headlining dates and enjoying an opening spot with hitmaker Justin Moore.

Growing up in Louisiana, Scott learned the basics of singing and playing guitar from his father—a former guitarist for Freddy Fender and Freddy Hart. Heading into 2018, Scott will become a father himself.


Luke Combs

River House Artists-Columbia Nashville-Sony Nashville / Make Wake / CAA / 50 Egg Music-Big Machine Music / BMI

Luke Combs. Photo: Matthew Berinato

It’s a rare feat for a country newcomer to sell out back-to-back nights at the Ryman Auditorium, but that’s just the latest milestone in a year that keeps getting bigger and better for Luke Combs. Like a lyric from his latest multi-week No. 1, “When It Rains It Pours,” Combs was showered with good fortune last year and is poised for even more in 2018.

His career launched with the gale-force strength of debut single “Hurricane,” which topped the Billboard Country Airplay chart and Mediabase chart for two consecutive weeks, making him the first debut country male to achieve a multi-week No. 1 since 2001. The track went on to earn Platinum certification.

Combs’ major label debut, This One’s For You, landed at No. 1 and remains the top-selling debut country album released last year.

This success comes after years of touring, songwriting, and dues-paying for the Asheville, North Carolina native, all leading to a coveted CMA Award nomination for New Artist of the Year and a presenting spot on the show.



Big Machine Records-BMLG / Sandbox Entertainment / BRND MGMT / CAA / Warner/Chappell / BMI-ASCAP

Midland. Photo: Harper Smith

Midland brings a throwback swagger to country music, donning Nudie-style suits and playing songs reminiscent of traditionalists Dwight Yoakam and George Strait.

Thanks to the debut single “Drinkin’ Problem,” lead singer Mark Wystrach, bass player Cameron Duddy and guitarist Jess Carson even have a No. 1 hit and Gold certification under their rhinestone belt buckles. (Duddy directed the music video, bringing with him an amazing track record of shooting spectacular videos for Bruno Mars.) Radio continues to embrace Midland, as the band’s second single “Make A Little,” was the most added song for two consecutive weeks.

The trio’s debut album, On The Rocks, was produced by three other big-time hitmakers: Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne and Dann Huff, which helped it reach the top of the charts. In 2018, Midland will bring their neo-retro sound to fans nationwide, performing on top tours with Little Big Town, Kacey Musgraves and Thomas Rhett.



Stoney Creek Records-BBR Music Group / Pennington Entertainment / WME / Universal Music Publishing-27861 Music / BMI

Parmalee. Photo: Joseph Llanes

Parmalee’s new album, 27861, is packed with radio-ready hooks sure to attract fans, just like the band did with its breakout single “Carolina,” which reached No. 1 at radio and went on to Platinum certification.

Since then, Parmalee has earned an ACM Award nomination for New Vocal Duo/Group of the Year, and hundreds of millions of song and video streams. Following that initial success, brothers Matt Thomas and Scott Thomas, cousin Barry Knox, and friend Josh McSwain returned to the studio. The result is their 2017 sophomore album, named after the zip code of their hometown Parmele, NC.

Matt Thomas co-wrote nine of the album’s 12 tracks, and enlisted the help of songwriting heavyweights busbee, Hillary Lindsey, and Ross Copperman. The project’s hook-laden set of singalongs includes “American Nights,” “Back In The Game,” and “Like a Photograph.”


Russell Dickerson

Triple Tigers Records-Sony Music Entertainment / Dennis Entertainment / CAA / BMG / BMI

Russell Dickerson. Photo: Kailey Dickerson

Russell Dickerson’s breakout song “Yours” was a viral hit with more than 65 million streams before it even broke the Top 20 on the country airplay charts. The romantic ballad’s popularity scored him performances on ABC’s The Bachelorette and NBC’s Today Show, and earned the track Gold certification.

The Tennessee native drew from influences including Garth Brooks and Keith Urban when crafting his debut EP, Yours, the first release on Triple Tigers Records, a joint venture with Sony Music.

In 2017, Dickerson continued to gain fans online and in concert, touring with Florida Georgia Line and Thomas Rhett. Driven by Spotify streams tallying more than 35 million, his track “Blue Tacoma” was featured in the X-Men film Logan. And his large presence on the platform led to Spotify selecting Dickerson as the inaugural country artist for its new program Rise, designed to identify and break the next wave of music superstars.



Mercury Nashville-UMG / Triple 8 Management / WME / Ten Ten / BMI

Tyminski. Photo: Lori Christian

Revered musician Dan Tyminski ditched his first name and reinvented himself with the creation of Tyminski in late 2017. The result is a cool hybrid of country music; a unique combination of high-lonesome vocals, electronic production and vivid storytelling.

To create his deliciously dark album, Southern Gothic, Tyminski teamed with talented producer Jesse Frasure and co-wrote with some of Nashville’s finest songwriters.

Tyminski began the solo project after the success of Avicii’s 2014 international pop hit “Hey Brother,” featuring Tyminski’s trademark vocals. That song tallied global streams of over 1.1 billion and downloads of 5.3 million, and spurred him to venture outside the acoustic music lane which had earned him 14 Grammy Awards, whether he was singing with longtime band Alison Krauss and Union Station, or as George Clooney’s character in the film O Brother, Where Art Thou? He has previously released three solo albums.


Walker Hayes

Monument Records-Sony Music / SMACK Management / CAA / SMACKSongs-Rarespark Media Group / BMI

Walker Hayes. Photo: Courtesy Essential Broadcast Media

“Boom.” That’s the sound of Walker Hayes dropping bombastic new sounds into country music. It’s also the name of his album on Monument Records, a collection of unusual beats and unique perspectives delivered via a blend of spoken-word-rap and subtle singing. Fans are digging it, because lead single “You Broke Up With Me” is Top 30-and-climbing on the country charts with over 31 million streams.

Through his self-penned collection, Hayes lets listeners in on his real life, ranging from struggles with addiction to supporting a family between record deals. This candid music has attracted high-profile fans including Bobby Bones, who champions Hayes on his influential radio show. Signed to newly re-launched Monument Records, Hayes’ powerful team includes label co-Presidents Jason Owen and Shane McAnally, the latter of which also produced the new album.

Hayes has performed with Bones, as well as Dan + Shay, and now has a coveted opening spot on Thomas Rhett’s tour.


Powered by Facebook Comments

Follow MusicRow on Twitter


Category: Featured

About the Author

Eric T. Parker oversees operations and contributes editorial for MusicRow's print magazine, MusicRow.com, the RowFax tip sheet and the MusicRow CountryBreakout chart. He also facilitates annual events for the enterprise, including MusicRow Awards, CountryBreakout Awards and the Rising Women on the Row. [email protected] | @EricTParker

View Author Profile