Industry Ink: Darius Rucker, Michael Ray, Charlie Worsham

Darius Rucker And Ply Gem Extend Partnership With Home For Good Project

Darius Rucker and Ply Gem, a North American manufacturer of building products, are continuing their partnership in Ply Gem’s expanding Home for Good project in 2018. Ply Gem believes that everyone deserves a safe, affordable place to call home and the Home for Good project has taken its passion for creating innovative, quality products that make beautiful homes, and turned it into a mission. So far, the company has helped to build 450 homes in more than 70 communities across the U.S.

Through the Home for Good project, Ply Gem has already donated more than $1.2 million in building products and is helping to raise awareness of the critical need for affordable housing in communities across the country by partnering with Darius Rucker as campaign ambassador and building industry professionals to spread the word and make a difference.

“Seeing the power of the ‘Home for Good Project’ last year and the impact it had on people’s lives was absolutely incredible,” shares Rucker. “I am thrilled at the opportunity to continue to work with Ply Gem to give back to individuals, families and communities across the country in 2018.”


Michael Ray Named Brand Ambassador For GIVN Water

Michael Ray

Michael Ray has partnered with GIVN® Water as a brand ambassador. Recognized as a 2016 Best for the World Honoree, GIVN® Water provides one day of clean drinking water from each bottle sold, having provided over 850,000 days of clean water thus far.

“When I learned that GIVN provides a day of clean water to those in need for every bottle they sell, I immediately felt that significance and the ripple effect it could have not just in the U.S. but also on a global scale,” shares Ray. “Growing up in a small rural town in Florida, I learned at an early age that showing people you care is the greatest way to strengthen a community. Whether it was something as small as taking a neighbor a meal, my grandfather not only told me but he showed me the importance of being there for one another. I think we all need that right now. No gesture is too small.”

Ray is wrapping up his Get To You Tour this weekend with shows in Louisville, Kentucky, and Warrendale, Pennsylvania.


Charlie Worsham Releases Book To Benefit Grenada, MS Youth

Charlie Worsham’s debut book, Follow Your Heart: A Guitar, A Tattoo, And One Man’s Country Music Journey, is out now. Published by Spring House Press and featuring a forward by Marty Stuart, proceeds from the book go toward Worsham’s Follow Your Heart Scholarship Fund, created in partnership with The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee to support the youth achieving great things in arts within Grenada, Mississippi, Worsham’s hometown.

In its first two years, the organization raised nearly $100,000, including $35,000 at this past weekend’s gala in Grenada. The second annual event featured special guest and newly inducted Country Music Hall of Fame member, Don Schlitz. More information can be found at

CRS New Faces Of Country 2018 Talent Announced

The artists selected to perform at the Country Radio Seminar (CRS) 2018 New Faces of Country Music show on Feb. 7, 2018, have been announced. Slated to appear at the closing night event of the seminar are Lauren Alaina (UMG), Luke Combs (Sony), Michael Ray (Warner) and BMLG’s Midland and Carly Pearce.

Co-sponsored by the Academy of Country Music (ACM) and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the annual new artist showcase is one of the most-anticipated events each year at CRS. Performances will be powered by Live Nation and take place in the CRS Performance Hall.

Dinner tickets for the 2018 New Faces of Country Music Show are sold-out. The $599 regular registration rate for CRS 2018, held Monday, Feb. 5-7 at the Omni Nashville Hotel, is available at On Dec. 5, the CRS rate increases to the final rate of $699. In addition, a limited number of Omni Hotel rooms are still available.

SOLID Honors Alum At 20th Anniversary Holiday Party

Pictured (L-R): SOLID 20th Anniversary Chair Kari Barnhart, SESAC’s Jayson Wyatt, Warner Music Nashville’s Cris Lacy, Lev’s House Ent.’s Justin Levenson, SOLID President Basak Kizilisik. Photo: Brenton Giesy Photography

The Society of Leaders in Development (SOLID) celebrated its 20th anniversary at a special holiday party at The Cordelle (Nov. 30), honoring SESAC’s Jayson Wyatt, Warner Music Nashville’s Cris Lacy and Manager at Lev’s House Ent., Justin Levenson.

The association of rising music industry professionals commemorated the last two decades and recognized the SOLID alumni who have gone on to become esteemed leaders in the entertainment industry. International royalties administrator at SESAC Jayson Wyatt received SOLID’s Spirit of SOLID Honor, VP of A&R at Warner Music Nashville, Cris Lacy, was honored as the Distinguished Alum, and Manager at Lev’s House Ent., Justin Levenson, was named the Inspire Award honoree.

Mayor Megan Barry presented the organization with an official proclamation, naming November 30 as SOLID day along with the office of the State of Tennessee.

“Being able to celebrate 20 years of SOLID with colleagues and friends in the current class as well as alumni dating back to the founding members was truly special. This organization has achieved so much in two decades and I’m proud that we were able to pay homage to its history on Thursday night,” shares SOLID president Basak Kizilisik. “Cris, Justin and Jayson are shining examples of the impact SOLID has had on the lives and careers of leaders who are shaping the landscape of the music industry and we’re so thankful for their continued passion and desire to pour into the generations that are coming up after them. The recognition from Mayor Megan Barry and the State of Tennessee was an incredibly humbling way to cap this night. I’m so thankful for the support Nashville gives to organizations like ours. Here’s to another twenty!”

Since the organization’s establishment in 1997, SOLID has raised more than $250,000 for the Nashville community through events such as Bowl For Kids’ Sake, Nashville Music Market during CMA Fest, SOLID’s annual kickball tournament, Red Rubber Showdown and the Miller Harris golf tournament, and has provided volunteer services through its Habitat for Humanity build, 343 Tribute Project to thank firefighters on Sept. 11 and SOLID’s day of service at Second Harvest Food Bank.

SOLID 2017 Board of Directors. Photo: Brenton Giesy Photography [CLICK TO ENLARGE]

‘Bluegrass Underground’ To Kick Off Season Eight In March At New Home The Caverns

Bluegrass Underground‘s new home, The Caverns, is set to open March 24 to begin taping of season eight of the 13-time Emmy-winning PBS series. Artists who will perform next season include Kathy Mattea, John Anderson, Bobby Bare, James OttoBrandi Carlile, The Sam Bush Band, Flatt Lonesome, and Dailey & Vincent among others.

Located at the foot of Monteagle Mountain in the hills of Grundy County, Tennessee near Pelham, Tennessee, The Caverns is the new permanent home of Bluegrass Underground, and will allow its annual PBS taping schedule to now be more flexible, with several taping weekends instead of a single once-a-year marathon which enables a broader range of artists to appear on the show.

“Every aspect of the patron experience has been improved and enhanced – a streamlined ticketing process, closer parking, nicer bathrooms, more comfortable seating, better sightlines and more. And the space itself is even grander and, dare I say…‘cavier’,” says The Caverns General Manager and Associate Producer Joe Lurgio.

Bluegrass Underground was previously located about 40 miles north, at the Cumberland Caverns, outside of McMinnville, Tennessee.

PBS tapings in April and May will include Carlile, The Sam Bush Band, Flatt Lonesome, The Turnpike Troubadours, Kathy Mattea, Lettuce, The Rev. Osagyefo Sekou, Mary Gauthier and Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper. Packages and tickets for all events go on sale Saturday, Dec. 9, at

Season VIII PBS Bluegrass Underground Tapings
March 24: Billy Strings and Sweet Lizzy Project
March 25: The Sam Bush Band and Aaron Lee Tasjan
April 20: Brandi Carlile
April 21: Kathy Mattea and The Tim O’Brien Bluegrass Band
April 22: Lettuce and The Rev. Osagyefo Sekou
May 19: Flatt Lonesome and Turnpike Troubadours
May 20: Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper and Mary Gauthier
The Caverns Presents
April 28, The Del McCoury Band with Sierra Hull
June 8: Piano-palooza with Davina & The Vagabonds and Jason D Williams
June 16:  Keller Williams
July 21: Scott Miller
August 11: Mountain Heart
September 8: John Anderson, Bobby Bare and James Otto
Oct. 31: Here Come The Mummies
Nov. 3: Dailey & Vincent

St. Jude Launches ‘This Shirt Saves Lives’ Campaign 

St. Jude has launched a nationwide campaign to kick off Monday, December 4 and continue through the end of 2017, featuring more than 80 artists and influencers with the goal of creating a ‘giving movement’ for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

The THIS SHIRT SAVES LIVES campaign will be supported by more than 120 Country Cares radio partners helping to motivate potential donors to become a Partner in Hope and give $20 a month for the exclusive tee shirt.

“We’ve long given apparel as a thank you to donors, but this year we’ve re-branded the offering as our driving incentive. The goal is to create a giving movement to help ensure that families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing, or food,” says Jessica Turri, Sr. Specialist at ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude.

Promotional banners will be placed around Music Row, and to launch the campaign an industry-wide reception will be held at the Country Music Association in Nashville.

The on-air push will coincide with a social push from participating artists such as Luke Bryan, Cole Swindell, Brett Eldredge, Kelsea Ballerini, Jake Owen, Thomas Rhett, Maren Morris, Darius Rucker, Cassadee Pope, Lindsay Ell, Kip Moore, Jon Pardi, Brothers Osborne, LOCASH, Hunter Hayes, Chris Young, Walker Hayes, Ryan Hurd, Jackie Lee, Michael Ray, Devin Dawson, Ashley McBryde, Cam, Canaan Smith, Carly Pearce, Chase Rice, Craig Campbell, Danielle Bradbery, Delta Rae, Drew Baldridge, Drake White, Dustin Lynch, Josh Turner, Lucas Hoge, Luke Combs, Mickey Guyton, Mo Pitney, Runaway June, Russell Dickerson, Tucker Beathard, William Michael Morgan, Scotty McCreery, Granger Smith, Kacey Musgraves, Midland, Dan + Shay, Chris Janson, Parmalee, Josh Turner, Lee Brice, and many more. Nashville photographers, John Shearer and Andres Martinez, lent their talent to the campaign, shooting many of the 80+ artists featured.

As an operation St. Jude offers free care for patients, requiring the compensation of 3,600 employees. In total operations run more than $2 million a day, which is primarily covered by public contributions. All research from the hospital is publicly available, in hopes of accelerating the eventual cure for childhood cancer.

Brian Penix Joins Vector Management

Brian Penix

Brian Penix has joined Nashville-based Vector Management full-time as a manager, MusicRow has confirmed. Joining Penix at Vector are a stable of artists, including Amanda Shires, Andy McKee, Jerry Douglas, Earls of Leicester and Tommy Emmanuel.

Penix’s career has included time at AC Entertainment, Outback Concerts, and most recently, as a talent buyer for National Shows 2 (NS2).

“It was hard leaving the folks and NS2 and ABI behind,” Penix tells MusicRow. “I love and cherish them all, and they’ve all been very supportive throughout this transition. But I am very exciting to be working with Ken Levitan and all the fine folks at Vector. It’s the right environment for myself and my artists to continue to grow.”

Penix can be reached at [email protected].

Tortuga Music Festival Owners File Lawsuit Against Ticketfly

The Tortuga Music Festival owners filed suit against concert ticket company Ticketfly on Wednesday (Nov. 29) over a contract dispute, the Tennessean reports. The three-day festival takes place on the beach in Ft. Lauderdale over three days in April, and is set to be headlined in 2018 by Florida Georgia Line, Eric Church, and Keith Urban.

Ticketfly claims to be the contract holder for ticketing for the popular Florida country festival which attracted 100,000 fans earlier this year. Ticketfly threatened litigation, so the festival’s owner, TMF2013, preemptively sued in Nashville federal court. TMF2013 is owned by Rock the Ocean.

Rock the Ocean maintains in its filing that Ticketfly’s deal was with Huka, the production company behind the festival. There is no such contract between Ticketfly and Rock the Ocean. Ticketfly is a subsidiary of Eventbrite. The company, which is popular with independent promoters, was purchased earlier this year after previously being owned by Pandora. The lawsuit also claims that Huka and Ticketfly shared a common executive, Jeff Kreinik, who worked at Huka until 2014 and then at Ticketfly until 2016.


Exclusive: Centric Entertainment Launches Align Music Group With Abbey Adams

Abbey Adams

Centric Entertainment has launched the publishing and recording group subsidiary, Align Music Group, led by former Sony/ATV Sr. Creative Director, A&R Abbey Adams.

The company is currently in the process of building out its artist/writer roster, with new signings to be announced in early 2018.

Adams, a 2016 MusicRow Rising Women on the Row honoree, says Align Music Group will have a strong focus on creating new, beneficial approaches to artist development and publishing.

“I want to create situations where I can do some extremely artist-friendly deals and I feel with being an independent company, we can do that,” Adams tells MusicRow.

Centric Entertainment is the latest venture from entrepreneur Larry Beckwith, who also co-founded Iconic Entertainment Group with Fletcher Foster.

“We’ve been fortunate to attract some of the best talent in the industry to lead within our companies,” Beckwith says. “Fletcher continues to do a phenomenal job at the helm of Iconic, and I’m confident that Abbey will do the same with Align.”

“At this level, we have to go into it with as low of a risk as we can, asking everyone involved, artists and producers, to take a risk on themselves as much as we are taking on them, and make it really affordable on the front end and give everybody more on the back end, to make it worth their time. We are trying to do deals that include publishing and masters—deals that allow us to do it in a low-risk way—but also to invest in different aspects of the artists. I want to look at it as an indie label, in as much as we have to do to get them—streaming, building social media following, getting them on the road to connect with fans, and really being intentional with their artist branding. It makes it a lot easier to present artists to the labels for those partnership opportunities or to upstream them to a major label when you can say, ‘This is the following they have created. It’s ready for you to take it to the next level.’”

Align Music Group currently operates from the WeWork co-working space located at One Nashville Place (150 4th Ave. N.).

Adams’ previous career roles include time at Sony/ATV and Blacktop Music Group. She is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University.

For more information, contact [email protected].

‘Austin City Limits’ Sets Ticketing Deal With AXS

AXS, a leading ticketing and digital media platform, has entered into an agreement to become the exclusive ticketing partner for television music series Austin City Limits. The show created and produced by KLRU-TV, Austin PBS, is the longest-running music program in television history. AXS will support ticketing for the live studio audience at KLRU-TV’s tapings of the show, which take place at ACL Live at The Moody Theater in downtown Austin.

AXS will be the sole ticketing software provider for live productions of the television series which presents 13 episodes each season that air on PBS. In addition, AXS will be a Production Underwriter for the 2017 Austin City Limits Hall of Fame Inductions & Celebration Special broadcast nationally on PBS on Dec. 31, 2017 (check local listings). KLRU will have full access to the AXS platform to manage every aspect of ticketing inventory and offers to their Friends of Austin City Limits members and donors from a single, powerful administrative control center. Access for Austin City Limits tapings remain complimentary as a thank you for station supporters and to the public as always and are distributed via an online giveaway.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with KLRU and Austin City Limits, one of the most iconic music brands in the world,” said Blaine LeGere, SVP of Business Development for AXS. “This new relationship showcases our ability to provide a well tailored solution to the specific non-profit requirements of KLRU.”

“This is a milestone year for Austin City Limits and the addition of AXS to our team makes the program even more powerful,” said Bill Stotesbery, CEO and General Manager of KLRU. “Our fans, donors and Friends of Austin City Limits are an important part of the show and we strive to provide them with the best live music experience possible, and now with the tools and services we now have through AXS we continue to move that mission forward.”

Austin City Limits is currently in its 43rd broadcast season with new episodes featuring a stellar slate of music’s finest, including Ed Sheeran, Miranda Lambert, Father John Misty, LCD Soundsystem and more. The show has been designated an Official Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Landmark and earned a Peabody Award for excellence in 2012. The program remains the only television series to be awarded the National Medal of Arts.

Crosshair Delivers Second Monthly List Identifying Their Top Influencer Playlists

Nashville-based Crosshair Music has issued it’s second edition top 20 influencers from its Crosshair Elite, a program benefiting artists and influencer interaction from its back-end analytic system.

The influencers help artists from all genres—including country—gain the attention from global Spotify-sponsored playlists. The distribution list is a reward perk, thanking the influencers for their involvement in providing feedback to undiscovered music. Crosshair notes its influencers list are first movers and partners to independent music, regularly getting an artist’s song over 1,000 plays as well as get them on the radar of the editors at Spotify.

One country music influencer has been added to the top 20 list, making three influencer playlists in the genre.

Crosshair’s December 2017 Country Music Elite Influencers

New: Eric Lacey’s Spotify Playlist: Country Beer Drinking Songs (2,000+ followers)

Adam Denney’s Spotify Playlist: 2017 Country Music  (3,000+ followers)

Ashley Bowsher’s Spotify Playlist: Pop & Country (2,000+ followers)