Ray Stevens Preps CabaRay Music Venue Grand Opening

After nearly two years of excavation, construction, furnishing and outfitting, country and comedy music legend Ray Stevens is finally ready to unveil his new state-of-the-art Nashville showroom, CabaRay. Today, Stevens announced his grand opening celebration set to take place Jan. 18, 19 and 20.

“This whole process has been a real labor of love for me,” says Stevens. “It took some time to get the building fully constructed and iron out all the kinks but I’m thrilled to say we’re finally ready to open the doors to the public. We’d hoped to open last year… but better late than never!”

CabaRay is an homage to the producers, musicians, songwriters and artists who “made Nashville Music City,” according to Stevens. The venue’s interior is wallpapered with recording studio photos of sessions where hits like “Pretty Woman,” “El Paso,” “Ahab the Arab,” and many others were born. The showroom features six red leather banquette booths named for Nashville record producers Chet Atkins, Owen Bradley, Shelby Singleton, Fred Foster, Jerry Kennedy and Billy Sherrill.

“This is a uniquely Nashville facility that celebrates the city and the industry I love and that has been so very good to me,” notes Stevens.

CabaRay features dinner service for 500 patrons downstairs with beverage service for over 200 more upstairs in theatre-style seating. The Bill Lowery High Spirits Emporium is a true piano bar, featuring Nashville favorite John Jonethis on keys. The venue also includes a lobby gift shop, chock full of souvenirs.

Stevens’ current plan is to host his own weekly dinner shows— Thursday through Saturday evenings. As the year progresses, he plans to add Wednesday night shows, as well as bring in outside talent to perform in the venue.

In addition to serving dinner, drinks and entertainment, the facility will also act as the production studio for Stevens’ popular CabaRay Nashville TV show, airing nationally on Public Television. The building will eventually house the office operations of Ray Stevens Music publishing companies, recording studio and real estate interests, all within the 35,000 square foot building.

CabaRay is located in West Nashville at 5724 River Road. Free parking is available for nearly 300 vehicles, as well as several tour buses.

CMA Songwriters Series Announces ‘Front And Center’ 2018 Season

The Country Music Association’s CMA Songwriters Series presented by U.S. Bank has once again partnered with public television’s live music series “Front and Center” for its 2018 season, featuring one-of-a-kind performances from Clint Black, Kane Brown, Luke Combs and Miranda Lambert.

The eighth season of “Front and Center” kicks off this month with all episodes airing nationally on public television. See below for initial airings in New York, Los Angeles and Nashville. Exact air dates and times for each episode vary by market and are subject to change.

Kane Brown & Luke Combs
New York, Jan. 14 at 11:30 p.m. on THIRTEEN
Los Angeles, Jan. 21 at 2 a.m. on KCET
Nashville, Feb. 2 at 11 p.m. on WNPT

Miranda Lambert
New York, Feb. 10 at 11:30 p.m. on WLIW
Los Angeles, Feb. 11 at 2 a.m. on KCET
Nashville, Feb. 23 at 11 p.m. on WNPT

Clint Black
New York, March 10 at 11:30 p.m. on WLIW
Los Angeles, March 11 at 2 a.m. on KCET
Nashville, March 23 at 11 p.m. on WNPT

Country Music icon Clint Black is joined by John Rich for a performance packed with behind-the-scenes stories and a selection of Black’s career-spanning greatest hits. Rising Country star Kane Brown is joined by top tunesmiths Tom Douglas and Josh Hoge and performs songs including “Used To Love You Sober” and “Heaven” in a show that also features CMA Awards New Artist of the Year nominee Luke Combs, who welcomes hit songwriters Thomas Archer, Ray Fulcher and Rob Williford, performing songs including “One Number Away” and “Hurricane.” Thirteen-time CMA Awards winner and reigning Female Vocalist Miranda Lambert shares the stage with 14 songwriters that contributed to her double-Platinum album, The Weight of These Wings, and performs songs including “Vice” and “Highway Vagabond” among many others.

This season’s Front and Center will also feature performances from Sheryl Crow, Liam Gallagher, Nile Rodgers, Seal and more.

Bob Kingsley’s CRS Acoustic Alley Lineup Revealed

The lineup has been released for one of Country Radio Seminar’s most anticipated events, the annual “Bob Kingsley’s Acoustic Alley.”  Twelve hit songwriters will perform at the Feb. 6 event, which is sponsored by Bob Kingsley’s Country Top 40, with support from First Tennessee Bank and ASCAP Nashville. Rhett Akins, Chris DeStefano, Nicolle Galyon, Ashley Gorley, JT Harding, Hillary Lindsey, Heather Morgan, Jon Nite, Jimmy Robbins, Matt Rogers, Cole Taylor, and Troy Verges are all set to perform during the evening. 

Bob Kingsley will host this show, which has become one of the seminar’s most notable after-hour events. This year’s Acoustic Alley will be held from 7 p.m. until midnight in the Legends Ballroom (level 2) at The Omni in Nashville. A cash bar will be provided, and a CRS badge will be required for admittance.

“Nashville’s creative community gets kick-started every day by the men and women who gather on Music Row to write the songs at the heart of it all,” said Kingsley. “Every year, Acoustic Alley brings together many of the best of those writers to give us a glimpse into the place where creativity turns into hits. Great writers singing their hits? It makes for a great evening!”

The $699 final registration rate for Country Radio Seminar 2018 is available at CountryRadioSeminar.com and  a limited number of Omni Nashville rooms are still available.

DISClaimer: Sugarland’s Welcome Return

Happy New Year.

This is a season of new beginnings, and that’s just what we’re hearing in the sounds from Jimmy Wayne, Scotty McCreery, Levi Hummon and Terry McBride. No one inhabits this concept better than Sugarland, our winner of the Disc of the Day award.

The DisCovery Award goes to Michael Tyler. This young Missouri native is previously best known for co-writing Jason Aldean’s “Laid Back” and Dierks Bentley’s “Somewhere on a Beach.” Now he has his own spotlight.

Writers: Michael Tyler/Jaron Boyer/Adam Argyle; Producer: none listed; Publishers: Peertunes, Ltd. obo itself, MTNoize and Jaron Boyer Music (SESAC) / Peermusic III, Ltd (BMI); Reviver (CDX)
-It looks like this time, she’s the right one. So that’s why I’m talking to you, Mom. The vocal is boyishly endearing, and the poppy, attractive track burbles along at a jaunty pace. Quite enjoyable.

SUGARLAND/Still The Same
Writers: Jennifer Nettles, Kristian Bush; Producer: Kristian Bush/Julian Raymond; Publishing: Jennifer Nettles Publishing (ASCAP)./ Magic Mustang Music Inc. / More And More Magic Publishing (BMI); Big Machine (download)
-The Sugarland comeback single packs a powerful punch. It builds nicely from an acoustic opening into an oomphy, anthemic melody and a multi-layered production pylon. A welcome return.

AC JONES/Buses and Trains
Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; SSM (CDX)
– She tells mama she’s been hurt by love, but that it feels so good she wants to do it again. Jones sings with plenty of fire, but needs a better song.

LUKE BRYAN/What Makes You Country
Writers: Luke Bryan/Dallas Davidson/Ashley Gorley; Producers: Jeff Stevens/Jody Stevens; Publishers: Sony-ATV Tree/Peanut Mill/Round Hill/Natalia’s Music Money/Combustion Engine/WB/Sadie’s Favorite, BMI/ASCAP; Capitol (track)
– It’s a stompin’ rocker with a lively attitude. The rapid-fire lyric spits both cliches and truths. Absolutely a smash.

Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publishers: none listed; Bea Hive (track)
– Jimmy Wayne’s latest project is a kids’ book called Ruby the Foster Dog. It has its own website with video stories. His companion Ruby Toons CD kicks off with this electronic bopper and is easily enjoyed by adults. Check it out.

Writers: Monty Criswell/Scotty McCreery/Frank Rogers; Producers: none listed; Publishers: Sony/ATV/Spirit; Triple Tigers
– The good times in life seem to just fly on by. If only we had a “pause” button or just a few more moments to enjoy them. Very touching and heartfelt. The accompanying video has loads of cool, home-movie footage from the singer’s boyhood.

Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Warner Bros.
– The track is really groovy, and everyone is singing splendidly. A bit more melody would have been nice.

Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publishers: none listed; MV2 (CDX)
– Rolling, relaxing and laid back. A wanderer finds a home in her arms and, for a change, doesn’t feel like leaving.

Writers: none listed; Producer: Evan Middlesworth; Publisher: none listed, BMI; PWB (track)
-Its upbeat, yet deals with heartbreak. I love the line, “Your future could be in your next hello, why are you dwelling on your last goodbye?” The production is rather minimal, but the steel playing is nifty. I dig these guys; they need an audio upgrade.

Writers: Scooter Carusoe/Chris DeStefano/Levi Hummon; Publishers: Sony-ATV, no performance rights listed; Producer: none listed; Iconic
-He doesn’t want to over-think a kiss or a romance. The track jingles and jangles in all the right places, and his lilting performance is on the money. Catchy and well worth your spins.

BuzzAngle Music Releases 2017 Music Consumption Numbers

BuzzAngle Music has released its 2017 report on U.S. music consumption. The year saw a significant increase in overall consumption, 12.8 percent over 2016, that marks the third year in a row with increasing growth.

Streaming consumption continued its huge growth with a 50.3 percent increase to 377B streams, 127B more streams than in 2016. Subscription streams are now at 80 percent of total audio streams, up from 76 percent in 2016.

The top digital album of 2017 was reputation by Taylor Swift with 865,446 digital sales, and it was one of only two albums to break 1 million in pure album sales during 2017. The other was ÷ by Ed Sheeran with 1,042,255 albums sold. 

Streams reached a new record high of 376.9 billion, up 50 percent over 2016, while subscription streams grew 57 percent and accounted for 80 percent of total audio streams in 2017, up from 76% in 2016.  There were more than twice as many streams on any given day during 2017 (daily average of 1.67 billion) then there were song downloads for the entire year (563.7 million). Vinyl sales were also up 20 over 2016 and accounted for 10 of all physical album sales (up from 8 in 2016). There were 16 songs that were streamed more than 500 million times in 2017, compared to six in 2016 and two in 2015. 383 songs streamed more than 100 million times in 2017, compared to 226 songs in 2016 and 111 songs in 2015. And the top 1,000 streamed songs in 2017 accounted for 122.2 billion streams, an increase of 33% over 2016’s top 1,000 streamed songs (91.8 billion).

In 2017, one song broke the one billion-stream mark for the first time ever, “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee (1.1 billion streams) and was also the most-streamed song of the year. Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” was the second most-streamed song with 979.3 million streams.

29.3 percent of all album sales in 2017 were rock albums, with more than 43 million in sales. 19.7 percent were pop titles, 14.1 percent were urban, and 12 percent were country albums. 23 percent of song sales in 2017 were titles from rock, 22.2 percent were urban, 21.9 percent were pop, and 12.6 percent country.


Chris Stapleton, Sam Hunt Lead Nielsen Year-End Report

Chris Stapleton, Sam Hunt

Sales are down. Streaming is up. Nielsen has released its year-end data for 2017 (Jan. – Nov.), stating music consumption as a whole grew at 12.5 percent. Country music is the third highest radio format (tied with pop).

In her introductory statement, Erin Crawford, SVP Nielsen Entertainment, General Manager Nielsen Music, notes Sam Hunt’s “Body Like A Back Road” helped drive country music consumption growth for the year while crossing over into the pop charts at Top 10 at Adult Top 40 and No. 11 on Mainstream Top 40.

Notably, Chris Stapleton landed at No. 6 on Billboard‘s all-genre Top 10 Albums, Top 10 Digital Albums and Top 10 Physical Albums. The only other country artist on these charts was Kenny Chesney‘s Live In No Shoes Nation at No. 9 on the latter.

Additionally Crawford noted over-the-air radio remained the top source of new music discovery, while live music saw record attendance and ticket sales.

Total music consumption’s 12.5 percent growth was driven by streaming, led by a 58.7 percent increase in on-demand audio streams compared to 2016. While streaming was up, sales were down. Total album and TEA sales, both digital and physically, saw a drop by 19.2 percent from 2016, while digital track sales were down 23.4 percent compared to the same period.

Vinyl was the only bright spot with sales for 2017, with a 9 percent increase from the prior year to 14.3 million, showing surges in the second and fourth quarters thanks to Record Store Days in April and November. This marks vinyl’s 12th consecutive year of growth, notably with the Beatles at No. 1 and No. 2.

Despite having the most album sales upon its release in 2017, Taylor Swift‘s reputation was behind only Ed Sheeran in Top 5 Genre Artist and Top 5 Albums with 3.4 million and 2.3 million in total consumption, respectively. For Billboard‘s year-end chart, powered by Nielsen, Swift’s reputation landed at No. 1 in Top 10 Albums (sales). Specifically, reputation respectfully landed at No. 3 in total consumption, albeit with the lowest on-demand audio streams (421 million) due to it being immediately withheld from streaming services, for Billboard‘s Top 10 Albums (Album Sales+TEA+On-Demand Audio SEA). As an artist, Swift clocked in at No. 4 in the Top 10 Artists section, measured by total consumption, again with the lowest on-demand audio streams in the category.

Top 5 Genre Artists for country were Stapleton with 1.8 million Album+TEA+On-Demand Audio SEA. Luke Bryan followed with 1.1 million, with Thomas Rhett at 994K, Blake Shelton with 984K and Kenny Chesney with 955K.

Top 5 Albums for country were Stapleton’s From A Room: Vol. 1 and Traveller, at No. 1 and No. 2 respectively. Keith Urban‘s Ripcord followed, with Rhett’s Life Changes and Kane Brown‘s self-titled release.

For the Top 5 songs for country, Hunt’s “Body Like a Backroad” took No. 1, followed by Brett Young‘s “In Case You Didn’t Know,” Brown’s (feat. Lauren Alaina) “What Ifs,” Luke Combs‘ “Hurricane” and Urban’s “The Fighter.”

Top 5 Radio Songs saw Hunt again at No. 1, followed by Jon Pardi‘s “Dirt On My Boots,” Combs’ “Hurricane” Young’s “In Case You Didn’t Know” and Dylan Scott‘s “My Girl.”

Information courtesy of Nielsen.

Little Big Town, Lady Gaga, P!nk To Perform At Grammy Awards’ 60th Anniversary

The upcoming 60th Anniversary of the Grammy Awards will include some milestone performances during its Jan. 28 broadcast on CBS. Little Big Town, Lady Gaga, Childish Gambino, P!nk, Patti LuPone, and Ben Platt are the first slate of performers announced who will be performing on the show’s special anniversary celebration.

The show returns to New York this year for the first time in 15 years and will be hosted by James Corden and air live from Madison Square Garden in New York City. In celebration of the show’s return to New York, two-time Grammy winner LuPone will reprise her 1981 Grammy performance of “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina,” and “Dear Evan Hansen’s” currently nominated Ben Platt will perform a classic from West Side Story in a special Broadway tribute honoring the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Leonard Bernstein.

Two-time Grammy winners Little Big Town are nominated for Best Country Album (The Breaker) and Best Country Duo/Group Performance (“Better Man”). Other country nominees include Chris Stapleton with three nods, and MidlandSam Hunt, Lady Antebellum, and Miranda Lambert all with two nominations. A full list of country nominations can be seen here.


Chris Stapleton To Appear On New Justin Timberlake Album

Chris Stapleton

Chris Stapleton is one of several artists who will make an appearance on Justin Timberlake‘s upcoming Man Of The Woods album, slated to release Feb. 2 (RCA Records). The collaboration marks the artists’ first official recorded collaboration since their 2015 CMA Awards duet of “Tennessee Whiskey/Drink You Away,” which proved to be a star-making turn for Stapleton. In September 2017, Stapleton joined Timberlake for a surprise collaboration the Pilgrimage Festival in Franklin, Tennessee.

Other artists to collaborate on Timberlake’s new album include Alicia Keys, Timbaland, and The Neptunes. According to a preview trailer for Man of the Woods, Timberlake says the album was inspired by wife, actress Jessica Biel and their son Silas, and his own history.

Justin Timberlake and Chris Stapleton perform during the 2015 Country Music Association Awards. Photo: CMA/Instagram

“This album is really inspired by my son, my wife, my family but more so than any other album I’ve written, where I’m from. It’s personal,” Timberlake says in the trailer clip for the album. Timberlake is originally from Memphis, Tennessee, and in 2015, he purchased a home just outside of Nashville, in Leiper’s Fork. After his collaboration on “Drink You Away,” with Chris Stapleton at the 2015 CMA Awards, the song was promoted to country radio.

Timberlake will release the album’s first single, “Filthy,” on Jan. 5. The track was penned and produced by Timberlake, Timbaland and Danja, with additional writing credits from James Fauntleroy and Larrance Dopson. Following “Filthy,” Timberlake will release three additional music videos, each with their own individual style and color from three different directors. The additional songs will be released weekly starting on Jan. 18 leading up to the release of the full album.  Two days after the release of the album, Timberlake will hit the stage and headline the Pepsi Super Bowl LII Halftime Show on Sunday, Feb. 4.

Public Memorial Service For Mel Tillis To Be Held At Ryman Auditorium

Mel Tillis

The Tillis family has announced details for a public memorial service for the late Mel Tillis. On Wednesday, Jan. 31 at 10 a.m., family, friends, fans, and music industry colleagues, will gather at Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium to honor the life and career of the Country Music Hall of Famer.

A slew of country stars will perform some of Tillis’ most memorable career songs. Those scheduled to take the stage include Ricky Skaggs, Ray Stevens, Larry Gatlin & the Gatlin Brothers, Brenda Lee, Alison Krauss with the Street Corner Symphony, Jamey Johnson, Collin Raye, Daryle Singletary, Lorrie Morgan, Ira Dean, Pam Tillis, Sonny Tillis, and Carrie April Tillis. The Statesiders, Tillis’ band, will accompany select performances.

The event is free and open to the public.

Following a lengthy struggle to regain his health, country music legend Mel Tillis passed away on Nov. 19, 2017, at the Munroe Regional Medical Center in Ocala, Florida. Tillis battled intestinal issues since early 2016 and never fully recovered. He was 85.

Lonnie Melvin Tillis was born in Tampa, Florida on Aug. 8, 1932. Throughout his 60+ year career, the Grand Ole Opry member recorded more than 60 albums, had 35 Top Ten singles, six No. 1 hits (“I Ain’t Never,” “Coca-Cola Cowboy,” “Southern Rains,” “Good Woman Blues,” “Heart Healer,” and “I Believe In You”), was named CMA Entertainer of the Year in 1976, and was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame the same year. Tillis was elected a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2007. He wrote over 1,000 songs, 600 of which have been recorded by major artists including Kenny Rogers (“Ruby, Don’t You Take Your Love To Town”), George Strait (“Thoughts Of A Fool”) and Ricky Skaggs (“Honey, Open That Door”). BMI named Tillis Songwriter of the Decade for two decades. In February of 2012 President Obama awarded Tillis the National Medal of Arts.

Industry Ink: Milkbone Challenge, 78 RPM Records, ‘Nash Nights Live’

Writers Compete In ‘Milkbone Challenge’

Pictured (L-R) Back row: James McNair, Scott Thomas, Matt Alderman, Seth Ennis, Josh Dunne, Brock Berryhill, Tyler Reeve, Jeremy Bussey, Barry Knox, Jamie Paulin. Second Row (L-R): Jona Sherwood, Jared Mullins, Jay Brunswick, Jody Stevens, Tommy Cecil, Jaida Dreyer, Greylan James, Brad Clawson, Matt Thomas. Front Row (L-R): Mandelyn Monchick, Kasey Tyndall, Lainey Wilson. Photo: Kristin KJ Joyner. [CLICK TO ENLARGE]

On Dec. 28 some of Nashville’s hit songwriters joined forces for the second annual Milkbone Challenge (MBC). Twenty-two writers, artists and composers met at Parmalee’s house west of Nashville to write songs and compete for the MBC awards including Best Song of the Day, Lick O’ The Day and Line Of The Day.

The challenge was divided into two sessions with five writing teams per session where teams had three hours to write and record their song. At the end of the day, those involved gathered to listen to all the songs. Judges Tom Luteran (SonyATV), Dave Rose (Deep South Entertainment {DSE}), Mandelyn Monchick (DSE), Tiffany Bearden (Evolution PR) and Kasey Cleckler (NSAI) deliberated to choose the winners of the three existing categories, as well as establish a new category for Best Radio Song.

Best Song of the Day was awarded to “Back Of A Baptist Church,” penned by Seth Ennis, Jaida Dreyer, Tommy Cecil and Jared Mullins. Line of the Day was awarded to Seth Ennis for “Cause she’s got it all and her only flaw is who’s holding her hand” in the song “She Loves Me,” penned by Ennis, Barry Knox, Matt Alderman and Lainey Wilson. Lick O’ The Day was awarded to James McNair for the song “Home Away from Home,” written by McNair, Jona Sherwood, Parmalee’s Matt Thomas, Kasey Tyndall and Parmalee’s Barry Knox. The brand new Best Radio Song award was presented to “Looking For A Song,” written by Jody Stevens, Jay Brunswick, Greylan James and Brad Clawson.

This year’s participants included: Tommy Cecil, Jared Mullins, Jaida Dreyer, Seth Ennis, Jody Stevens, Jay Brunswick, Greylan James, Brad Clawson, Barry Knox, Jona Sherwood, Matt Thomas, James McNair, Kasey Tyndall, Will Weatherly, Scott Thomas, Jamie Paulin, Matt Alderman, Josh Dunne, Brock Berryhill, Tyler Reeve, Lainey Wilson and Jeremy Bussey.

78 RPM Records Inks Deal With Vince Youngs

Pictured (L-R): Attorney William Whitacre, Vince Youngs and 78 RPM Records’ Bernie Faulkner (standing). Photo: so much MOORE media

President of 78 RPM Records’ Bernie Faulkner has announced the signing of Modesto, California based country newcomer Vince Youngs to the label and On The Wall Music. Expect Youngs’ first radio release later this month.


Nash Nights Live‘s Elaina Smith To Be Featured On Final Season Of Nashville

Elaina Smith with the episode’s director, Tim Busfield (The West Wing, Studio 60).

NASH Nights Live‘s Elaina Smith debuts Thursday night (Jan. 4) on the season premiere of CMT’s Nashville. Smith will play herself, conducting an interview with Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere). The CMT episode, titled “New Strings,” launches the series’ sixth and final season.