Industry Pics: International Country Music Conference, Jules Wortman

International Country Music Conference Begins In Nashville

Pictured (L-R): Milly Olykan, Karen Stump, Belmont University’s Don Cusic (co-host of the conference), and Trahern.

Sarah Trahern, Executive Director of the Country Music Association, spoke to the International Country Music Conference on Thursday, May 31 on “The State of Country.” She was joined on the presentation, which opened the conference, with Karen Stump, head of research for the CMA, and Milly Olykan, head of “International” for the CMA.

Jules Wortman Launches New Podcast

Jules Wortman with The Warren Brothers.

Industry member Jules Wortman has launched a new podcast, Hi, How Ya Doin’, which features interviews with individuals to discover moments that changed their lives. Previous guests have included songwriters The Warren Brothers, producer Paul Worley, and more. Upcoming guests will include Hall Emery CEO, Pat Emery.

“As a storyteller, I often frame a client’s brand to engage a variety of demographics. Through this process and my appetite to always learn about what makes someone tick or land where they have, I decided to delve into this new podcast venture recently to generate a platform for anyone that wants to listen,” says Wortman, host and creator of Hi, How Ya Doin’.  “I have had the privilege to meet so many interesting people throughout my life that have intrigued me to hear their story.  This podcast offers a wide array of individuals capturing and sharing their moment of clarity and what might have led to it.  We hope you enjoy.”

To sign up for the podcast, please visit HERE. To listen to past interviews, click on the following links: HHYD on Soundcloud andiTunes.

Pandora Named Music Partner For College News Network CheddarU

Pandora has signed on as the official music partner in the launch of CheddarU, a live news network available on 1,600 TV screens on over 600 college campuses. Pandora’s involvement will focus on daily coverage of artists, playlists, and music charts.

CheddarU reaches an estimated 9 million college students, and is a result of Cheddar’s acquisition of Viacom’s MTV Networks on Campus, the distribution platform for Viacom’s campus-based service MTVU. MTVU will remain in the MTV portfolio of networks, and will continue to be available through linear distributors.

“Music is part of the fiber of the college experience,” said Pandora CEO Roger Lynch, “Playing a role in CheddarU’s launch as the official music partner is a great opportunity to reach millions of students with updates and insights on what’s trending, who’s touring and just the right playlist for Friday night.”

CheddarU screens are currently available for viewing in campus cafeterias, gyms, and other public spaces, as well as campus cable television systems. The CheddarU service is available free of charge, including hardware and installation, to all qualifying campuses in the U.S. From Harvard University to the California State University system, students across the country will be able to watch and access Cheddar from their dorm rooms and public spaces 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Lauren Alaina, Luke Combs To Perform For ‘A Capitol Fourth’

Lauren Alaina and Luke Combs will perform as part of PBS’ annual broadcast of A Capitol Fourth, which airs on PBS on Wednesday, July 4 beginning at 8 p.m. ET. The show will air live from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol.

Other performers will include Jimmy Buffett, The Beach Boys, Pentatonix, The Temptations, CeCe Winans, Joshua Bell, and the National Symphony Orchestra. Actor John Stamos will host the event.

This 38 year-tradition is the country’s longest-running live national July 4 TV tradition and it puts viewers front and center for America’s biggest birthday party with the greatest display of fireworks anywhere in the nation lighting up the iconic D.C. skyline. The concert also pays tribute to troops serving around the world, their families, and all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, fighting for our freedom.




Bonnaroo Launches New Festival Podcast

Bonnaroo is rolling out The Official Bonnaroo Podcast hosted by veteran music reporter John Norris (MTV News, Billboard, Sirius XM). The new podcast will take fans behind the scenes with highlights from backstage and interviews with artists and festival insiders.

Episode 1 is now available for streaming on Apple Music, Google Play and

“I am so stoked to bring you the sights and sounds of the 2018 edition of the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival,” says Norris. “It is quite possibly the most special music festival on the planet.”

Multiple new episodes of The Official Bonnaroo Podcast will be shared each day for the duration of the four-day festival. Fans will not only have access to exclusive interviews with their favorite performers, but will be the first to receive festival updates and have the opportunity to learn more about Bonnaroo’s unique features, including its ongoing commitment to sustainability with Planet Roo.

The Recording Academy’s Neil Portnow To Step Down

Neil Portnow

The Recording Academy officially announced today (May 31) that President/CEO Neil Portnow will begin preparing for a leadership transition after choosing not to seek an extension on his current contract, which expires in July 2019.

Portnow shared his plans at the Recording Academy’s semi-annual Board of Trustees meeting last week. Throughout the next year, Portnow will work with the Board to chart out an organizational succession and transition plan, while continuing his current work as active President/CEO of the Recording Academy and MusiCares, and Chair of the Board of the GRAMMY Museum.

Portnow, who has served as The Recording Academy’s President for 16 years, is the longest-serving President in the Recording Academy’s 60-year history.

“The evolution of industries, institutions, and organizations is ultimately the key to their relevance, longevity, and success,” said Portnow. “Having been a member of the Recording Academy for four decades, serving as an elected leader and our President/CEO, I have not only witnessed our evolution, but proudly contributed significantly to the Academy’s growth and stature in the world. When I had the honor of being selected to lead this great organization in 2002, I vowed that on my watch, for the first time in our history, we would have a thoughtful, well-planned, and collegial transition. With a little more than a year remaining on my current contract, I’ve decided that this is an appropriate time to deliver on that promise. Accordingly, I’ll be working with our Board to put the various elements in place that will ensure transparency, best practices, and the Academy’s ability to find the very best, brightest, and qualified leadership to take us into our seventh decade of operation. I truly look forward to continuing my role leading the Academy in the year ahead, and to continuing the pursuit of excellence and the fine missions we embrace and deliver.”

“Since taking the helm in 2002, Neil has been instrumental in evolving the Recording Academy to address the needs of our creative community in a changing music landscape,” said John Poppo, Chair of the Board. “From critically-important music advocacy initiatives and financial assistance for our music community, to the music education and preservation programs of the GRAMMY Museum and GRAMMY Music Education Coalition, Neil has not only advanced the Academy’s mission, he’s extended its reach and impact. The Board and I are indebted to Neil for his years of heartful stewardship and visionary leadership. And, as we thank him for all he’s done, we also look forward to finding the right person to build on our solid foundation as the Recording Academy continues its work to ensure that music and the recording arts remain a thriving part of our cultural heritage.”

The decision arrives as The Recording Academy has received backlash after Portnow’s comments in January after the 60th annual Grammy Awards (where Alessia Cara was the only female to be honored onstage with a Grammy, despite multiple female Grammy contenders), when Portnow stated that women artists and executives needed to “step up” to receive more recognition in the industry.

Portnow later issued an apology, and announced in February that The Recording Academy would launch a task force to address barriers for female success in the music industry.

Portnow has also been under fire with allegations of diverting funds from The Recording Academy’s MusiCares Foundation to cover deficits from the recent Grammy Awards in New York City. Those accusations came from former MusiCares VP Dana Tomarken.

Portnow also sent a letter regarding his decision to step down from his role as President/CEO of The Recording Academy. Read the full statement below:

Dear Friends,

The evolution of industries, institutions, and organizations is ultimately the key to their relevance, longevity, and success. Having been a member of the Recording Academy for four decades, serving as an elected leader and President/CEO, I have not only witnessed our evolution, but proudly contributed to the Academy’s growth and stature in the world.

Serving as President/CEO of the Recording Academy has been one of the greatest joys of my life. When I had the honor of being selected to lead this great organization in 2002, I vowed that on my watch, for the first time in our history, we would have a thoughtful, well-planned, and collegial transition. With a little more than a year remaining on my current contract, which expires July 2019, I’ve decided that this is an appropriate time to deliver on that promise.

Last week, I shared my plans with the Board of Trustees and pledged to lead a smooth transition that would allow new leadership to take the Recording Academy into its seventh decade. Today, I wanted you to hear about it from me personally. Throughout the coming year, I will work with the Board to chart out an organizational succession plan, while continuing to serve as active President/CEO.

There will be opportunities to share thoughts, comments, and dialogue with you in the months ahead, as I hope to visit or connect with many of your Chapters. But I do want to take this moment to thank you for the dedication, commitment, and effort you have given to advance the Recoding Academy’s important mission of ensuring that the recording arts remain a valued part of our cultural heritage.

From our successes in music advocacy, to the growth of MusiCares, the establishment of the first GRAMMY Museum, the launch of the GRAMMY Music Education Coalition, and the continued celebration of our community’s most inspiring creators, it has been an extraordinary journey.

We can all be proud of what we’ve collectively done for the betterment of the creative community we love so dearly. And I continue to look forward to our mutual pursuit of excellence—in all that we are and all that we do.


Mickey Raphael Featured In Country Music Hall Of Fame’s Nashville Cats Series

Harmonica virtuoso/Willie Nelson band member Mickey Raphael is the latest musician whose career will be celebrated during the next edition of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s signature series Nashville Cats: A Celebration of Music City Musicians. The program will include an interview with Raphael and a performance, and is set for Saturday, June 16, at 2 p.m. in the museum’s Ford Theater.

This program is being presented in conjunction with the museum exhibit Outlaws & Armadillos: Country’s Roaring ʼ70s, in which Raphael’s gold ring with diamonds, signifying his membership in the band Willie Nelson and Family, is on display. Admission to the program is included with museum admission and free to museum members. Seating is limited and program passes are required for admittance. Museum members can reserve passes in advance by phone, 615-416-2050, or by emailing [email protected] The program will be streamed live at

Texas native Raphael was 20 years old when he met Willie Nelson in 1973. Raphael was a harmonica player on tour with singer-songwriter B.W. Stevenson, but meeting marked the start of a lifelong musical partnership between Raphael and Nelson, and the harmonica player’s signature sound helped Nelson cross radio formats and find a new generation of fans. In addition to his featured role in Nelson’s band for more than 40 years, Raphael has contributed his master harmonica skills to recordings by Johnny Cash, Guy Clark, Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris, Elton John, Alison Krauss, Margo Price, Snoop Dogg, Chris Stapleton and U2.

Following the program, Raphael will sign commemorative Hatch Show Print posters available for purchase in the Museum Store.

Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, The Earls of Leicester Set For Wide Open Bluegrass

Ricky Skaggs

The first round of performers have been announced for this year’s Wide Open Bluegrass, as part of the International Bluegrass Music Association’s World of Bluegrass, slated for Sept. 25-29 in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder will hold a special set with a guest appearance by Patty Loveless.

The event will also feature a special collaboration including Alison Brown, Becky Buller, Sierra Hull, Missy Raines and Molly Tuttle, who are the first women to earn IBMA Awards on their respective instruments. Brown became the first woman instrumentalist to receive an IBMA Player of the Year Award, and was only the second ever Banjo Player of the Year to be awarded. Raines has taken home seven IBMA instrumentalist awards on bass, while Buller, Hull, and Tuttle all earned their honors on fiddle, mandolin, and guitar (respectively) in Raleigh in the last two years. Buller took home the 2016 Female Vocalist of the Year Award, as well.

The IBMA’s reigning Entertainers of the Year, The Earls of Leicester, led by 14-time GRAMMY winner Jerry Douglas, will return to the Main Stage. As previously announced, The Earls are releasing a live two-CD set, The Earls of Leicester Live from The CMA Theatre at the Country Music Hall of Fame, available to Wide Open Bluegrass ticket buyers at a deeply discounted price, and the Earls are donating a portion of all their pre-sale proceeds to the IBMA Trust Fund.

In this spirit, another unique collaboration in the Main Stage lineup will be “The TRUST” set, an all-star performance featuring Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Balsam Range, Lonesome River Band, Donna Ulisse, Chris Jones & The Night Drivers, Sideline, and LoveCanon. These artists will highlight their benefit album, The TRUST, whose proceeds benefit the Trust Fund. The TRUST features all new, original music written by the bands involved in the project. The songs are about themes of hope, courage, and perseverance and reflect the artists’ commitment to the bluegrass community.

“We are excited to offer an incredible lineup of award winning artists and special collaborations this year for the Main Stage, with a couple of important themes added to make it even more unique,” said Paul Schiminger, Executive Director of IBMA.“We all get to celebrate the ground-breaking accomplishments and amazing skills of the five first-time women instrumentalists of the year performing together on stage. We are also shining an extra bright spotlight on a vital resource, the IBMA Trust Fund with special performances and recordings that will entertain everyone and help so many people in need!”

Wide Open Bluegrass is the weekend festival that takes place at Raleigh’s Red Hat Amphitheater on the ticketed Wide Open Main Stage and on seven additional stages in downtown Raleigh Sept. 28-29.

‘Billboard’ Events To Celebrate Rising Female Country Artists, Top Nashville Executives

Next week, music industry trade publication Billboard will host two events in Nashville, honoring both rising female artists and some of Music City’s top executives.

On June 4, leading up to the CMT Music Awards, Billboard and CMT will partner for CMT Next Women Of Country, highlighting some of country music’s best rising female talent with a free, open-to-the-public event. Performers will include Jillian Jacqueline, Ashley McBryde, Tenille Townes and Jo Smith, as well as special remarks from CMT Sr. VP, Music Strategy and Talent Leslie Fram, and Billboard editorial director Jason Lipshutz.

CMT’s Next Women of Country will take place at Nashville’s Analog at the Hutton Hotel. Doors will open at 6 p.m. CT, with the show beginning at 7 p.m. CT.

On June 5, the industry trade publication will celebrate 100 of the top Country Power Players with an invitation-only event in Nashville.



CMA Announces Festival Road Closures Beginning Today

It’s CMA Fest time, which means downtown Nashville traffic will be even more of a challenge than usual. The CMA has provided a list of road closures to help those trying to navigate the maze during the festival, which takes place Thursday through Sunday, June 7-10. Road closures will begin today (May 31) and last until Tuesday June 12 at 3 p.m. All times listed are Central. Maps of the CMA Fest footprint can be found at

Road closures beginning Thursday, May 31:
• 7:00 AM – The northbound lane cutout of First Avenue will be closed from Broadway to Church Street (reopensThursday, May 31 by 7:00 PM)
• 7:00 AM – The First Avenue train station cutout between Broadway and Demonbreun Street will be closed (reopens Tuesday, June 12 at 3:00 PM)
• 9:00 AM – 9:00 AM – The northbound lane of Fifth Avenue will be closed from Demonbreun Street to Broadway (reopens Thursday, May 31 by 3:00 PM)

Road closures beginning Sunday, June 3:
• 6:00 AM – Fifth Avenue will be closed from Demonbreun Street to Broadway (reopens Monday, June 11 by 4:00 PM)

Road closures beginning Monday, June 4:
• 5:00 AM – First Avenue will be closed from Demonbreun to Church Streets (reopens Monday, June 11 by 3:00 AM)
• 5:00 AM – Broadway will be closed from First to Second Avenues (reopens Monday, June 11 by 3:00 AM)
• 7:00 AM – Titans Way will be closed (reopens Monday, June 11 by 3:00 AM)

Road closures beginning Wednesday, June 6:
• 5:00 AM – First Avenue will be closed from Korean Veterans Boulevard to Demonbreun Street (reopens Monday, June 11 by 3:00 AM)
• 5:00 AM – Molloy Street will be closed from First to Second Avenues (reopens Monday, June 11 by 3:00 AM)
• 5:00 AM – Demonbreun Street will be closed from First to Second Avenues (reopens Monday, June 11 by 3:00 AM)
• 6:00 AM – Broadway will be closed from Second to Fourth Avenues (reopens Monday, June 11 by 2:00 AM)
• 6:00 AM – Demonbreun Street will be closed from Fourth to Sixth Avenues (reopens Monday, June 11 by 2:00 AM)

Road closures beginning Monday, June 11:
• 7:00 AM – The northbound lane of First Avenue will be closed from Broadway to Church Street (reopens Monday, June 11 by 7:00 PM)
• 9:00 AM – The southbound lane of Fifth Avenue will be closed from Demonbreun Street to Broadway (reopensMonday, June 11 by 3:00 PM)

Meters will be bagged on the following streets:
• Sunday, June 3 at 11:59 PM – Korean Veterans Boulevard from Fifth to Eighth Avenues (becomes availableMonday, June 11 by 6:00 AM)
• Monday, June 4 at 8:00 PM – Fourth Avenue from Korean Veterans Boulevard to Commerce Street, as well as Second Avenue from Korean Veterans Boulevard to Union Street, and Broadway from First to Sixth Avenues (becomes available Monday, June 11 by 1:00 AM)
Fifth Avenue from Korean Veterans Boulevard to Demonbreun Street and Demonbreun Street from Fifth to Sixth Avenues will be closed Thursday through Sunday, June 7-10 from 7:00 AM-7:00 PM daily.

Belmont Alumnus Frank Rogers, Wife Jessica Create Curb College Scholarship

Frank Rogers, founder and president of Fluid Music Revolution, and his wife Jessica recently made possible a $50,000 scholarship endowment at Belmont University’s Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business. Rogers graduated from Belmont in 1994 with a degree in music business.

“I was a Belmont scholarship recipient, and I want to afford the same opportunity to other students,” said Rogers. “I want to support students who will be a part of a healthy, creative future for the music industry. Belmont is a unique school with unique opportunities for students. Giving to Belmont allows students to learn, grow and experience things they could not do anywhere else in the world.”

“Belmont is so grateful to have alumni like Frank and Jessica who are investing in the lives of young people who share their passion for music,” said Sarah Cates, Director of development and industry relations for the Curb College. “Like scholarships played a role in Frank’s education, it’s inspiring to see someone pay it forward out of their gratitude.”

Born in Florence, South Carolina, Rogers is a producer, songwriter, musician, publisher and label exec who has worked with countless artists throughout his career, including fellow alumni Brad Paisley, Brandy Clark and Josh Turner, as well as Carrie Underwood, Chris Stapleton, Dolly Parton, Darius Rucker, Sheryl Crow and Darryl Worley. He has achieved 40 No. 1 songs, more than 70 Top 20 songs, and multiple RIAA certified Multi-platinum, Platinum and Gold records. He has received 18 CMA award nominations (with one win), 27 ACM award nominations (with five wins), and has been named Billboard‘s No. 1 Hot Country Producer Award five times (2006–2010) and MusicRow Magazine Producer of the Year four times (2005, 2007, 2008 and 2009).  He has produced 17 Grammy-nominated songs or albums including four Grammy winners.