2018 MusicRow Awards: Breakthrough Artist Of The Year Nominees


Voted by MusicRow’s subscribed members to honor a Nashville artist who achieved significant career progress for the first time.

The MusicRow Awards will be presented at a private ceremony. 

See the full list of nominees. 

Winners are determined solely by MusicRow subscribers. Voting closes on May 25 at 5 p.m. If you do not have a subscription, you can subscribe to receive a ballot.

Kane Brown
Kane Brown’s skyrocketing year earned a Guinness World Record, as the first artist to simultaneously top five Billboard Country charts, thanks to his self-titled album, and the songs “Heaven” and “What Ifs.” The Georgia native scored his first major radio success with the doublePlatinum No. 1 “What Ifs” featuring childhood friend turned hitmaker Lauren Alaina. That song, as well as Brown’s follow-up, “Heaven,” were tracked by MusicRow Producer of the Year nominee Dann Huff. Next up, listen for Brown as the guest on a new genre-crossing version of Camila Cabello’s “Never Be The Same.”

Luke Combs
Luke Combs is a major force among country’s rising stars. The self-made songwriter and road warrior built a fan base by touring and releasing music independently prior
to signing a record deal. His 2017 major label debut This One’s For You earned Gold certification and yielded the two-times Platinum single “Hurricane.” The breakout song topped the Billboard Country Airplay chart and Mediabase chart for two consecutive weeks. This makes Combs the first debut country artist to hold a multi-week No. 1 since Florida Georgia Line with “Cruise.” Combs followed “Hurricane” with “When It Rains It Pours” and “One Number Away,” earning those co-writers nominations in MusicRow’s Breakthrough Songwriter category.

LANCO has come a long way since their early days practicing in a carpet warehouse. Fast forward five years, 400 shows and one old RV later, and the hard working band is the first country group in a decade to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard Country albums charts. The band is made up of Brandon Lancaster and company: Chandler Baldwin, Jared Hampton, Tripp Howell and Eric Steedly. Their success was driven largely by the multi-week chart-topper “Greatest Love Story,” one of the 11 tracks Lancaster wrote for the album Hallelujah Nights. Helmed by MusicRow Producer of the Year nominee Jay Joyce, the album tallied more than 220 million digital streams as of March. LANCO wrapped a sold-out club run in major markets before touring the UK and joining Dierks Bentley for their first amphitheater trek.

Midland’s remarkable mix of ‘90s country and Texas twang proved irresistible for music fans. Donning Nudie-style suits, Mark Wystrach, Jess Carson and Cameron Duddy wooed listeners with debut single “Drinkin’ Problem,” which went to No. 1 and earned Platinum certification. The trio took home the ACM Award for New Vocal Group of the Year, and scored two Grammy nominations. They followed that success with current single “Burn Out” and a Spanish version of “Drinkin’ Problem” featuring Jay De La Cueva. Midland didn’t spend much time at home in Dripping Springs, Texas over the last year, as they were busy on major tours with Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, Kenny Chesney, Little Big Town and Thomas Rhett.

Carly Pearce
Carly Pearce’s “Every Little Thing” went to No. 1 and earned her the highest charting solo female debut single since July 2015. The Gold-certified breakout hit was co-written by Pearce, Emily Shackleton and busbee, who scored nominations for MusicRow Breakthrough Songwriter and Producer of the Year, respectively. Pearce’s followup single “Hide The Wine” is now climbing the charts. During the last year, Pearce spent time on the road with Blake Shelton, and will join Thomas Rhett, Rascal Flatts and Luke Bryan for upcoming dates. Pearce, a longtime hard worker, has been singing since age 8 and honed her skills by performing at Dollywood as a teenager.

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About the Author

Jessica Nicholson serves as the Managing Editor for MusicRow magazine. Her previous music journalism experience includes work with Country Weekly magazine and Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) magazine. She holds a BBA degree in Music Business and Marketing from Belmont University. She welcomes your feedback at [email protected]

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