ASCAP Expo Hosts ‘Making It In Music City’ Panel

Pictured (L-R): Head of Global Programming for Country Music at Spotify John Marks, Manager Tom Lord, Agent Kevin Meads, Vice President, A&R at Warner/Chappell Music Ryan Beuschel and Musician Adam Sanders

ASCAP’s “Making It In Music City” panel from ASCAP’s “I Create Music” EXPO, the country’s largest conference for songwriters and producers, brought together leading figures from across the music industry to discuss what it takes to break into today’s music scene in Nashville.

Panel members included Spotify’s John Marks, William Morris’ Kevin Meads, Warner/Chappell’s Ryan Beuschel, Red Light Management’s Tom Lord and chart-topping songwriter Adam Sanders (Luke Bryan, Dierks Bentley, Dustin Lynch, Cole Swindell).

Using Sanders’ own decade-long career as a case study, the group provided insights about finding key mentors and seeking out artists you believe in to work with.

Sanders met his first “champion,” Ryan Beuschel (of ASCAP at the time) while playing a writers’ round in a Nashville dive bar at 2:30 in the afternoon on a Tuesday. Beuschel was enamored with Sanders’ songwriting, and within the month had introduced him to every publisher he knew, garnering half a dozen offers.

Sanders said he sought out mentors in different areas of the music industry to develop as effective a brain trust as he possibly could. This included early support from John Marks, who guided him through the world of radio (while a SiriusXM producer) and streaming (as a Spotify exec) while he began his performance career.

Sanders attributes 90 percent of his songwriting credits to pre-fame friendships he had built with artists in Nashville. A specific example was Cole Swindell, who Sanders became friendly with when he was a construction worker and Swindell was selling merch. Together they wrote a song called “Ain’t Worth The Whiskey” as Cole was reeling from the end of a relationship, and six years later the pals took it to No. 1 on the country charts.

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About the Author

Hollabaugh, a staff writer at MusicRow magazine, has over 20 years of music business experience and has written for publications including American Profile, CMA Close Up, Nashville Arts And Entertainment, The Boot and Country Weekly. She has a Broadcast Journalism and Speech Communication degree from Texas Christian University, (go Horned Frogs), and welcomes your feedback or story ideas at [email protected]

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