Music Biz Honors Cary Sherman, Nile Rodgers, Scooter Braun, Russ Solomon

Pictured (L-R): Sarah Trahern, CMA Chief Executive Officer; Cary Sherman, Chairman and CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America; Kelsea Ballerini, and James Donio, Music Business Association President. Photo: Hunter Berry/CMA

The 2018 Music Biz conference hosted two awards programs during its Nashville event, a breakfast on May 16, and a luncheon on May 17.

The breakfast honored the RIAA’s retiring Chairman/CEO Cary Sherman with the Presidential Award for Outstanding Executive Achievement. Sherman, who joined the RIAA in 1997, is credited with helping enact legislation that is the foundation of helping artists get paid for streaming music.

Pictured (L-R): James Donio, Cary Sherman. Photo: Music Biz

Sherman mentioned his RIAA successor, Mitch Glazier, “You made this transition easy, and even fun…This is the first time someone from the policy side of the business has [received this award] so that makes it really special,” said Sherman in heartfelt remarks before offering advice.

“You have to be ahead of the curve—identifying problems before anyone knows it’s going to become one. Fortunately we got ahead of the curve on streaming. Back in the 1980s we imagined the possibility that someday someone would figure out how to beam music into a home for listening. So RIAA started lobbying congress to extend our limited copyright for sound recording to cover digital transmissions of music. We got legislation in 1995 and again in 1998, establishing the right to negotiate marketplace deals and be paid for what is now online streaming, which produces the bulk of our revenues today.”

Pictured (L-R): President of Music Business Association, James Donio and Sandra Chapin present an award to owner of School Boy Records and RBMG, Scooter Braun. Photo: Rick Diamond/Getty Images

Harry Chapin’s widow, Sandy Chapin presented mega-manager Scooter Braun with the Memorial Humanitarian Award. Braun delivered a keynote speech after the award.

“One of these days I’m going to actually prepare a speech,” said Braun. “This award is really a testament to a lot of people that aren’t on this stage, first of all my mother. Every holiday she would take us to soup kitchens. My brother is the founder of Pencils of Promise. As my life went on, I think I became attracted to people like that, because I married someone who has dedicated their life to that. My wife is the founder of Fuck Cancer.

“At 36 years old I’ve had a very unique and lucky career. I’ve been to the top of a mountain I never thought I’d get to. And what I saw there was very different than what I expected. I thought being a part of Grammys, No. 1 records and tours would feel like success. I can tell you the greatest moments of my career has been hanging out with friends and family and being a part of just music.

“A year ago the terror attack happened in Manchester. I appreciate that One Love Manchester is a part of this [award], but I wish it was something we never had to do. Unfortunately, my belief is this won’t be the last time we see something like this—we’ve seen Vegas happen. That evil is going to continue to exist, and we as an industry have a responsibility of those we lost. I met over 20 families where someone is not ever coming home. For the rest of my life I will carry them with me, and I know Ariana [Grande] will…She is exactly the role model we want her to be, and I couldn’t be more proud of her. I share this award with her…and any unsung hero out there.”

Pictured (L-R): Chairman of Music Biz, Fred Beteille presents an award to Nile Rodgers. Photo: Rick Diamond/Getty Images

Legendary producer/artist/writer/arranger Nile Rodgers was honored with Chairman’s Award for sustained creative achievement. He has credits on album sales totaling 500 million. He is currently Chief Creative Advisor at Abbey Road Studio. Rodgers recalled gambling on a newcomer, Madonna. Rodgers forewent an advance from the label with the assurance that if the project moved more than 3 million, he would retroactively receive “an embarrassing, really high number. We sold 25 million records,” recalled Rodgers. “I say this with complete humility.

“I’ve been in this business all my life. I do this job because I love the artists I work with and I love the labels I fight with. If I make wacky mistakes, it’s not because of ego, it’s because I’m trying to do something groundbreaking that we can look back upon years later. In this business, where we have a lot of people who are not necessarily trying to be original—but trying to make hits.”

Pictured (L-R): Sr. Product Manager at TiVo, Kyle Smetanka, director Colin Hanks, Patti Solomon, Michael Solomon, President of Music Business Association James Donio, CEO of BuzzAngle Music Jim Lidestri and Chairman of Music Biz, Fred Beteille. Photo: Rick Diamond/Getty Images

During the Music Biz luncheon, the organization honored the late Tower Records founder Russ Solomon as the inaugural inductee to the Music Business Hall of Fame. Solomon was noted to have created and revolutionized music retail, operating his once-billion dollar business and achieving the Forbes 400 list. Although Solomon unexpectedly passed in March, Donio assured attendees that Solomon was aware of his induction. Widow Patty and son Michael accepted on his behalf, alongside the director of the 2015 All Things Must Pass documentary, Colin Hanks.

“My father received many rewards during his lifetime,” said Michael Solomon. “There were some awards he took more seriously. There was one annual award, however that Russ took very seriously and competed for it—wanting to win it more than anything. That award was NARMS Retailer of the Year. He wanted this award to honor the entire Tower family, he felt very strongly about Tower as a whole.”

Pictured (L-R): James Donio, Dilyn Radakovitz. Photo: Music Biz

Wrapping the breakfast was the presentation of the Independent Spirit Award to the Radakovitz Family, owners of the Sacramento, California-based record store chain Dimple Records. With seven retail locations, Dimple Records promotes local artists, labels and studios; selling tickets in-store for shows at local venues; running charity events and supports music and sports programs in school curriculums. The Radakovitz famiy even purchased the final venture of Russ Solomon, also based in Sacramento.

Dilyn Radakovitz accepted the award for their 52 years in the music business on behalf of her family, including John, her husband of 50-years and sons Oliver and Andrew. John was absent due to an eye surgery. Dilyn serves on boards, including that co-organizing Record Store Day, which was announced at the breakfast to have sold more vinyl albums than any other RSD (733,000), with 80 percent of those sold at independent retailers.

Additional appearances at the Music Biz breakfast included Black River recording artist Kelsea Ballerini and breakfast sponsor CMA’s Sarah Trahern. Ballerini was surprised with a plaque from Sherman and the RIAA, certifying her “Legends” Gold. Donio was surprised for his 30-years of service to the 60-year-old Music Biz/NARM by board Chair and Facebook representitive Fred Beteille and board Vice Chair Steve Harkins, of entertainment distributor Baker & Taylor.

The luncheon additionally honored an absent Julia Michaels with the Breakthrough Artist Award; the record-breaking success of ‘Despacito’ with the Outstanding Achievement Award; and Ed Sheeran with its Artist of the Year honor.

Pictured (L-R): Kelsea Ballerini, Cary Sherman. Photo: Music Biz

Justin Tranter (R) and manager Beka Tischker (R) accept Julia Michaels’ award onstage. Photo: Rick Diamond/Getty Images

James Donio. Photo: Music Biz

Lillie Mae, Delta Saints, MONA To Perform At Summer NAMM

Lillie Mae, The Delta Saints and MONA are set to perform at this year’s Summer NAMM, the annual mid-year gathering of the music and pro audio industry, in Nashville on June 30 at the Music City Center as part of the [email protected] program. The program draws leading and often undiscovered talent from across the region to showcase their music and performance abilities.

The artists are performing on the NAMM Reverb Stage as part of the Summer NAMM Make Music Experience (MME): an all-day, all-access pass for professionals who want to demo the latest music and pro audio gear, meet with top manufacturers, and explore career-enhancing education and networking opportunities with the music industry’s top insiders.

Summer NAMM will also bring the fan-favorite World’s Fastest Drummer competition, where drummers will vie to win the “Battle of the Hands” or “Battle of the Feet.” Preliminaries will be held Thursday and Friday from 5-6 PM, and the finals Saturday morning at 10 AM.

Tickets to MME are $10 before June 29 and available at

[email protected] Performers for 2018 Summer NAMM:
Thursday, June 28
11:00 AM       Ginger Cowgirl
12:00 PM       Oddnote
1:00 PM         mmhmm
2:00 PM         Hit Dog Hollar
3:00 PM         D’Angelico Pick Up & Play Giveaway
4:00 PM         Magnolia Wind
5:00 PM         World’s Fastest Drummer Prelims

Friday, June 29
11:00 AM       Dixie Jade
12:00 PM       Chase Walker
1:00 PM         Eric Dates
2:00 PM         Mean Mary & the Contrarys
3:00 PM         D’Angelico Pick Up & Play Giveaway
4:00 PM         Jon Hammond Funk Unit
5:00 PM         World’s Fastest Drummer Prelims

Saturday, June 30: The Make Music Experience
10:00 AM       World’s Fastest Drummer Finals
11:00 AM       D’Angelico Pick Up & Play Giveaway
12:00 PM       Lillie Mae
1:30 PM         The Delta Saints
3:00 PM         MONA

Bobby Karl Works The Room: Preview Blake Shelton’s Ole Red Nashville Venture

Chapter 591

Is it possible to be both a honky-tonk and a dining destination?

The Blake Shelton-themed Ole Red nightclub on Lower Broadway hopes so. During preview parties this week, the venue hosted press mavens, social-media tastemakers, music-industry folks and radio leaders to sample its visual, audio and taste delights.

So Chuck Aly, Sam Aly, Julie Boos, Charlie Cook, Erin Hay Curtis, Marie Miscia, Laramie Lomanto, Miss Mary and I decided to r.s.v.p. for a soiree there on Wednesday, May 16. The club’s “soft opening” was May 1, so the main floor was already rocking to the cover tunes by Yankton. Lead singer Tom Yankton adroitly serenaded the crowd with everything from “Brand New Man” to “Wanted Dead Or Alive.”

In our V.I.P., roped-off zone on the mezzanine, we sipped something called a Tishomingo Sunset, which involved habanero whiskey, orange moonshine, grenadine and soused cherries. Appetizers included burger sliders, fried pickles, raw oysters, BBQ pork sliders and shrimp-salad toast points.

The décor was “country eclectic.” I noted both a stuffed buffalo head on a wall and an upside-down red tractor suspended from the ceiling.
Next, we were escorted up to The Hall at Ole Red on the third floor. This is a beautifully lit, spacious event space that can be decorated to suit. Here, we were welcomed by Lisaann Dupont, the director of communications for Opry Entertainment. Ole Red is located on the site of the old Opry gift shop at 3rd Ave. & Broadway.

“We’re glad you guys came out to see what we do here,” said executive chef Garrett Pittler. “Our menu is what I call ‘upscale honky-tonk food.’” Pittler was previously with the Omni and Loew’s Vanderbilt hotels and with City Winery.

Our dinner menu featured home-style servings of collard greens, mashed potatoes, poutine on “housemade” tater tots topped with a fried egg, pickled cauliflower, biscuits with apple butter and kale salad. The attendees were particularly enthusiastic about the fried broccoli with corn meal and parmesan cheese.

The venue’s signature dish is “champagne fried chicken,” so-named because the chicken is marinated in the “the champagne of bottle beers,” Miller. I sampled a wing and a drum.

Our next stop was The Lookout, the venue’s fifth-story rooftop bar. This is where desserts were served. The “donut wall” was hung with dozens of different circular concoctions. The Lookout’s décor is gleaming, sleek, metallic and modern.

What’s more noteworthy is its height, surely the tallest on Lower Broad. We overlooked the Bridgestone Arena, the Nissan Stadium, the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Seigenthaler pedestrian bridge, where Kathy Mattea was shooting an album cover photo with manager Marc Dottore in tow.

The Lookout’s signature cocktails were/are the Honey Bee with gin, honey, lavender and lemon, as well as Cumberland Punch, involving rum, pineapple liqueur, combier, orgeat, angostura bitters (I never heard of these things either) and lime juice, plus an edible orchid.

The 26,000-square-foot Ole Red Nashville is billed as a “highly anticipated partnership between Ryman Hospitality and Opry member Blake Shelton.” It will officially open during the CMA Music Fest, June 6-10. The star will be there on the 6th, following the CMT Awards, in a “Blake Shelton and Friends” concert. Tix will be distributed via a contest for fans.

There is a previous Ole Red in Toshomingo, Oklahoma, Blake’s hometown. There is a future one (planned for 2019) in Gatlinburg.

The Nashville location is in the heart of a district that also features honky-tonks and/or eating establishments branded by Dierks Bentley, Alan Jackson, John Rich, Florida Georgia Line, George Jones and B.B. King. Next up will be a Jason Aldean joint, slated to open across the street from Ole Red. Good luck with that.

Dierks Bentley, Luke Bryan, Dustin Lynch, Kelsea Ballerini Set For CMA Fest’s Fan Fair X

Dierks Bentley, Luke Bryan, Dustin Lynch, and Kelsea Ballerini will all participate in the CMA’s Artist Of The Day Sessions from the Close Up stage as part of Xfinity Fan Fair X, CMA Fest’s Ultimate Country Music Fan Experience, at Music City Center June 7-10.

Each artist will be spotlighted and offer a glimpse into their careers from the Close Up Stage, with Bentley appearing on Thursday, Bryan on Friday, Lynch on Saturday and Ballerini on Sunday.

Additional Close Up Stage programming includes:
• Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum presents an interview with 2018 inductee Ricky Skaggs, hosted by Museum Editor Peter Cooper
• The Making of Words with Sara Evans, joined by producer Mark Bright, songwriters Victoria Banks and Emily Shackelton, and hosted by CMT’s Leslie Fram
• “Good Ole Days” – A look at Tracy Lawrence’s career through the lens of his latest album, Good Ole Days, hosted by SiriusXM’s Storme Warren
• “How to Survive Anything” with Naomi Judd
• Bluebird Café songwriters round featuring Jake Etheridge, Adam Hambrick and Tenille Townes
• Songwriters round with Bill Anderson and Bobby BareThe full CMA Close Up Stage lineup is available on the CMA Fest app. Additional stages and programming taking place at Xfinity Fan Fair X will be announced soon. Tickets for Xfinity Fan Fair X are available for $10 each day or $25 for a four-day pass and are available at All outdoor daytime stages as well as nightly performances at the Cracker Barrel Country Roads Stage at Ascend Amphitheater are free and open to the public. Fans can purchase the CMA Fest Nash Pass, allowing a limited amount of VIP early access to nightly shows at the Cracker Barrel Country Roads Stage at Ascend Amphitheater. The Nash Pass will also include Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum tour, Ryman Auditorium tour and four-day admission to Xfinity Fan Fair X.

Weekly Chart Report (5/18/17)

Click here or above to access MusicRow’s weekly CountryBreakout Report.

Country Music Association Joins Industry Partners At Music Biz

Pictured (L-R): Margaret Hart, YouTube Manager of Artist & Label Relations; Brittany Schaffer, Spotify Head of Artist & Label Services; Beville Dunkerley, Pandora Nashville Director of Artist Marketing & Industry Relations; Karen Stump, CMA Senior Director of Market Research; Emily Cohen, Amazon Music Country Music Curator; Annie Ortmeier, Universal Music Group Nashville VP of Marketing – Digital Accounts. Photo: Caitlin Harris/CMA

The Country Music Association engaged with industry partners at panels and presentations during this year’s Music Biz conference, held this week in Nashville.

On Tuesday (May 15), CMA presented “The Country Consumer: The Next Phase of Streaming Growth,” an in-depth look at how the industry continues to grow country streaming consumption not only here in the U.S. but around the globe. The panel, introduced by Karen Stump, CMA Senior Director of Market Research, and moderated by Annie Ortmeier, Universal Music Group Nashville VP of Marketing – Digital Accounts, reached full capacity and featured speakers Emily Cohen, Amazon Music Country Music Curator, Beville Dunkerley, Pandora Nashville Director of Artist Marketing & Industry Relations, Margaret Hart, YouTube Manager of Artist & Label Relations, and Brittany Schaffer, Spotify Head of Artist & Label Services.

Sarah Trahern, CMA Chief Executive Officer, welcomes attendees at the CMA-sponsored Awards Breakfast & Presentations during the Music Biz 2018 conference Wednesday (May 16) in Nashville. Photo: Hunter Berry/CMA

DISClaimer: Americana Music Highlights Blue-Eyed Soul

With its 2018 award-nominations announcement, Americana music is in the news this week.

This roundup of the genre’s current offerings includes such stalwarts as Buffy Sainte-Marie and Riders in the Sky as well as hot newer acts such as Parker Millsap and Old Crow Medicine Show.

Both of today’s award winners are appearing in DisClaimer for the first time. Both of them display outstanding blue-eyed soul. Nathaniel Ratliff & The Night Sweats win the Disc of the Day. While Andrew Duhon is our DisCovery Award winner.

DON GALLARDO/Something I Gotta Learn
Writers: Gaallardo/Carey Ott; Producer: Don Gallardo; Publishers: Second Floor Storey/Long Story Short, SESAC/ASCAP; Rock Ridge (track)
– This punchy country-rocker kicks off this Nashville troubadour’s Still Here CD. He has a plain, rumpled-shirt singing voice and a wily way with words. Recorded in East Nashville, the collection features an esteemed cast of sidemen.

Writers: Ketch Secor; Producer: Dave Cobb; Publishers: Blood Donor/Do Write, BMI; Columbia
– This wildly entertaining Grand Ole Opry string band jumps from lively, old-timey hoedowns to country-rocking toe tappers on its new Volunteer collection. This rolling, easy-going tune is a lilting, highly commercial romance ditty. I remain an immense fan.

LLOYD GREEN & JAY DEE MANESS/You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere
Writer: Bob Dylan; Producer: John Macy; Publishers: none listed; Coastal Blend
-Green and Maness have re-imagined The Byrds’ epochal Sweetheart of the Rodeo LP as an instrumental, steel-guitar outing. This signature Dylan tune occurs twice on the CD, once as a jaunty album-opening instrumental and once as an album-closing vocal performance (the only one on the album). This whole project makes sense, you see, because these two steel men appeared on the original 1968 album.

MARK OTIS SELBY/There’s Your Trouble
Writers: Mark Selby/Tia Sillers; Producers: Brent Maher, Mark Selby, Charles Yingling; Publishers: none listed; Naked Sessions
– Nashville singer-songwriter Mark Selby passed away last year. His song demos form the basis of a new album titled Naked Sessions. Frequent collaborator Kenny Wayne Shepherd appears (on the intense, highly recommended “Rise Up’). But as Selby demonstrated so often during his too-brief life, he has solo charisma to spare. This song of his turned out to be the breakthrough hit for the Dixie Chicks. His own version is punctuated with harmonica as well as his able guitar work. The album serves as the first of what is planned to be a series of similar, stripped-down troubadour collections. Heartily endorsed.

PARKER MILLSAP/Other Arrangements
Writer: Millsap; Producers: Shani Gandhi, Parker Millsap & Gary Paczosa; Publishers: Northwentz/Wixen, BMI; Okra Homa/Thirty Tigers
– The title tune of Millsap’s newest album is a choppy, guitar-embellished thumper featuring his always-gripping, soulful, strangulated, searing vocals. I love the way he vaults from gritty low notes to falsetto exclamations. If this man isn’t already on your musical radar, put him there now.

Writers: Doug Green/Hoot Hester; Producer: Joey Miskulin; Publishers: Songs of the Sage/Buck Run, BMI; Riders Radio
– We think of these Opry favorites as cowboy-music revivalists. Their anniversary album, 40 Years the Cowboy Way, certainly bears this out with its reworkings of “Cimarron,” “Big Iron,” “Mule Train,” “Mollie Darling,” “The Blue Juniata,” “Press Along to the Big Corral” and the like. But this lovely ballad shows that the group is equally capable of crafting new songs in the classic manner. Also don’t miss Too Slim’s merry parody “I’ve Cooked Everything.”

Writer: Nathaniel Rateliff; Producer: Richard Swift; Publisher: Born in the Flood, ASCAP; Stax
– This band is my latest passion. Their recipe includes a dash of Van Morrison stirred with flavors of The Band and Muscle Shoals and more than a pinch of cayenne pepper. This moody, relentlessly soulful track builds in intensity and drive as it plays. As far as I’m concerned, it could have kept on doing that forever. It comes from the group’s second Stax album, Tearing at the Seams. Stop what you’re doing right now and buy both it and the act’s eponymously titled Stax debut. You can thank me later. There’s a reason why Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats are nominated as Americana Music’s Group of the Year.

ANDREW DUHON/Comin’ Around
Writer: Andrew Duhon; Producer: Eric Masse; Publisher: none listed; AD (track)
– This New Orleans based artist traveled to Music City to craft his new False River collection. It kicks off with this rippling, swirling, rhythm-soaked fever dream. This is sound to get lost in, effortlessly soulful and jazzy in a breezy kinda way. The record officially drops a week from Friday. Get it.

Writer: Buffy Sainte-Marie; Producers: Chris Birkett/Buffy Sainte-Marie; Publishers: Caleb/Kobalt, ASCAP; True North (track)
– The album that contains this, Medicine Songs, won a Juno Award in Canada in March. The collection includes old favorites such as “Little Wheel Spin and Spin,” “Universal Soldier” and “My Country ‘Tis of Thy People You’re Dying” (but not her most famous songs “Until It’s Time For You to Go” or “Up Where We Belong”). Its new songs reveal that she is as committed to social justice and political commentary as ever. This stinging rebuke of capitalist violence finds her in a husky-voiced, accusative, quasi-spoken mode. We need more principled artists like her.

Writers: Bob Saporiti/David Ross; Producers: Bob Saporiti, Brett R. Stewart and Chris Tench; Publishers: Songhenge/Songs of BossRoss, SESAC/BMI; Amerikandy (track)
MusicRow Magazine founder David Ross came to town as a songwriter. Now, 40 years later, he has his first cut. It’s a collaboration with the iconoclastic rocker Reckless Johnny Wales. The track features a stirring, dark rhythm track and bright bursts of electric guitar beneath a compelling, passionate lead vocal. The new album is called Runaway Train of Thoughts. Saporiti used to be a WB exec, but he has successfully reinvented himself as an admirable, mighty entertaining roots rocker.

YouTube Music Streaming Service Coming May 22

On May 22, YouTube will introduce YouTube Music, a new streaming service made for music, including official songs, albums, playlists and artist radio, plus YouTube’s catalog of remixes, live performances, covers and videos.

YouTube Music includes a revamped mobile app and new desktop player designed for music. YouTube Music’s personalized home screen adapts to provide recommendations based on people’s listening history, where they are and what they’re doing.

The new ad-supported version of YouTube Music is free, while YouTube Music Premium, a paid membership offering background listening, downloads and an ad-free experience, is $9.99/month. Google Play Music subscribers get a YouTube Music Premium membership as part of their subscription each month, but will also still be able to access all of their purchased music, uploads and playlists in Google Play Music as normal.

YouTube has plans to launch YouTube Premium, the new name for their YouTube Red subscription service, which includes ad-free, background and offline across all of YouTube, as well as access to all YouTube Originals. YouTube Premium will continue to provide an ad-free experience, background play, and downloads across the millions of videos on YouTube. But because it includes the new YouTube Music service, the price will be $11.99 for all new members. Current YouTube Red (soon to be YouTube Premium) members can still enjoy the current price.

On May 22, the You:Tube Music experience will launch not only in the U.S., but in Australia, New Zealand, Mexico and South Korea, with plans to launch later in Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.


ole Announces Sale of CEO Stake, Robert Ott to Continue as CEO

ole has announced its CEO and founder, Robert Ott, has sold his stake in the company to founding equity partner Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (Ontario Teachers’). Ott, a veteran of the music industry who founded ole in 2004, will continue to lead ole under a new term as CEO.

“This transaction underscores Ontario Teachers’ commitment to ole and concludes the process that ole ran last year to optimize its capital structure,” Ott said. “I am very pleased to continue to work with Ontario Teachers’ and to lead ole into a new era from the foundation of the great success story we’ve built together over these many years. ole is well-capitalized and is extremely well-positioned to lead and benefit from the disruption and globalization that our Industry is experiencing.”

The company currently operates out of eight offices in the U.S., UK and Canada, and is home to artists like Rush and Timbaland.

Ott added, “I am very excited about the new initiatives that we are working on and with this renewed commitment from Ontario Teachers’ and I look forward to an unprecedented era of growth.”

Ontario Teachers’ Senior Managing Director Ziad Hindo, Capital Markets, commented, “We look forward to the opportunity to further support the continued growth of an iconic, Canadian-based company with a proven track record like ole.”

ole has also been experiencing its most successful creative period with eight No. 1 songs on the US Country charts and top charting singles in the Pop and Urban space with artists such as Justin Timberlake and Sam Smith. The company is in diversified but complementary businesses in music publishing, recorded music labels, production music, a YouTube MCN and global rights management.

Music Biz 2018: Branding, A Case Study: Durango and Tyler Farr

The Music Biz 2018 conference delved into artist and brand management during a panel discussion on Wednesday (May 16), as industry execs examined the newly-minted partnership between Durango boots and Tyler Farr. Paul Jankowski of New Heartland Group moderated the panel of VP & GM for Durango, Mike Fuller, and John Zarling, the EVP, Marketing & New Business at Sony Music Nashville.

Developing the Partnership

“For [Durango], Tyler just fits the brand’s persona so well. He lives the lifestyle, he hunts, he is a western-influenced guy and he relates really well with our customer base. We had an opportunity to elevate both brands,” Fuller said.

Zarling echoed, “When you have an artist and a brand that so naturally tie together where it is already a part of [Farr’s] everyday life, it is a really easy discussion to say ‘Do you want to be involved in a deeper way?’. I think the music part took it to another level.”

Jankowski added, “When we are approached by brands to find artists, there are several criteria we look at. Number one is ‘What is their social influence, and how do we leverage their influence?’ Key take away two: for both parties in this deal, it brought them into non-traditional space. Durango to music and Tyler to 150 boot/western stores. Number three is measurability and that is through sales.”

Creating Content

Farr recently released an exclusive five-song EP presented by Durango. It features three of Farr’s previous No. 1 hits and two new tracks. The CD is a free gift with purchase(GWP) both online and in-store through May 31.

“From a label side anytime we look at partnerships,” Zarling commented, “we certainly want music, if not front and center to the marketing campaign. This [CD] serves as a great bridge between projects for Tyler where the two tracks that had not been released will be on his upcoming full length [album]. For us, it was a great way to seed interests into the next record. You have to be living under a rock to realize that the opportunity for exposing [CDs] is going away. When we have a partner like Durango that can get us into non-traditional places across their network, it’s appealing. Especially in country, we do still have a fanbase that is buying physical.”

Structure of the Deal

Going further than the CD, Fuller goes into detail about their role in the partnership. “We have a landing page devoted to Tyler Farr,” says Fuller. “We created a back-end merchandising store for Tyler called, Tyler’s Picks. What is key about that is a revenue-based share for Tyler on what he sells through the website. We are utilizing his Facebook page and cross-marketing that with ours. This whole thing creates an emotional connection with our consumers and that is the goal.”