Centric Entertainment Opens In Nashville

Global strategy and marketing services company Centric Entertainment, led by founder/Chairman & CEO Larry Beckwith, has opened in Nashville.

COO Bill Hankins said, “Centric is committed to the idea that each brand is unique and requires an individualized, tailored strategy and consistent messaging to achieve the greatest audience reach.”

Jen Bontusa, VP of Brand Strategy & Advancement said, “We’ve assembled a top-notch team capable of leading marketing and branding campaigns across the spectrum of music, fashion, sports and entertainment.”

Other companies in the Centric family include Align Music Group (led by Abbey Adams) and Centric Screenworks (led by Ally Venable).

For more, visit centricentertainment.com.

UMG’s Annie Ortmeier and Tony Grotticelli Welcome Ad Partners During Music Biz Panel

Pictured (L-R) Tony Grotticelli, Kim Pham, Jeppe Faurfelt, Annie Ortmeier. Photo: Instagram/Music Biz

Universal Music Group Nashville’s VP Marketing and Digital Accounts Annie Ortmeier led a panel on digital advertising Tuesday (May 15) at Music Biz called Flip That S#!t.

“As the industry has shifted from a physical/download medium to streaming, we’ve shifted from a click-rate model to an engagement model,” said Ortmeier. “About two years ago we started to run entirely different campaigns to streaming audiences versus download audiences. We saw a much higher engagement rate with streaming audiences.”

Ortmeier’s team member at UMG, VP Digital Marketing Tony Grotticelli participated with the panel alongside Kim Pham from UMG’s advertising agency Dash Two and Jeppe Faurfelt of Linkfire, which provides extensive insights behind clicks.

Pushing To Playlists

“It’s not, ‘How do we get people to buy,’ it’s, ‘How do we get people to engage,” retorted Pham in reply to Ortmeier observing the click-rate evolution.

“You’re never gonna make your money back [promoting] a song,” said Grotticelli, to which Ortmeier explained. “If you’re releasing one single, we never just push to that three-minute track,” she said. “We always push to a playlist that’s often named for an album or single, but doesn’t stop with one song. It’s about 25+ songs that take the user on a journey.”

Keeping Fresh Data

“With Linkfire, we’ve been playing around with a lot of re-targeting strategies,” said Pham. “Really honing in on current fans. So we track down who views video up to a certain percentage, and practice ad sequencing.”

“If your trying to objective is to drive to streams, follows or playlists, then you should make it as seamless as possible to get there,” said Faurfelt. “One thing we suggest is removing the full video on your landing page.”

Ad Sequencing

Retargeting graphic shows four ad campaigns, retargeted based on audience metrics. Audience 1 targets fans of the artist/related artists and retargets the ‘bounced.’ Audience 2 retargets visitors who previously clicked through to a specific service (Spotify, for instance). Audience 3 had previously shown purchase intent. Audience 4 drives to known fans to buy concert tickets. [CLICK TO ENLARGE]

“One ad does not serve everybody anymore,” said Grotticelli, explaining how various ads are used throughout the promotion process.

“You’re not going to see the same message for six months, you’re gonna see nuances,” noted Ortmeier of ad fatigue. “There’s a balance in how many times you have to be hit with a message before you take an action.”

“We want the consumer to see our ads three times on the same platform, but not more than that,” reported Pham.

“It’s interesting because if you’re selling a ticket, you could move your objective to try to upsell to a VIP experience or sell some merchandise afterwards,” said Faurfelt of ad tailoring.

Perfecting The Process

“When we started [in this industry], people were optimizing for CPC (cost per click), thinking that if you clicked on a link then you were interested,” said Faurfelt “Maybe you just had fat fingers, and that wasn’t the case. It’s really what happens after you click.

“iTunes let’s us measure the impact of the traffic we’re sending there,” he continued of his company, who recently secured a partnership with Pandora to provide data insights. Adding to those third-party sites such also including Ticketmaster.

Grotticelli similarly praised Google/YouTube, Spotify and socials like Facebook, for the availability of that data. “If we get more data from your company that our ads work, we will serve more ads to you,” he declared.

“But we have touring data, merchandising data, streaming data, download data, how do you combine all those in to one dashboard,” asked Faurfelt of fragmentation challenges. “Or you have to think about the bounce rate. It may be that it’s not the right time for the fan to engage,” he continued. “You don’t want to shove things down [a superfan’s] throat because they’re going to find your content anyway, or at a different time. So success lies in interpreting all those signals that you can’t track all the time.”

“To be honest, we can’t put together a perfect ROI on streaming advertising just yet,” admitted Ortmeier, of all those struggles.

“We’re so fragmented,” Grotticelli concurred, citing the wide availability of digital music today. “But you’re talking about a label [UMG] that sold a ton of physical product with George Strait and Alan Jackson exclusives. It’s about taking a wholistic approach to marketing. By itself, in a silo, I don’t think any of this works—digital, traditional, billboard. But if I served you an ad and you saw a billboard, maybe there’s a chance you’d engage in the playlist.

Email and SMS

“Email is still very valuable,” said Ortmeier. “We can also advertise against or exclude people that are already on your list.

“We actually have a text that goes out every Friday with new playlists and the growth has been great, and unsubscribes have been really low,” she continued. “We don’t engage [texts] that often, because you can burn people very quickly. It has to be a very engaged consumer.”

“One of our artists has grown their mobile list larger than their email list,” cited Grotticelli.

Geo Targeting And Tours

“We primarily do geo-targeting with tours,” said Ortmeier. “We’ve done a lead-in saying, ‘Before you go, listen here.’ The engagement was really positive around it—friends were tagged they were going to the show with. Afterwards, we turned around to, ‘Relive your experience and listen again.'”

“[Geo Targeting] has been a really successful model for new artists,” said Grotticelli. “But it’s really venue specific if people are going to buy tickets digitally, or that day.”

“You can also do geo-targeted social posts, so it’s not just limited to ads,” added Pham.

“We’ve studied all Ticketmaster sales and we’ve been able to day-part when sales are made,” she continued. “Facebook and Google search are top drivers, and we found people buy tickets when they’re at work. And people like to buy on desktop.”

Keeping Artist Mystery?

“It all starts with the artist,” said Grotticelli. “We do not move until the artist says. If they want to be in the forefront, it’s up to them. You’ll see Kip Moore talking to his fans, or Keith Urban and his wife that’s super organic. We’re not telling people to break down the third wall—if you want to keep mystery, that’s okay. Sam Hunt’s a great example of that.”

“Artists less engaged socially is where we usually need to do more advertising,” realized Ortmeier. “Because we need to keep them in the conversation.”

“But if I had $1,000, I would say to put $900 into a cool video and $100 to get it out there,” concluded Grotticelli of his belief that quality art will find its way to the consumer.

Songwriters Celebrate 23rd Annual Key West Songwriters Festival

Florida Georgia Line performs on Wednesday night (May 9) at Tree Vibez’ benefit concert supporting Keys Strong Hurricane Relief.

Last week, BMI presented the 23rd Annual Key West Songwriter’s Festival.

Attendees had the chance to check out more than 100 of Nashville’s best songwriters playing free shows at venues across the island.

RaeLynn performs.

On Wednesday, May 9, Tree Vibez Music and Big Loud hosted a benefit concert at the San Carlos Theater to support Keys Strong Hurricane Relief. Tree Vibez Music, a publishing company created by Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley, curated an evening of music that featured performances from hit making songwriters including RaeLynn, Morgan Wallen, Corey Crowder, Craig Wiseman, and many more. Florida Georgia Line joined in the fun and helped to auction off a signed guitar to raise money to support the rebuilding of the Florida Keys in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

The Saturday night street party, curated by Sony Music Nashville, featured performances from Walker Hayes, Lanco, and Tyler Farr. Newcomers and legendary songwriters alike filled the five days with great songwriting and stories.

Pictured: BMI’s Jody Williams, BMI songwriters Emily Shackleton, Ryan Beaver and Adam James and Bluebird Café’s Erika Wollam Nichols gather for a photo at the Key West Songwriters Festival.

Dolly Parton, Linda Perry, Marcie Allen, Kelli Turner, Janet Weir Speak Out During Music Biz

Pictured (L-R): John Zarling, EVP, Marketing and New Business, Sony Music Nashville; Caryl Healey Atwood, VP, Sales and Streaming, Sony Music Nashville; Linda Perry; Danny Nozell, CTK Management; Dolly Parton; Darren Stupak, Executive VP/GM Sales, Sony Music Entertainment; Alaina Vehec, Director, Digital Sales and Streaming, Sony Music Nashville; and James Donio, President, Music Business Association prior to the Music’s Leading Ladies Speak Out program at Music Biz 2018 on May 15.

This year’s Music Biz conference is taking place in Nashville, and has welcomed several heavy hitters discussing their careers, including music legend Dolly Parton. The conference’s “Leading Ladies Speak Out” panel has become one of the event’s most highly-anticipated sessions, and 2018 was no exception.

Moderated by Billboard’s Melinda Newman, the session included a discussion about songwriting and collaboration with Dolly Parton and songwriter-producer Linda Perry, who has worked with Adele, Pink, and Christina Aguilera, among others.

Parton and Perry discussed their songwriting collaboration on music for the upcoming movie Dumplin’, which stars Jennifer Aniston. They revealed that the project, which includes six older Parton songs and six new songs, will feature Dolly in vocal collaborations with other female artists, including Sia and Miley Cyrus.

Perry praised Parton’s tireless work ethic and passion for music, which remains vivid after more than five decades in the industry.

“Most singers take days to cut one song,” Perry told Parton. “You cut six songs in one day! People ask me what I’m doing now—I’m not doing sh**, because I don’t wanna work with anyone else.”

Parton commented on her devotion to her career and her dream saying, “People ask ‘how do you work all the time?’ Because I dreamed myself into a corner. Now I have to be responsible for those dreams. And I couldn’t be happier, because every dream I have brings on a new dream, like a tree with deep roots and branches and a lotta leaves.”

Pictured (from left): Melinda Newman of Billboard conducts the Music’s Leading Ladies Speak Out Executive Keynote with Wendy Goldstein of Republic Records and Beka Tischker, manager of Music Biz 2018 Breakthrough Artist Julia Michaels, at Music Biz 2018 on May 15.

The session also featured discussions with several top music industry executives, including MAC Presents founder/president Marcie Allen, Republic Records exec Wendy Goldstein, manager Beka Tischker (Julia Michaels), CAA co-head of International Touring Marlene Tsuchii, SESAC’s Kelli Turner, and manager Janet Weir (Maren Morris).

Goldstein, known for discovering The Roots and signing a then-16-year-old Nickelodeon actress-singer Ariana Grande, discussed the early development process with Grande.

“Nickelodeon back then had a deal with Columbia Records, so every kid back then that was starring in a show automatically had a deal with Columbia. Ariana had a very smart mother, who knew her daughter wanted to be a recording artist more than she wanted to be a TV star. So her mother, very cleverly, had them put in Ariana’s contract that if she didn’t have a song that came out in six months, she was free and clear to walk. Now because she was a co-star on the show, and they couldn’t get the record right for the star of the show, they couldn’t put a record out on Ariana.”

On the suggestion of Monte Lipman, Goldstein visited Ariana and her mother. Grande was soon signed and began a two-year development process.

“We had to stumble on what was going to be her sound. What I learned from hip-hop is that the easiest way to break in is to do something different, and we did. One day it dawned on me that she’s a better R&B singer than she is a pop singer. She’s the new Mariah Carey. We went and made an R&B record. At 16, you are a sponge so the authenticity comes from exposure and learning. I like to think that my taste helped her develop her own taste and she’s taken it and ran with it.”

Goldstein also commented on artists she passed on during her career, including a young Kanye West. “He wasn’t ready yet,” Goldstein recalls of first hearing his music, “and we didn’t have the infrastructure to break him. He needed to have someone like Jay-Z put his arm around him. Part of being a great A&R person is understanding what works at the company you work at, and what we can bring, because one thing I’ve always held true to my heart is that I would never want to sign an artist that we couldn’t deliver for, because there is no greater tragedy in my mind than an artist that never happened because he wasn’t matched to the right situation.”

From left: Music’s Leading Ladies Speak Out presenters and panelists Beka Tischker, manager of Music Biz 2018 Breakthrough Artist Julia Michaels; Janet Weir, manager of Maren Morris at Red Light Management/42 Entertainment; Marlene Tsuchii of CAA; Erin Crawford of Nielsen Music; Wendy Goldstein of Republic Records; Marcie Allen of MAC Presents; Kelli Turner of SESAC; and Melinda Newman of Billboard at Music Biz 2018 on May 15.

As the session comes in the midst of the #metoo movement, and a heightened awareness of female presence in the upper echelons of the music industry, each woman commented on her experiences working in a male-dominated industry. Allen discussed a situation where she had to insist on having a seat at the table (literally).

“We had a meeting and there were about 18 people in the room. There was me and one other female colleague. We realized the meeting had been going on for about 30 minutes before we were told to arrive. There was literally two folding chairs against the wall. So I go and I stand right next to the agent because I closed this multi-million dollar sponsorship deal. I said, ‘I think we are short two chairs,’ and it was one of these moments where you think this is going to go really good or really bad. At that moment, he stood up and told another person to get up and my colleague and I sat at the head of the table. He got the two folding chairs, brought them over, and asked everyone to scoot down.”

“I think it’s important—I don’t like to be that person who talks all the time, that’s not me—but when a point needs to be made and you need to be at the head of the table and front and center, you find a way to get there,” added Turner. “That is something I had to learn over many years.”

“My story involved a mediocre gentleman from another country,” Tsuchii said. “I was the only female in the room. We started the meeting and halfway through, this man looks at me and says, ‘I want some tea.’” She recounted, drawing gasps from audience members. “I called over my assistant, who is male, and he got the tea.”

Weir, who previously managed Sixpence None The Richer and now manages Maren Morris, added, “If I say no to something, [I’ve seen that] person I’m saying no to will try to go to everyone else to convince me to say yes, or try to figure out a way around it. I’m not that frustrated by it because I know I’m the one who will make the decision and my artist has my back—we make these decisions together, but it happens a lot and it surprises me. That is one thing that I don’t know if it that would happen as much to certain male managers.”

Allen reinforced the importance of female industry members supporting each other.

“One woman lifts up another woman, and then another and another and another,” said Allen, who noted that 80 percent of her staff is female. “We need to lead by example and support one another. There are so many other facets of the music industry where that’s not the case — but when we tear each other down, let me tell you, you don’t want to be on that list. You think this room is small? This music business is small, everyone knows everything that’s going on, and women, more so than ever, are all looking out for one another, whether it’s a job opportunity, an artist signing, a branding deal, anything. It’s an unbelievably inspiring time, and I’ve never been prouder than I am right now to be a woman.”

YouTube To Provide Creative Content Credits With New Feature

YouTube is expanding its song credits on the site to now include artist, writer, label and publisher. The new “Music in this video” feature will provide credits and music discovery information on both music videos and, for the first time ever on any platform, fan-uploaded content that features recorded music.

When viewers click “Show more”, they will receive more detail about the artists and songwriters and the labels and publishers who represent them, including a link to the Official Artist Channel and official music video when available.

“Music in this video” strives to provide greater recognition and exposure to the people who contribute to the creative process.  It also provides more opportunities for artists and songwriters to reach YouTube’s diverse audience, whether those viewers come to the platform for music videos, science experiments or beauty vlogs.

The new “Music in this video” credits on YouTube are made possible due to the data and technology behind Content ID, which allows copyright owners to identify and manage their content on YouTube as well as through YouTube’s partnerships with record labels, music publishers and music rights societies around the world.

Track Listing, Songwriters Revealed For New Tyler Farr EP

Columbia Nashville’s Tyler Farr has partnered with boot brand, Durango, to be a 2018 Durango Boot Country Music Ambassador, a deal that includes the upcoming release of a five-song EP, Livin’ Hard.

The EP, produced by Jim Catino and Julian King, is available to Durango boot purchasers and is featured in an in-store promotion throughout 150 stores. The EP includes three of Farr’s No. 1 hits, but also two new tracks.

The EP’s title track was penned by Farr along with Jonathan Singleton and the late Andrew Dorff. Farr co-wrote “I Hope I Don’t Live To See That Day” with Patrick Jason Matthews and Jim McCormick.

Livin’ Hard EP – Presented by Durango track listing

1. Redneck Crazy
Written by Josh Kear/Mark Irwin/Chris Tompkins

2. A Guy Walks Into a Bar
Written by Melissa Peirce/Jonathan Singleton/Brad Tursi

3. Whiskey in My Water
Written by Tyler Farr/Philip LaRue/John Ozier

4. Livin’ Hard
Written by Tyler Farr/Andrew Dorff/Jonathan Singleton

5. I Hope I Don’t Live to See That Day
Written by Tyler Farr/Patrick Jason Matthews/Jim McCormick

Steve Earle, Bob McDill Headed To Texas Heritage Songwriters Hall Of Fame

Pictured (L-R): Mason Hunter, BMI; Brendon Anthony, Texas Music Office; Jamie Lin Wilson, Texas songwriter; Aaron Barker, TxHSA Hall of Fame member; Heather Morgan, Texas songwriter; Joe Ables, TxHSA board member, during Key West Songwriters Festival. Photo: Erika Goldring/BMI

The Texas Heritage Songwriters Hall Of Fame has announced its 2019 Hall of Fame class of inductees which will include Christopher Cross, Steve Earle, Billy F Gibbons and Bob McDill. 

The Texas Hall Of Fame in partnership with the Texas Music Office surprised attendees at the 2018 Key West Songwriters Festival last Friday night with the announcement during a showcase of Texas songwriters where Rob Baird, Keith Gattis, Troy Cartwright, Heather Morgan, Aaron Barker, Jamie Lin Wilson, Liz Rose and Bruce Robison performed at the Key West Theater.

The 2019 Texas Heritage Songwriters Association Weekend will return to Austin on February 22-23, 2019, celebrating the achievements of its latest class of inductees. A VIP sponsor-only DKR Pickin’ Party at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum will kick off the weekend on Feb. 22. Saturday’s public Hall of Fame Awards Show at the Paramount Theatre will both honor and celebrate these new honorees, bringing them into the spotlight and inducting them into the Hall of Fame.

A limited number of seats for the 2019 Hall of Fame Awards Show will be made available to the public, with a ticket sales date announced in December.

Industry Ink: ASCAP, Ten Atoms, Sounds Like Nashville

Clare Dunn, CJ Solar Lead ASCAP Nashville Music Performances

Pictured (L-R): ASCAP’s Robert Filhart, Logan Brill, Clare Dunn, Cody Belew and Jaden Michaels. Photo by Ed Rode.

ASCAP presented its quarterly We Create Music Series showcase at 3rd and Lindsley on May 1. Performing in a stripped-down acoustic configuration were songwriter-artists Cody Belew, Logan Brill (Warner/Chappell) and Jaden Michaels, and BMG songwriter/MCA Nashville recording artist Clare Dunn closed the night with a full band set. On Wednesday, May 2, the most recent installment of ASCAP’s monthly Bluebird Cafe showcase featured Sea Gayle Music writers Smith Ahnquist, Brent Anderson, songwriter-artist Rick Huckaby, and Sea Gayle writer-artist CJ Solar.

Pictured (L-R): ASCAP’s Mike Sistad, CJ Solar, Brent Anderson, Smith Ahnquist and Rick Huckaby


Bully Manager Ryan Matteson Launches Artist Management Company

Ryan Matteson

Ryan Matteson, manager for Nashville-based rock band Bully, has launched Ten Atoms, an artist management firm combining digital initiatives, successful traditional strategies and dedicated representation to build bands’ careers. Ten Atoms’ initial roster includes Bully, Black Pumas, Japanese Breakfast, Mountain Goats, Strand of Oaks, Whitney and Wye Oak.

Ten Atoms will be based in Austin, Texas.

Matteson previously worked at C3 Management, and for C3 Presents, handling digital marketing strategy and helping produce Austin City Limits Festival and Lollapalooza.


Country Music Website Sounds Like Nashville Names New Editor-In-Chief

Alison Abbey has joined Sounds Like Nashville, as Editor-in-Chief, effective May 30.  This follows the exit of Sounds Like Nashville editor Lauren Jo Black earlier this year. Abbey previously served as associate editor of Parade Magazine.


Veteran Booking Exec Joe Taylor Dies

Longtime country music executive Joe Taylor died on Monday, May 14, at age 85.

As the head of the Joe Taylor Artist Agency, he was one of the industry’s top talent executives for decades. Taylor represented such artists as Sammi Smith (“Help Me Make It Through the Night”), Dave Dudley (“Six Days on the Road”), John Anderson (“Swingin’”), David Frizzell (“I’m Gonna Hire a Wino to Decorate Our Home”), Johnny Paycheck (“Take This Job and Shove It”) and Sylvia (“Nobody”).

At one time or another, his roster also included such Hall of Fame members as Connie Smith, George Jones, Kitty Wells, Alabama and Grandpa Jones. Grand Ole Opry stars Johnny Russell, Jim & Jesse, Stringbean and Ray Pillow were booked by the Joe Taylor Artist Agency, as were Hee Haw TV stars Junior Samples, Archie Campbell, and Gordie Tapp.

Joe D. Taylor was born in McMinnville in 1933 and graduated from the University of Tennessee. After working for the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times and serving in the U.S. Army, he entered the music business.

In 1960, he was hired as the first director of talent for the Wil-Helm Agency, booking shows for Loretta Lynn, The Wilburn Brothers, Joe Dowell and others. In 1962-64 he was the advertising manager for Martha White Flour, a major sponsor of the Grand Ole Opry. This brought him into close contact with the company’s celebrity spokesmen Flatt & Scruggs and Jim & Jesse.

He formed the Joe Taylor Artist Agency in 1964. In addition to the many artists listed above, the company represented Mickey Gilley, Dave & Sugar, Stella Parton, Billie Jo Spears, Ronnie Prophet, Bobby G. Rice, Lawanda Lindsey, Bobby Lord, Johnny Wright and Brian Collins.

Taylor persevered through decades of music-industry changes. His agency was a mainstay throughout the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. It helped to establish country music’s popularity in Europe. In later years, Joe Taylor served as the president of R.O.P.E. (Reunion of Professional Entertainers).

He is survived by children Lisa Easterling and Brent Taylor, by grandchildren Selena Foutch and Joseph Ellis, and three great-grandchildren.

A Life Celebration will be held at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 22, in The Pavilion at Harpeth Hills Funeral Home. Visitation will be 1:30-2:30 p.m. prior to the memorial. Harpeth Hills Funeral Home is at 9090 Hwy 100, Nashville, TN 37221 (615-646-9292).

Former CMA Exec Helen Farmer Passes

Pictured: Helen Farmer with former CMA Executive Director Tammy Genovese, during Farmer’s induction into the Source Nashville Hall of Fame Class of 2008. Photo: CMA Archives

Longtime Country Music Association executive Helen Farmer has died at age 92.

She was the CMA’s director of programs and special projects, working directly under the late Country Music Hall of Fame member Jo Walker Meador (1924-2017). Farmer earned the CMA’s Founding President’s Award in 1994 and was presented with a SOURCE honor in 2008.

The Nashville native worked for the CMA for more than 20 years, witnessing the country industry’s growth throughout the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. She handled logistics for the annual CMA Awards and was involved in the planning of the Fan Fair festivals. She retired from the CMA in 1994.

Among her other accomplishments was the 1973 founding of the Music City Tennis Invitational, which raises money for Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. She was also involved with the American Cancer Society and with legislative advocacy efforts resulting in anti-stalking laws.

Helen Farmer died on Sunday, May 13, of natural causes.

She is survived by sons Michael and Sonny Farmer and by six grandchildren. Her funeral will take place on Wednesday, May 16, at Congregation Micah in Brentwood at 2001 Old Hickory Blvd.