2018 MusicRow Awards: Producer Of The Year Nominees

Following last week’s announcement of this year’s nominees for the 30th annual MusicRow Awards, we take a look at the MusicRow Producer of the Year category. Nominees conjured up some of country music’s most innovative projects during the last 12 months.


The MusicRow Awards will be presented at a private ceremony.

See the full list of MusicRow Awards 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 may subscribe to receive a ballot.

busbee is a first-time MusicRow Awards nominee. His work led to hits by Maren Morris (“I Could Use A Love Song”) and Lauren Alaina (“Road Less Traveled”), as well as the 2018 trophy for ACM Vocal Event of the Year for “The Fighter” by Keith Urban featuring Carrie Underwood. busbee is a co-writer and producer of Carly Pearce’s Every Little Thing, which earned the singer a nod for MusicRow Breakthrough Artist of the Year. busbee is an in-demand producer who also helmed Lady Antebellum’s Heart Break, and music by Rascal Flatts and Drake White.

Dave Cobb conjured studio magic for Chris Stapleton and Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, who respectively took home Grammy Awards for Best Country Album and Best Americana Album. Additionally, Stapleton won Album of the Year from both the CMA and ACM for From A Room: Volume 1. From Cobb’s homebase at Nashville’s historic RCA Studio A, he also recorded projects by Zac Brown Band, John Prine, Brent Cobb, Ashley Monroe, Brandi Carlile, Oak Ridge Boys, Randy Rogers Band, Old Crow Medicine Show and Anderson East. Cobb won this award in 2016.

Scott Hendricks, longtime producer for Blake Shelton, continued his studio success with Shelton’s latest album Texoma Shore, home to the hits “I’ll Name The Dogs” and “I Lived It.” Adding to Hendricks’ recent tally are Dan + Shay’s pair of No. 1s “How Not To” and “From the Ground Up,” Chris Janson’s rising single “Drunk Girl” (also nominated for MusicRow Song of the Year), and music by Michael Ray and newcomer Tegan Marie.

Dann Huff had a hand in hits by three 2018 MusicRow Awards nominees. He produced Thomas Rhett’s groovy Life Changes album, home to “Craving You,” “Marry Me,” and the title track, which is vying for MusicRow Song of the Year. Huff also steered MusicRow Breakthrough Artist nominees Kane Brown and Midland. He reunited with Tim McGraw and Faith Hill for their duets album and produced recent hits by Brett Young, Billy Currington and Brantley Gilbert. Huff is a two-time MusicRow Producer of the Year, who produced Keith Urban’s “Blue Ain’t Your Color,” the reigning MusicRow Song of the Year and CMA Single of the Year.

Jay Joyce continued scoring hits by his longtime studio collaborators Little Big Town, as well as rising artists Brothers Osborne and The Wild Feathers. Joyce played a major role in helping newcomers Ashley McBryde, LANCO, and Devin Dawson find unique sounds and hone their songwriting abilities, leading to MusicRow Awards nominations for LANCO (Breakthrough Artist) and Dawson (Breakthrough Artist-Writer). Later this year, listen for Joyce’s upcoming project with Tenille Townes. Joyce won 2017 and 2015 MusicRow Producer of the Year.

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Chris Stapleton Earns Three Early Billboard Music Awards

Chris Stapleton leads country artists with the most early wins leading into Sunday evening’s (May 20) Billboard Music Awards, which airs on NBC at 8 p.m. ET. Winners in non-televised categories were announced Sunday afternoon via social media.

Stapleton earned awards for Top Country Artist, Top Country Male Artist, and Top Country Album (for From A Room: Volume 1).

Maren Morris was named Top Country Female Artist, while Florida Georgia Line was named Top Duo/Group Artist. Luke Bryan earned Top Country Tour.

MercyMe earned Top Christian Artist, while Alan Jackson‘s Precious Memories Collection earned Top Christian Album. Hillsong Worship‘s “What A Beautiful Name” took home Top Christian Song honors. Tasha Cobbs Leonard earned two wins for Top Gospel Artist and Top Gospel Album (for Heart. Passion. Pursuit.).

Kendrick Lamar, who is tied with Bruno Mars and Ed Sheeran this year for most nominations (15), leads in overall early wins, having already won six awards leading into Sunday evening’s show. Those honors include Top Billboard 200 Album, Top Rap Artist, Top Rap Male Artist, Top Rap Album, Top Streaming Songs Artist and Top Streaming Song (Audio). Bruno Mars follows Lamar with five wins.

Nashville resident Kelly Clarkson will host the 2018 Billboard Music Awards.

Billboard Music Awards nominees and winners are based on key fan interactions with music, including album and digital song sales, streaming, radio airplay, touring and social engagement, tracked by Billboard and its data partners, including Nielsen Music and Next Big Sound. The awards are based on the chart period of April 8, 2017 through March 31, 2018.

The 2018 Billboard Music Awards is produced by dick clark productions. Mark Bracco, Barry Adelman, Kelly Clarkson and Robert Deaton are executive producers.

Dan+Shay To Release Third Warner Music Nashville Album June 22

Dan + Shay

Dan+Shay will release their third Warner Bros./Warner Music Nashville album on June 22. The self-titled album was co-produced by the duo’s Dan Smyers and longtime collaborator and WMN exec Scott Hendricks.

Co-writers on the album include Hillary Lindsey, Nicolle Galyon, Jordan Reynolds, Andy Albert, Jesse Frasure, Laura Veltz and more. The project also includes a collaboration with Kelly Clarkson on “Keeping Score.”

The duo, which also includes powerhouse vocalist Shay Mooney, has earned a Gold-certified album with Where It All Began, Platinum certified “19 You+Me,” and “From The Ground Up,” and Gold-certified “How Not To” and “Nothin’ Like You.”

“Our first two albums helped us build an incredible and super loyal fan base, so we knew it was our responsibility to them to put out the best music we could on this record,” said the duo. “Most importantly, we wanted to deliver a project that would satisfy the people who got us where we are in the first place. Where we are musically and in our personal lives is different than where we were when this all started, which makes this album unique while still being true to who we are.”

On June 7, they will perform at Nashville’s Nissan Stadium for this year’s CMA Fest before heading to New York on June 25 for the TODAY Show Summer Concert Series. They will join Rascal Flatts out on the road for the rest of the summer on their Back To Us Tour.

DAN + SHAY Track List:
1. “Alone Together” (Dan Smyers, Shay Mooney, Jesse Frasure, Hillary Lindsey)
2. “Tequila” (Dan Smyers, Jordan Reynolds, Nicolle Galyon)
3. “What Keeps You Up At Night” (Jordan Reynolds, Jordan Minton, Chase Foster)
4. “All To Myself” (Dan Smyers, Shay Mooney, Jordan Reynolds, Nicolle Galyon)
5. “Keeping Score” feat. Kelly Clarkson (Dan Smyers, Jordan Reynolds, Laura Veltz)
6. “Make or Break” (Dan Smyers, Shay Mooney, Emily Weisband, Jordan Reynolds)
7. “Speechless” (Dan Smyers, Shay Mooney, Jordan Reynolds, Laura Veltz)
8. “Stupid Love” (Dan Smyers, Shay Mooney, Jon Nite, David Hodges)
9. “No Such Thing” (Dan Smyers, Shay Mooney, Matt Dragstrem, David Lee Murphy)
10. “My Side of the Fence” (Shay Mooney, Benjy Davis)
11. “Island Time” (Dan Smyers, Shay Mooney, Andy Albert, Jimmy Robbins)

Arista Nashville Signs Carlton Anderson

Pictured (L-R): Sony Music Nashville’s A&R Manager Margaret Tomlin, A&R Representative Jillian Whitefield, EVP/COO Ken Robold, Director Digital Sales and Streaming Alaina Vehec, SVP A&R Jim Catino, VP Sales and Streaming Caryl Healey Atwood, EVP Promotion and Artist Development Steve Hodges, Carlton Anderson, VP Arista Nashville Promotion Josh Easler, Sony Music Nashville’s Chairman and CEO Randy Goodman, Senior Director Partnership Marketing Nicole Marinake, VP A&R Taylor Lindsey, Director National Promotion Lauren Thomas and EVP Marketing/New Business John Zarling.

Sony Music Nashville has announced the signing of artist and songwriter Carlton Anderson to Arista Nashville.

Anderson, who is signed as a writer to Warner/Chappell Music, is spending time with the Sony Music Nashville team as he prepares to launch his debut single.

Anderson grew up in Cypress, Texas, and began working in the oil fields at 16 (two years before he was of legal age to do so), and also worked at a grocery store to save enough money to purchase a guitar and a small PA, so he could begin playing in dancehalls and honky tonks around Texas.

Eventually, he saved enough money and the necessary co-sign from his grandparents to attend Nashville’s Belmont University. He would go on to play at Swingin’ Doors Saloon for the next five years, as he continued developing his songwriting skills.

Manager Scooter Braun Emboldens Nashville On Gun Control One Year After Manchester

Pictured (L-R): Owner of School Boy Records and RBMG Scooter Braun, CNN Political Analyst Hilary Rosen. Photo: Rick Diamond/Getty Images

Mega manager Scooter Braun delivered an emboldening speech and keynote address after receiving the Harry Chapin Memorial Humanitarian Award during the 2018 Music Biz seminar in Nashville on Thursday (May 18), calling for Nashville artists to realize their influence.

“I appreciate that One Love Manchester is a part of this [award], but I wish it was something we never had to do,” said Braun of his humanitarian recognition. “Unfortunately, my belief is this won’t be the last time we see something like this—we’ve seen Vegas happen.”

Keynote moderator, CNN’s Hilary Rosen, observed Braun at the March For Our Lives. “I watched how those Parkland kids looked up to you—how they believed they could change the world—and wanted you to show them how,” she said

“I’m not afraid of this conversation and the problem is people have not wanted to stand up,” said Braun. “I am a gun owner. I have no issue with people in this country owning guns. I have no issue with people driving a car. I think we should be qualified for both…I haven’t met one friend who has guns who doesn’t agree.”

“What happened in Vegas was horrendous and awful. For everybody in [Nashville] who has the ear of so many people who live in states who can make a difference on this issue.

“Our kids have grown up in a community where shootings in schools are a regular thing—we think it’s new, Columbine happened 20 years ago. If it’s another 20 years…or five years…we’ve failed miserably. Those kids put on the biggest march in U.S. history and not a damn thing has happened.”

Braun hopes for artists to lead the way to help conversations among our polarized soliety begin again.

“We’re in a very interesting time where we people have forgotten how to communicate with each other—either they’re afraid to have the conversation, or they think they have to unfollow people on social media with differing opinions. We as an industry have an opportunity. That conversation has to continue, and come from a place of respect even if you think that person is irrational. Music is the universal language. Encourage the artists you know to take a risk and write songs, maybe the label won’t understand, so we can get back to speaking to each other through music. That evil is going to continue to exist, and we as an industry have a responsibility to those we lost by doing this work.

“Especially in [Nashville], I know a lot of artists are afraid to come out and have this conversation. If you really want to be historic, understand these kids are 20 years away from being the next leaders and they’re going to change it. It is just a matter of time. If you want to be on the right side of history, help them. They don’t want to take away guns. They just want to make it so someone who isn’t qualified cant get them.”

Citing music’s influence on changing opinions during the Vietnam War, Civil Rights movement or even raising awareness for poverty, Rosen and Braun advanced the discussion towards Nashville.

“[Nashville] can make a difference. There are a lot of people I know in this town that were nervous to do something after Las Vegas. I get it. You’re trying to feed your families and it’s a scary thing. Go down to Belmont and talk to these kids and ask them what they’re going to do in 20 years. If you listen to the kids, you might find the bravery to do something. It used to be AIDS, homophobia. Our kids shouldn’t be afraid in school.

“What I’m asking is for the entire community to step up and say something, and make it very clear: It’s not about taking away guns. It’s about making sure someone with a gun in their hand understands what is in their hand. It’s not mutually exclusive, but mental health is a part of this issue. I know what the naysayers are going to say, I was with Emma González yesterday. She’s a sweetheart. Her friend is dead. Cameron [Kasky]’s dad is a cop. He grew up with guns. These kids in Chicago and neighborhoods around this country—what they’re going through—it just needs to stop and we need to make an effort.”

Braun explained the responsibility he felt after Ariana Grande’s concert in Manchester to combat evil.

“I am the grandson of two Holocaust survivors,” said Braun. “My grandmother was in Auschwitz and my grandfather was in Dachau. I understood this kind of evil exists pretty much my entire life. When Manchester happened, I wasn’t sad. I was angry—I was like, these motherf*&^%$! came at the wrong one…That someone would wait for children [and] make that decision to take their lives, none of us will ever understand. They wanted families to be afraid to bring their child to a concert. I wanted to go immediately and do an event to let them know we’re not afraid, because if they can’t change our way of life, it’s pointless for them to try. I talked to [Ariana] about the idea and she couldn’t stop crying. What I asked was unfair and unreasonable. So I let it go. But when I landed home from seeing her, I had 16 text messages saying, ‘If I don’t do something, these people died in vain and I’m not who I claim to be.’ We came up with One Love Manchester within two weeks of the attack. The night before our show was the London Bridge attack. That was the first time I thought my arrogance was going to get someone killed. The Greater Manchester police issued a statement saying, ‘The show will go on, but the terror level is high, so there is likely going to be an attack.’ I never admitted to anyone I was scared but within an hour of the news of London coming out Chris Martin from Coldplay, Katy Perry, Miley and all those performing called to say, ‘We’re still coming.’

Braun explained where his strength comes from in speaking out.

“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. I tell artists, ‘If you have a tremendous amount of success and don’t give away blessings when you receive them, it’s like a glass of water getting filled. If you don’t pour it in other glasses it’s going to overflow and you’re going to feel miserable.

“My strategy is to do what you can. There were 20 families who have someone who isn’t coming home, and there are alot more kids who are maimed, burned or injured whose lives are changed forever. People ask me where I get the strength, and when you meet those families and look them in the eye, you don’t have a choice.

“In this business especially, we need to do it as a community. The next person has to step up, and the next person. After we did Manchester, Ron Laffitte and Coran Capshaw put on an amazing event in Charlottesville that they deserve to be honored for…I’m looking at Clint [Higham] in the audience, the work he and Kenny Chesney have done for the work for the community in the islands…Justin Bieber has taken a lot of flack but he is 24-years-old and he is the No. 1 Make A Wish giver in our industry and he never advertised it once. People want to give back, they may not necessarily know how to…You just have to find something you’re passionate about.”

The talk ended with Braun showing Nashville is not alone. He asked the audience to stand if they were in agreement with serious background checks. This writer saw nobody seated.

Southwest Airlines Unveils iHeartRadio Onboard Flights

Southwest Airlines has announced a new collaboration with iHeartRadio to bring iHeartMedia’s free all-in-one digital and live streaming radio service to customers as the exclusive music offering within the onboard entertainment portal on Southwest flights.

Through the integration with iHeartRadio, customers can enjoy all their favorite musical genres and can also choose their favorite live radio station or pick from hundreds of artists to launch their very own custom station featuring music from that artist and similar ones. In addition, iHeartRadio will also bring customers expertly-curated station themes perfect for inflight listening like Pass the Time and Kids Zone.

“Our Customers and Employees are passionate about music,” said Ryan Green, Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at Southwest Airlines. “And for Southwest, music is a part of a larger story—it’s an ongoing investment in enhancing our Customers’ travel experiences. Through this partnership with iHeartRadio, we will create the soundtrack to our Customers’ journeys as we connect them to what is important in their lives.”

“We continue to expand iHeartRadio’s massive distribution platform to ensure that we are available everywhere our listeners are with the products and services they use most,” said Michele Laven, President of Strategic Partnerships for iHeartMedia. ”We are proud to team up with Southwest Airlines to bring the music, radio stations, and on-air personalities people love inflight, continuing to entertain our listeners and Southwest passengers as they travel to their destinations.”

Customers can access iHeartRadio free of charge through the onboard entertainment portal on their personal devices to begin their listening experience. Once activated, the music will continue play as long as the entertainment portal is open in a tab, allowing customers to browse the portal, check the flight tracker or utilize the web if they have purchased WiFi access. Those who already have the iHeartRadio app installed on their devices will be able to play their personalized music and favorite podcasts directly from the app while onboard Southwest flights. Those passengers who already subscribe to iHeartRadio’s All Access on demand subscription service will also have access to their entire music library and saved playlists as well as enjoy millions of songs and albums instantly.

Big Machine Label Group Marketing Department Adds Two

Christine Salomone, Leah Fischer

Big Machine Label Group has added two staffers to its marketing department. Christine Salomone joins as Vice President, Strategic Partnerships and Leah Fischer joins as Project Manager, reporting to Chief Marketing Officer Mike Rittberg.

Salomone is a global marketing leader with more than 15 years of branded entertainment and content experience in New York, Sydney and Los Angeles. A graduate of Providence College, her past stints include NBCUniversal, Seven Network, Hearst, Condé Nast, National Hockey League and Sports Illustrated.

“Christine’s track record and passion for the brand partnership space will be a tremendous asset to Big Machine Label Group and our artists,” said Rittberg. “We are excited to have her join the team!”

“I am energized to work with a genuine, smart, fast-paced team that has the ability to make bold moves,” stated Salomone. “I welcome the opportunity to bring fresh perspective to innovate and evolve partnerships that will form meaningful connections between brands and BMLG chart-topping artists.”

A graduate of Pittsburg State University, Fischer joined BMLG in 2015 as the promotions coordinator for BMLG Records. In her new role, she will serve as project manager for Justin Moore, Eli Young Band, Carly Pearce, Danielle Bradbery and Drake White.

“I’m so excited for Leah to be able to grow from within Big Machine Label Group and join our team,” said Rittberg. “Her promotion background will be of immense help as she takes on marketing initiatives.”

Salomone can be reached at [email protected] or 615-345-4522, and Fischer can be reached at [email protected] or 615-345-4531.

The Sisterhood Band Provides ‘Summer Setlist’ For Fans

The Sisterhood Band is ready to release their Sony Music Nashville debut, Summer Setlist, June 8. The release was announced Saturday via Instagram Live onstage at the Woods at Fontanel kickoff to Steven Tyler and The Loving Mary Band’s international tour, which features The Sisterhood Band on a dozen dates in the U.S. and Europe.

Summer Setlist was inspired by the Steven Tyler 2018 summer tour and their live show, which is vocally intricate and stripped down in a way that allows their rich harmonies to soar. On the road with the Aerosmith frontman from June 12 to Aug. 7, The Sisterhood Band will be playing dates across the U.S. as well as Italy, Spain and the U.K.

The seven-song project was produced by Ruby Stewart and Alyssa Bonagura, who studied sound technology at the Paul McCartney Institute for Performing Arts in Liverpool. Bonagura and Stewart wrote every cut and collaborated with a group of writers including John Fields, Cary Barlowe, Rebecca Lovell, and Morgan Evans.

Summer Setlist Track Listing:
1 – “Tenderize My Heart” (Alyssa Bonagura, Ruby Stewart)
2 – “Closin’ in From Miles Away” (Alyssa Bonagura, Ruby Stewart, John Fields, Cary Barlowe)
3 – “13” (Alyssa Bonagura, Ruby Stewart, Rebecca Lovell)
4 – “Walk Away” (Alyssa Bonagura, Ruby Stewart, Morgan Evans)
5 – “Half Way” (Alyssa Bonagura, Ruby Stewart)
6 – “Doors” (Alyssa Bonagura, Ruby Stewart)
7 – “Someone’s” (Alyssa Bonagura, Ruby Stewart)

Voting Now Open For 30th Annual MusicRow Awards

Voting for the 30th annual MusicRow Awards is now open. Voting for the awards closes on Friday, May 25. The 2018 MusicRow Awards will be presented during a private, invitation-only event on Wednesday, June 27. To subscribe and receive your ballot and invitation, click here.

Click here to download a full PDF of all of this year’s categories and nominees.

Nominees in all four categories are determined by the MusicRow critics panel. Winners are determined by the publication’s subscribed members. Outside submissions were accepted for the Breakthrough Songwriter and Breakthrough Artist-Writer categories, which honor writers and co-writers who scored their first Top 10 single during the eligibility period (May 1, 2017 to April 30, 2018).

MusicRow will also distribute the Top 10 Album All-Star Musicians Awards at the event, recognizing the studio players who played on the most albums reaching the Top 10 of Billboard‘s Country Album Chart during the eligibility period. Honors will be presented for guitar, bass, drums, fiddle, keyboards, steel, vocals and engineer categories.

Winners will be profiled in MusicRow’s June/July print magazine, which will debut at the June ceremony.

If you do not have a subscription, you may subscribe to receive your ballot and invitation.

BMI Responds To RMLC Rate Court Filing

On Thursday (May 17), the Radio Music License Committee filed a petition in federal rate court in the Southern District of New York to resolve its ongoing rate dispute with BMI.

“BMI has spent more than two years attempting to negotiate a new rate with the Radio Music License Committee (RMLC) that fairly and accurately reflects the scope and quality of the music we represent,” BMI executive VP of Licensing & Creative Mike Steinberg responded in a statement. “As anticipated, the RMLC is trying to use a below-market rate they negotiated with the only U.S. PRO they were able to come to an agreement with; an agreement based on flawed market share data and one that has since been made irrelevant by newly-agreed to and adjudicated rates in the marketplace. We look forward to presenting our position before the Court and demonstrating the dominance of BMI’s repertoire.”

In January 2017, BMI went to rate court to request an interim rate. At that time, BMI’s filing noted, “The RMLC can point to no changed circumstances that warrant a reduction in BMI’s interim or final rate. BMI believes that the market developments will support a final rate of greater than 1.7 percent of gross revenue payable to BMI.”

That same month, the RMLC reached an agreement to pay ASCAP 1.73 percent of revenue in a deal that will rise to 1.75 percent of revenue over the life of the agreement, through 2021.