The “My Music Row Story” weekly column features notable members of the Nashville music industry selected by the MusicRow editorial team. These individuals serve in key roles that help advance and promote the success of our industry. This column spotlights the invaluable people that keep the wheels rolling and the music playing.
As VP of Creative Services at SESAC, Shannan Hatch leads the Nashville-based creative team in supporting SESAC-affiliated songwriters and publishers. She also works closely with senior management to support creative-focused initiatives and goals. As a gifted songwriter advocate, Hatch and her team are responsible for the recruitment, signing and nurturing of songwriters and publishers and the retention of existing SESAC-affiliated writers and publishers.
During her time with SESAC, Hatch has worked closely with affiliates Lee Brice, Jamey Johnson, Runaway June, Craig Campbell, Josh Hoge, Jesse Lee, Richard Leigh, Jaron Boyer, Cary Barlowe, Lance Miller, Monty Powell, and Michael Tyler, along with Americana tunesmiths Hayes Carll, Jim Lauderdale, and Allison Moorer, among many others.
MusicRow: Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Tennessee. I was born in Knoxville, but I came to Nashville when I was in fourth grade, so I spent most of my growing up years here in Nashville.
Did growing up in Nashville make you want to be in the music industry?
No, I didn’t know what I wanted to be. Being here in Nashville, you’re surrounded by it. When I got out of high school, I didn’t want to go the traditional college route because you have to get a degree even though you don’t know what you want to be. My boyfriend at the time, his whole family was in the music industry. They were like, “We think you’d be really good at PR. You should give it a shot.” A lady named Susan Collier, who had just left Capitol and had started an independent PR company, was looking for an intern or somebody to help. I started doing tour and album press for her. I got to do my first CRS and it was so much fun. I was like, “Wow, I really like this.”
She introduced me to Ed Morris, who was writing a book at the time, so I researched his book and had a great time doing that. I spent a summer in the old Hall of Fame library. I ended up going to college at MTSU and got a degree in public relations.
What was next?
When I got out of college, I started working for AristoMedia. Jeff Walker and Kay Clary hired me. I worked with Kay for years through a couple of different companies. She started her own company called Commotion PR and I helped her there. She and I got along great. I learned a lot about the history of music and how to do things differently.
How did you end up in the publishing side of the business?
All of my social group were getting into publishing or writing songs, so I was out at the songwriter nights watching the shows—and eating it up—Monday through Thursday night every week. SESAC called and they were looking for somebody in their creative department. It was a natural fit because I was going to the shows, the songwriters were my friends, and we were all growing up together. I will celebrate 20 years at SESAC in August.
What was something you learned when you started working with songwriters?
A lot. The whole craft of a song… there’s so much that goes into that. I didn’t realize what all went into writing a song. People move to Nashville and think that they can do it, but not everybody can. I learned what it takes to put all the pieces together.
I have a special relationship with a lot of our writers and artists. It’s because of my husband Rob [Hatch], too. Our best friends are uncle Lee [Brice], uncle Randy [Houser], uncle Jamey [Johnson] and uncle Dallas [Davidson]. My best friend, Juli Griffith, is in publishing. We are surrounded by it and it’s the family we get to choose.
Who are some affiliates that you’ve gotten to work with that you’re really proud of?
Jimmie Allen is one that I’m so proud of because he’s just worked so hard. He came into my office eight to 10 years ago. He was a little bit more pop-leaning at the time and country wasn’t really going in that direction. He moved out to LA for a little while and when he came back, he knew exactly what he wanted to be and exactly what he wanted to do. He’s also just a good person, so watching him have success makes me so happy.
I’m also very proud of Niko Moon. He’s always been an artist, but he was writing with Zac Brown at the time [that I met him]. I remember him calling me and saying, “I’ve got this record and I really think it’s going to do something. I’m really excited about it.” It had a total different feel with Caribbean and beach vibes. I was driving through Atlanta when he sent it to me, we were on our way to Florida to see Rob’s parents. Then a year later, he gets a record deal and the singles start coming out. Seeing somebody like that who knows their vision and puts the pieces together… I’m so proud of him.
I’m also so proud of Lee Brice and what he’s accomplished. I’m just very blessed that I get to work with the people I work with.
What goes into your role at SESAC?
A lot! That’s what’s wonderful about it. It’s different every day and moment by moment. It’s very fluid. I love [getting to organize and host] No. 1 parties. I love awards shows. I love getting to celebrate the writers and artists, but that’s not the day-to-day.
Helping songwriters is however it looks for that person. If they’re looking for a publishing deal, I’m picking up the phone and calling publishers or sending music to publishers for them. I don’t schedule co-writes but I’ll make introductions—I call it blind dating.
A lot of it is the administration side: making sure that they’re registered properly, they’re getting their songs in the system properly, they’re getting their MP3s uploaded, the splits are correct, the publisher names are correct, and more. There are a lot of people that think that just magically happens on their behalf, but we are behind the scenes tidying it up. We make sure the songs are encoded properly, that they’re being tracked properly, and the payments are getting to them. The ultimate job is making sure the songwriters and the publishers get paid.
What is something people might not know about you?
I like to bass fish and I’m a winged-huntress, [or a hunter that only hunts winged animals]. [Laughs] My husband is an avid hunter for mostly white-tailed deer. He started a hunting camp up in southern Illinois. A lot of songwriters are involved in it. He’s been able to put the passion of music and the passion of hunting together, and it’s created a little family atmosphere at the lodge. The kids and I will go up there. I love to cook and I like to hear the stories. The guys play music, so it’s the best of both worlds.
Who have been some of your mentors?
Kay Clary was a big mentor when she took me under her wing at Aristo Media. I still admire her. She has such a rich knowledge of the history of music. Kelli Turner, who left SESAC last year, is a good mentor and friend. I miss her not being here. Being at SESAC for so long, I’ve been here through three different owners. Kelli has been the only female. Cathy Grizzell, who runs HR, has been there from the beginning. Those ladies were really good about giving the women at the company strength. They helped everybody really realize their potential.
If someone was describing you, what would you want them to say?
I hope that somebody would say that I am kind, that I’m sincere, and that I would help anybody, because I think of myself that way. Not only on the business side, but on the personal side of helping.
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