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.
Leading Big Loud Records in achieving 14 No. 1 singles in seven years of business, Stacy Blythe is a vital part of the ever-changing game of radio promotion, storming right out of the gate in 2015 with the label’s first-ever single release, and driving it to the top of the charts for then-newcomer Chris Lane’s Gold breakout, “Fix.” As SVP of Promotion, she spearheads a team of 10, securing and maximizing airplay for the label’s roster, including Morgan Wallen, Jake Owen, Lauren Alaina, Hardy, MacKenzie Porter, Ernest, Hailey Whitters, Ben Burgess, Larry Fleet, Lily Rose, Ashley Cooke and Jake Worthington.
Blythe has contributed to the Big Loud roster earning multiple Gold, Platinum, and multi-Platinum certifications and accounting for more than 17 billion global streams to date, making Big Loud Records the Billboard Hot Country Songs label of the year for the last two years. The Pittsburgh native is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) with other notable career stops at Category 5 Records, 1720 Entertainment and Stoney Creek Records.
Blythe will be honored as part of the current class of MusicRow’s Rising Women on the Row on March 23. For more details about the class and the event, click here.
MusicRow: Where did you grow up?
I grew up in a really small town north of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I lived there until I moved to Nashville when I was 19. I’ve now been in Nashville as long as I was there, so Nashville also feels like home. I graduated in a class of 150 students, so the move to Nashville was a big deal.
I started college up there at Grove City College. I went there for two years. I knew I wanted to move to Nashville and that I wanted to be in the business, so I started exploring music business programs, but ultimately looked at internships here for record labels. At that point in time, they wouldn’t even consider you unless you were working towards a music business degree, so I had to transfer. I transferred to MTSU.
How did you know you wanted to be in the music business?
I knew from a very young age. My parents were both very musical—they sang in church. That was really the start of music for me; being involved in singing and music in church. I fell in love with Randy Travis at a really young age and my parents were so great to take me to see him every time he came through Pittsburgh. I started watching what was going on on the side of the stage and just around me. As I got older, I realized that that was someone’s job. That blew my mind that that was even a possibility. At a young age, I knew that I wanted to be involved in music somehow I just didn’t know in what capacity.
What happened when you got here?
I’m a numbers nerd. I love math and Excel spreadsheets make me very happy. At the time I wanted to be in sales, putting CDs on shelves, so I applied for a sales internship at Sony. They had all of those spots full and Jordan Pettit called me and said, “Hey, there’s nothing in sales, but there is an opportunity in radio promotion if you’d be interested in that.” I didn’t even know that radio promotion was a thing. I grew up listening to country radio but I never put it together that it was someone’s job to get that music on the radio. So I interned at Sony with Jordan. He was probably the first person that I met that was incredibly impactful as far as my path and where I went from there.
Everything that they were doing [in that department] was so outside of my comfort zone. I did not want to be loud. I wanted to be behind a computer just doing my thing. I would listen to Bill Macky and Larry Pareigis on the phone. Listening to their conversations, I thought, “Man, how amazing is it that they’re making such an impact on an artist’s career.” There were some regionals there at the time and I would really just listen to what’s going on. That’s when I began to think maybe this was something that I could do. Bill really believed in me. I think he believed in me more than I believed in myself, and I just kind of fell into the path.
What happened after that internship?
I graduated and my first job out of college was working as a studio assistant for a songwriter in town. I worked out of his home studio. It was great but definitely a stepping stone for me. One day, Bill Macky walks into the studio. We hadn’t seen each other since the internship and he said, “What are you doing here? I’ll call you this week.” He was on his path from Sony to his next opportunity and he called me and said, “Hey, I’m, I’m going to this start-up label, Category 5 Records, would you be interested in being my promotion coordinator?” It was an instant “Yes.” It was my dream opportunity to work with him.
Category 5 had some rocky times and Bill went to another company called 1720 Entertainment and took me with him there. He eventually promoted me to Northeast Regional. We worked with an artist named Rissi Palmer there. We have so many great memories from that period of time. She was the first Black woman to chart a country song since Dona Mason in 1987, so we were making history there and Rissi just became such a great friend.
What was next?
1720 Entertainment started to end. Then Broken Bow launched Stoney Creek and I went over there to be the Northeast Regional. We were working Megan Mullins and Ash Bowers. I was there for a good period of time and then Big Machine launched Republic Nashville. I got a call one day that they were hiring a Southeast Regional and asked if I would be interested in it. I was like, “I don’t know if this Pittsburgh girl can survive in the south.” I remember walking into WKXC in Augusta and Chris O’Kelley gave me the biggest hug and I was amazed at how they skipped business pleasantries and went straight to fast friends in the south.
I was there for about six years. It was such an important time in my career. We were launching Florida Georgia Line and The Band Perry. We did so many cool things with Martina McBride and Eli Young Band.
How did you get to Big Loud?
While I was working with FGL, I met Seth England, who was managing them at the time. In 2015, Seth called me and said, “Big Loud is going to start a label. Would you be interested in coming over here to run the promo team?” That was a big jump. He sent me what ended up being Chris Lane‘s very first EP. I got three songs in and I called him back and said, “I’m in.” So in 2015, I came to Big Loud. We built this team and the rest is history.
I came on as national and then in 2018, we were growing and we knew that we needed help. We started to have some success with Morgan Wallen‘s “Up Down” and there was just a lot going on. We knew that we needed another body so that’s when we started the search for a national and they elevated me to VP. Beyond that, we kept growing. We went from working two or three records at a time to working five or six. So then we elevated Tyler Waugh to National, Ali Matkosky to VP and me to SVP. Now we’re in a really great place where everything feels like a well-oiled machine. So much has happened in seven years, we’re so blessed.
What do you remember about the early days of Big Loud?
When we were going for No. 1 on “Up Down” with Morgan, we were in a really tight race with Warner and Blake Shelton. It was the first at Big Loud for me as a leader that was that close. Saturday night, a bunch of my friends from other labels came to my house. We were FaceTiming programmers, everyone brought wine. Having that support from my friends, who are also competitors, was so special. We were all one family. That night is one of my favorite memories from the beginning of this.
What is the most fulfilling part of what you do?
Watching an artist’s dreams come true. Watching an artist have their first charted single or have their first No. 1. All of those little moments that we get to be a part of are so incredible. It’s so special to be a small part of someone’s big dream.
You will be honored as one of MusicRow‘s Rising Women on the Row later this month. What has your experience been like as a woman in the industry?
When I started, there were not a lot of women on the radio promotion side at all. Especially in leadership positions. Now, there are so many and that makes me so happy. We have a team of 10 total here on our promo team and three are men. We’re 70 percent female on this team and I know you wouldn’t have found a team when I started that was that heavily female. That made it a little bit more intimidating when getting into the field, but I think of all of these strong women like Kristen Williams, Katie Dean and Cindy Mabe that are all leading teams now and so impactful.
At Big Loud, we have a female head of marketing, a female running the publishing company, a female head of international and myself. Seth, Joey [Moi] and Craig [Wiseman] really empower females. They have never made any of us feel lesser than.
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