Troye Sivan, Kacey Musgraves Release Collab Song “Easy”

Today (Dec. 10), Troye Sivan and Kacey Musgraves released “Easy” featuring Mark Ronson via Capitol Records. Troye and Kacey collaborate on this new version of the song, weaving in a bittersweet perspective with Mark adding trademark energetic melancholy and adding Kacey as co-writer.

In the official video, which premiered via YouTube Premiere, Troye and Kacey embark on a dark, aching journey with the grittier side of Nashville as the backdrop. As dawn breaks, they leave Music City as quickly as they came, with the next town in their sights. Bardia Zeinali, who helmed Troye’s video for “Dance to This” featuring Ariana Grande, directed.

Troye’s original version of the song appears on his new EP, In A Dream. The song has amassed over 72 million combined global streams, while combined streams of the EP have surpassed 243 million. The collaboration marks the second time the two have worked together. Troye joined Kacey on her 2019 special, The Kacey Musgraves Christmas Show, for “Glittery.”

Michael W. Smith Christmas Special Set To Premiere Friday

Point of Grace, Michael W. Smith, The Katinas. Photo: Courtesy of TBN

Michael W. Smith is helping fans feel a little merrier this holiday season with his upcoming Christmas with Michael W. Smith & Friends TV special. The show premieres on TBN on Friday, Dec. 11 and will feature guests including The Katinas, Marc Martel, Point of Grace and Jordan Smith. The special will air back-to-back at 8 p.m., 9 p.m., 10 p.m., and 11 p.m. ET on the network.

Viewers will ring in the holiday season enjoying classics such as “Silver Bells,” “O Holy Night,” “Jesus, What a Wonderful Child,” “Christmastime” and many more. Fans can also catch Smith’s Christmas show in person on three exclusive dates, with the first stop at Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium on Dec. 18. Following Nashville, Smith will head to Jacksonville, Florida (Dec. 19) and Clearwater, Florida (Dec. 20).

“As everyone knows Christmas time is my favorite, so to be able to host a special this year is such an honor,” said Smith. “And to be able to bring my past tourmates The Katinas, Marc Martel, Point of Grace and Jordan Smith along…well it doesn’t get better than that!”

Thomas Rhett To Headline Bob Kingsley’s Acoustic Alley At CRS 2021

Thomas Rhett is headlining this year’s annual “Bob Kingsley’s Acoustic Alley,” on Wednesday, Feb. 17 during CRS 2021: The Virtual Experience. Rhett’s special guests who will be joining the lineup will be announced at a later date.

“Every year this event brings together such special songwriters in our community and it’s an honor to help keep that tradition going on behalf of Bob,” Rhett said. “Even though it may look a little different this year, I can’t wait to share what we have planned with y’all!”

Rhett’s most recent release, his Grammy-nominated fourth studio album Center Point Road, has spawned three No. 1 hits including its Platinum lead single, “Look What God Gave Her,” which was first introduced on SNL. He has scored nearly 10 billion total career streams, and received two CMA Triple Play awards for penning three No. 1 songs within a 12-month period, adding to his collection of trophies from the CMA, ACM, Billboard Music Awards, CMT Music Awards and more.

This year’s “Bob Kingsley’s Acoustic Alley” is sponsored by Skyview Networks. CRS 2021: The Virtual Experience will be held Tuesday, Feb. 16-19. Registration for CRS 2021: The Virtual Experience is $199 per person. All registrations include access to the 2021 New Faces of Country Music­­ Show and are available for purchase at CountryRadioSeminar.com.

Austin Tolliver Signs With Average Joes Entertainment

Austin Tolliver

Average Joes Entertainment continues its artist roster expansion with the latest signing of songwriter/singer/rapper, Austin Tolliver. Tolliver’s debut single for the label, “Tip My Hat,” co-written by Tolliver and Aaron Lamont, is set for release this Friday (Dec. 11).

Previously a star athlete who played college football and baseball at New Mexico State University and Texas Tech University, Tolliver changed career paths and moved to Nashville to pursue music in 2015. The son of former NFL/CFL quarterback, Billy Joe Tolliver, Tolliver grew up in Shreveport, Louisiana. Describing his music as a ‘melting pot of genres,’ “Tip My Hat” portrays the central theme of a country boy not backing down in the city.

Pictured (L-R, top row): AJE VP A&R, Forrest Latta; AJE Creative Director, Bryn Person; AJE Sr. Director Bus. Development, Nathan Thompson; AJE Sr. Marketing Manager, Andrew Davis. (L-R, bottom row): Manager, Jordan Simmons; Austin Tolliver; Business Manager, Jeff Price.

“I’m pumped to join the team at Average Joes and have my first single released right away. ‘Tip My Hat’ is such a badass song. It’s got the vibe of the old west. It’s the perfect example of what ‘outlaw’ is to me,” said Tolliver.

“Austin’s enthusiasm and unique sound make him a perfect fit with our roster,” said Forrest Latta, Average Joes’ V.P./A&R. “His unrelenting drive and positivity, coupled with his talent, position him for success. We’re excited to be a part of taking his career to the next level.”

The “Tip My Hat” lyric video can be previewed on Tolliver’s YouTube page available here.

James Slater Extends Publishing Deal With BMG

James Slater. Photo: Courtesy BMG

James Slater has extended his publishing deal with BMG.

Slater recently celebrated a Top 5 Keith Urban single, “God Whispered Your Name,” that spent seven weeks in the Top 10, as well as the Shy Carter debut single “Good Love.” He has current cuts by Tim McGraw, Trace Adkins, Reba McEntire, and Old Dominion, and his song “Guys Named Captain” (Kenny Chesney) has become a standout on Sirius XM’s No Shoes Radio. The track was penned by Slater as a tribute to his dad and is featured on Chesney’s recent album Here and Now.

Slater has also had songs recorded by Carrie Underwood, Enrique Iglesias, Hootie & the Blowfish, Willie Nelson, Rascal Flatts and many others. His Grammy nominations include Jamey Johnson’s “The High Cost of Living” and the solely written, Martina McBride single “In My Daughter’s Eyes.”

Pictured (clockwise from top left): James T. Slater; Faith Beller, Creative Admin.; Eli Ponce, Creative Director Latin Division; Courtney Allen, Creative Director; Joe Salvo, Director of Operations; Patricia Wittmer, Director Creative Services; Chris Oglesby, SVP; Katie Kerkhover, Sr. Creative Director

“James is fueled by passion. His love of home, travel and music come together in a way that allow him to create music straight from the heart. We are thrilled to be able to be a part of his story and have him continue his journey with our BMG family.  He makes all of us better,” said Chris Oglesby, SVP Creative, BMG Nashville.

“I’m excited, motivated, and grateful to renew my contract with BMG Music. BMG’s legacy speaks for itself, and the Nashville Creative Team has afforded me the opportunity to write the best songs I’ve ever written,” said Slater. “I believe we’re just getting started.”

BMG Nashville Creative Director, Courtney Allen, adds, “We are so excited to continue working with James Slater. He is the kind of writer who brings out the best in everyone he works with and is always raising the bar with his creativity. We are looking forward to being a partner with him on his next chapter and can’t wait to celebrate more success with him!”

Taylor Swift Surprises Fans With New Album ‘evermore’ Dropping Tonight

Photo: Beth Garrabrant

Taylor Swift has revealed she’ll be releasing a sister album to folklore titled evermore at midnight tonight (Dec. 10). She surprised fans with the news on her socials, and will also release a video for the new song “Willow,” along with the new album.

evermore was co-written and produced with Jack Antonoff and The National’s Aaron Dessner, and features Swift teaming with Haim on a track called “No Body No Crime,” a collaboration with Bon Iver (who also appeared on the folklore album), as well as a song she’s backed by The National on, “Coney Island.” On her socials Swift described the origin of this latest set of songs and how it felt like standing at the edge of a deep woods contemplating whether or not to go in.

The standard edition will contain 15 tracks, but a deluxe physical edition will feature two bonus tracks, “right where you left me” and “it’s time to go,” and Swift offered fans a peek at what the album cover will possibly look like with a photo mosaic on her Instagram page. She continues to thrill fans with surprises during this difficult year—just two weeks ago she released The Long Pond Studio Sessions, a video collection of stripped down, live performances of songs from folklore on Disney Plus.

BREAKING: Shannon Sanders Joins BMI’s Nashville Creative Team

Shannon Sanders. Photo: Jason Kempin for BMI

Veteran music industry executive Shannon Sanders will join BMI’s Nashville Creative team as an Executive Director. Sanders will be responsible for signing and developing top talent in the Nashville community and supporting BMI’s family of songwriters and publishers. He will report directly to BMI’s Vice President of Creative, Clay Bradley.

“Shannon has been an important source of advice and counsel for me since I joined BMI in March, and I’m thrilled that he will now be a key part of our Creative team,” said Bradley. “He is a Nashville native who has embraced all genres of music throughout his career and his accomplishments reflect the rich musical diversity of this city, which continues to grow and thrive. It is our job to represent the best talent Nashville has to offer, and Shannon’s voice and vision will be invaluable as we continue that mission.”

Said Sanders, “I am excited about my new role at BMI and am inspired by Clay and his vision. As part of this tremendous Creative team, I look forward to helping further the efforts of BMI in our songwriting community and beyond. Being a creator myself, I know the value of this organization. I’ve always been a champion for creators, and I consider it an honor to be able to offer support and facilitate opportunities for my fellow songwriters.”

As a 25-year music industry veteran, Sanders joins BMI as a two-time Grammy, two-time Emmy, and Dove Award winning songwriter-producer with an ear for current trends as well as an appreciation of legacy artists. He is the founder and original Program Director of Nashville’s 102.1 The VILLE, a classic soul and R&B radio station that is committed to playing local artists. Additionally, he has served as musical director to India.Arie for 20 years.

As a respected member of Nashville’s music industry, Sanders is a trusted advocate for music creators. He is involved in numerous organizations, including the Recording Academy (Trustee), NMAAM (National Museum of African American Music), Leadership Music, Nashville Ballet, AIMP (Association of Independent Music Publishers), Country Music Hall of Fame Education Committee, W.O. Smith, and NME (Nashville Music Equality). Sanders also serves as a City Tourism Commissioner for the NCVC (Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation) and was named as one of the 2016 Black Enterprise 100 Modern Men of Distinction.

Sanders is an alum of Tennessee State University and was recently recognized among the University’s Distinguished Alumni.

The MLC Partners With Software And Service Providers On Data Quality Initiative

 

The MLC announced today (Dec. 9) that four music data companies are joining its Data Quality Initiative (DQI), including: Blokur, Exactuals, Music Data Services, and TuneRegistry. Through their work with The MLC, these companies will make it much easier for their users and customers to participate in the DQI and check the accuracy of their musical works data in The MLC’s current database.

The DQI provides a streamlined way for music publishers, administrators, self-administered songwriters, composers and lyricists, and ex-US collective management organizations (CMOs) to compare their musical works data with The MLC’s data to ensure The MLC’s data is consistent with theirs. DQI Participants receive reports highlighting the discrepancies between the data they submit for comparison and The MLC’s data. Using these reports, participants can easily identify those discrepancies and then submit any corrections that are needed. Checking their data and making any needed corrections is one of the best things The MLC’s members can do to ensure they receive all of the mechanical royalties they are entitled to receive from The MLC.

Each company will take a different approach in helping their clients and customers participate in the DQI. Some are integrating new functionality into existing data-related products, services and software platforms that they already offer; others intend to work with their clients one-on-one to help them prepare and submit their comparison files and then review the results.

“We’re excited to work with a wide variety of companies that deal with music data, be they emerging tech startups or legacy players in the music space, because we want to help as many of our members as possible participate in our Data Quality Initiative,” says Dae Bogan, head of third party partnerships at The MLC. “They offer different tiers of service, from high-cost enterprise platforms to economical new software targeting self-administered songwriters and smaller publishers.”

“Our team is committed to making the process of checking data as efficient and effective as possible for all of our members,” says Kris Ahrend, CEO of The MLC. “Enabling innovative companies like these to make it easier for their users and customers to participate in our Data Quality Initiative helps The MLC achieve that important goal. We appreciate their willingness to help support the DQI.”

Companies interested in partnering with The MLC can get started here. More information on the Data Quality Initiative can be found here.

Nashville’s Televised New Year’s Eve Celebration To Feature Moon Taxi And The Shindellas

Moon Taxi. Photo: Dune Baydoun

Nashville’s 2020 New Year’s celebration, Jack Daniel’s Music City Midnight: New Year’s Eve in Nashville, featuring indie rock band Moon Taxi and powerhouse trio The Shindellas, will be televised on WTVF Channel 5.

Nashville-based Moon Taxi will play for 40 minutes just before midnight. The Shindellas, who fuse jazz, soul and R&B, will perform a 20-minute set earlier in the show.

For the first time in the event’s 12-year history, the New Year’s Eve show will be limited to a televised broadcast and livestream to be watched from home, and there will be no public concert, Note Drop or spectators this year due to COVID-19 restrictions. The show will air from 10:30 p.m. to midnight CT locally, and will include highlights from previous years. CNN will feature the countdown live from Nashville as the central time zone rings in the New Year. Click here for more information on the livestreamed event.

“Music City has consistently hosted hundreds of thousands of spectators to ring in the New Year, and while we are sad to ask the crowds to stay home, we are ecstatic about the opportunity to say goodbye to 2020,” said Butch Spyridon, president and CEO, Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp. “We hope everyone will tune in to enjoy the live music and the start of 2021. You can expect us to be back next year with the biggest show ever. We have some making up to do.”

Last year, Jack Daniel’s Music City Midnight attracted a record attendance of more than 200,000 and generated a record $26.2 million in direct visitor spending with the free concert and Note Drop at Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park. The show and headliner Keith Urban were featured on two national broadcasts: NBC’s New Year’s Eve 2020 and CNN’s New Year’s Eve Live with Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen. 

Shooter Jennings Signs With Concord As Staff Producer

Shooter Jennings. Photo: Courtesy Concord

Shooter Jennings has joined Concord’s label group as a staff producer. In this new relationship, Jennings will work closely with Concord’s Chief Label Executive Tom Whalley as a creative executive to develop the current roster, identify new talent, and continue Concord’s tradition of making world-class music for Fantasy Records, Fearless Records, Loma Vista Recordings and Rounder Records.

Jennings kicked off 2020 with a Best Country Album Grammy win for co-producing (with Brandi Carlile) Tanya Tucker’s While I’m Livin’ on Fantasy Records, which was Tucker’s 25th album and her first Grammy. His work on Marilyn Manson’s recently released We Are Chaos (Loma Vista) received media attention around the world and marked the culmination of a year and a half of late-night writing and recording sessions. The sought-after producer also partnered with longtime friend/Fantasy Records artist Lukas Nelson to cut a song originally recorded by their fathers Willie and Waylon, “Mamma’s Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys,” which was used as the theme song for the Netflix series The Ranch. Jennings also sat behind the board for Concord Music Publishing songwriter and Guns N’ Roses’ bassist Duff McKagan’s third solo album Tenderness.

“I am excited to welcome Shooter to the Concord creative team,” said Whalley. “His ability to work with a variety of artists is a perfect fit for our labels and their talented rosters. I look forward to not only working with Shooter, but witnessing the impact his creative passion will have on bringing high quality recordings to the world.”

“To have the opportunity to join this [Concord] family is really a dream come true,” said Jennings. “I now find myself with so many more opportunities and resources to make the impact on music I have always dreamed of. Right off the bat, I am grateful for this. I am now looking forward to all the ways I can apply myself and my abilities alongside this great, global team to make great music and keep the world of music that grabbed me at such a young age growing, healthy, youthful, experimental and wild so that it might snatch up another generation of kids like me. I couldn’t be happier with the folks I’m surrounded by, and I’m lit up with excitement for all the work we’re going to be able to do together.”