Priscilla Block Inks Worldwide Publishing Deal With Warner Chappell Music

Pictured (L-R): Ben Vaughn (WCM), Priscilla Block, Ryan Beuschel (WCM)

Breakout singer-songwriter Priscilla Block has inked a global publishing deal with Warner Chappell Music Nashville.

Block first gained recognition last year on TikTok thanks to her catchy original songs like the humorous “PMS” and the body-positivity anthem “Thick Thighs.” Her “Just About Over You” reached the top spot on the iTunes all-genre song chart within 12 hours of release, and is currently climbing country radio’s Top 40.

In September, Block signed to UMG’s Mercury Nashville, and has since been named a 2021 Artist to Watch by Pandora and Sounds Like Nashville, a Billboard All-Genre Chartbreaker, part of CMT’s Next Women of Country Class of 2021, and landed a spot on MusicRow’s coveted Next Big Thing Artists list.

Ben Vaughn, President/CEO, Warner Chappell Music Nashville said, “What struck me and Ryan [Beuschel, VP, A&R] when we met Priscilla was her perseverance and her unapologetic and honest take on songwriting. She’s an original artist with a point of view and a legion of loyal fans already behind her. Watch out world.”

Block added, “Ever since I was a little girl I dreamed of making it to Music Row. I feel so fortunate that today, that dream becomes my reality. In 2020 my life was flipped upside down in the best ways possible, and I am incredibly blessed to bring on 2021 with the support of Warner Chappell. One of my biggest passions is songwriting, and my goal as a songwriter is to write songs that hit people in different ways. I only do that by keeping it real, whether it is writing about some dude that broke my heart, or every diet I have failed. I am beyond thankful for Ben, Ryan, and the Warner Chappell family for bringing that little girl that dreamed of making it as a songwriter one day to Music Row!”

Thomas Rhett Reigns On ‘MusicRow’ CountryBreakout Radio Chart

“What’s Your Country Song” by Thomas Rhett remains at No. 1 on the MusicRow CountryBreakout Radio Chart gaining 51 spins this week. Rhett penned the single with Rhett Akins, Jesse Frasure, Ashley Gorley and Parker Welling.

At the 55th annual Academy of Country Music Awards Rhett tied with Carrie Underwood for the coveted Entertainer of the Year award. He also took home a win for Video of the Year for “Remember You Young.”

Rhett is set to headline “Bob Kingsley’s Acoustic Alley,” on Wednesday, Feb. 17 during CRS 2021: The Virtual Experience.

Most recently, Rhett debuted his new tequila brand, Dos Primos, in collaboration with his cousin Jeff Worn and Third-generation Master Distiller Rodolfo González.

Click here or above to view the latest edition of The MusicRow Weekly.

JUST IN: Lady A Invited To Become Members of Grand Ole Opry

Charles, Hillary & Dave (Lady A) respond to their Opry Membership invitation by Opry Member Darius Rucker. Photo: Courtesy Schmidt Relations

Lady A has been invited to join the Grand Ole Opry. The award-winning group was surprised during a performance taping for the upcoming two-hour NBC special, Grand Ole Opry: 95 Years of Country Music, airing Feb. 14 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

Opry member Darius Rucker extended the invitation to Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood on the Opry stage today (Jan. 21) and announced their membership is effective immediately. The invitation and the group’s first performance as an Opry member will be shared with fans and viewers during the television special. Lady A made their Opry debut on Nov. 2, 2007.

“This is the best surprise we could ever ask for,” Hillary Scott said. “I’ve been coming here since I was a little girl so to say we are honored is an understatement. We are so truly grateful to officially be a part of this amazing family.”

“What can you say about three friends of yours who together have become one of the biggest groups in country music history? Well, how about this? This trio are multi-Platinum superstars, seven-time Grammy Award winners and seven-time CMA Award winners too. And I feel so honored to stand here in the Opry House and hope they accept the invitation I am thrilled to be offering them tonight. So, what do you say, Lady A? Would you like to become members of the Opry?” said Rucker when introducing the group.

JUST IN: Eric Church To Release Three-Album Project: Heart & Soul

Eric Church. Photo: Reid Long

Speaking directly to fans in a video message delivered to them today (Jan 21), reigning CMA Entertainer of the Year Eric Church revealed that he will release three albums in April.

“I have three albums coming out in April. They came out of my 28 days in the mountains of North Carolina, where the songs were recorded and written. The collection is entitled Heart & Soul,” Church said. The titles of the three albums individually are named Heart, &, and Soul.

In keeping with his longtime commitment to put fans first, Church created the middle album, &, specifically for Church’s fan club—the Church Choir—and will make it available exclusively to those fans and only as a vinyl record on Tuesday, April 20. The other two albums, Heart and Soul, will be available everywhere on Friday, April 16 and Friday, April 23, respectively. Pre-orders for all three albums begin next Friday, Jan. 29.

Pushing the limits of his artistry, Church dedicated himself to a month-long creative process that resulted in this 24-song collection, which features an elite list of songwriters who joined the secluded marathon writing and recording sessions. He spoke a bit about his creative process at CRS in 2020.

“I’ve always been intrigued when a song is born in a writer room—there is a magic that happens there,” Church says. “I wanted to put that in the studio form. So, every day, we would write a song in the morning and we would record the song that night. Doing it that way allowed for the songwriters to get involved in the studio process and the musicians to be involved in the creative process. You felt a little bit like you were secretly doing something that was special, and you knew it… You started going, ‘hmm, wait ’til the world finds out about this.’”

Longtime producer Jay Joyce and backing vocalist Joanna Cotten, as well as his touring band, played alongside some of Nashville’s most talented studio musicians on the albums.

“It’s been a long 10 months. With the power of music and love for each other, we will get through this, we will gather again soon. I cannot wait to play this music for you live,” Church said as he concluded his video message.

Heart Track List
Heart On Fire (Eric Church)
Heart Of The Night (Eric Church, Jeremy Spillman, Jeff Hyde, Ryan Tyndell, Travis Hill)
Russian Roulette (Eric Church, Casey Beathard, Monty Criswell)
People Break (Eric Church, Luke Laird)
Stick That In Your Country Song (Davis Naish, Jeffrey Steele)
Never Break Heart (Eric Church, Luke Dick)
Crazyland (Eric Church, Luke Laird, Michael Heeney)
Bunch Of Nothing (Eric Church, Jeff Hyde)
Love Shine Down (Eric Church, Casey Beathard, Jeffrey Steele)

& Track List
Through My Ray-Bans (Eric Church, Luke Laird, Barry Dean)
Doing Life With Me (Eric Church, Casey Beathard, Jeffrey Steele)
Do Side (Eric Church, Casey Beathard)
Kiss Her Goodbye (Eric Church, Casey Beathard)
Mad Man (Eric Church, Casey Beathard)
Lone Wolf (Eric Church, Jeff Hyde, Ryan Tyndell)

Soul Track List
Rock & Roll Found Me (Eric Church, Casey Beathard, Driver Williams)
Look Good And You Know It (Eric Church, Jonathan Singleton, Travis Meadows)
Bright Side Girl (Eric Church, Jeff Hyde, Scotty Emerick, Clint Daniels)
Break It Kind Of Guy (Eric Church, Casey Beathard, Luke Dick)
Hell Of A View (Eric Church, Casey Beathard, Monty Criswell)
Where I Wanna Be (Eric Church, Casey Beathard, Jeremy Spillman, Ryan Tyndell)
Jenny (Eric Church)
Bad Mother Trucker (Eric Church, Casey Beathard, Luke Dick, Jeremy Spillman)
Lynyrd Skynyrd Jones (Casey Beathard)

‘Dark Horse’ Devin Dawson Brings Out His Lighter Side With ‘The Pink Slip’ [Interview]

Devin Dawson. Photo: Tyler Conrad

It’s been three years since Warner Music Nashville/Atlantic Records’ Devin Dawson released his moody and unique debut album, Dark Horse, which spawned his breakout hit “All on Me,” and other fan-favorites like “Asking For A Friend” and “Secondhand Hurt.”

But the ‘Dark Horse’ is back, and with The Pink Slip. Dawson released The Pink Slip EP on Jan. 15, comprised of six new, and noticeably lighter, songs.

In an interview with MusicRow, Dawson talked about the changes in him as a creative and as a person, that led him to make The Pink Slip.

MusicRow: The imaging for this is really different than Dark Horse. The music is more optimistic, and obviously the cover is pink. What do you think has changed in you since you’ve made Dark Horse?

I think my fans know to expect the unexpected from me. I always want to do something out of the box and unexpected. Posting a pink album cover was probably the last thing that anyone expected from me. But more so than that, not just to be flashy or unexpected, it’s more so about serving the music, serving the song and doing what’s right for these songs. Like you said, I have grown a lot since the man I was when I wrote Dark Horse. I keep saying this, but I have had a little success and I’ve seen the world, I’ve fallen in love and gotten married. So many great things have happened and I’m genuinely happy.

This EP is really just an example of me trying to make sense of that and still stay true to my songwriting. I’ll always be a ‘dark horse’ and I’ll always love to play the character of that vulnerable, visceral, introspective guy, but I think my job when I’m putting out an album is to just talk about what I’ve gone through in the last couple of years. And there’s been a lot of great shit that happened, so if this album seems a little bit hopeful and a little bit brighter, that’s why.

I imagine you’ve written more than six songs in the past three years. How did you put this selection together for the EP?

Honestly, it just happened by chance. These are the first ones that we went in to record and we had a plan to do a lot more. Obviously COVID changed that, and then it’s trying to figure out to pivot. I’ve worked with Jay Joyce since Dark Horse, just an absolutely incredible producer, but he’s been smoking for like 35 years and he has diabetes and all that. So it wasn’t necessarily something that we could just get into the studio like normal. As much as we would have loved to go back and tweak things and record more, maybe do a whole album and try to make things right or whatever, these are the first songs that we recorded and, to me, the priority was just to put out music. It had been so long and I’d be damned if I was going to let a quarantine that’s going to last however long, stop me from putting out new music.

You wrote with Ben Rector on “Range Rover.” Had you worked with him before?

“Range Rover” was like maybe the third or fourth song that we wrote. I’ve been a huge fan of him since college, when I first discovered him. I had seen some things he’s done recently and just really connected with it. I’ve had a couple accolades and some things happen publishing-, songwriting-, and artist-wise where I actually had a chance to be like, ‘I want to write with him.’ So I chased him down a little bit and was like, ‘Dude, I really think that we’d do something cool together.’ We both have the same things that make us happy when it comes to songwriting. We want to do something that’s never been done before and never been heard before, but do it in a way that everyone can relate to. That’s really hard, to reinvent the wheel every day, but I think when you get aligned with certain people, to go there and to write those songs, you need to be completely open and ready to fall on your face if it’s not good. So we got in a room and we started writing. We just hit it off.

The idea [for “Range Rover”] came out of conversation in the room when we were starting up. One of my other co-writers on that song, Mark Trussell was talking about him having a Top 20 finally and being able to get paid. He was like, ‘I have to get my wife a car.’ I said, ‘What does she want?’ He said, ‘I think she wants a Range Rover.’ She’s not the stereotypical, trophy wife kind of a girl looking for the Range Rover. She’s a very sweet, wholesome, amazing woman—not that every single person that drives a Range Rover is like that, but there’s that stereotypical thing. We were like, ‘Is there a song there? Can we write that? How do we do that?’ We were really obsessed with the challenge of conquering that idea in the right way. And we did it, it’s just so crazy and fun and different and cheeky and heavy and choppy. It checked all my boxes, and I’m really proud of it, so I’m glad that we wrangled that one.

Which one of these songs are you most excited to play with a full band? I’m sure you’re missing playing live.

“Not On My Watch.” It’s got this certain energy to it. There’s two words that come to mind when I think of this EP: it’s inspirational and it’s helpful. It’s like the dis-track to the devil on your shoulder, that’s what I keep calling it. I also don’t play guitar live when I sing that song, so it’s fun to just get around with no guitar, to walk around and just have that swag that song carries. That one’s just going to be a moment live, and I’m really excited for it.

BBR Music Group Signs Madeline Merlo

Madeline Merlo

BBR Music Group has announced the signing of Madeline Merlo to its roster of artists.

The singer-songwriter and Vancouver native appeared on NBC’s songwriter series Songland, where she won with Lady A selecting Merlo’s co-penned “Champagne Night.” The trio recorded and released the tune digitally and, due to its initial success, became the first Songland winner to become a single—which then went on to become a three-week No. 1 single. Merlo also appears in the music video.

Merlo’s music bridges the pop-country gap, with quirky melodies and confident lyrics. The multi-talent who kickstarted her career at 16 doing demo work, went on to win CCMA’s Rising Star Award in 2015, before releasing her debut album in 2016. Since moving to Nashville in 2017, Merlo has garnered three Top 10 singles on Canadian Country radio, performed with her childhood idol, Shania Twain at the CCMA Awards, and hit the road with greats like Keith Urban and Willie Nelson, in addition to focusing on her songwriting.

“Madeline immediately drew us in with her stellar melodies and powerhouse vocals but it was the witty, confident vulnerability in her writing that made her an artist we had to have on our roster,” said Sara Knabe, VP A&R BBR Music Group. “We’re so excited for 2021 and beyond!”

“Getting the chance to be on BBR Music Group’s impressive roster is a dream come true,” said Merlo. “They are incredibly kind and hard-working individuals, and I am thrilled to be working with them. They see my vision and respect the artistry we have built. I know this next step will be the most exciting yet in my career.”

She is managed by Ron Kitchener at RGK Entertainment and is signed with Deluge Music for publishing.

On The Row: Chase Martin Combines Her Wit With Artistry

Chase Martin. Photo: Jason Myers

Chase Martin is a singer-songwriter from Charleston, South Carolina. She graduated from high school early with a 5.0 GPA, and she scored a perfect score (a 36) on the ACT. She was offered a scholarship from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, but that’s not what brought her to Music City.

The impressive 22-year old moved to Nashville at 17 to chase her dream of artistry, after catching the bug at a school talent show. Her parents supported her dream, with her mom traveling back and forth from Tennessee to South Carolina while the teenager hunted down bar gigs and songwriter rounds to play in.

“I was in the fourth grade. There was a talent show at my elementary school, and I signed up for it,” Chase told MusicRow on a recent virtual visit. “I came home from school that day and said ‘Hey mom, I signed up for the talent show at school!’ She was like, ‘Oh okay, what’s your talent?'”

Chase wanted to sing and play guitar, even though she didn’t know how to play the guitar. After finding a Yamaha guitar in their attic, Chase took a few lessons at a guitar shop in her neighborhood.

“I learned ‘Our Song’ by Taylor Swift and I played it two weeks later in our talent show. I was so nervous getting up on stage, I cried to my mom,” Chase said. “Once I went up there they literally had to fishhook me off the stage because I didn’t want to get off… I was hooked.”

Chase then went to an art school, where she was in the band and learned to play the piccolo.

After a few years of grinding through as many gigs as she could play, and building an Instagram following, Chase met RECORDS Nashville / Wide Open Music’s Ash Bowers, who helped her get integrated into Nashville’s music business.

Pictured (L-R, top row): Monarch Publicity’s Heather Conley; MusicRow‘s LB Cantrell, Haley Crow; (L-R, middle row): Wide Open Music’s Lauren Hamrick; Chase Martin; Monarch Publicity’s Cindy Hunt; (L-R, bottom row): MusicRow‘s Sherod Robertson, Alex Parry

“About two and a half years ago, I met Ash [Bowers] and Brendan [Rich] at Wide Open. They have been the greatest thing to happen to me since I moved to town, they’ve really taken me under their wing. They ended up signing me and they got me my first record deal and publishing deal. So 2020 was a pretty good year for me,” Chase joked. “They’ve been a dream to work with.”

Now, five years later, Chase has a record deal with RECORDS Nashville and a publishing deal with Endurance Music Group. She also has her first single out, a song called “Levi Denim,” written by Matt Stell, Allison Veltz-Cruz, and Abby Anderson.

“The first time I heard [‘Levi Denim’] I was like, ‘Man, this sounds like something I would have written, something I should have written!’ I was shocked that I didn’t think of it,” Chase said. “As soon as I heard it, I was like, ‘I have to cut this song. It’s so me.'”

 

“Levi Denim” is the first single that RECORDS Nashville has released, after the Music City office was launched by RECORDS head Barry Weiss in a joint venture with Sony Music in fall of 2020.

In 2021, the determined Chase Martin is laser-focused on writing, cultivating her social media following, and building off the momentum she’s worked hard for.

Curb Records Ups RJ Meacham to SVP, Promotion

RJ Meacham

Curb Records has announced the promotion of RJ Meacham to SVP, Promotion. Meacham will continue to oversee promotion efforts for the Curb Records roster, which includes Lee Brice, Dylan Scott, Rodney Atkins, Filmore, Mo Pitney, and Hannah Ellis.

“RJ has done a phenomenal job as Vice President of Country Promotion and we are very excited that he has chosen to continue with our company as Senior Vice President of Country Promotion. Over the years, RJ has done an excellent job motivating our great promotion team,” says Mike Curb, Chairman of Curb Records.

Meacham began his career at Monument/Sony, moving to Curb/Asylum and then Sony’s BNA and Columbia Records before re-joining Curb Records in 2016 as Senior Director, Country Promotion. He was elevated to VP, Promotion in 2018.

“As our industry evolves, I’m excited to continue working alongside my amazing teammates at Curb to find new and innovative ways to raise the bar for our amazing roster and their music. Many thanks to Mike Curb for believing in me and for this incredible opportunity,” says Meacham.

Meacham can be reached at [email protected].

BREAKING: Department of Justice Ends ASCAP/BMI Consent Decree Review Without Action

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Anti-Trust Division head Makan Delrahim addressed today (Jan. 15) the DOJ’s review of the ASCAP and BMI Consent Decrees, in a webinar sponsored by Vanderbilt Law School. The DOJ has ended its ASCAP and BMI consent decree review without taking action.

Delrahim said compulsory licenses “are not the answer” and that any future changes Congress may consider should allow songwriters the ability to negotiate in the free market. Delrahim—who submitted his resignation letter on Jan. 13, effective on Jan. 19.—also suggested the DOJ consider reviewing ASCAP and BMI Consent Decrees every five years. He applauded ASCAP and BMI for launching their new SONGVIEW database which will allow music users/licensees to more easily find song ownership data.

The consent decrees were put in place to prevent anticompetitive behaviors and determine sensible licensing rates. The ASCAP consent decree was modified in 2001 and the BMI consent decree was modified in 1994. The decrees require ASCAP and BMI to issue licenses covering all works in their repertory upon request from music users. If the parties are unable to agree on an appropriate price for a license, the decrees provide for a “rate court” proceeding in front of a U.S. district judge. Neither decree contains a termination date.

Many publishers, songwriters and other music industry members have criticized the longstanding decrees, stating that they limit the ability of songwriters and publishers to obtain their own licensing agreements that could result in higher revenues in a free marketplace.

Read how the music industry is responding to the issue here.

A&R Executive Larry Willoughby Dies

Larry Willoughby

Loving husband, father, grandfather, singer-songwriter and former Vice President of A&R at Capitol Records, Larry Willoughby, died at the age of 70 after battling Alzheimer’s and having contracted COVID-19.

Larry was born on Feb 24th, 1950 in Houston, TX. He married his highschool sweetheart, Janet Howard Willoughby in 1969. After a few years as a firefighter, they moved to Nashville, with a passion and dream of being in the music industry and that they did. Last year they celebrated 50 years of marriage.

Larry is the former Vice President of A&R for Capitol Records Nashville, where he helped shape the careers of many country stars, among them Keith Urban, Trace Adkins, Eric Church, Dierks Bentley and Luke Bryan.

 

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He got his big break in the music business when he earned a spot in country singer-songwriter Guy Clark’s band. Under Clark’s guidance, Willoughby honed his own songwriting and performing skills. Soon after, he landed a recording contract with Atlantic Records.

His debut album, Building Bridges, rose to No 47 on the Billboard charts in 1984. The title track from the album reached No. 55 as a single—but 12 years later took him to new heights. In 2006, Brooks & Dunn turned “Building Bridges” into a Grammy-nominated, Top 5 single. It featured guest vocals from Vince Gill and Sheryl Crow and was nominated for Musical Event of the Year at the CMA Awards and Best Country Collaboration With Vocals at The Grammys.

Willoughby spent several years on tour after the release of his Building Bridges album, then found himself drawn to the business side of country music. He signed on as tour manager for country stars Rodney Crowell, his cousin and so-called brother, and Rosanne Cash before moving in the direction of artist development. After a stint as director of membership with ASCAP, he was recognized for his talent for listening, pitching and placement of songs by renowned producer, Tony Brown and hired as Director of A&R at MCA/Universal Records. During Willoughby’s tenure, MCA became known as the “Golden” label recognized as the industry leader throughout the 90’s with major successes of recording artists, George Strait, Reba McEntire, Vince Gill, Wynonna, Trisha Yearwood, and The Mavericks.

Even with his move to Capitol as VP of A&R, he kept a hand in songwriting. His songs have been recorded by such artists as Waylon Jennings, Rodney Crowell, Eddy Raven, Big House, the Amazing Rhythm Aces, Nicolette Larson and the Oak Ridge Boys.

Larry is survived by wife, Janet; two sons, Kobalt Nashvile’s Jesse Willoughby (Bonnie) and Cody (Laurin), and two granddaughters, Livia and Lailee Willoughby.

If desired, family and friends may make memorial contributions to an incredible non-profit Alzheimer’s Care and Event center in Memphis, Tennessee, Page Robbins.