Jake Owen Earns No. 1 On MusicRow CountryBreakout Radio Chart

Topping the MusicRow CountryBreakout Radio Chart this week is “Made For You” by Jake Owen. The single gained an additional 73 spins this week for a total of 1,808 spins and 60 stations playing the single.

“Made For You” was written by Benjy Davis, Joey Hyde, and Neil Medley. It appears on his debut album for Big Loud Records, Greetings From…Jake, which was produced by Joey Moi.

This marks 85 No. 1 singles for independent record promotion company, Jerry Duncan Promotions. “Made For You” quickly followed their last chart success “7 Summers” by Morgan Wallen, which hit No. 1 in January.

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Miranda Lambert, Jack Ingram And Jon Randall To Release ‘The Marfa Tapes’ In May

Jon Randall, Jack Ingram, Miranda Lambert. Photo: Spencer Peeples

Jack Ingram, Miranda Lambert, and Jon Randall are releasing a collection of intimate and raw songs written and recorded together in the tiny town of Marfa, Texas, called The Marfa Tapes, on May 7.

Over the past several years, the desolate location has become a songwriting haven for the trio, yielding hits and some profound personal growth. When they returned for five days last November, they recorded the new project, inspired by the stark beauty of west Texas and the deep, lasting bonds the three have forged there. Recorded raw and loose with just a pair of mics and an acoustic guitar, The Marfa Tapes is an intimate, unadorned snapshot of a moment in time fueled by love, trust, and friendship.

“I’ll never forget pulling into Marfa that first night at 4 a.m.,” said Lambert. “The stars were like nothing I’d ever seen before, just this endless blanket hanging so low you could reach up and touch them. I immediately understood why this place was so special.”

“There’s no TV, no radio, nothing to do out there but pour a cocktail, sit around the campfire, and talk,” continued Randall. “Eventually, that just inevitably leads to songs. There’s no pressure to write, but most of the time, the three of us can’t seem to help ourselves.”

“There’s something singular that happens in that moment of collaboration and creation, something you can never really recreate in the studio,” said Ingram. “Our hope with this album was to share a little bit of that magic with people.”

The Marfa Tapes Track List:
1) In His Arms
2) I Don’t Like It
3) The Wind’s Just Gonna Blow
4) Am I Right Or Amarillo
5) Waxahachie
6) Homegrown Tomatoes
7) Breaking A Heart
8) Ghost
9) Geraldene
10) We’ll Always Have The Blues
11) Tin Man
12) Two-Step Down To Texas
13) Anchor
14) Tequila Does
15) Amazing Grace (West Texas)

Thomas Rhett Announces Double Album, ‘Country Again’

Reigning ACM Entertainer of the Year Thomas Rhett has announced his fifth studio double album: Country Again. Side A will release on April 30 via The Valory Music Co, while Side B is planned for release later this year.

Country Again: Side A is everything I wanted to say when I was 19 years old, but hadn’t lived enough to know how to say any of those things yet,” Rhett says. “It’s about the crazy journey that took me out into the world over the last ten years and ultimately brought me back home, more centered and content than ever, with a deep understanding for what’s important in life. I’ve had a blast sharing some of these songs in their acoustic form during quarantine and am blown away by the reaction the fans have already shown.”

In what is described as a musical and thematic return to his roots, Rhett co-wrote every song on Side A. He teamed up with longtime producers Dann Huff and Jesse Frasure for the project.

Rhett, who was reportedly already feeling a pull back to his musical roots, was prompted to make the music when the pandemic struck and the world shut down.

“How else do you slow down unless you’re forced to?,” Rhett says. “For the first time, I had to look at myself and say ‘Who am I? Who is Thomas Rhett without a microphone or a guitar or a stage?’ I had to really dig deep and figure it out. So in many ways, 2020 was a big ol’ reality check, a complete reset. And when I finally settled into myself and my family, and started to work again, it completely influenced all of my songwriting.”

Country Again: Side A Track List:
1. “Want It Again” | Thomas Rhett, Matt Dragstrem, Josh Miller, Josh Thompson
2. “Growing Up” | Thomas Rhett, Matt Dragstrem, Josh Miller, Josh Thompson
3. “What’s Your Country Song” | Thomas Rhett, Rhett Akins, Jesse Frasure, Ashley Gorley, Parker Welling
4. “Where We Grew Up”* | Thomas Rhett, Luke Laird, Josh Miller
5. “Heaven Right Now” | Thomas Rhett, Rhett Akins, Matt Dragstrem, Josh Thompson, Laura Veltz
6. “To The Guys That Date My Girls” | Thomas Rhett, Rhett Akins, Will Bundy, Josh Thompson
7. “More Time Fishin’” | Thomas Rhett, Rhett Akins, Will Bundy, Josh Thompson
8. “Country Again” | Thomas Rhett, Zach Crowell, Ashley Gorley
9. “Put It On Ice (featuring Hardy)”+ | Thomas Rhett, Rhett Akins, Matt Dragstrem, Josh Thompson
10. “Blame It On A Backroad” | Thomas Rhett, Zach Crowell, Ashley Gorley
11. “Ya Heard” | Thomas Rhett, Rhett Akins, Matt Dragstrem, Chase McGill

Produced by Dann Huff and Jesse Frasure
+Produced by Dann Huff and Matt Dragstrem
*Produced by Dann Huff

DISClaimer Single Reviews: Eric Church, Miranda Lambert, Brandy Clark

Disc of the Day winner Eric Church Photo: Reid Long

I must be living right.

How else can you explain new music in the same listening session from three of my very favorite artists—Miranda Lambert, Eric Church and Brandy Clark? They are among the reasons I still listen to country music, no matter how bad most of the rest of it is. Any one of them could be the Disc of the Day. I’m giving the nod to my main man, Eric Church.

There are bright rays of hope in this edition of DISClaimer. I refer to the dandy disc debuts by Ian Munsick, Hannah Dasher and Callista Clark. Hannah Dasher wins this week’s DISCovery Award. I look forward to hearing much, much more from her.

HEATH SANDERS / “Old School’s In”
Writers: Casey Beathard/Heath Sanders/Houston Phillips; Producer: Dann Huff; Label: The Valory Music Co.
— He’s bellowing about how things haven’t changed where he lives, as though someone was arguing with him about it. It’s meant to be some kind of redneck anthem, but it sounds like we’ve heard all this before from other flag wavers. A worn retread.

ELLE KING & MIRANDA LAMBERT / “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)”
Writers: Elle King/Martin Johnson; Producer: Martin Johnson; Label: RCA Records Nashville/Vanner Records
— Feisty, rocking and oh-so-adorable. I never would have imagined these two together, but the result is ridiculously catchy.

NOAH SCHNACKY / “She Broke My Heart”
Writers: Noah Schnacky/Lindsay Rimes/Laura Veltz; Producer: Lindsay Rimes; Label: Big Machine
— The production is too busy, but his charm is undeniable on this jaunty ditty. Despite what the title might lead you to believe, it is an upbeat bopper about how getting dumped led to True Romance. Or at least to meeting a hottie at the House of Blues.

Writers: Brad Paisley/Ross Copperman/Lee Thomas Miller; Producers: Ross Copperman/Luke Wooten; Label: Arista Nashville
— If you want to go with her, get ready for a wild ride with an empowered woman. She might have some “dust on her halo,” but you can’t keep her down. She’s heading for parts unknown with her moxie and grit intact.

HANNAH DASHER / “Left Right”
Writers: Brandon Hood/Hannah Dasher/Wynn Varble; Producer: Brandon Hood; Label: RCA Nashville
— I like her a lot. She’s got lots of country-female attitude, a witty way with words and twang to spare. While the rhythm thumps merrily, she advises him to make up his mind and “put a ring on her left right now.” Sign me up for the fan club.

BRETT YOUNG / “You Got Away With It”
Writers: Brett Young/Justin Ebach/Ashley Gorley/Jon Nite/Jimmy Robbins; Producer: Dann Huff; Label: BMLG Records
— She stole his heart and got away with the crime. I like it that this track has some stomp to it, which is a new texture for this guy. The harmonica work is cool, too.

CALLISTA CLARK / “It’s ‘Cause I Am”
Writers: Callista Clark/Cameron Jaymes/Laura Veltz; Producer: Nathan Chapman; Label: Big Machine Records
— She’s way too complicated for you. Get used to it. It ain’t real “country,” but the tune has its spicy, saucy moments.

TRAVIS TRITT / “Smoke in a Bar”
Writers: Jeremy Bussey/Derek George/Tim Montana; Producer: Dave Cobb; Label: Big Noise Label Group
— Nostalgia for simpler times. I’m a huge fan of Tritt, and he’s been away for far too long. But, sorry, I don’t miss smoking in a bar at all. Seat belts save lives. The six o’clock news does tell the truth, and implying that it doesn’t is twisted. Find a better song.

IAN MUNSICK / “Long Haul”
Writers: Ian Munsick/Dave Villa/Jamie Kenney; Producers: Jamie Kenney/Dave Villa/Ian Munsick; Label: Warner Music Nashville
— He has a heart-tugging tenor voice and a marvelous sense of melody. The sonic atmosphere is beautifully airy and open. A simply stunning disc debut. Munsick’s first album, Coyote Cry, dropped last week, and the whole thing is heartily recommended.

ERIC CHURCH / “Never Break Heart”
Writers: Eric Church/Luke Dick; Producer: Jay Joyce; Label: EMI Music Nashville
— I love everything about this. The production is a wonderland of rhythmic punch, twinkling mandolin, echoey harmony singing, sighing organ, stately piano and crunch guitars. The song is superbly well written. The message is inspirational. Three albums at once? Really? Believe it, when a man this gifted is doing it. The Church Choir rises with one mighty voice. Sing along.

BRANDY CLARK / “The Past Is the Past” feat. Lindsey Buckingham
Writers: Brandy Clark/Barry Dean/Luke Laird; Producer: Lindsey Buckingham; Label: Warner Records
— On her album, this is a gentle ode of farewell. This new version, produced by Lindsey Buckingham, rocks out with splendor and verve. However you slice it, this is a very cool song, and Clark is as good as it gets.

MARK COLLIE / “Born Ready”
Writers: Mark Collie/Kenny Greenberg/Gary Nicholson; Producers: Kenny Greenberg/Chad Cromwell; Label: BFD/Audium/Orchard
— That Waylon/outlaw beat gets me every time. And it fits this renegade/rebel song perfectly. Welcome back, buddy. We’ve missed ya.

This week’s DISCovery Winner Hannah Dasher. Photo: Andrew Morton

Miranda Lambert To Become First Female Country Artist With A Bar On Broadway

Miranda Lambert. Photo: Ellen Von Unwerth

Miranda Lambert will be the first female country artist with a branded bar on Broadway in Nashville.

The restaurant will be called Miranda Lambert’s Casa Rosa and, according to a report by the Nashville Business Journal, will be located at 308 Broadway.

TC Restaurant Group—the restaurant and hospitality company behind Jason Aldean’s Kitchen & Rooftop Bar, FGL House, Luke Bryan’s 32 Bridge, and more—has teamed with Lambert on the establishment. The most nominated female artist in ACM history will join Aldean, Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, Dierks Bentley, Blake Shelton and more male country artists with bars and restaurants on lower Broadway.

TC Restaurant Group provided the following statement to MusicRow: “In true Miranda Lambert fashion, the two-time Grammy Award winning artist will make history in 2021 by partnering with TC Restaurant Group to become the first female country star to have a bar and restaurant on Broadway in Nashville, Tennessee. TC Restaurant Group and Miranda Lambert are excited to release more details in the coming week.”

On The Row: Ian Munsick Brings The West To The Rest

Ian Munsick

Warner Music Nashville’s Ian Munsick is on a mission to bring back western influenced country music. With his recently released debut album, Coyote Cry, the Wyoming native describes the project as “a firm handshake of the cowboy and the hippy, the traditional and the contemporary.”

Munsick grew up on a ranch, playing country and western music with his family band, The Munsick Boys.

“Modern western culture is one that is extremely underrepresented in today’s country music. Most people think that cowboys only existed in that age of the 1800s, but cowboys are still out there,” Munsick told MusicRow in a recent virtual visit. “They’re still out there doing work and being model Americans. They’re honest, hard-working people that you want as your neighbor and as your friends.”

He counts a wide array of musical artists as influences. “Being in the generation that I was born in, we’ve had access to Spotify, MTV, Apple and just everything. But growing up in Wyoming, we never had artists come through our state. The only ones were Chris LeDoux and more of that cowboy western [music]. I just remember as a young kid—probably eight years old was when it started—I was glued to MTV and to music videos, taking in all this music from System Of A Down to Eminem, to just everything that I could get my hands on.”

The 27-year-old’s access to music discovery via multiple platforms and his varietal taste in music inspired him to start producing his own music.

“That opened up the whole new world of hip-hop, pop, and rock music,” Munsick said. “Then trying to incorporate that into a country feel that I feel most connected to has been what I’ve been trying to do for the last few years. I think that this album is a strong interpretation of how modern the west is.”

He came to Warner Music Nashville with Coyote Cry fully formed, and made his WMN introduction with the dreamy, strikingly visual “Long Haul.” The tune will be his first single to country radio.

The 10-song project also includes a stomping romp about confidence called “Humble,” a Fleetwood Mac cover of “Dreams,” and a slow burner, “Come Home To You,” among other unique songs.

Munsick is signed under a co-management deal with The Erv Woolsey Company and his wife’s Caroline Rudolph Munsick / Not A Public Figure Management. After moving to Nashville in 2012 to attend Belmont, the singer-songwriter met Caroline, who was looking to start her own management company. They released an EP in 2017 and worked hard to establish a fully-formed brand with cohesive imagery.

“[The EP] started to grow some legs and we started to figure out our brand and how to capitalize on it. We decided that it was time to make a new album and went into the studio at the beginning of 2018,” Munsick said. “Once we had the project all done, Caroline and I were like, ‘Hey, this album deserves as much help as we can get.’ So Caroline and I reached out to Allen [Mitchell] and Erv [Woolsey].”

A few months later the team partnered with Warner Music Nashville.

“I’m definitely glad that we waited to form the right team around us because, as you guys know, the artist is only as good as the team around us. Our team is awesome and I’m very grateful to be with them.”

Pictured (L-R, top row): The Erv Woolsey Company’s Allen Mitchell, Warner Music Nashville’s Victoria Chaitoff, MusicRow‘s Haley Crow; (L-R, middle row): MusicRow‘s Sherod Robertson, Not A Public Figure Management’s Caroline Rudolph Munsick, Ian Munsick; (bottom row): MusicRow‘s LB Cantrell

BREAKING: CMA Fest Is Canceled For 2021

CMA CEO Sarah Trahern announced today (March 2) that CMA Fest will not take place in 2021, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

In a letter to CMA Members, Trahern said: “We are deeply disappointed that yet another summer will pass without seeing so many of you who help bring country music to our fans around the world. While we are optimistic with the pace at which COVID-19 vaccines are becoming more widely available, we still face several challenges that prevent us from bringing our many artists, crew members and fans together safely for the full CMA Fest experience we know everyone has come to expect.”

Passes will be honored at CMA Fest 2022 for fans who purchased four-day passes for CMA Fest 2020. Refunds will also be available.

CMA Fest 2022 is slated for June 9-12, 2022.

Read the CMA’s statement below:

Taylor Swift Enters Top Five On MusicRow Top Songwriter Chart

After releasing her re-recording of “Love Story,” Taylor Swift finds herself at No. 5 on the MusicRow Top Songwriter Chart this week. The tune, which she solely penned, was originally released in 2008.

Josh Osborne remains at the No. 1 on the chart this week, with co-writer credit on Darius Rucker’s “Beers And Sunshine,” Morgan Wallen’s “Sand In My Boots,” Rascal Flatts’ “How They Remember You,” Sam Hunt’s “Breaking Up Was Easy In The 90’s,” and Carly Pearce’s “Next Girl.”

The weekly MusicRow Top Songwriter Chart uses algorithms based upon song activity according to airplay, digital download track sales and streams. This unique and exclusive addition to the MusicRow portfolio is the only songwriter chart of its kind.

Click here to view the full MusicRow Top Songwriter Chart.

EMPIRE Nashville’s Eric Hurt And Heather Vassar Talk Early Success [Interview]

Eric Hurt, Heather Vassar

EMPIRE was formed in 2010 by Ghazi Shami. The San Francisco-based company has been instrumental in launching the careers of multi-Platinum, Grammy Award-winning artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Cardi B, DRAM, and Anderson.Paak.

In 2018, EMPIRE tapped former Black River Publishing executive Eric Hurt to start the Nashville office, which serves as an independent label, distributor, and publisher. Hurt had helped to secure a publishing deal at Black River for Willie Jones, who was signed to EMPIRE proper.

“Willie’s manager connected me with Ghazi, we actually met at SXSW,” Hurt, now VP of A&R, tells MusicRow. “We hit it off and then Ghazi just started talking his goals and desires of opening up a Nashville branch and getting more into country music and into Nashville.”

Ghazi was intrigued by the way country fans consume music.

“It started off with Kane Brown. EMPIRE released his first EP and it blew up, the numbers were great. So they were like, ‘What’s going on over here?’ Kane went on to do what he did and they signed Willie Jones to develop that out more,” Hurt says. “A lot of what this town is built on is radio, which serves a big purpose in our market and I don’t want to downplay that at all, but with that comes a lot of waiting. EMPIRE is really about content and super serving the fans first, getting things out on a digital level, rolling it out quickly, moving quickly and building up the value on that digital level first, and then going to radio when the time is right.”

Heather Vassar joined EMPIRE Nashville as VP of Marketing early in 2020. Vassar came to EMPIRE from Universal Music Group Nashville, where she most recently led Strategy and Research. She oversees day-to-day artist strategies and development, marketing and digital initiatives, as well as partner relationships with sales and streaming services for EMPIRE’s Nashville roster.

Now, country/hip-hop artist Jones, country up-and-comer Tenille Arts, singer-songwriter Waylon Payne, and newly-signed songwriter Nick Wayne make up the EMPIRE Nashville roster.

EMPIRE Nashville structures their deals a bit differently.

“To understand how our deals are structured, especially for the Nashville office, we very rarely put those tent poles down of like, ‘You’re just a distribution artist,’ or anything like that. It’s not defined that way. We’re super serving the town and investing in the town,” says Vassar. “We bring [the artist] into the family, then the goal is to essentially grow the family and grow all of the tent poles with them.”

Arts has a top-15 hit, “Somebody Like That,” was named part of the CMT Next Women of Country Class of 2021, and just performed as part of the prestigious CRS New Faces of Country Music Show. Last week, she was announced as a nominee for the ACM’s New Female Artist of the Year.

“Obviously radio is a huge player for her and have been big advocates for her. But it’s such an old school mentality, thinking you have to wait on one [single],” Vassar says. “We just dropped her most recent track, which will be her Canadian single. That will go for adds in a couple of weeks over there. [Our strategy is] being able to establish the U.S. single, but then also feeding the fans content and making sure the DSPs have content and music that doesn’t hinder the radio single, but instead adds value to it.”

Singer-songwriter Payne released his Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, to critical acclaim in late 2020. It hit the iTunes No. 2 spot on the country albums chart and No. 3 on the all genre albums chart upon release.

Payne is the son of country artist Sammi Smith and guitarist Jody Payne, who played for Willie Nelson.

“We rolled out his project pretty differently than we rolled out any other ones. We did it in four acts to help tell his story. He has such a compelling story with the narrative of his past and his life. I mean, Waylon Jennings as his godfather? There are so many layers there,” Vassar says.

“We’re all about trying new things, pushing the boundaries,” Vassar says. “It’s all the way from digital strategy, marketing, roll-out strategy, and then playlist placements, making sure that [Waylon] is in the conversation and that his story is being told in the way that they want it to be told.”

Genre-bending Jones caters to country and hip-hop fans with the release of his debut album, Right Now. Alongside his new record, Jones partnered with the newly opened National Museum of African American Music (NMAAM) to launch the #IHaveAnAmericanDream initiative to coincide with the release of his single “American Dream.” Donations to the initiative ran through Black History Month, and went to the museum.

He was named to Spotify’s Hot Country Artists To Watch list, and currently hosts his own Apple Music show, The Cross Roads Radio, which serves as a sounding board for fellow production fanatics interested in how country and rap music intertwine.

Vassar says that the marketing strategy behind Jones crosses genres. “Willie is so authentic to both [country and hip-hop] that to only focus on one genre would just be a disservice to who he is at his core. To be able to captivate both audiences is definitely always at the forefront.

“It would not be authentic to Willie if we tried to say, ‘This is only who you are and this is it.’ In telling the story of who he is and maintaining that narrative, it opens up more doors in that realm. If it make sense, [we will pitch him] for a hip-hop playlist or a workout playlist,” Vassar says.

EMPIRE Nashville joins a handful of Nashville companies whose parent company’s success is rooted in hip-hop and R&B music, including Reservoir and Roc Nation’s Rhythm House. Hurt says that burgeoning lane is a testament to Nashville’s talent.

“I love seeing these kind of companies making an investment in Nashville,” Hurt says. “I think that it shows a lot of respect for the level of talent of the artists and songwriters that Nashville has to deliver. All genres are recognizing that there’s a lot to pull from here in this town that can spill over into other genres.”


Big Machine Music Taps Peermusic To Sub-Publish Catalog Outside U.S.

Pictured (L-R): Mike Molinar, General Manager, Big Machine Music; Nigel Elderton, President, Europe & Managing Director, peermusic U.K.

Big Machine Music and peermusic have entered a long-term sub-publishing agreement for peermusic to represent the music copyrights controlled by Big Machine Music in all ex-US territories. Big Machine Music will continue to administer itself within the U.S.

Through the deal, peermusic will work with BMM’s catalog of over 12,000 songs and three dozen chart-toppers, including the recent five-week country No. 1 “Better Together” (written and recorded by Luke Combs,) Laura Veltz’s “The Bones” (recorded by Maren Morris) and Jessie Jo Dillon’s “10,000 Hours” (recorded by Dan + Shay and Justin Bieber), which holds the highest streaming first-week in country music history. Named to Billboard’s Year End Top Ten Hot 100 Publisher Corp and Hot Country Publisher Corp from 2017-2020, BMM’s current roster also includes Brett Young, Brandy Clark, Eric Paslay, Ryan Hurd, Justin Moore, Maddie & Tae, Tyler Rich, Benjy Davis, Callista Clark, Laci Kaye Booth, Daniel Ross, Lauren Weintraub, Kenton Bryant, and Reid Isbell.

“We see in peermusic a reflection of our own independent spirit and dedication to delivering personalized service to our songwriters,” said Mike Molinar, General Manager, BMM. “The international team under the guidance of Nigel shares our business and creative values and we look forward to working with their team.”

Nigel Elderton, President, Europe & Managing Director, peermusic said: “Mike, Alex Heddle, and the Big Machine Music team put their service to their clients first and foremost—we share that ethos. What the Big Machine Music team have built in the past eight years is phenomenal. They are exceptional music publishers that have developed a rich catalog, overflowing with hits. We are thrilled to partner with them for global sub-publishing.”

peermusic has a network across the globe of 38 offices in 31 countries, offering a unique place for publishers seeking sub-publishing representation. The company’s reputation for first-class global administration services have led the industry’s top publishers to flock to peermusic for sub-publishing (including Anthem, Concord, Beggars, BMG, Big Deal, Disney, Kobalt and Sugar), with income collected for clients growing 12% year-over-year. peermusic recently licensed its proprietary copyright/royalties system IRIS to Synchtank, which in turn is licensing it to other music publishers. Thanks to its origins in peermusic, IRIS has been running at global scale for over 10 years, is fully integrated with more than 60 Collective Management Organizations (CMOs), is configured for over 1,000+ income sources, and has processed hundreds of millions of dollars of royalties.