BREAKING: Greg Thompson Appointed President And Partner Of Big Loud Management

Greg Thompson

Big Loud Management announced today (Jan. 14) the appointment of executive heavyweight Greg Thompson to President and Partner, effective immediately.

“I’ve worked closely with Big Loud in the past, and have been able to see what an incredible organization they have built,” says Thompson. “I want to thank Seth [England], Joey [Moi], and Craig [Wiseman], for this amazing opportunity to join the family. I’m thrilled to lead a group of world-class managers and have the privilege to be on the same team as some of the greatest artists in the world.”

Coming from Maverick Management/Live Nation in Beverly Hills, California, Thompson served as President of the top-tier management conglomerate. Hands-on in helping synergize managers and superstar talent like U2, Madonna, Doja Cat, Brandy, and more, he led the charge in expanding their sought-after all-genre roster. Prior, Thompson held a long bicoastal tenure with Capitol Music Group/EMI, playing a critical role in developing artists Katy Perry, Sam Smith, and Coldplay. With over 25 years of high-level music executive experience, his early career stints include Island Def Jam, Elektra Records, and Chrysalis Records.

“It’s hard to imagine how things could get better at Big Loud right now, but adding Greg [Thompson] to our company is exactly that. He is a leader, mentor, and first-class executive. We are very thankful to him for coming on board when he could have chosen just about anywhere. He will be key in overseeing all of our managers and assisting with each of their respective artists, not to mention being a key resource for us partners as well,” says Big Loud Partners (Seth England, Joey Moi, and Craig Wiseman)

Expanding Big Loud’s footprint to Los Angeles, California, Thompson will continue managing clients Philmon Lee and Ananya Birla, while further elevating the leading Nashville, Tennessee-based independent management firm.

Thompson can be reached here.

Visionary Media Group Signs Clayton Anderson [Exclusive]

Pictured (L-R): Tracy Percival, Anastasia Brown, Clayton Anderson, J.R. Hensley. Photo: Evan De Stefano

Country music artist, Clayton Anderson, has signed with the multi-dimensional entertainment and music company Visionary Media Group. VMG is set to expand upon his unique touring concept, provide assistance with the release of his children’s book, and help finish the screenplay he’s writing.

Anderson has racked up over 240K monthly listeners on Spotify and over 10 million streams on the platform alone. Earlier last year, he teamed up with Bud Light for the Bud Light Dive Bar Tour: Home Edition alongside Jake Owen, Dierks Bentley, OneRepublic, and more, which allowed him to keep sharing music, virtually, with his fans during the pandemic.

“I’m beyond grateful and excited for the opportunity to be joining Anastasia Brown, Tracy Percival and the entire VMG family! I was so close to giving up my dream when COVID hit, but this partnership is such a blessing,” Anderson said. “Our ideals and passion for music are parallel and I honestly can’t convey how very thankful I am. I’m so fired up!”

Raised in southern Indiana, Anderson has built a loyal following with his blend of Midwestern rock and independent country. While enrolled at Indiana University, he wrote his first song in the school’s library and began playing fraternity parties around town, earning an audience long before graduation. He’s gone on to open for many artists, including Kenny Chesney, Blake Shelton, Jimmy Buffett, and Carly Pearce. He has also performed alongside Zac Brown Band at the Indy 500, with 40,000 people in attendance.

“When Renee Bell introduced me to Clayton, I flipped over his powerful voice. Then with time, I learned about his work ethic and how entrepreneurial he is—that’s when we knew he was the right fit to join the Visionary Family,” said Brown, VMG Chief Content Strategist.

Anderson is currently gearing up to release a slew of new singles throughout 2021 culminating in a new album release slated for 2022.

BREAKING: Warner Music Nashville Promotes Five, Names Danny Bess CFO

Warner Music Nashville announced the promotion of five employees across the Finance, Radio & Streaming and Publicity departments today (Jan. 13).

After more than two years with the company, VP Finance Danny Bess has been promoted to CFO. He will continue reporting to EVP / GM Ben Kline. Brad Walker has also been promoted from Director to Sr. Director, Finance.

Bess transitioned over to Warner Music Nashville after nearly 25 years at Universal Music Group, concluding his tenure as VP Finance of its Nashville division. A Vanderbilt University graduate with an M.B.A. from Tulane, Bess began his career at Sony BMG in 1989. Walker, an alumnus of Western Kentucky University, started in financial services before entering the music industry at Sony/ATV. He has now been at WMN for 14 years.

“Danny is one of the most respected label finance people in this industry,” Kline said. “His experience in and knowledge of our evolving business is critical to our success, and I’m thrilled that he will assume this new role. Both Danny and I are incredibly proud to recognize the dedication we’ve seen in Brad Walker. Brad’s understanding of and adaptation to the changing marketplace is part of what makes him such a valuable member of the finance team.”

Jenni Tay has been upped from Manager to Director, Streaming under VP Streaming Tim Foisset. Tay began her streaming career between San Francisco and Los Angeles before settling in Nashville in 2018. She has worked on launch projects in the indie space for companies like Ingrooves and The Orchard as well as major labels such as Universal Music Group.

“Jenni is a vital, accomplished part of our streaming team,” Foisset said. “She is a true partner to those she works with in this industry: enthusiastic and innovative, supportive and nurturing, capable and decisive. Her relationships yield measurable, impressive results for our artists and we are a stronger label for it. We’re eager to see her role and influence grow.”

Mary Catherine Rebrovick and Victoria Chaitoff rise in the Publicity department, led by SVP Wes Vause, to Sr. Director and Director respectively. Rebrovick joined the WMN team as an assistant upon graduating from Middle Tennessee State University in 2012, as did Chaitoff in 2015 after earning her degree in English from the College of William and Mary.

“Mary Catherine and Victoria both started their work careers with WMN, and since day one they’ve worked tirelessly to help our artists make their dreams come true. They have become respected leaders in the publicity field and beyond, and I could not be prouder to work alongside them!” Vause said.

John Loar Leads Charge To Bring Sports Entertainment District to Music City [Interview]

John Loar

Businessman John Loar moved to Nashville to be closer to his daughter. Now he finds himself leading the charge to bring a Major League Baseball team and sports entertainment district to Music City.

His background is in real estate operations and acquisitions. In the late ’90s, Loar led the effort for the Seattle Seahawks acquisition and near-relocation to Los Angeles. He also supported former pitcher and Diamondbacks GM, Dave Stewart, on the acquisition of the Miami Marlins.

It’s clear that Loar sees Nashville’s potential future as part of Major League Baseball as a full circle investment in Music City’s entertainment capacity. He’s interested in creating a sports, family entertainment district—like that of Atlanta, Georgia’s The Battery Atlanta, and Ballpark Village in St. Louis, Missouri—not just a baseball field.

Loar founded Music City Baseball, LLC, an organization primarily of Tennessee business, sports, music, and community leaders that is committed to bringing a MLB franchise to the City of Nashville, without government funding. With a focus on securing MLB approval of an expansion franchise in Nashville, the leadership team is also open to the possibility of relocation and rebranding of an existing franchise.

Understanding the fabric of Music City and it’s business climate, Music City Baseball has already engaged with the music industry, securing Music Advisory Board Members to involve them in the plan for bringing MLB to Nashville and the concept of a new entertainment district. Entertainment icons Luke Combs, Kane Brown, Darius Rucker and Justin Timberlake have joined the Board thus far.

Darius Rucker. Photo: Courtesy FINN Partners

“The importance of the music industry to Music City Baseball’s objectives, extends to why Nashville is an important market,” Loar tells MusicRow. “It’s the opportunity to just connect the two of those going forward. Nashville is Music City, it’s the hottest market in the country. This ballpark is truly not a ballpark, it would be an entertainment venue for world-class entertainment, where you can imagine residencies like in Las Vegas. It would be air conditioned and covered, so they could use it year round. So it’s not about baseball, it’s more about that opportunity to create a world-class [entertainment complex], for convention use, for corporate use, etc.

“Baseball is the reason why I’m the catalyst behind it, but what we’re building here is a world-class entertainment venue. Baseball plays for 22% of the time, 81 games, but what it creates is an opportunity to have a venue within a venue. By design with our partners ASM Global, coordinating our music industry advisors, [the Nashville music industry can have] an important role in being part of this process. They can be included in the design of how the facility operates, how it’s designed and how it functions,” Loar says.

Rendering of potential ballpark / entertainment complex. Photo: Courtesy Music City Baseball

In an effort to build a Major League franchise on equity and celebrate diversity, Music City Baseball wants to name the team Nashville Stars, in honor of several Negro League baseball teams that played games in Nashville in the 1940s. They established a partnership with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, which includes a net sharing of revenues from the sale of merchandise bearing the name “Nashville Stars,” and cooperation between marketing and social media efforts.

“It gives Major League Baseball the opportunity to take its place in history and be proactive instead of reactive in the conversations that continue to go on diversity and inclusion,” Loar says.

Music City Baseball was positioned to submit a proposal to Major League Baseball to establish a team in Nashville, but that step has been delayed a year due to business effects from the COVID-19 pandemic. Until then, Loar is focused on site selection for the proposed entertainment district.

“We hope it’s in Davidson County, but it will possibly be in Williamson County or Rutherford County. We’ve got eight sites that we’re considering,” Loar says. “We hope it’s part of the East bank, potentially the Tennessee State University site. A downtown ballpark gives us the opportunity to build, with our partner ASM Global, a world-class entertainment venue. The walkability, bringing the Cumberland River alive, and just being part of a downtown park is the objective.”

In 2021, it’s important for Music City Baseball to show their partner (ASM Global) that the Nashville market can be a revenue contributor, the reasons why, and to find a site for the ballpark.

“We think we can privately finance a ballpark here, as it’s really not a ballpark. It’s an entertainment venue. The baseball team becomes a tenant,” Loar says. “It’s driven by the music industry in residencies, and in conventions. It supports the growth of Nashville, the airport growth, the expansion internationally, and the hotel industry and the restaurant industries that continue to grow, even with COVID. People come to Nashville just because it’s Music City, so when the Red Sox, the Phillies, the Giants, or whoever see the Stars on the schedule, they’re going to come here for a three-game series, and be a part of the town and the market area.”

Warner Music Nashville’s Tom Starr Passes

Tom Starr. Photo: Courtesy Warner Music Nashville

Warner Music Group Nashville’s Tom Starr has died following a battle with cancer.

Starr was a part of the WAR promotion team, joining in 2014. He was Regional Mgr. of Radio & Streaming when he passed. With the Warner team, Starr helped work singles for Dan + Shay, Chris Janson, Ashley McBryde, Zac Brown Band, Frankie Ballard, and more.

Pictured: Tom Starr with Gator Harrison, Tennille Harrison, Kelly Janson, Chris Janson, John Esposito, and Rod Phillips at a Country Radio Seminar celebration in 2018. Photo: Alan Poizner/Peyton Hoge

Prior to joining Warner, Starr worked in pop world music, including stops at Interscope, EMI/Capitol, Jive, MCA and Elektra Records.

Dan + Shay’s Dan Smyers posted a heartfelt tribute to Starr on his Facebook page, with a photo of a backstage photo from the early days in their career.

 

man, this one hurts. we’re so grateful to have had Tom Starr with us through the majority of our career (including our…

Posted by Dan Smyers on Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Memorial arrangements have not yet been announced.

Quartz Hill Records Signs Ben Gallaher

Pictured (L-R, top row): Quartz Hill Records’ Paul Brown and April Rider; Warner Chappell Music’s Ben Vaughn, BSB Management’s Shawn Pennington. Pictured (L-R, bottom row): Quartz Hill Records’ Jason Sellers, Ben Gallaher, Benny Brown.

Quartz Hill Records, the newly-formed joint partnership with global music distribution company The Orchard, announced the signing of Ben Gallaher to its label roster.

Gallaher has earned a fast-growing fanbase due to his commanding guitar prowess and energetic live shows while opening for the likes of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Hank Williams Jr., Blake Shelton, 3 Doors Down, Lee Brice, and has toured the Pennsylvania State Prisons for ten years on his annual, headlining Prison Tour.

Gallaher was introduced to Quartz Hill Records’ Benny Brown by Brown’s longtime friend Ben Vaughn, President & CEO of Warner Chappell Music Nashville, and Gallaher’s publisher. After meeting with Brown and Quartz Hill managing partners Paul Brown and Jason Sellers, they knew the label had found its next rising star.

“I was immediately taken with Ben’s ability to sit and perform just a guitar vocal and make it sound huge—like we were in an arena instead of in a conference room. After performing only three songs, I knew Ben was a star. And after spending time with more than 100 songs Ben had written, I knew we needed him in country music. His songs not only have a good beat but each one has a message that fans can wrap their arms around,” says Benny Brown.

“I’m humbled to work with Benny Brown and the Quartz Hill Records team. Since our first conversation, they have welcomed me as a member of their family,” says Gallaher. “Our visions for my brand and future are perfectly aligned and I’m fired up to share the new music we have been working on!”

Fans will get their first taste of new music from Gallaher on Friday, Feb. 5 with the worldwide release of “Every Small Town,” co-written by Gallaher, Ash Bowers and Jim Collins. Gallaher is currently in the studio recording his debut Quartz Hill Records album with producers Mickey Jack Cones (Jason Aldean, Thomas Rhett) and Derek George (Dustin Lynch, Randy Houser).

Gallaher is signed to Warner Chappell Music Nashville and is an ASCAP writer. He is booked by WME and managed by BSB Management.

Aaron Tannenbaum Joins WME As Partner

Aaron Tannenbaum

Music agent Aaron Tannenbaum has joined WME as a Partner, based in its Nashville office.

Prior to joining WME, Tannenbaum was at CAA since 2010. He was previously an agent at Paradigm. Tannenbaum has been recognized throughout the music business for his accomplishments, being named to Billboard’s Rising Stars List, Country Power Players List, and HITS’ Next Wave Agents list.

“Aaron has earned a reputation in our business as an agent who has a strong ability to identify talent and takes the long-view in building an artist’s career, making him a great fit for us,” said Scott Clayton, WME’s Co-Head of Music.

“As our Nashville office continues to grow, Aaron represents a significant addition to our team and we look forward to bringing his creativity and strategic approach to our colleagues and clients,” said Jay Williams, Co-Head of WME’s Nashville office.

BREAKING: Joel Katz Resigns From Greenberg Traurig

Joel Katz

Attorney and founding chairman of the Greenberg Traurig’s entertainment and media practice, Joel Katz, notified Greenberg Traurig of his resignation from the firm on Dec. 31, 2020, MusicRow has confirmed.

A top entertainment attorney frequently listed in Billboard‘s Power 100 list, Billboard‘s Country Power Players List, and MusicRow‘s InCharge, Katz has represented legendary entertainers from an array of genres, including artists, producers, record companies, concert promoters, and business leaders. His client list has included Jimmy Buffett, Jamie Foxx, Steve Harvey, Faith Hill, Julio Iglesias, Alan Jackson, Estate of Michael Jackson, Kris Kristofferson, Little Big Town, Ludacris, Tim McGraw, L.A. Reid, George Strait, James Taylor, Justin Timberlake, TLC, and others.

In a statement provided to MusicRow, Greenberg Traurig Executive Chairman, Richard A. Rosenbaum, said: “Joel Katz has, by mutual understanding, resigned from the firm as of December 31, 2020. Our global entertainment practice remains strong, diverse and among the largest, most dynamic and highest rated in the world, led by Chair Bobby Rosenbloum in Atlanta, assisted by Vice Chairs Barbara Meili in New York and Dan Black in Los Angeles, as well as Jay Cooper, the founder of our Los Angeles Entertainment Practice, leading music industry lawyers Jess Rosen in Atlanta and Paul Schindler in New York, and many others. We thank Mr. Katz for his contributions over the years and have no further comment at this time.”

Grammy Winning Singer-Songwriter Jamie O’Hara Passes

Jamie O’Hara

Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter Jamie O’Hara has died at age 70. He courageously battled cancer and sadly succumbed on Jan. 7, with his wife, Lola White O’Hara, by his side.

O’Hara won the Grammy Award for Best Country Song for “Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Old Days),” a 1986 hit for The Judds. He was also noted as half of the performing and recording duo The O’Kanes alongside Kieran Kane. The O’Kanes had six consecutive top 10 hits in 1986-88, all of which were co-written by O’Hara and Kane.

James Paul O’Hara was born and raised in Toledo, Ohio. He was an all-American high-school football star who was offered a tryout by the Detroit Tigers right out of high school, which he turned down to play football at Indiana University. A knee injury ended his football career. During his recovery, he took up the guitar and started writing songs.

Despite family and friends’ disapproval, he moved to Nashville at age 26. Within a year, he was signed as a staff songwriter by the industry giant Sony-ATV (then called Tree International Publishing).

He initially tasted success as a songwriter in 1980-87 with cuts by John Conlee, T.G. Sheppard, Conway Twitty, Johnny Lee, Michael Johnson and other stars of the era. In 1981, Ronnie McDowell scored back-to-back smash hits with O’Hara’s “Wandering Eyes” and “Older Women.” The 1986 Judds hit “Grandpa (Tell Me Bout the Good Old Days) earned Grammys for the duo’s performance as well as for O’Hara’s songwriting.

Jamie O’Hara next formed The O’Kanes with fellow songwriter Kieran Kane. The duo debuted on the charts with the 1986 top 10 hit “Oh Darlin.'” The O’Kanes scored a No. 1 hit in 1987 with “Can’t Stop My Heart From Loving You.” This was followed by the 1987-88 top 10 successes “Daddies Need to Grow Up Too,” “Just Lovin’ You,” “One True Love” and “Blue Love.”

The duo issued three LPs – The OKanes (1987), Tired of Runnin’ (1988) and Imagine That (1990) – before amicably parting ways.

Don Williams had scored a top 10 hit in 1988 with O’Hara’s co-written “Desperately,” and Tammy Wynette succeeded with “Talkin’ To Myself Again” in 1987. So O’Hara returned to writing for others. Trisha Yearwood, The Chicks, Randy Travis, Emmylou Harris, Mark Collie and Michael Martin Murphey were among those who recorded his songs in the early 1990s. Tanya Tucker popularized his farm-crisis song, “Bidding America Goodbye.”

The songwriter returned to recording with the 1994 solo CD Rise Above It. His second solo CD was 2001’s Beautiful Obsession, and in 2012 he followed it with Dream Hymns. The first of these contained his notable Vietnam War elegy “50,000 Names.”

O’Hara’s songwriting success continued with “You’ve Got to Talk to Me,” a major hit for Lee Ann Womack in 1997. George Jones (2000’s “The Cold Hard Truth”) and Wynonna (1997’s “When Love Starts Talkin’”) also maintained O’Hara’s songwriting prominence.

Linda Ronstadt, Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris included his “When We’re Gone Long Gone” on their 1999 Trio II collection. In 2001, Gary Allan had a No. 1 hit with “Man To Man,” and he also recorded several other O’Hara compositions.

Tim McGraw, Sara Evans, Joey & Rory, The Oak Ridge Boys, Pam Tillis and Josh Turner were among those who have recorded O’Hara songs in recent years. He also has a number of bluegrass-music successes.

During his songwriting career, Jamie O’Hara provided songs to dozens of stars. The list includes Janie Fricke, Mel McDaniel, Brady Seals, Shelby Lynne, Mandy Barnett, Kathy Mattea, Larry Stewart, Dave & Sugar, Tom Wopat and Stacy Dean Campbell, among many others.

There are no plans for a public memorial at this time. In lieu of flowers, donations are being accepted in Jamie O’Hara’s name to Bonaparte’s Retreat, Doctors Without Borders, MusiCares, and SmileTrain.

Jordan Davis Ranks No. 1 On ‘MusicRow’ CountryBreakout Radio Chart

Jordan Davis moves two positions, climbing to No. 1 on the MusicRow CountryBreakout Radio Chart this week with his single “Almost Maybes.” The single appears on Davis’ self-title EP and was written by Davis, Hillary Lindsey, and Jesse Frasure.

Davis sat down with MusicRow to discuss “Almost Maybes” and his latest project. “It’s just looking back at past relationships and not just taking the negatives from them, since they didn’t work out,” Davis says. “For me it led to me findin’ my wife, and now we have a six month-old daughter. But looking back on those relationships and not thinking about them in a bad light, just realizing that I learned a lot about myself. With the good and the bad, I’m a better person because of it.” To read the full interview, click here.

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