Sony/ATV Nashville Signs Restless Road

Restless Road. Photo: Matthew Berinato

Sony/ATV Music Publishing Nashville announced today (Oct. 15) that it has signed rising country music band Restless Road to a worldwide publishing agreement.

Restless Road is a country trio comprised of Zach Beeken, Colton Pack, and Garrett Nichols, who have had success as artists and as songwriters, recently landing cuts with Rascal Flatts, Granger Smith, and more.

In February, the trio unveiled their four-song, debut self-titled EP, which includes the single “Take Me Home,” featuring Kane Brown. Restless Road also earned themselves the opening slot of Kane Brown’s 2020 Worldwide Beautiful Tour and earlier this year made their national television debut of their new music on the Today Show.

Sony/ATV Nashville CEO Rusty Gaston said, “Country music has a long history of vocal bands who have deeply impacted the genre. Zach, Colton and Garrett are brilliant songwriters, and they have a powerful creative energy as a group – I’m confident they are destined for country music greatness. We’re thrilled to welcome Restless Road to the Sony/ATV family, and we look forward to supporting their rising careers.”

Restless Road said, “We are so excited to be working with Rusty, Mya [Hansen], and the entire Sony/ATV team. It feels great to be surrounded by a family of people who believe in us both as songwriters and artists. We are looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish together!”

Restless Road began their journey in 2013 when Zach and Colton joined teams as solo contestants on season three of The X Factor. During their time on the show, they placed in fourth and met future collaborator Kane Brown, who they have remained close creative partners with. Garrett came onboard in 2015.

Norbert Nix Named President At Triple Tigers Records

Norbert Nix. Photo: Aislinn Daley Nix

Norbert Nix has assumed the role of President of Nashville-based label Triple Tigers Records. The label, which launched in 2016, is a joint venture with Nix, Thirty Tigers, Sony Music Entertainment, and Triple 8 Management.

Triple Tigers Records’ current roster includes Scotty McCreery, Russell Dickerson and Cam (a recent signing via a partnership with RCA Records New York). Since its launch, the label has earned six consecutive No. 1 hits, including three consecutive chart-toppers each for McCreery and Dickerson. The label previously represented the Colbie Caillat-led band Gone West, prior to the group’s recent breakup.

“Less is more,” Nix said. “We have a talented and experienced staff and a small, but exceptional group of artists who understand that they have our total support. We aren’t stepping on ourselves with a bloated roster. In our fourth year, we are in the black, and things are good—unusually good.”

Nix launched his career in 1987 as a manager with Century City Artist Management, representing the Desert Rose Band. In 1989, he segued to sister venture, the Jim Halsey Company, as a booking agent representing artists including Tammy Wynette, Waylon Jennings, and Clint Black. Nix went on to hold roles at the leading labels and management companies of the day. In 1990, he joined Mercury Records as VP of Promotion and Artist Development where he stewarded the success of Shania Twain, Toby Keith, Billy Ray Cyrus, Sammy Kershaw, Terri Clark, and Kentucky Headhunters. In 2001, he was named VP at Refugee Artist Management.

In 2005, Nix handled music catalog acquisition for ole Rights Management before leaving to join RCA Nashville as Director of National Promotion in 2006. In 2010, he was named VP of Promotion for Columbia Nashville where he helped propel the careers of Maren Morris, Chase Rice, and multi-time Entertainer of the Year Kenny Chesney, achieving four consecutive No. 1 singles from Chesney’s American Kids project.

Marv Green Signs Publishing Deal With Sony/ATV

Marv Green

Songwriter Marv Green, who has penned hits including George Strait’s “It Just Comes Natural,” Carrie Underwood’s “Wasted,” and Lonestar’s “Amazed,” has inked a global publishing deal with Sony/ATV Music Publishing Nashville.

Sony/ATV Nashville CEO Rusty Gaston said, “Championing the songs of Marv Green is a true honor— he has crafted timeless hits that capture the heart and soul of country music. The way he weaves his West Coast cool into every one of his songs makes each single a notch above the rest. We couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome Marv to our Sony/ATV Nashville family.”

Green said, “I’m beyond excited to start a new catalog of songs with Sony/ATV and their inspiring creative team.”

Green moved from Southern California to Nashville in 1993 and built a song catalog that includes Tim McGraw’s “Shotgun Rider,” Rodney Atkins’s “Farmer’s Daughter,” Brooks & Dunn’s “Proud of the House We Built,” Eric Church’s “Creepin’,” the Merle Haggard/Willie Nelson collaboration “Live This Long,” Chris Young’s “Who I Am With You,” and the eight-week No. 1 hit “Amazed,” recorded by Lonestar.

Green currently has a Top 10 hit with Tim McGraw’s “I Called Mama.”

Along the way, Green has earned BMI’s Song Of The Year in 2000, BMI’s Songwriter Of The Year in 2001, as well as an ACM Song Of The Year and Grammy nomination for “Amazed.”

RECORDS Nashville Signs Chase Martin

Standing, left to right: Sara Gil (RECORDS), Brendan Rich (Wide Open Music), Lauren Hamrick (Wide Open Music), David Enriquez (RECORDS), Steve Williams (Wide Open Music), Andrew Saltman (RECORDS). Sitting, left to right: Ash Bowers (Wide Open Music/RECORDS Nashville), Chase Martin (principal artist), Barry Weiss (RECORDS). Photo Design credit: Evelyn Mostrom

RECORDS Nashville, an imprint of Sony Music, has signed singer-songwriter Chase Martin to the label.

The now 22-year-old South Carolina native moved to Nashville after graduating from high school one year early, with a 5.0 GPA and a perfect ACT score. Since relocating to Music City, she has played venues including The Bluebird Cafe and The Listening Room.

“I’ve thought Chase was a star since the day I met her,” says Ash Bowers, President, RECORDS Nashville. “She’s so talented and hardworking. Considering all she’s achieved on her own, I can’t wait to see what we can accomplish together with her great music.”

Martin’s new single, “Levi Denim,” written by Abby Anderson, Matt Stell and Allison Veltz Cruz (with production by Bowers) will release Oct. 9.

Co-founded in 2015 by Barry Weiss and based in New York City, RECORDS began as a joint venture with SONGS Music Publishing. The label saw early success with their first two signings, platinum selling singer Noah Cyrus and legendary hip-hop artist Nelly. In 2017, when Kobalt bought SONGS, Sony Music partnered with RECORDS. Since joining forces with Sony, RECORDS has signed a diverse roster of burgeoning young stars, including worldwide superstar 24kGoldn who’s current single “Mood” is #2 in the US and globally and the critically acclaimed Lennon Stella. They are also home to 2019’s heralded debut project, Labrinth, Sia & Diplo present…LSD. Two years ago, RECORDS signed their first country act, Matt Stell. His debut single, “Prayed For You,” reached No. 1 on country radio and has been certified Platinum. Following this success, they also signed buzzing country artist Chris Bandi, as well as newcomers including Jennifer Smestad, Dylan Brady, Chase Martin and Lathan Warlick.

Carrie Underwood Welcomes The Holiday Season With Christmas Album ‘My Gift’ [Interview]

Last week, Carrie Underwood picked up her third Entertainer of the Year honor from the Academy of Country Music (this year in a shocking co-win with Thomas Rhett)—and with good reason. There aren’t many forms of entertainment she hasn’t conquered.

Ever since her win on American Idol in 2005, followed by her smash hit “Jesus Take The Wheel,” and 8x Platinum debut album Some Hearts, she’s kept putting points on the board, solidifying her image as a multi-faceted entertainer.

In addition to 27 No. 1 radio singles (14 of which she had a hand in writing), multi-Platinum albums, sold-out headlining tours, and seven Grammy wins, Underwood took on the daunting task of leading a live-televised musical, when she portrayed Maria von Trapp in The Sound of Music Live!, played a substantial supporting role in the inspirational movie Soul Surfer, and made appearances on television shows including How I Met Your Mother, Blue Bloods, and more. With fellow country star Brad Paisley, Underwood had an 11-year run as one of the most successful hosting duos for the CMA Awards, and then returned last year to host the show alongside Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire. She has also been the face and voice of Sunday Night Football since 2013.

That’s just film and TV.

She released her own athleisure line, Calia by Carrie, and earlier this year, she authored the wellness book Find Your Path: Honor Your Body, Fuel Your Soul, And Get Strong With The Fit52 Life, and later launched an accompanying fit52 fitness app. Over the past few years, before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down music tours around the world, Underwood upped the ante on her own tours with the in-the-round spectacles that were her 2016 Storyteller Tour-Stories In The Round (with 92 shows playing to over 1 million attendees) and last year’s Cry Pretty Tour 360, which played in more than 60 cities. She also stepped into the co-producer role for the first time on her previous album Cry Pretty.

Now, she’s adding another layer with her first full-length Christmas project, My Gift, which arrives today (Sept. 25), with a vinyl version set for Oct. 30. The 11-track album blends classics such as “O Come All Ye Faithful,” and “Away in a Manger,” alongside a few songs penned specifically for the album, including “Let There Be Peace,” and “Sweet Baby Jesus,” all bonded by gorgeous orchestration and Underwood’s glorious voice.

“These are all songs that I’ve been singing my whole life, but I don’t think I’ve ever sang them by myself—just in church or choir. We would go caroling when I was a kid and we’d go down to the nursing home on Christmas Eve and sing for the residents,” Underwood says.

Shortly after she wrapped her Cry Pretty Tour 360 last year, she began mapping out plans for the new album. Though most of the songs on the album are familiar, Underwood says it was still an interesting musical puzzle to put together.

“I had the illusion that making a Christmas album was just going to be super easy. Right? I knew I wanted to do a lot of standards, and then when you have been singing something your whole life, and there’s so many different versions, it was interesting to find a way that it’s still true to tradition, but then also find yourself in it as an artist. I made demos on my phone before we went to record them just so everybody could get a handle of what things were going to sound like.”

Oh, and then there was the challenge of making an album that is heavy on orchestration and choir vocals during the COVID-19 pandemic, where social distancing mandates can make those types of recordings difficult. Grammy-winning producer, mixer, songwriter, and instrumentalist Greg Wells (Adele, Celine Dion, P!nk) helmed the orchestral arrangements (with an orchestra led by David Campbell), working from Los Angeles, while Underwood’s vocal parts were recorded in Nashville.

“I was so fortunate to ask Greg to be part of this. I knew I was lucky to work with him in the beginning but definitely when the world kind of shut down, I was so glad this [project] was in his hands because we were just finding new ways to do things and he can play so many instruments himself at home and ended up kind of doing that as we were working on the album.”

While Underwood recorded in Nashville’s Addiction Sound Studios, Wells was in Los Angeles, but would join her in the studio virtually, via an iPad.

“It was a small space, because even when things started opening back up, I was like, ‘I don’t know how I feel about that,’ and it ended up being perfect because it was just a skeleton crew. Everyone was trying to be very mindful of how to do things, so it was best for Greg to handle orchestrations in L.A.. He would send me video clips of what they were doing and he would text me things so I kind of got to be part of what they were doing, so he was definitely keeping me updated.

“It was so good for me to get out of my album-making formula. I like to say there are steps to making an album—you start at step one and go to the end. And we started in the middle and then went back to step three and found our own way through it. And it was so nice to be able to sing, to see happy music in the middle of crises.”

Underwood also includes a few collaborations on the album, most notably with John Legend on “Hallelujah,” an original song Legend wrote with Toby Gad.

“He had heard I was doing this Christmas project and they sent the song over. I loved it and loved his voice on the demo—obviously, what’s not to love about his voice? So we asked him if he would be interested in singing it with me. He recorded his part in Los Angeles and I recorded my part in Tennessee. I was so sad we didn’t actually get to record it together, but everybody was kind of avoiding travel and it just ended up being such an amazing puzzle to do this whole project. And the song is uplifting, it’s a love song and a Christmas song, and just fit the project perfectly.”

Underwood’s five-year-old son Isaiah Fisher adds his sweet voice alongside his mother’s on one of Underwood’s favorite Christmas classics, “Little Drummer Boy.”

“He loves to sing. He loves music. I didn’t know what to expect, or if he would even want to do it. But he was all about it and excited about it and it was such a great thing to be sharing what I love to do—singing—with him and see him love it as well. I was asking my producer, like, ‘How did he do?’ I feel like to anybody in the music community, I’ve been like, ‘Listen to this!’ because I’m just such a proud mom, and they’ve been very complimentary and I feel like they mean it. He’s always had the sweetest little kid voice.”

The album’s crescendo comes with the original track “Let There Be Peace,” a Gospel-inflected siren call for unity that Underwood co-wrote with Brett James (a co-writer on her debut smash “Jesus Take The Wheel”) and David Garcia, who co-produced her Cry Pretty album.

“We wrote that in the beginning of everything shutting down. We actually wrote that on Zoom. We wanted to have a choir feel to it and a soulful, simple song that everyone could sing with. Brett had that idea and we just rolled with it. I thought if I was going to write on Zoom, I wanted it to be people that I’m super comfortable with. On the demo, the entire choir was made of Brett James singing multiple parts and just stacking the vocals.”

Having one person stacking vocals for a demo is one thing, but they had to be strategic in crafting a choir sound for the full-fledged album, given social distancing restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their secret weapon? The McCrary Sisters, who have previously worked with Underwood on songs including “Choctaw County Affair” from her Storyteller album and her Ludacris collaboration, “The Champion.”

“We knew we wanted a choir, but obviously at that time we couldn’t get a choir because you couldn’t social distance enough to have a choir. So Greg said, ‘Do you have any ideas on how we do this?’ And I said, ‘What about The McCrary Sisters?’ I have worked with them in the past and they are artists themselves and I was like, ‘I bet during this time they had been around each other, and would feel comfortable being around each other.'” The McCrary Sisters agreed, and they added in Brett James’s voice as well.

Underwood prepared for creating renditions of classics such as “O Holy Night,” “Silent Night,” and “Mary, Did You Know?” by culling numerous previously-done renditions, noting things she gravitated toward.

“I went through like every single song and I went on my iTunes and just started listening to so many versions, and marked down notes to give him an idea of what I was looking for, like Celine Dion’s version of ‘O Holy Night’ is so beautiful and big and classic. That was one I referenced. One the flip side, I didn’t think I would find a version I liked of ‘Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee,’ because so many are so march-y. I was like, ‘How can we get away from that?’ And he had the idea of me singing a cappella. I tried it and it ended up being so unique and it had a certain feeling about it that made me really happy and that’s why we put it first on the album.

“There’s so much about it that I’m so proud of and I’m glad I just finally got to make a Christmas album. I’ve been wanting to for a long time,” she says.

And in truly versatile entertainer fashion, Underwood has teamed with HBO Max for a Christmas special to coincide with the album. The special will be executive produced by Gary Goetzman and Tom Hanks for Playtone, along with Underwood and her manager Ann Edelblute; the show will tape this fall and will include a live orchestra and choir (no air dates have been set so far).

Though no one could have predicted the uncertainty and tragedies that the world has experienced this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Underwood says she is even more grateful to be able to make a project that can help comfort and uplift those who hear it.

“I’ve wanted to make this project for so long, and it just seemed to be the right year for it. It ended up really being the right year for it, and we didn’t even didn’t even know 2020 was going to be like it is. It just feels like it’s a fitting time to release an album like this.”

Photo: Joseph Llanes

Circle’s Drew Reifenberger On Launching A Network—Then Revamping—During A Pandemic

Circle Network GM Drew Reifenberger

On Jan. 1, television network Circle celebrated the New Year by launching with a hefty slate of country music programming, including “Bluebird Café Sessions,” “Craig’s World,” “Phil Vassar’s Songs from the Cellar,” and “Opry Live,” a two-hour program featuring performance highlights from the Grand Ole Opry’s week of shows.

However, just 2 ½ months into the network’s launch, everything from live concerts to television productions shut down as states began implementing stay-at-home orders and banned gatherings to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Thursday, March 12, Nashville’s leaders began implementing shutdowns throughout the city. Within approximately 36 hours, the Grand Ole Opry and the CIRCLE network pivoted. Even as the Opry had to close its doors to in-house audiences, the show continued its 95-year tradition of broadcasts, airing on Saturday, March 14, with a revamped, one-hour live broadcast from the Grand Ole Opry House, featuring Jeannie Seely, Connie Smith, Bill Anderson, Many Barnettand more.

Since March, CIRCLE has helped to bring viewers the live, one-hour broadcast each Saturday night—bolstered by performances from Vince Gill, Reba McEntire, Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Luke Combs, Keith Urban, Darius Rucker, Brad Paisley, Keb’ Mo’, and more. In the process, the show has become the only show of its kind during the ongoing pandemic, offering a weekly, high-quality production of live music from a public venue. The show is broadcast live on Circle and Gray TV stations, DISH Studio Channel 102, Sling TV and other TV affiliates, as well as live streams via Circle All Access Facebook and YouTube channels, and aired on Nashville’s WSM-AM and SiriusXM.

“There was no planning for this,” says CIRCLE General Manager Drew Reifenberger. “But we were able to shift pretty dramatically, namely with the Opry itself, but also with a number of other programs that we’ve been able to produce in this limited sort of way. We have “Circle Sessions.” We’ve been able to maintain our morning show, “Coffee, Country & Cody,” obviously a lot more remote and with fewer artists in the studio, and then a series of live stream shows. So it was an adjustment for sure, but our mission and mandate never changed, how we do it just changed a little bit.”

Those decisions have paid off. A recent SmithGeiger research study from April 2020 showed that 43% of Circle Network’s potential audience was already aware of its existence and 83% had already viewed some of Circle Network’s programming. The study also suggested that just over half of Circle Network viewers who have never attended the Opry intend to do so in the future.

Circle Network also just announced season two of Vassar’s “Songs From The Cellar,” which is filmed at Vassar’s home wine cellar, will launch Sept. 10, with artists including Kix Brooks, Brothers Osborne, and more.

MusicRow caught up with Reifenberger to discuss how Circle Network has adjusted course—and even thrived— during the ongoing pandemic.

MusicRow: Circle Network and the Grand Ole Opry had to shift your game plan within a very brief timeframe once large performances were shut down. What was that like?

Reifenberger: In just over a day’s time, we said, “Hey, people can’t come to the Opry. We got to bring the Opry to the people.” We worked with the tools that we had. The Opry show wasn’t live at that point, we were doing the weekly compilation show. So we said, “Of course, the Saturday night Opry has to remain consistent, right?” Because with a more than nine-decade run, we weren’t breaking that on our watch. That was never an option. The show will go on. If it’s a camera on a tripod and an artist holding a flashlight, we will not break that streak, I assure you.

So we went live through the network and then we decided to open up a livestream, which we had not done at that point. We went to our affiliate partners and said, “Hey, would you like to take this live as well?” And, and over 80 of them signed on. The Opry is this place that brings people together, heals people. And the Opry has always been this steady community-oriented institution that brings that comfort, support, and frankly, a little distraction, which we all need at times right now. And so we never missed a beat. It was because we had a great team that could move on that dime, so to speak and take a format and completely change it in 36 hours. And then we’ve been learning every week since we’ve tuned and adjusted, but we never stopped.

How did the actual filming of the Opry show have to change?

It was a combination of a few things, not the least of which is we kind of deconstructed the master control, and we moved some people to different rooms to ensure the six feet of spacing. We added some plexiglass walls, those sorts of things. We just spaced everybody out that we needed to, then we stuck to the protocol of no more than 10 people in any one zone. As we moved on from [Phase] one, you’ve seen a little more onstage, with backup bands and supporting bands, than in those first few weeks where we were purely acoustic. We follow very strict protocols. We don’t want to have anybody to get sick, and some artists are more concerned than others and some like to take additional precautions and we support that. We’ve had staff and crew make certain requests that we’ve recognized and honored. We’re all getting through this together.

How has content been affected for other Circle programming?
Certain shows can be done remotely, because it’s all based on library archive footage put together in a very contemporary, fresh approach. But those producers and editors can all do that via phone and Slack. We’ve gotten very good at that remote editing, producing. So anything that comes that is library-based, we’re very good at it.
Others, like Circle Sessions, which is a new show we created, is actually potentially very freeform, because every week’s kind of a new adventure. And we build the show around the artist. Some perform, some don’t perform. Some are interview-centric, some are storytelling-centric. And that we’ve been able to do, initially in a more of a Zoom sort of format, and then as the world opened up a little bit, we’ve been able to do it in person, obviously social distance. And then live streams. We’ve done mid-week live streams too, outside of the Opry, with our friends Dailey & Vincent,and some others that have been very successful.

Artists can’t be on the road promoting their music, for the most part. What have those conversations been like with artists as far as Circle being able to offer them a way to get their music to the fans as things have kind of been scaled back with touring and other areas?

I think back to, for example, the “Circle Sessions” show. If you’re releasing music right now, there are not a lot of options. I mean, there’s plenty of radio shows you can call into, but that’s about it. So the ability to come on and do a Circle Sessions, the week you release some music, is just a win-win for everybody. The same thing with “Coffee, Country & Cody,” having a three-hour live morning show that, they can really have some meaningful involvement with, is been of great interest to the artists, managers, agents, and so forth. And then the Opry itself, as we’re streaming the Opry now, artists themselves are also cross-posting and doing a bunch of streaming activity.

It is interesting how the Opry feels very full-circle right now, as fans and the industry gather together—virtually—to watch one show on Saturday nights.

I completely agree. Look, I spent the last 20 years trying to condition people away from appointment viewing. And I am now working on one of the biggest appointment viewing shows going right now, for sure—a live, weekly show. We have so much feedback from people, saying, “Thank you for doing this. I look forward to this, it makes my week.” And it’s a responsibility that we and Dan [Rogers] and Gina [Keltner] and the team up at the Opry take very seriously, because a lot of people are counting on us.

How has the Opry’s popularity right now helped Circle Network in terms of new opportunities?

There’s no question that it’s elevated Circle. In a way, I wish it wasn’t the case, from a standpoint of this being during a global pandemic, but it absolutely elevated us in such a way that people are noticing us probably at a faster rate. From a sponsor standpoint, there are not many doing live original things like we’re doing, that they can get involved in. So it’s helped us for sure to attract some additional advertisers and sponsors.

When you announced the launch of Circle in January, that included a full slate of programming. What is ahead in terms of programming?

We started with a very strong slate and frankly, that’s why we’ve been able to stay as fresh as we have without being in original production. We started with 17 signature series, which is a lot for a network, and it’s quite intentional because we were trying to make a statement. And at the time, that’s why we did it and now it’s turned out to be invaluable in that we had a lot of fresh content to take us well into the end of the year. So that’s the medium-term plan. The short-term plan is we are identifying a few more original shows that we think we can produce responsibly, that don’t require audiences, and don’t require big production crews.

What have the viewership numbers been like during this time?
We did do some research, just a few weeks into the pandemic that showed 43% unaided awareness among country music fans, and that’s really high. I think it speaks to the thesis that country music fans are just so underserved. I think it’s really interesting that we’ve gotten so much done so fast. And that’s really before Opry sort of took off, and really before some of the bigger names, before Garth and Trisha, and Blake, and Keith Urban. We were sitting there with 42% unaided awareness. And those who’d seen us were 83% likability, that’s really high.

You relocated to Nashville to begin working for Circle. What have you enjoyed most about working in Nashville?

There’s a lot of humanity in this town that you don’t get in other aspects of entertainment and sports, and the way they support each other. You don’t see that quite so much in New York and L.A. Also, the way they help younger artists up. I think they just, everybody has a very similar background, with the exception of maybe some true overnight successes. They had some hardscrabble experiences, playing the lousy sets early on, or sleeping in a car. That struggle doesn’t seem to leave them—it stays and it creates a real level of humility that I’ve never seen in sports or other parts of entertainment. And at times like this, where you see it come out and people are asking, “How can we help? What can we do?” and that’s without being asked. I’m not saying that there’s not plenty of celebrities doing plenty of important things right now, but I think it’s just a different feel here.

EXCLUSIVE: BMI Moves Annual Country Awards Celebration Online

BMI announced today (Aug. 5) that it will not hold its 68th annual Country Awards as an in-person event this year, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The company will instead celebrate the achievements of its country music songwriters and publishers with a special online tribute on and across its social media channels. As in previous years, BMI will honor the Country Song of the Year, Songwriter of the Year, Publisher of the Year and the 50 most-performed country songs of the previous year.

“While we would have loved to gather together for our annual tribute to the best in country music, it’s just not possible this year,” said Clay Bradley, VP, Creative, Nashville. “But as BMI always does, we will give our family of songwriters and publishers a special celebration to honor their achievements and their incredible songs, even during this unusual season. Now more than ever, music is a healing and inspiring force and we are grateful for all of our songwriters and their creative artistry.”

BMI plans to hold its Country Awards in-person in 2021, in the newly climate-controlled event space at the BMI Nashville offices.

Last year, artists and songwriters including Dwight Yoakam, Nicolle Galyon, and Ross Copperman were among those taking home top honors during the 2019 BMI Country Awards.

On The Cover: Reba McEntire Graces ‘MusicRow Awards’ Print Issue

Reba McEntire graces the cover of MusicRow Magazine’s 2020 MusicRow Awards issue, which highlights the nominees for this year’s MusicRow Awards. This year’s honorees will be announced virtually among multiple MusicRow platforms on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020.

Presenting Sponsor of the 2020 MusicRow Awards is City National Bank.

Click here to see the complete list of nominees.

This print issue also honors the Top 10 Album All-Star Musicians Awards, which will also be announced on Aug. 18, recognizing the studio players who played on the most albums reaching the Top 10 of Billboard‘s Country Albums Chart during the eligibility period.

Other content in this issue includes features on the future of live shows, a look at diversity within country music, a tribute to the late studio musician and longtime Grand Ole Opry guitarist Jimmy Capps, a deep dive into how music studios are facing the ongoing pandemic, and a roundup of music industry awards.

Multi-media entertainment mogul Reba McEntire has become a household name through a successful career that spans across music, television, film, theater and retail. The Country Music Hall of Fame and Hollywood Bowl member has won 16 ACM Awards, 15 American Music Awards, nine People’s Choice Awards, six CMA Awards, three Grammy Awards, one GMA Dove Award and was a 2018 Kennedy Center Honors recipient, in addition to multiple philanthropic and leadership honors. The Oklahoma native and Golden Globe nominated actress has 11 movie credits to her name, a lead role on Broadway in Irving Berlin’s Annie Get Your Gun and starred in the six-season television sitcom Reba.

In February 2020, Reba announced she will return to her original label home, Universal Music Group Nashville, where she spent the first 32 years of her famed career. During her time on both Mercury and MCA Records, two of the four labels that form Universal Music Group Nashville, Reba celebrated unprecedented success including 33 of her 35 career No. 1 singles and selling over 56 million albums worldwide. Her timeless hits include “Whoever’s In New England,” “Rumor Has It,” “Is There Life Out There,” “The Night The Lights Went Out in Georgia,” “Does He Love You” and more. Most recently, Reba released her acclaimed album, Read My Mind, on vinyl for the first time in celebration of its 25th Anniversary. The album includes hits such as “Why Haven’t I Heard From You” and “She Thinks His Name Was John.” Reba McEntire is set to re-release her iconic album Rumor Has It on Sept. 11 in honor of the record’s 30th Anniversary. Originally released in 1990, Rumor Has It has been certified three-times Platinum by the RIAA and features the classic hits “Fancy,” “You Lie” as well as “Fallin’ Out Of Love.”

LABEL: Universal Music Group Nashville
CURRENT ALBUMRumor Has It 30th anniversary edition
CURRENT PUBLISHER: Given Music Publishing
RECENT HITS: “Back To God,” “Consider Me Gone,” “Turn On The Radio”
AWARDS: 16 ACM, 15 American Music, nine People’s Choice, six CMA, three GRAMMY, one GMA Dove Award, 2018 Kennedy Center Honors, Country Music Hall of Fame, Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame
SPECIAL TV APPEARANCES: six seasons on Reba TV show; Annie Get Your Gun on Broadway (2001); Spies In Disguise 2019 animated movie with Will Smith; movie debut in Tremors
BIRTHDAY: March 28, 1955
INTERESTING FACTS: Grew up on a working cattle ranch; father was a three-time world champion steer roper; discovered singing National Anthem at NFR; KFC’s first female colonel; boot line Reba by Justin with Justin Boots; 10+ year clothing line at Dillard’s
MUSICAL INFLUENCES: Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Tammy Wynette, Barbara Mandrell
FAVORITE RECORDS: “Jolene,” “If You’re Not Gone Too Long,” “Till I Can Make It On My Own,” “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool”

Single copies of MusicRow’s 2020 MusicRow Awards print issue are available for purchase at for $20, and are included with yearly MusicRow membershipsPlease note that issues of MusicRow Magazine’s MusicRow Awards issue can only be purchased online as the MusicRow building is currently closed to the public due to COVID-19.

Sony/ATV and TwentySeven Music Publishing Extend Partnership, Sign Jimmie Allen

Jimmie Allen. Photo: Dustin Haney

Sony/ATV Music Publishing and TwentySeven Music Publishing, led by industry executive Barry Weiss and songwriter and producer Jenna Andrews, announced they have extended their creative partnership and signed platinum-selling singer-songwriter Jimmie Allen to a worldwide publishing deal.

Since its establishment in 2019, Weiss, Andrews, and the TwentySeven team have signed talent including Jade Thirlwall and Leigh-Anne Pinnock from Little Mix, Mike Sonier, co-writer of the global hit “July” by Noah Cyrus, songwriter and producer Black Mayo, known for crafting Platinum single “Valentino” by 24kGoldn and Gold single “Pull Up” by Lil Mosey, rising Atlanta rapper Baby Plug, and recent signing KBFR, known for his single “Hood Baby,” which has become a viral sensation.

Allen has earned No. 1 hits with “Best Shot” and “Make Me Want To” from his debut album Mercury Lane. Allen also made history with the album’s success as the first Black artist to launch their career with two consecutive No. 1 hits on country radio.

He recently released the collaboration project Bettie James, which features his fellow artists including Brad Paisley, Charley Pride, Darius Rucker, Mickey Guyton, Nelly, Noah Cyrus, The Oak Ridge Boys, Rita Wilson, Tauren Wells and Tim McGraw. The album’s “Good Times Roll” with Nelly reached No. 1 on iTunes.

Sony/ATV Chairman and CEO Jon Platt said, “Barry and Jenna continue to be first-rate creative partners for Sony/ATV and I’m eager to continue our work together. It is also an honor to support the career of Jimmie Allen, as he continues to break down barriers in music and inspire a new generation of fans.”

Sony/ATV Nashville Vice President, Creative Anna Weisband said, “We are so excited to have Jimmie Allen officially join our Sony/ATV family. His work ethic and creativity inspire us all to take his already amazing career to the next level. There is no limit on what we will achieve together with his multi-faceted songwriting and big picture thinking.”

TwentySeven Music Publishing co-founders Weiss and Andrews said, “We’re delighted to continue our relationship with our partners at Sony/ATV – Jon Platt and Jake Fain are model partners. Jimmie Allen is a generational talent that has a huge career ahead of him. He’s just getting started.”

Allen said, “I have been a fan of Barry Weiss for years. I’ve seen the great artists he has worked with and is working with. Super fired up about signing with his company. I’m looking forward to working with the entire team at TwentySeven Music Publishing and Sony/ATV and seeing what kind of timeless music magic we can create to inspire future songwriters and artists for generations to come.”

Pictured (Top row): Jacob Fain, Ash Bowers, Jenna Andrews. (Middle row): Jimmie Allen, Barry Weiss, Anna Weisband. (Bottom row): Jon Platt

Ashley Gorley Makes History With 50th No. 1 Song Milestone

Ashley Gorley. Photo: Josh Ulmer

Ashley Gorley has set a new record, as he earns his 50th No. 1 song at country radio with LOCASH‘s “One Big Country Song,” which is at No. 1 this week on Mediabase. With this milestone, Gorley—who is signed to Round Hill Music Publishing—becomes the only songwriter in any genre to earn 50 No. 1 singles in the history of the Mediabase and Billboard Airplay charts.

To date, Gorley has been named ASCAP Country Music Songwriter of the Year seven times—the only songwriter to have achieved that accolade seven times. He has also been named BillboardCountry Songwriter of the Year four times, NSAI Songwriter of the Year three times, has earned eight ACM Songwriter of the Year nominations and has earned three CMA Awards and two Grammy nominations. Gorley is the reigning ASCAP Songwriter of the Year, and he has earned 15 CMA Triple Play honors, including two “Triple-Triples” for notching nine No. 1 songs in 2018 and in 2019. He has had more than 300 songs recorded by artists including Luke Bryan, Keith Urban, Blake Shelton, Kenny Chesney, Dan + Shay, Carrie Underwood, Thomas Rhett, Jason Aldean, Florida Georgia Line, Sam Hunt, Old Dominion, Kelsea Ballerini, Cole Swindell, Dustin Lynch, Brad Paisley, Brett Eldredge, Billy Currington, Chris Young, Darius Rucker, Jason Derulo and Bon Jovi.

“I love what I do,” Gorley says. “I love writing songs—the challenge, the process, and the way that each day brings something different. 50 No. 1s is an achievement I’m proud of and grateful for, but I’m even more grateful for the friendships these 50 No. 1s have granted me; friendships with the artists that have given these songs life and success, my co-writers who motivate me to dig deeper each day, and mentors and early believers who continue to cheer me on. I stay inspired by my Tape Room family who I try to provide with those same beliefs, friendships, and mentorships. Thank you to everyone who made this possible, especially the radio teams who work tirelessly for these songs to be heard.”

“It is truly a privilege and an honor to work with a songwriter of Ashley’s talent,” says Mark Brown, SVP/GM of Round Hill Music Publishing. “His drive, his work ethic, and his positive attitude all contribute to his success. But, the pure talent level puts Ashley in a rare ultra-elite group. I don’t know of any other songwriter, in any genre, who has achieved the remarkable achievement of 50 No. 1s. Furthermore, judging from his continuing activity and young age, I expect there are many more hits yet to come. Congratulations Ashley on your incredible accomplishment.”

“In a year where everyone was reminded of the greatness of Michael Jordan, I’m glad we have a moment to appreciate the songwriting community’s own Michael Jordan, Ashley Gorley,” said frequent collaborator and friend Josh Osborne. “50 No. 1s is unbelievable. Ashley has the same drive and creativity that he had when I met him as a college student at Belmont. I don’t want to say too many nice things right now because I need to save something for when he has 60 No. 1s. I’ll just say I’m very glad I get to work with him and call him a friend.”

“Congratulations on 50 No. 1s – it’s hard to even wrap your head around that. What an accomplishment,” shared country superstar Luke Bryan via video message to Gorley when the news broke. “So glad to be a part of some of those with you, and so glad to have written some of them with you. Congrats buddy!”

Gorley, a Kentucky native and graduate of Belmont University, launched Tape Room Music in 2011; the company’s name pays tribute to his internships in the tape rooms of various publishing companies. Tape Room Music’s lean staff includes GM Blain Rhodes and VP Kelly Bolton, who guide the publishing company’s roster of 11 writers. Tape Room Music has earned 21 No. 1 hits at country radio, along with cuts by pop artists including Justin Timberlake, Meek Mill and Charlie Puth.

“Ashley Gorley drives me insane,” joked fellow writer and long time friend Jesse Frasure. “Mainly because of how difficult it is to be such good friends with a songwriter that is so prolific and hard working on a regular basis. For Ashley, writing a great song is just the start of the hard work. On top of that, the passion for his family and faith equally matches his career. I’m very grateful to have him in my life as a collaborator, but his friendship in this business is truly priceless to me. Congratulations on 50 No. 1s Ashley. You are one of the greatest American songwriters of any genre.”

Gorley celebrates this No.1 with publisher Round Hill Music, founded by Joshua Gruss.

See a full list of Gorley’s 50 No. 1 hits below (chronological order):

“Don’t Forget To Remember Me” — Carrie Underwood
“All-American Girl” — Carrie Underwood
“You’re Gonna Miss This” — Trace Adkins
“Start A Band” — Brad Paisley
“It Won’t Be Like This For Long” — Darius Rucker
“Then” — Brad Paisley
“American Saturday Night” — Brad Paisley
“Good Girl” — Carrie Underwood
“Crash My Party” — Luke Bryan
“Runnin’ Outta Moonlight” — Randy Houser
“Don’t Ya” — Brett Eldredge
“Hey Girl” — Billy Currington
“That’s My Kinda Of Night’ — Luke Bryan
“Play It Again” — Luke Bryan
“Rewind” — Rascal Flatts
“Yeah” — Joe Nichols
“I See You” — Luke Bryan
“Just Gettin’ Started” — Jason Aldean
“Don’t It” — Billy Currington
“Tonight Looks Good On You” — Jason Aldean
“Kick The Dust Up” — Luke Bryan
“Young & Crazy” — Frankie Ballard
“Nothin’ Like You” — Dan + Shay
“Heartbeat” — Carrie Underwood
“You Should Be Here” — Cole Swindell
“T-Shirt” — Thomas Rhett
“American Country Love Song” — Jake Owen
“Middle of a Memory” — Cole Swindell
“Dirty Laundry” — Carrie Underwood
“A Guy With a Girl” — Blake Shelton
“Dirt On My Boots” — Jon Pardi
“Today” — Brad Paisley
“Black” — Dierks Bentley
“Do I Make You Wanna” — Billy Currington
“Unforgettable” — Thomas Rhett
“Fix a Drink” — Chris Janson
“Marry Me” — Thomas Rhett
“Life Changes” — Thomas Rhett
“What Makes You Country” — Luke Bryan
“Eyes On You” — Chase Rice
“Love Ain’t” — Eli Young Band
“Rumor” — Lee Brice
“Living” — Dierks Bentley
“I Don’t Know About You” — Chris Lane
“Good Vibes” — Chris Janson
“Remember You Young” — Thomas Rhett
“Ridin’ Roads” — Dustin Lynch
“Catch” — Brett Young
“Hard To Forget” — Sam Hunt
“One Big Country Song” — LOCASH