Joe Nichols Signs With Quartz Hill Records

Pictured (L-R, top row): BSB Management’s Shawn Pennington; Quartz Hill Records’ April Rider and Paul Brown; (L-R, bottom row:) Quartz Hill Records’ Jason Sellers, Joe Nichols, Benny Brown

Joe Nichols has signed a label deal with Quartz Hill Records. Nichols will release his brand new single, “Home Run,” on April 23. The anthem about reconnection and rebirth was written by award-winning songwriters Ashley Gorley, Dallas Davidson and Ross Copperman.

The move reunites Nichols with veteran label head Benny Brown, with whom he enjoyed two multi-week No. 1 songs, “Yeah” and “Sunny and 75,” from his album Crickets, that was released in 2013 on Red Bow Records.

A staunch country traditionalist, Nichols has six No. 1 hits and eight Top 10 singles to his credit including the chart-toppers “Brokenheartsville,” “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off” and “Gimme That Girl,” and Top 10 hits “The Impossible,” “If Nobody Believed In You,” “What’s A Guy Gotta Do,” and more. Nichols has been honored with the ACM’s Top New Male Vocalist award, the CMT Breakthrough Video of the Year award, and CMA’s Horizon Award. He’s earned multiple RIAA Platinum and Gold certifications and appeared on national shows ranging from the ACM Presents: Superstar Duets on CBS to The Tonight Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live, The View, Entertainment Tonight and Austin City Limits.

Nichols is currently in the studio recording his full-length debut project for Quartz Hill, reuniting with producers Mickey Jack Cones and Derek George, who helmed his album Crickets. Cones also produced Nichols’ follow-up album, Never Gets Old.

“Joe has one of the purest and most timeless voices in country music. He’s an incredible artist whose songs come from the heart. I couldn’t be more excited to reunite with Joe and welcome him to the Quartz Hill Records family,” says Brown.

“I’m so excited to be a part of the Quartz Hill Records family. Benny Brown has always been an amazing person to me and my family and I can’t wait to make many memories and hits with the whole Quartz Hill team!” says Nichols.

Nichols is booked by WME and managed by Brown Sellers Brown (BSB) Management.

Performers Announced For 56th ‘ACM Awards’

The full lineup for the 56th Academy Of Country Music Awards has been revealed.

The performers on the lineup include Kelsea Ballerini, Dierks Bentley, Lee Brice, Brothers Osborne, Kane Brown, Luke Bryan, Kenny Chesney, Eric Church, Luke Combs, Dan + Shay, Mickey Guyton, Ryan Hurd, Jack Ingram, Alan Jackson, Elle King, Miranda Lambert, Little Big Town, Ashley McBryde, Maren Morris, Carly Pearce, Jon Randall, Thomas Rhett, Blake Shelton, Chris Stapleton, The War and Treaty, Keith Urban, Carrie Underwood, CeCe Winans, and Chris Young.

Over 25 artists will perform more than 30 songs from the Grand Ole Opry House, the Ryman Auditorium and The Bluebird Cafe, airing live on Sunday, April 18 (8:00-11:00 PM, live ET/delayed PT) on the CBS Television Network and the show will be available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+.

As previously announced, 15-time ACM Award winner Keith Urban and New Female Artist of the Year nominee Mickey Guyton will host the show.

Alan Jackson’s First New Album In Six Years Set For May

Photo Credit: Russ Harrington and Gregory Ballos

Alan Jackson is returning with his first album of all new music in six years this spring when Where Have You Gone arrives Friday, May 14.

The expansive collection includes 21 tracks, 15 penned by Jackson himself, and was produced by Jackson’s longtime producer Keith Stegall. The project is his 16th studio album, and the 25th in a storied career that includes two Christmas albums, two gospel albums, three Greatest Hits collections, a bluegrass album, and one boxed set.

Led by the self-penned title track, Where Have You Gone is highlighted by songs like the poignant “Things That Matter” and the heartache-filled “Way Down in My Whiskey.” In a more personal vein, “You’ll Always Be My Baby” and “I Do” were both written for Jackson’s daughters’ weddings, while “Where Her Heart Has Always Been” was penned for his mother’s funeral and includes a recording of her reading from The Bible. There’s also plenty of fun to be had on barnburners like “Livin’ On Empty,” “Back” and “Beer:10.” And, in the spirit of the album’s overall sound, “That’s the Way Loves Goes (A Tribute to Merle Haggard)” is a bonus track.

“It’s a little harder country than even I’ve done in the past,” Jackson says. “And it’s funny, I was driving and listening to the final mixes Keith sent me, and I started to tear up. I was surprised to get so overly emotional, but I just love this kind of music. When I write, I visualize back home and growing up. Real country songs are life and love and heartache, drinking and Mama and having a good time…but it’s the sounds of the instruments, too. The steel and acoustic guitar, the fiddle – those things have a sound and a tone…and getting that right, the way those things make you feel, that’s country, too.”

“Alan’s taken his experiences over the last six years and implemented his poet’s perspective to weave together a masterful love letter to country music,” says UMG Nashville President Cindy Mabe. “This is Alan’s story but it’s also the story of country music. This music love letter was written about the most universal experiences in life, almost exclusively with Alan’s own pen, and it’s once again a reminder of what a one-of-a-kind creator he truly is.”

Where Have You Gone Track List:

  • “Where Have You Gone” (Alan Jackson)
  • “Wishful Drinkin’” (Alan Jackson)
  • “I Can Be That Something” (Alan Jackson)
  • “Where the Cottonwood Grows” (Alan Jackson)
  • “Way Down In My Whiskey” (Alan Jackson)
  • “Things That Matter” (Robert Keith Stegall, Michael White)
  • “Livin’ On Empty” (Alan Jackson)
  • “You’ll Always Be My Baby (Written for Daughters’ Weddings)” (Alan Jackson)
  • “Where Her Heart Has Always Been (Written for Mama’s funeral with an old recording of her reading from The Bible)” (Alan Jackson)
  • “The Boot” (Adam Wright)
  • “Back” (Alan Jackson)
  • “Write It In Red” (Alan Jackson)
  • “So Late So Soon” (Scotty Emerick, Daniel Tashian, Sarah Buxton)
  • “This Heart Of Mine” (Adam Wright)
  • “A Man Who Never Cries” (Alan Jackson)
  • “Chain” (Alan Jackson)
  • “I Was Tequila” (Alan Jackson)
  • “I Do (Written for Daughters’ Weddings)” (Alan Jackson)
  • “Beer:10” (Alan Jackson)
  • “The Older I Get” (Hailey Whitters, Adam Wright, Sarah Turner)
    Extra Track: “That’s The Way Love Goes” (A Tribute to Merle Haggard) (Lefty Frizzell, Whitey Shafer)


DISClaimer Single Reviews: Maddie & Tae, Brandy Clark, Georgia Webster

It’s a country-music Ladies’ Day here at DisClaimer.

Women are making a lot of the most interesting music in this genre these days, and today’s listening session was a good illustration of that.

It is not even a single, but Brandy Clark wins the Disc of the Day prize for her extraordinarily moving “Remember Me Beautiful.” It is is for everyone who has had to say farewell to Mom.

If you must have a bona fide single release for the week’s Disc award, give it to Maddie & Tae for their sprightly, feisty “Woman You Got.”

The DisCovery Award also goes to a female artist. That would be Georgia Webster, who is definitely a highly promising new talent around these parts.

AUSTIN TOLLIVER / “Yodelay You Down”
Writers: Austin Tolliver/Chase J.; Producer: Maxim Laskavy; Label: Average Joes Entertainment
— It has both a delightful twang and a can’t miss dance-floor beat. Electronics and acoustics combine for a highly infectious, imaginative track. Just one question: Should you build a song around the word “yodelay” when you can’t yodel?

ASHLEY McBRYDE / “Shut Up Sheila (live)”
Writers: Nicolette Hayford/Charles Chisholm; Producer: none listed; Label: Warner Music Nashville
— This has been a favorite of mine in her catalog ever since the first time I heard it. This live version amps it up into a barn burner. One of the all-time coolest—and most offbeat—country songs about a funeral.

TYLER BRADEN / “What Do They Know”
Writers: Tyler Braden/Aaron Scherz; Producer: Randy Montana; Label: Warner Music Nashville
— This uplifting fist pumper is about chasing your dreams, no matter how discouraging those around might be. Braden alternates conversational verses with top-of-his-range vocal soaring on the choruses. Very effective.

HUNTER HAYES / “If You Change Your Mind”
Writers: Hunter Hayes/Johnluke Lewis/Rachel Braig; Producer: Hunter Hayes/Ruslan Odnoralov; Label: LP Entertainment
— Kinda pop. Kinda “teen.” Kinda slick. Kinda generic.

Writers: Scott E. Brown/Tim Montana; Producer: Scooter Brown & Zach Farnum; Label: 117 Entertainment/Orchard
— This slow moving, almost plodding, ditty calls out contemporary “country” for straying too far from good ole boys, outlaws and three chords and the truth. Putting a bit more tempo to it would have made it hit harder.

BRANDY CLARK / “Remember Me Beautiful”
Writers: Liz Rose/Brandy Clark/Hillary Lindsey/Lori McKenna; Producer: Jay Joyce; Label: Warner Records
— Brandy introduced this on the Opry last weekend, and it left me speechless with tears on my face. It’s a track from the Deluxe edition of her Grammy-nominated Your Life Is a Record CD, which was already a perfect album. Now it’s super perfect. This powerfully emotional gem could become an everlasting anthem for every Mama’s funeral.

ANDREW JANNAKOS / “Wine Country”
Writers: Andrew Jannakos/Jason Afable/Eric Mallon/Alex Pennington Smith; Producer: Derek Wells; Label: RCA Nashville
— This is a warm, low-key, drowsy romantic ballad with an intimate vocal performance. Relaxing in the extreme. Raise a glass or pass out. Your call.

JOHN SCHNEIDER / “Born at a Truck Stop”
Writers: Jacob Lyda/Brian Maher/Bill Shore; Producer: none listed; Label: BFD/Audium
— Actor/singer Schneider’s upcoming album will benefit trucker charities. This toe-tapper from the concept CD boasts plenty of twanging electric guitar and a dandy lyric. A good-time, gospel-tinged rouser.

Writers: Georgia Webster; Producer: Paul DiGiovanni; Label: River House Artists/Sony Music Nashville
— Enchanting. Her sweet/tart soprano has folk overtones and hidden strength. The production is a nicely layered acoustic thumper. In the lyric, she’s just gotta get outta this relationship, pal, while she still has feelings for you. Send more.

MADDIE & TAE / “Woman You Got”
Writers: Maddie Font/Taylor Kerr/Laura Veltz/Mark Holman; Producer: Derek Wells/Jimmy Robbins; Label: Mercury Nashville
— The duo kicks off their 2021 with a groove-saturated, upbeat, joyous celebration of womanly things. She’s a steadfast lover, a doll collector, a risk-taking wild child, a mess maker, a non-cook, an emotional roller coaster and a multifaceted kook. All to a crazy-good beat.

KYLE ELLIOTT / “Come On Over”
Writers: Kyle Elliott; Producer: none listed; Label: KE
— He has a luxuriously rich baritone that he puts to good advantage on this hooky, well-produced, midtempo romantic outing. Promising.

JUSTIN MOORE / “She Ain’t Mine No More”
Writers: Justin Moore/Paul DiGionvanni/Jamie Paulin/Jeremy Stover; Producer: Jeremy Stover; Label: Valory
— “We Didn’t Have Much” remains the current single. This new track is a second sneak peek at his upcoming album Straight Outta the Country. It’s rolling ride down Heartbreak Highway with plenty of oomph and drive. Highly recommended.

John Marks Exits Spotify

John Marks

John Marks is leaving his position as Global Director of Country Music at Spotify, effective March 31, 2021.

Marks joined Spotify in 2015, as one of only two Nashville Spotify employees covering the country market. While at the company, Marks was instrumental in growing the music streaming platform’s Hot Country brand, championing new artists, and establishing Spotify’s footprint in Nashville. He was an integral figure in building Spotify’s reputation as a global symbol for music consumption and discovery and a driver of country music culture; culminating 6 million followers and 5 billion streams as of 4th Quarter 2020.

Marks spent most of his career in programming and operations in terrestrial radio. He moved to Nashville in 2010 to work at SiriusXM, where he became Head of Country Music Programming. During his 5-year tenure at SiriusXM, he brought The Highway to prominence, helping to bring artists like Florida Georgia Line, Old Dominion, Kelsea Ballerini, Chase Rice, and Russell Dickerson to a national audience.

“It has been a privilege to work at Spotify since the beginning of its Nashville journey,” says Marks. “But I am also excited about what adventures lie ahead. I want to thank Jeremy Erlich, Rachel Whitney, our editorial team and the entire Spotify crew for the work that we have accomplished both in the United States and internationally.”

“When John Marks joined Spotify, he brought a wealth of knowledge and passion for the country genre—and has been an incredible asset to the Nashville team,” says Jeremy Erlich, co-head of Music, Spotify. “John will be truly missed and we wish him well.”

Marks has served on the Board of Directors of the Country Music Association since 2012, and served on the Board of Directors for the Academy of Country Music between 2018 – 2019. He is also the recipient of the 2018 Jo Walker-Meador International Award from the CMA and the 2018 International Services to the Industry Award from the British Country Music Association. Marks can be reached at [email protected].

Rachel Whitney, who joined Spotify over a year ago as Head of Editorial for Nashville, is leading the team that covers all things country, Christian, gospel, folk, Americana and roots music. Whitney has over 15 years of experience in Nashville working at music companies such as Pandora and Youtube, where she led country music programming.

Scotty McCreery Signs With Universal Music Publishing Nashville

Pictured (L-R:) Scott Stem (Triple 8 Management), George Couri (Triple 8 Management), Terry Wakefield (UMPG), Scotty McCreery, Troy Tomlinson (UMPG). Photo: Danielle Del Valle

Scotty McCreery has signed an exclusive, worldwide publishing agreement with Universal Music Publishing Nashville.

McCreery won the American Idol competition 10 years ago, and since then has become an award-winning country artist with many accolades under his belt. He’s a three-time BMI Award winner as the writer of one of the top 50 country songs of the year in 2015 for “See You Tonight,” in 2018 for “Five More Minutes,” and in 2019 for “This is It,” as well as winner of the NSAI Songwriter Award for One of the Top Ten Songs I Wish I’d Written for “Five More Minutes” in 2018. The multi-Platinum selling singer-songwriter co-wrote all 11 songs on his most recent album, the RIAA Gold-certified Seasons Change, including his three consecutive No. 1 hits: “Five More Minutes,” “See You Tonight,” and “In Between.” McCreery is also a co-writer of his current single “You Time.”

“We all watched as Scotty came onto the scene as a high school athlete who simply loved to sing and entertain,” says Terry Wakefield, Senior Vice President of A&R, UMPG Nashville. “He has now grown into one of country music’s most consistent hit makers. We are thrilled to represent him and his songs.”

“Writing songs is one of my favorite things to do,” says McCreery. “I’ve written nearly all my life, and since coming to Nashville ten years ago, I’ve had the opportunity to co-write with many talented songwriters in town who have both taught and encouraged me. Signing with Universal Music Publishing and working with Troy Tomlinson, Terry Wakefield, and all the great folks on their team is another big step in my songwriting journey. I am proud to call Universal Music Publishing my home.”

McCreery is currently writing and recording the anticipated follow-up to his acclaimed Seasons Change, with “You Time” as the lead single. Written by McCreery, Frank Rogers and Aaron Eshuis, and produced by Rogers, Eshuis and Derek Wells, the track has garnered nearly 11 million streams since its release and is steadily climbing up the country charts.

McCreery is represented by Triple 8 Management’s George Couri and Scott Stem for management, as well as WME’s Nate Towne for booking.

FGL’s Brian Kelley Partners With Warner Music Nashville For Solo Music

Brian Kelley. Photo: Ben Christensen

Florida Georgia Line‘s Brian Kelley has announced a new partnership with Warner Music Nashville. The label will represent Kelley’s solo music venture, Nashville South Records, Inc.

The news comes months after the ACM nominated duo announced on social media that they will be releasing their own music as individuals.

“I couldn’t be more grateful for everyone who has helped me on my journey to get here. I’m humbled to team up with Warner Music Nashville to take the music I’ve been dreamin’ and schemin’ up to the next level,” says Kelley. “This is just the beginning of a whole new adventure. My vision for what’s next is a vibe and state of mind—get ready to ride the wave with ya Beach Cowboy, y’all!”

Kelley teased new music on his Instagram yesterday (March 30).


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A post shared by Brian Kelley (@briankelley)

“We are honored that Brian Kelley chose WMN as home to his solo endeavors,” says Warner Music Nashville EVP A&R Cris Lacy. “I’ve been an FGL believer from day one, and BK’s clear vision for himself and his upcoming project is a testament to his heart, soul, and talent. His new music is the perfect antidote to 2020, and what an incredible way to start 2021!”

Kelley is represented by Full Stop Management (Irving Azoff, Jeffrey Azoff) in partnership with WHY&HOW (Bruce Kalmick, Eddie Kloesel).

Blake Shelton Announces New Album ‘Body Language’

Blake Shelton is planning the release of his first full-length album since 2017, with Body Language due out May 21 via longtime label home Warner Music Nashville. Among the project’s 12 tracks are the No. 1 duet “Happy Anywhere” (featuring fiancée Gwen Stefani) and current hit “Minimum Wage.”

“We’ve been working on this album on and off for two years now, and I’m very proud of what we have put together,” said Shelton. “We certainly had some unique challenges with the pandemic, but we also had a lot of fun. We explored new sounds while making sure to get in some classic country. I’m also thrilled to have my buddies The Swon Brothers featured on the title track as both co-writers and vocalists. Can’t wait for y’all to hear it!”

Over the course of his career Shelton has released 11 acclaimed albums, the last four of which have debuted at No. 1 on the country charts. Since 2002, these records have spawned an almost unparalleled 28 chart-topping singles. The superstar has notched more than five billion on-demand streams, and 11 million career album sales in the U.S.

Shelton’s successful career dates back to his No. 1 debut single, “Austin.” April 16, 2021 will mark the 20th anniversary of the day he released the song and he’s commemorating the occasion with a limited edition 7″ vinyl on his website featuring “Austin” on the A-side and “Problems At Home” on the B-side, just like the original single.

Body Language Track Listing
1.    Minimum Wage (Nicolle Galyon, Jesse Frasure, Corey Crowder)
2.    Body Language (feat. The Swon Brothers) (Colton Swon, Zach Swon, Matt McGinn, Ryan Beaver)
3.    Happy Anywhere (feat. Gwen Stefani) (Ross Copperman, Josh Osborne, Matt Jenkins)
4.    Now I Don’t (Jessi Alexander, Alysa Vanderheym, Michael Hardy)
5.    Monday Mornin’ Missin’ You (Jessi Alexander, Deric Ruttan, Josh Thompson)
6.    Corn (Craig Wiseman, Matt Dragstrem, Chris Tompkins, Rodney Clawson)
7.    Makin’ It Up As You Go (Brad Tursi, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne)
8.    Whatcha Doin’ Tomorrow (Dallas Davidson, Kyle Fishman, Casey Beathard)
9.    The Girl Can’t Help It (Ben Hayslip, Josh Osborne, Mark Holman)
10.  The Flow (Shane McAnally, Ross Copperman, Josh Osborne)
11.  Neon Time (Jaron Boyer, Michael Tyler, Ben West)
12.  Bible Verses (Joe Fox, Andrew Peebles, Brett Sheroky)

The Mechanical Licensing Collective Expands Leadership Team By Three

Kristen Johns, Nathan Osher, Andrew Mitchell

The Mechanical Licensing Collective has added three new members to its leadership team. Kristen Johns has joined the organization as Chief Legal Officer, Nathan Osher has been named Assistant General Counsel—Publisher Relations, and Andrew Mitchell has joined the team as Head of Analytics and Automation. All three joined the MLC earlier this month and will be based in Nashville.

“I am thrilled to welcome Kristen, Nathan and Andrew to The MLC’s growing team,” said Kris Ahrend, The MLC’s CEO. “Each of them possesses many years of experience in their respective areas of expertise, which will enable them to begin contributing immediately to the important work we are doing. All three are fully committed to serving our members and fulfilling our important mission to ensure that our members are paid properly.”

Johns will lead the organization’s strategic legal affairs, manage the statutory blanket licensing process for digital service providers, and oversee compliance with statutory obligations. An experienced intellectual property and technology lawyer, she comes to The MLC from Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis, LLP in Nashville, where she was a partner. During her tenure at Waller, she advised clients on a variety of IP-related issues, including data security, privacy laws, and emerging technologies. She also helped found and lead Tokenize Tennessee, a Nashville-based organization dedicated to the development of blockchain-based businesses in Tennessee. Prior to joining Waller, Johns served as General Counsel for a technology start-up and in-house Counsel for a healthcare IT company. She holds a J.D. from the Saint Louis University School of Law and a B.S. in Engineering Science from Vanderbilt University.

Osher will serve as The MLC’s primary in-house expert on publishing and copyright issues, and will also oversee the management and resolution of claims and litigation-related matters. An entertainment attorney and executive for more than 20 years, Osher has extensive experience in music publishing, and he has counseled clients on a variety of matters related to intellectual property rights, contracts, licensing and litigation. He most recently served as Senior Vice President of Legal & Business Affairs for Warner Chappell Music, Inc., and was previously the General Counsel and Vice President of Business Affairs at Wixen Music Publishing, Inc. Osher holds a J.D. from the University of West Los Angeles and earned a B.A. in Political Science from Loyola Marymount University.

In his new position Mitchell will lead The MLC’s analytics and automation activities, oversee the design and implementation of business intelligence reporting for The MLC’s internal teams, and develop strategies and tools for analyzing the usage reporting data from DSPs. He will also manage The MLC’s manual sound recording and musical works matching processes. Mitchell has more than 15 years of experience in operations, analytics, business intelligence, automation, process improvement, lean six sigma and global business transformation. He comes to The MLC from Warner Music Group, where he was the Vice President of Analytics & Process Automation, and previously spent a decade working in financial planning and analysis for Ingram Content Group. Mitchell graduated from Miami University (Ohio) with a B.S. in Business and holds an M.B.A. from Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management, where he graduated at the top of his class.

Sony Music Publishing Nashville Renews Deal With Tom Douglas [Exclusive]

Tom Douglas. Photo: Courtesy Sony Music Publishing

Sony Music Publishing Nashville has renewed its worldwide deal with legendary, award-winning country songwriter Tom Douglas.

The lauded songwriter, known for crafting No. 1 songs for artists including Tim McGraw, Carrie Underwood, Lady A, Miranda Lambert, George Strait, Kenny Chesney, Keith Urban, and more, has been a mainstay on country radio for the past three decades. He is a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, and he has been honored with an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, Grammy nominations, and more.

Douglas launched his songwriting career in his late thirties with his first cut in 1994 entitled “Little Rock” performed by Collin Raye, which reached No. 1 in country charts. Since then, Douglas has written classic modern country hits including “Grown Men Don’t Cry,” “Southern Voice,” “My Little Girl” and “Meanwhile Back At Mama’s” by Tim McGraw; “God’s Will” by Martina McBride; “I Run To You” and “Hello World” by Lady A; ACM Song of the Decade “The House That Built Me” by Miranda Lambert; “Raise ‘Em Up” by Keith Urban and Eric Church, and many more.

“The most exciting thing about all Tom has accomplished is that there are so many more successes in front of him. Opportunities for Tom transcend the genre, and even go beyond music,” Sony Music Publishing Nashville CEO Rusty Gaston tells MusicRow.

“I am as excited about the next song that I’m going to write as I ever have been. I love the creative process, I love the gift of creativity. There’s just so much to write about and to explore, the world is ever changing and I like to keep my finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the culture and let those events infuse my songs,” Douglas says.

Douglas has been a career songwriter at Sony Music Publishing, never having signed anywhere else. He was signed by the late Donna Hilley in 1993.

“It’s the only publisher I’ve ever had and I’ve been really delighted to be there,” Douglas says. “There have been many regime changes, people have come and people have gone, but every time somebody has moved on to another opportunity, another great creative collaborator has come along and picked up where the other person left off, and a lot of cases elevated it to a new level.”

Gaston says, “Simply put, Tom is awe-inspiring. He speaks and creates from a level of vulnerability that is hard to come by, and it’s what makes his music so special.”