Sophia Sansone & Jarrod Holley Upped To Managing Partners At Make Wake Artists

Pictured (L-R): Sophia Sansone, Chris Kappy & Jarrod Holley

Make Wake Artists’ (MWA) Founder, Chris Kappy, has elevated Sophia Sansone and Jarrod Holley to Managing Partners of the artist management company. Kappy launched the company in 2015 when he began managing then up-and-coming country music artist Luke Combs.

Sansone was one of MWA’s first hires as Kappy’s assistant. She was quickly promoted to Combs’ day-to-day manager and now also manages his wife, Nicole. Throughout her time at the company, she has been named to The Nashville Briefing‘s 30 Under 30 Industry List in 2021, and was featured in MusicRow Magazine’s 2022 NBT List.

“I’ve worked alongside Kappy for five years at Make Wake and have learned what I know in the industry from him and the great team he has built,” Sansone shares. “I truly appreciate that he has entrusted the role of Managing Partner to Jarrod and me. I am so excited for this next chapter of the Make Wake family!”

Holley, who’s lead A&R and all new artist conversations over the last few years, has overseen the doubling of MWA’s roster, adding Niko Moon, Flatland Cavalry, Hailey Whitters, Drew Parker, and Brent Cobb. In 2019, he joined the team as a manager for Drew Parker and Jackie Lee. Holley’s latest additions include breakout artist Cooper Alan and alt-country singer-songwriter Colby Acuff.

“Make Wake has felt like a tight knit family to me since I first stepped foot in the office,“ Holley adds. “Playing a small part in the growth and strategy over the years has been an absolute thrill. I look forward to adding to the success of our talented roster and team!”

Fourteenth Annual Louise Scruggs Memorial Forum To Honor Kay West

Kay West

The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum will honor writer and industry member Kay West at its 14th annual Louise Scruggs Memorial Forum on Nov. 15 in the museum’s Ford Theater. During the event, the museum’s Michael McCall will chat with West about her 40 years in media in Nashville and on Music Row.

As a journalist, West has been a regular contributor to People and TV Guide magazines and a staff writer at the daily Nashville Banner and weekly Nashville Scene newspapers. Her books include How to Raise a Lady and How to Raise a Gentleman and the cookbook Around the Opry Table. Her resume includes positions as a record company media director (MCA, RCA), an independent publicist (Patty Loveless, Alan Jackson and George Strait) and an event and project manager for non-profits and politicians.

She has also volunteered her time in support of local political causes and charitable organizations, including Women for Tennessee’s Future, Nashville CARES, Magdalene/Thistle Farms and more.

“This annual forum, begun in 2007, recognizes industry professionals who continue the legacy of Louise Scruggs, a formidable businesswoman and music industry trailblazer,” explains Kyle Young, CEO, Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. “Kay West, with her longstanding passion for storytelling and her extensive media connections, helped further elevate Nashville and its musical reputation. Her impressive body of work as a writer and her ability to shine a spotlight on Nashville to the national media is a direct reflection of the dedication and spirit Louise Scruggs embodied.”

Scruggs (1927-2006) was married to Country Music Hall of Fame member and banjo great Earl Scruggs. In the mid-1950s, she began booking and managing Flatt & Scruggs and their band, The Foggy Mountain Boys. She was the first woman in country music to assume these roles, and guided her husband’s career for half a century.

The Louise Scruggs Memorial Forum was first presented in 2007, and past honorees include Kay Clary, Bebe Evans, Bonnie Garner, Dixie Hall, Cindy Mabe, Mary Martin, Bev Paul, Nancy Shapiro, Denise Stiff, Liz Thiels, Traci Thomas, Sarah Trahern, Marcie Allen Van Mol and Jo Walker-Meador.

Luke Combs’ Upcoming World Tour Breaks Records, Sells Out 37 Of 39 Dates

Luke Combs has instantly sold out 37 of the 39 shows on his upcoming “World Tour,” including all 16 of the North American stadium dates, as well as four new shows added in London, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

The tour has broken multiple records, including the fastest sell-outs ever at Arlington’s AT&T Stadium, St. Louis’ Busch Stadium, and the fastest sell-out by a first-time Gillette Stadium performer in any genre.

Combs’ worldwide trek also ranks as one of the fastest-selling arena tours ever by a country artist in the UK, and he is the first international artist to sell-out an Australian and New Zealand tour, which he did within hours.

The tour is just the latest milestone for Combs, who recently achieved his record-breaking 14th-consecutive No. 1 with “The Kind of Love We Make,” which also reached No. 8 on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100 chart. Combs is also nominated for three CMA awards–Entertainer of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year and Album of the Year for his new record, Growin’ Up.

The album debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart and follows 2019’s 3x Platinum What You See is What You Get and his 4x Platinum debut, This One’s For You.

CRB Now Accepting Applications For Rusty Walker Scholarship Program

Applications for the Rusty Walker Scholarship program are now being accepted by the Country Radio Broadcasters.

Each scholarship package will include complimentary registration, hotel, and airfare for CRS 2023, set for March 13-15. Scholars will be recognized at CRS 2023 during CRS Honors, the kick-off to the three-day event.

Each applicant must fill out an online application and submit, in 500 words or less, why they should be considered. Eligible applicants must be full-time radio station employees and first-time CRS attendees. The deadline to apply is Nov. 4.

The Rusty Walker Scholarship Program honors former CRS board member Rusty Walker, who was a Country Radio Hall of Fame inductee, an influential programmer and consultant, and mentor in the music industry. After his passing in 2012, the program was developed to continue his legacy of supporting bright, young minds in the business.

ONErpm Unveils New Marketing Campaign Management Feature, Amplifier

ONErpm has unveiled its new proprietary Marketing Campaign Management System, Amplifier, which provides on-demand information and transparency regarding creator’s marketing campaigns and associated costs being executed by ONErpm’s marketing and promotional teams around the world.

Using Amplifier, artists can see which initiatives their ONErpm marketing teams are executing, and ONErpm, in turn, can also assign artists tasks that they access within their dashboard, ensuring all parties are on the same page as they work collaboratively.

Amplifier also provides artists and label partners full access to detailed statistics in real time on how promotional initiatives are impacting their streaming numbers daily. This unprecedented access, combined with detailed business intelligence data in real time, gives creators the autonomy to better manage and understand their day-to-day marketing needs, build on current campaigns, and improve future launch strategies. With Amplifier, ONErpm hopes to set a new industry standard for ethics in transparency and accountability when it comes to marketing and holding labels and service providers accountable.

“We believe that transparency is one of the keys to an artist’s success,” states CEO Emmanuel Zunz. “Information is power, and while initially Amplifier helped our teams better manage their workflow, this new iteration is much more robust and results oriented as it allows us to better collaborate with our clients, while giving them powerful insights on the work we do here at ONErpm, and the corresponding impact on their business.”

Amplifier is also available to ONErpm’s many DIY artists in a simplified form with 29 specific tasks designed for a step-by-step approach. Since the beta launch of Amplifier, over 35,000 DIY campaigns have been created and completed, showing that DIY releases on Amplifier outperformed those without by 129% on average in terms of streams during the month of September. Future versions of Amplifier for the DIY tier will incorporate AI and Machine Learning to deliver a more bespoke experience.

In 2020, ONErpm created the first version of its Content Management System and has since executed over 35,000 campaigns on behalf of artists and labels worldwide.

My Music Row Story: UMG Nashville’s Stephanie Wright

Stephanie Wright

The “My Music Row Story” weekly column features notable members of the Nashville music industry selected by the MusicRow editorial team. These individuals serve in key roles that help advance and promote the success of our industry. This column spotlights the invaluable people that keep the wheels rolling and the music playing.

Stephanie Wright has been an integral part of Universal Music Group for more than 20 years. As Senior VP, A&R, she aids A&R initiatives for Capitol, EMI, MCA and Mercury, including talent recruitment, artist development and oversight of respective recording projects for UMG artists Sam Hunt, Jordan Davis, Maddie & Tae, Parker McCollum, Little Big Town, Mickey Guyton and more. Her artist signings include Hunt, Davis, McCollum, Kacey Musgraves, Kassi Ashton, and Catie Offerman. She was promoted to her current role in 2018.

A native of Salt Lake City, Utah, Wright came to the music business through her cousins, the Platinum-selling sibling trio SHeDAISY. Since, Wright has been instrumental in critically-acclaimed albums, including Lee Ann Womack‘s Call Me Crazy, Musgraves’ Same Trailer Different Park, and Hunt’s Montevallo. She serves on the T.J. Martell Foundation (Southern Region) board of directors and is a member of the ACM, CMA, Recording Academy and N.O.W. In addition to Rising Women on the Row, Wright has been honored multiple times as one of the Nashville Business Journal‘s Women of the Year.

Wright will be honored as part of the current class of MusicRow’s Rising Women on the Row on Oct. 20. For more details about the class and the event, click here.

MusicRow: Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Utah in a town called Magna that’s about 20 minutes outside of Salt Lake. We called Magna the armpit of Salt Lake. It was close to the Great Salt Lake and the Great Salt Lake stinks. It’s sort of centered in between the lake itself and then this big copper mine that’s there. Copper smells and the Great Salt Lake smells, so we called it the armpit.

Photo: Courtesy of Stephanie Wright

What did you want to do when you were growing up there?

I didn’t really know. After graduating high school, I started college to be an interior designer. The creative side of that was great. My cousins are the girls from SHeDAISY. Kristyn and Kelsi had moved [to Nashville]—I don’t think Kassi had moved there yet—but they were pursuing a career and trying to get a recording contract. Kristyn and I were really close. She would call me and tell me all about what was going on here in Nashville. We had a lot in common in that I was the kid at the record store that would go in Tuesday to find the albums that had just released.

The reason I ended up moving here was because my starter marriage. My son’s dad wanted to come to Nashville or to Iowa. He wanted to become a dentist and he wanted to go to Meharry [Medical College School of Dentistry], so that’s the reason we ended up here. We ended up buying a house right next to where my cousins were living. My first trip into Nashville was the weekend Kristyn signed her record deal. I flew in and she said, “I have a busy schedule, but we can at least look at a few different houses.” I met Dann Huff that weekend because they were in the process of recording. I met Randy Goodman, Shelby Kennedy, Connie Harrington, Bonnie Baker and more. I didn’t know who any of those people were, but looking back on the magnitude of what that is, I had no idea what a blessing it was.

Photo: Courtesy of Stephanie Wright

Did you join the music business when you got here?

When I got here, I ended up going to work for a company that was buying up small mom and pop heating and air conditioning companies in Maryland Farms. I had a young son, so I needed to figure out how to make an income. I took that job immediately but really hated it. I started going to some of Kristyn’s business meetings. I really did not know anything about the background of what happens in the music business other than what she was doing, but the more I was in these meetings, I started thinking maybe management would be kind of cool. I also thought working at a record label seemed pretty interesting. But I found out really quickly that if you did not go to school here and you did not go through the networking process of meeting people, you were definitely an outsider. I would go into interviews and they’d be like, “So are you trying to be an artist?” [Laughs]

I probably went on 10 or 15 interviews. I got to a place where I felt like this must not be the right path for me. No one wants to let you in if you’re not already in. Then I saw this advertisement in the newspaper for an executive assistant position for a CEO of a major record label. At this point, I’d had at least enough experience to know that is not how those jobs come about, but in this particular case, it was. I had to go through a staffing agency. I had to go in and take a type test and go through several interviews. The job was to work for Capitol Records for Pat Quigley. I think the only reason I got the job is because I talked fast and he wanted someone that had not been in the music business. He wanted someone that had really just done executive assistant work outside of the business. It was a big blessing and a really great overview of structure of the label, how it all worked, and all the different departments. He was an interesting person to work for. He was also an outsider and he relished in that.

Photo: Courtesy of Stephanie Wright

How did you become interested in A&R?

I found myself really watching the A&R department at the time when Larry Willoughby ran it. Molly Reynolds was there as well. Larry was really good about coming in and playing songs. He would say, “Wait until you hear this new Keith Urban track we just cut.”

One day Pat came in and said, “There’s a meeting happening. I think I’m going to be let go. I have a contract, you do not, so you need to go find another job.” I didn’t know enough about the music business to know that this was not uncommon, so I was completely panicked. Larry came to me and said, “You should probably reach out to Mike Dungan because that’s who is going to take this job.” I felt like that would be a betrayal to Pat—I didn’t know how to navigate that.

Haley McLemore had been working with me at Capitol under the finance department. I called her and she said, “I think there might be a job opening in the A&R department. Why don’t you come over? I’ll introduce you to Gary Harrison and Carson Chamberlain and you can see if that’s something that might be interesting to you.” Gary Harrison and I spent the afternoon talking. I came back in for an interview and they offered me the job, thankfully. It was a lot less than what I had been making, but I needed a job and I didn’t want to not be in this anymore. Little did I know how that would greatly affect the rest of my life and where I am today.

What was one of your most memorable experiences from that time?

I was in the studio when Alan Jackson recorded “Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning).” It was so fresh. We were finishing up the Drive project and it was the second to last song that we recorded that day. He came in and said, “I want to play this for you. I woke up last night and finished this song.” We all sat there just completely blown away by what it was. Then the musicians all just quietly and very reverently got up and started playing music. Right after we cut that song, he forgot he had to do a song for a ZZ Top collaboration record that they were doing. We were having to shuffle from this big reverent, somber, heavy moment to ZZ Top. (Laughs)

Photo: Courtesy of Stephanie Wright

What was next for you?

There’s been several mergers that have happened and different labels that have been brought under the umbrella of Universal. Gary and Carson left and they brought in Mary Martin. I got to work with her for a year and a half, which was extremely educational and very helpful. Then we merged with MCA and at that point, David Conrad came over. I was his executive assistant, but I found myself liking more of the recording admin. and I also was starting to like the creative stuff. At that point I had been divorced and I was a single parent, so I looked at the person that was in the spot I wanted and they’d been there for 28 years. So I really dug into what that process was and following up a project from start to finish. David was great about it. He said, “As long as you can take care of me or train someone to take care of me, I’ll let you have some of this.” I was still going to the studios. I was still seeing how Mark Wright, Richard Marks, and Byron Gallimore worked in the studio.

Next, we merged with DreamWorks. Then it was James Stroud and Luke Lewis that were the head of the label. James came in and said, “I want everybody in here, no matter what you’re doing in this department, to be creative.” So I started begging people to come in and play songs for me. People like Jeff Skaggs, Kerri Edwards, Cris Lacy and Cyndi Forman who I’d met booking appointments for David or for whoever else at the time. I even reached out to someone like Brandy Clark, who was just starting to come up through the ranks. I had her pitch group—which was all songwriters—come in and play for me in my little tiny office. I would have them all take turns at the CD player. I was taking notes and was really dedicated to trying to figure out how to make it work.

When did you start to have success as a creative A&R executive?

During that time, Erin Enderlin came in and played a song for me called “Last Call.” It was a song that her and Shane McAnally had written together that Lee Ann Womack eventually cut. I remember being really brave that day and I walked into Brian [Wright]‘s office saying, “This is a really great song for Womack. I know she’s looking.” It ended up getting cut. Through that, I realized I really loved this.

Photo: Courtesy of Stephanie Wright

During that time, we had changed buildings again. I think we had moved downtown at this point. I had met with Alicia Pruitt one day and she mentioned something about Kacey Musgraves. They had just signed her. She played me a couple things and I knew I had to reach out. I cold called her one day. I didn’t really have the ability to sign anybody at that point. I went and met with her and we had a great conversation. I came back to Brian and I said, “I don’t know what goes into signing someone, but I know that I sat across from someone today that’s magical and mesmerizing. If there was a sheet of things that you should probably have [to get signed], I think she has all of those things. She has vision. She’s unique.” It took a long time to convince people that I was serious, but I finally talked Brian and Luke into meeting with her and signing her.

It comes full circle back to Mike Dungan. When we merged with Universal, Mike and I went to breakfast one morning, which is what he was doing with everyone when we merged. He said, “I think you should be doing creative full time and not the other stuff.”

We will be honoring you tomorrow at Rising Women On the Row. If someone were to ask you what success meant to you, what would you tell them?

Where I feel like the success comes in is when you see the satisfaction of an artist when a crowd reacts to a song. You see that crowd sing a song back to the artist, and them get emotionally overwhelmed at what’s happening, that’s pretty magical. I still live for those moments. Those moments are super precious and the ones that keep me interested in trying to continue to do this for other people.

I think I take the things that I don’t have success at a whole lot harder and they stick with me a lot more, so I think learning from the mistakes I’ve made along the way is so much more of a motivator for me. I don’t do a lot of thinking on success, so that’s why these interviews are a little bit difficult because, while there is a lot of that, I think that there’s still much more to accomplish and more people to help.

Micah Carpenter Signs With Boom Music Group

Pictured (L-R): Emma Kiefer, Micah Carpenter, Shaina Botwin, and Joe Fisher. Photo: Nairobi Block

Rising songwriter Micah Carpenter has signed with Boom Music Group.

A multi-talented writer, producer and musician, Micah hails from Hull, Georgia. After a college career playing baseball at Georgia Tech, he made the move to Nashville in August 2019 to join his sister Mackenzie Carpenter, who recently signed with Big Machine’s The Valory Music Co.

Since moving to Nashville, Micah has worked with songwriters including Nicolle Galyon, Ashley Gorley, Chris Tompkins, and The Warren Brothers. He has garnered cuts from Megan Moroney, Mackenzie, Jonathan Hutcherson, Dylan Marlowe, Kylie Morgan, Peytan Porter, Dylan Schneider, and more. When he’s not writing songs, Micah can be found playing guitar on the road with Big Machine recording artists Conner Smith and his sister.

“I met Micah about 4 years ago, before he even moved to town (and before he even had a mullet),” shares Boom’s Shaina Botwin. “I’ve watched him grow as a songwriter, musician, and member of the Music Row community over the last few years, and couldn’t be happier that he’s making Boom his first publishing home!”

“So thankful to have such an incredible group of people believing me,” Micah adds. “Excitement is an understatement when you’re talking about being surrounded by the caliber of hard work here at Boom. I can’t wait to see what the future holds!”

Jamie O’Neal Preps Her Debut Christmas Album, ‘Spirit & Joy’

Jamie O’Neal. Photo: Angela Talley

Grammy nominated artist Jamie O’Neal will release her debut Christmas album, Spirit & Joy, on Oct. 21 via JOG Inc. and BFD/Audium Nashville with distribution through The Orchard. The Jeffrey Steele-penned album opener, “Christmas,” is available now.

The 10-song collection will feature festive favorites, such as “White Christmas,” “River” and “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” as well as three originals co-written by O’Neal, including “Christmas You,” “Gulf of Mexico” and “You Were Christmas to Me.”

Spirit & Joy was produced by O’Neal and her husband, Rodney Good, and the pair also recorded their first-ever collaboration on the project’s “Please Come Home for Christmas.” O’Neal’s father Jimmy Murphy, sister Melissa Murphy and daughter Aliyah Good also chimed in on “Do You Hear What I Hear?” The album also featured fellow ACM award-winner Collin Raye on the classic “Silver Bells.”

O’Neal’s latest album, Sometimes, celebrated the 20th anniversary of her debut album, Shiver. The project featured collaborations with John Paul White, Lauren Alaina, Martina McBride, Sara Evans and Good.

Spirit & Joy Track List:
1. Christmas (Jeffrey Steele)
2. Christmas You (Jamie O’Neal, Corey Lee Barker)
3. Please Come Home for Christmas Feat. Rodney Good (Charles Brown, Gene Redd)
4. White Christmas (Irving Berlin)
5. I’ll Be Home for Christmas (Kim Gannon, Walter Kent)
6. Gulf of Mexico (Jamie O’Neal, Rodney Good, Jimmy Murphy)
7. Do You Hear What I Hear? Feat. Jimmy Murphy, Melissa Murphy and Aliyah Good (Noel Regne, Gloria Shayne)
8. You Were Christmas to Me (Jamie O’Neal, Corey Lee Barker)
9. River (Joni Mitchell)
10. Silver Bells Feat. Collin Raye (Jay Livingston, Ray Evans)

CRS Partners With NuVoodoo For CRS360 Webinar Series’ October Edition

Country Radio Seminar (CRS) has joined forces with NuVoodoo for the next edition of its monthly webinar series, CRS360.

Led by Clay Hunnicutt (GM, BMLG), Carolyn Gilbert (CEO, NuVoodoo Media) and Leigh Jacobs (Co-Founder, NuVoodoo Media), “Song Wars” will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 25 at 1 p.m. CT.

“Song Wars,” plans to take a closer look at the taste differences among gender, age groups, newer country music fans and long-time fans. Results will be based on a large sample size and vast demographic of adult country music listeners. NuVoodoo will analyze responses provided by active country radio listeners who were given thought-provoking sets of choices, reporting on the outcome of their findings.

“The intergalactic battle for radio superiority rages on daily, and every song matters. NuVoodoo and CRS will train you to become a musical Jedi Master, instead of a Clone,” says CRB Executive Director RJ Curtis.

Only a limited number of slots are available and are based on a first-come, first-served basis. To sign up, click here.

Zac Brown Band, Dan + Shay, Jon Pardi To Headline Country Fest 2023

Photo: Courtesy of Country Fest

Country Fest 2023 has unveiled Zac Brown Band, Dan + Shay and Jon Pardi as headliners for its three-day country music and camping event, running from June 22-24 in Cadott, Wisconsin.

Taking place across five stages, over 50 acts will be featured throughout the event’s three day slate, including Ernest, Ingrid Andress, Breland, Billy Currington, Brett Eldredge, Russell Dickerson, Joe Nichols, Elvie Shane, Kidd G, Cooper Alan, Jackson Dean, Alexandra Kay, and more.

Country Fest Main Stage. Photo: Courtesy of Country Fest

“Fans can look forward to the same organized festival they love, but with a new overall theme in 2023,” festival promoter and General Manager Wade Asher shares. “If you grew up in Wisconsin, Friday nights likely found you in a friend’s field cheersing to the summer ahead. A grown-up version of a coming-of-age tradition, we’ll pay homage to our roots through a variety of Wisconsin-themed activations and experiences. We can’t wait to reunite with our Fest Family at the country’s largest party in a hayfield…and show out-of-towners what it means to ‘party like a Sconnie.’”

Ahead of the main event, three-day ticket holders will also have access to an exclusive tailgate party that will see Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Jake Worthington, Frankie Justin and Nathan King Band grace the stage on Wednesday, June 21.

A variety of ticket options are available for purchase, including VIP, Reserved Lawn, General Admission, Pit Passes, and more. For the full lineup, as well as ticket and camping information, click here.