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HITS LIST:
HOME RUN DERBY
Going yard (7/11a)
NEAR TRUTHS: A TOUR OF THE LANDSCAPE
I.B. will be your guide. (7/15a)
GRAMMY PRE-CHEW:
THREE QUESTIONS ABOUT THE BIG 4
On your Marks, get set, go. (7/8a)
ON THE COVER:
CHAPPELL ROAN
Half of Island's one-two punch (7/15a)
AUSTIN NEAL STICKS THE LANDING
These two are tight. (7/15a)
THE GRAMMY SHORT LIST
Who's already a lock?
COUNTRY'S NEWEST DISRUPTOR
Three chords and some truth you may not be ready for.
AI IS ALREADY EATING YOUR LUNCH
The kids can tell the difference... for now.
INDIE DISTRIBUTION'S RISE TO GLORY
The discovery engine is revving higher.
Music City
BALDRIDGE'S INDIE COUNTRY BREAKTHROUGH
7/15/24

Drew Baldridge is riding his independent spirit to new heights on the Country Airplay chart, as "She's Somebody's Daughter" hits #8 to become the highest charting position ever for a self-funded artist on the tally.

Baldridge's music is distributed by Stem, and he says he won't rest until the song has reached #1. "I’m going to speak it into existence,” said Baldridge, pictured with Stem Head of Artist & Label Strategy Alison Junker. “As soon as we’re #1, I want to have the next one ready."

"She's Somebody's Daughter" has been certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America and has garnered more than 1b social media impressions and streams.

Beyond his own music, Baldridge is a Sony Music Publishing-signed songwriter who has written for acts such as Bailey Zimmerman and LOCASH. He also hosts a weekly program on Los Angeles station KKGO on Saturdays and Sundays. We'll try to tune in this weekend between our cryotherapy and IV infusion treatments.

BIRDSONG BOUND FOR BRAVADO
7/15/24

Mallary Birdsong is joining UMG's Bravado as senior director of brand management, where she will be based in Nashville and report to SVP/Head of Brand Management and Artist Relations Brian Schechter.

Birdsong arrives from Make Wake Artists, where as director or merchandise she worked with acts such as Luke Combs, Flatland Cavalry, Niko Moon, Cooper Alan, Josh Abbott Band and Hailey Whitters. The company earned an estimated $17m in merchandise revenue in 2023.

She previously worked at Dallas Fan Fares, BV3 and Futureshirts. Birdsong is a graduate of Texas Tech University.

"Mallary's multifaceted industry experience is exactly what we look for to help bring our artist's vision to life," said Schechter. "I couldn't be happier to welcome her to the team as we continue to build out our presence in Nashville." Added Birdsong, “I’m thrilled to be a part of the Bravado team and to grow with a company that is truly in a league of their own."

RED STREET CONTINUES LAYING ITS FOUNDATION
7/10/24

Red Street Records, founded by Rascal FlattsJay DeMarcus, has hired industry newcomer Gianna Robinson as its digital content coordinator and promoted Cambria Sojka to creative director. Red Street, home to Chris Lane, Neon Union, Ryan Larkins and Ryan Griffin, among others, has been on the upswing since its 2019 inception.

“I continue to be excited about the growth that’s happening at Red Street," DeMarcus, CEO, said. "Internally it’s been amazing to watch Cambria grow over the last several years and come into her own, equally exciting is adding new, fresh energy to the team with Gianna. It is a very exciting time at Red Street."

Sojka, a California native who has been with the company since the beginning, will serve both the country and Christian rosters. She will also oversee all creative vision and production across the entirety of the label, reporting directly to Red Street Records VP, Streaming & Playlist Strategy Michael Steele.

Meanwhile, Robinson will assist on all things streaming and digital asset production for the country and Christian markets. She plans to tap into her plethora of knowledge in audio engineering, graphic design, photography and content creation in her new role. She will also report directly to Steele.

Pictured hoping their new positions don't include talking to HITS are Sojka (black shirt) and Robinson.

A BIG LOUD ROUND OF APPLAUSE FOR BLYTHE
7/10/24

Big Loud Records has upped Stacy Blythe to EVP, Promotions following Patch Culbertson's recent promotion to EVP/general manager. She'll report directly to partners Seth England, Joey Moi and Craig Wiseman.

“Stacy is a day-one believer in Big Loud,” England said. “She is not only a radio expert, but a relationship builder and an investor in people, as well as a trailblazer within the industry at large that helped us build this company from the ground up. Stacy is integral to the success of our organization, and on behalf of all of the partners, we are honored to continue growing with her.”

Blythe, a Pittsburgh native, initially joined the Big Loud team in 2015 and led her promotion team to 24 #1 singles at country radio in just under nine years, including Chris Lane's “Fix" and Post Malone's "I Had Some Help" f/Morgan Wallen.

Previous career stops include Big Machine Label Group (Republic Nashville), Broken Bow Records (Stoney Creek), 1720 Entertainment and Category 5. Meanwhile, we've been added to her "do not reply" list.

CAA, CULPEPPER MAKE TOURING TEAM
7/9/24

CAA has inked a deal with country singer Kashus Culpepper, who is signed to Big Loud Records alongside stars such as Morgan Wallen and HARDY. Culpepper just released his first single, “After Me?”

The artist was born in Alabama, sang in church at the age of five and served in the Navy.

Music Row called his music “thoroughly gripping” and The Tennessean hailed him in their 2024 list of 10 Nashville Artists You Need To Know, predicting that Culpepper would meet with “significant acclaim.”

Pictured celebrating this alliance, from left, are CAA's Jeff Krones, Chris Burrus, Culpepper, Jacob Lapidus and Jay Harren. See you all at the Pancake Pantry.

(Photo credit: Jessie Addleman)

RADIO, MUSIC & COPYRIGHTS
6/27/24

SoundExchange CEO/President Michael Huppe and country star Randy Travis testified before Congress at a hearing dubbed "Radio, Music, and Copyrights: 100 Years of Inequity for Recording Artists" on Wednesday (6/26).

Held by The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet, the hearing did a deep dive into the Music Fairness Act (H.R. 791), which would require AM/FM radio stations to pay artists royalties when their songs are played on the air.

As part of Huppe's testimony, he pointed out that the U.S. is the only democratic nation in the world without a performance right for artists on AM/FM radio and advocated for Congress to modernize the nation’s copyright law to protect creators.

“Congress must set a standard that creators need to be compensated wherever and whenever their music is played, especially when their creations form the backbone of the business model like they do for AM/FM radio," Huppe said. "American musicians lose almost $300m of taxable U.S. income each year because we lack these protections in the U.S. This is on top of the hundreds of millions of dollars they are already missing out on domestically.”

Travis suffers from aphasia, making it difficult to speak and sing, but he was able to provide testimony through his wife, Mary.

"Music is, was and will always be his lifeline," Mary said on behalf of her husband. "But that lifeline has changed. And we need to acknowledge that. The days of Randy packing a car and trekking thousands of miles across the country to visit radio stations and deliver copies of his newest cuts on cassette, in hopes of having his music heard, are a thing of the past."

She continued, "Of all the things we do differently than we did a century ago, one thing remains the same—the voice is still the mandatory bridge between the writer and the listener. And it's time to do right by the ones that create the sound, the melody, the emotion that keeps the listeners coming back and the advertisers buying in."

Pictured relieved nobody from HITS showed up to photobomb them are (l-r) Travis and Huppe.

ACM CONTINUES LIFTING LIVES
6/27/24

ACM Lifting Lives, the philanthropic partner of the Academy of Country Music, hosted the 15th Annual ACM Lifting Lives Music Camp with Vanderbilt Kennedy Center earlier this month.

The week-long residential program hosted 30 musically talented individuals with the rare genetic condition Williams syndrome by providing music enrichment through performance and education.

Campers got to go behind-the-scenes in the country music community and participate in exclusive opportunities with some of Nashville’s most acclaimed musicians and rising talent.

Campers began the week by co-writing a song called “Find the Sunshine” with Ross Copperman, Russell Dickerson and J.T. Harding, which they performed lived at the Grand Ole Opry alongside newcomer Alex Hall.

Other artists who joined the campers throughout the week included Post Malone, Dasha, Jordan Davis, Caylee Hammack, Tiera Kennedy and Conner Smith.

“Hosting this camp is truly the highlight of the year for everyone involved, including the campers and those volunteering and doing the research,” Lyndsay Cruz, ACM Lifting Lives executive director, and Taylor Wolf, ACM Lifting Lives senior manager and music camp lead, said in a joint statement. “This camp allows our partners at Vanderbilt Kennedy Center to conduct important research on Williams syndrome, all while providing campers with an experience they'll never forget. The artists, songwriters and venues in Nashville who donate their time to this amazing summer camp are the ones who make this research and fulfilling experience for campers possible, and we thank them for their positive energy and excitement.”

Other highlights included Smith playing songs and holding a casual Q&A with campers at the Bluebird Cafe and Hammack joining campers for a night of karaoke at Loser’s Bar and Grill, where Post Malone and ERNEST were the surprise guests.

ACM Lifting Lives funds the costs of the camp, in addition to providing scholarships for several campers, enabling the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center to advance its mission of improving the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities and their families through research, training and service. Read more about the ACM Lifting Lives program here and watch the Grand Ole Opry event below.

CCMG SOARS WITH THOMAS, DOLLAR
6/27/24

Capitol Christian Music Group has made two significant staff changes, with Walter Thomas rising to VP of Artist Development at Motown Gospel and TAMLA Records and Alexandria "Dria" Dollar joining the company as Senior Director of A&R for the latter two imprints.

Previously the Director of Artist Development for CCMG, Thomas will now oversee development of the company's artist roster as well as associated marketing initiatives. He will report to CCMG Co-Presidents Brad O’Donnell and Hudson Plachy.

Before CCMG, Thomas was CEO of Agency 22 Music & Entertainment, where he managed artists such as Maverick City Music and Smokie Norful.

"These iconic labels have a legacy of inspiring and uplifting music, and I am committed to continuing this tradition by developing the next generation of extraordinary artists," Thomas said. "I am equally thrilled to welcome Alexandria Dollar as our new Senior Director of A&R. Alexandria's innovative approach and keen ear for talent are unmatched, and I am confident that together we will elevate our artists to new heights."

Dollar, herself a two-time GRAMMY winner, was previously the Director of A&R for Atlanta-based Reach Records, where she worked with stars such as Lecrae, For King + Country, Kirk Franklin and Chloe x Halle.