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OUR POST-GRAMMY CHEW TAKES LESS THAN FOUR HOURS TO READ
We'll let you get back to your day ASAP. (2/7a)
HITS LIST WINNERS
Here's who's lighting up the scoreboard before and after the Grammys. (2/3a)
GRAMMY-WEEK ALBUM: PICS TO CLICK
Including shots of several luminaries entrapped by a HITS nerd. (2/8a)
GRAMMY RATINGS SOAR
The emphasis on star power seems to have worked. (2/7a)
A TASTE OF RAINMAKERS:
JIM ROPPO
Building blocks of a singular career (2/8a)
HIP-HOP AT 50
The astonishing first half-century of a world-rocking genre.
THE NEXT BIG PLAYER
in the catalog game is...
INDIE BREAKOUTS
More independent music rises at the DSPs.
THE GOP CONGRESS
At last, America can focus 24/7 on Hunter Biden's laptop.
Music City
"ORANGE" JUICE
2/8/23

UTA-repped Sony Nashville/Columbia artist Megan Maroney, pictured here with UTA agent Elisa Vazzana, is coming on strong in 2023. Her single “Tennessee Orange” has racked up north of 25m streams and is now charting at Country radio. It’s easy to see why Maroney—whose UTA-coordinated debut headlining tour includes her Grand Ole Opry bow (on 2/11)—had a stunning 18 label offers on the table before inking with SMN/Columbia. In addition to her headlining dates, she’s playing side stages on Luke Combs’ stadium tour and appearing on dates with Jamey Johnson and Larry Fleet.

Maroney’s success is just one of several UTA client breakouts in Nashville; keep your eye on TikTok phenom Dalton Dover (an Amazon Music, CMT, Pandora and Apple Music fave who’s earned praise from the likes of Combs and Jimmie Allen) and Chase Matthews, whose headlining tour has been selling out briskly. Matthews’ new single, “She Loves Jesus,” is the follow-up to gold-certified “County Line.”

In related news, a HITS editor tried to walk around in cowboy boots during Grammy week and therefore will not be walking around this week.

MATT STELL PUTS THE "STELL" IN STELLAR
1/31/23

RECORDS Nashville singer-songwriter Matt Stell performed his bubbling single "Man Made" and the crowd favorite "One of Us" for his fans at The Flora-Bama Lounge in Pensacola, Fla. at the end of 2022.

Stell just wrapped up a 17-date headlining tour and recently celebrated his #1 single, "Pray For You," going double-platinum. Stell is currently working on a follow-up to 2020's Better Than That EP, which is expected to arrive sometime this year.

Named “One to Watch” by Vevo DSCVR, MusicRow’s Next Big Thing, CMT Discovery Artist, YouTube Music Artist on the Rise, and more, the self-taught vocalist and guitarist from Arkansas made the move to Music City in 2014 after turning down Harvard University’s Extension School Pre-Med Program. In his spare time, he managed to launch the Give A Damn Foundation in 2020. His charitable efforts have supported St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Doctors Without Borders and the Humane Society, among others.

The live performances of "Man Made" and "One of Us" can be found below.

HAILEY'S FREQUENCY
1/23/23

Range Media and Make Wake-repped artist Hailey Whitters is heading to Jimmy Kimmel Live! on Wednesday (1/25), her first late night television appearance.

The announcement comes amid a stellar run for Whitters' "Everything She Ain't," which recently crossed 100m global streams and is trending Top 30 at Country radio. Critics, meanwhile, are running out of superlatives. You can check out the video below.

With the song blowing up, plus Whitters' headlining Raised Tour, several dates with Shania Twain, five festival slots and a recently announced run with Eric Church, 2023 is shaping up to be a big year for the Iowa native.

RAISED, the artist's third studio album, arrived via Pigasus/Songs & Daughters/Big Loud last March. She also earned a Song of the Year Grammy nom for co-writing Alicia Keys and Brandi Carlile's "A Beautiful Noise." The Make Wake, Range and Big Loud folks are all super-excited—and determined to keep the fledgling star as far away from us as possible.

PORTER MAKES SOME NOISE WITH NEW CAA DEAL
1/23/23

Following the success of 2022's "Pickup," blossoming Big Loud artist MacKenzie Porter has joined Creative Artists Agency's (CAA) roster with representation from Bennett Beckner and Jeff Krones. The Alberta native will continue to be based in Nashville.

"We have been building the perfect team, and it feels complete with Jeff and Bennett joining the family," Porter said. "We will have new music coming this year, and I can't wait to work alongside CAA to bring it to the stage."

Porter has already shared the stage with a slew of notable country artists, including Blake Shelton, Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, Rascal Flatts and her labelmate, Dallas Smith.

Porter scored a hit in 2020 as a guest on the Dustin Lynch single "Thinking 'Bout You," which landed at #1 and stayed there for six weeks. She's the first Canadian woman this century to have five #1 songs at Canadian country radio and only woman since Shania Twain to land three consecutive #1s at Canadian country radio. She also earned a crossover Top 10 at Canadian pop radio, a first since 2003 for a Canadian country artist.

Seen in the photo above wishing HITS would simply fall into the abyss are Beckner (CAA), Krones (CAA), Porter, Big Loud President Greg Thompson and Big Loud Manager Drew Magid.

TROY CARTWRIGHT HEADS TO BMM
1/18/23

Big Machine Music, a subsidiary of HYBE America, has inked Troy Cartwright to an exclusive co-publishing agreement. He joins a roster that includes Brett Young, Ryan Hurd, Laura Veltz, Matt Dragstrem, Jessie Jo Dillonand Eric Paslay, among others.

Having penned songs for the likes of Ryan Hurd, Nickelback, Josh Abbott Band and more, the Texas-bred singer-songwriter was named a SiriusXM The Highway On the Horizon Artist and independently released his EP, JUST KIDS, last year. Since kicking off his career, he’s garnered 80m+ global streams.

“Troy is a dual-threat talent whose time is upon us,” said BMM GM, Mike Molinar. “His commercial phrasing and fresh ideas are ready made for radio. We are excited to champion him and his songs!”

“I couldn’t be more excited to be part of the Big Machine Music team,” shared Cartwright. “Mike Molinar, Tim Hunze, Michelle Attardi and the rest of the team have already exceeded my expectations. I know I’m right where I’m supposed to be!”

Pictured wondering where the Big Machine is actually plugged are (l-r) BMM VP of Publishing, Hunze; Cartwright; BMM Director of Publishing, Attardi; and GM Molinar.

Photo Credit: Noah Needleman

TNA WELCOMES ADI SHARMA, BOLSTERS ROSTER
1/18/23

Austin Neal’s The Neal Agency has welcomed Adi Sharma as a co-head and agent.

TNA has also inked Bailey Zimmerman, Josh Ross, mike. and lifestyle brand Stevenson Ranch, adding to a roster that includes Morgan Wallen, HARDY, ERNEST, Chase Rice, Ashland Craft, Riley Green, John Morgan, Lauren Watkins and Seaforth.

"It’s surreal to think this time last year we only had two employees, other than myself, and no office,” said Neal. "Adding Adi’s leadership to that mix will allow the company and our culture to reach new heights in our sophomore year.”

“I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of this rapidly growing team, to work with one of the best agents in the business, and to help the company continue to grow into the future,” added Sharma.

Having launched just over a year ago, The Neal Agency is celebrating 2023 with nominations at the upcoming Pollstar Awards and CMA Touring Awards, including Neal up for Talent Agent of the Year, as well as tours from Wallen—who will be joined by ERNEST on all dates—HARDY, Rice and Seaforth.

Pictured just before putting on an impromptu rendition of Ace of Base's "The Sign" are Sharma, Zimmerman and Neal.

RED STREET WELCOMES LARKINS TO COUNTRY ROSTER
1/18/23

Red Street Records Chairman/Owner Dan Crockett, Owner/CEO Jay DeMarcus and General Manager Alex Valentine have welcomed Ryan Larkins to the Red Street Country roster. The singer-songwriter has what DeMarcus called a “once in a generation voice," one they're looking forward to cultivating.

After winning first place in WSM’s Road Show Talent Competition, Larkins has gone on to work with several Nashville heavy-hitters, including Country Music Hall of Fame inductee Bill Anderson, Steve Bogard and Scooter Carusoe. More recently, he co-wrote "Someday It Will All Make Sense" with Anderson and Bobby Tomberlin, which was later recorded by Dolly Parton and Anderson himself. Needless to say, the future looks bright for Larkins—unlike ours.

Seen in the photo above hoping to erase any memory of HITS are: (L-R) Crockett, Larkins, DeMarcus (front row) and Valentine, SVP of Promotion Andy Elliott, Senior Director Kelly King and Director of A&R Publishing Harrison Sokoloff (back row).

MEGHAN PATRICK INKS WITH MAKE WAKE & WME
1/17/23

Rising country artist Meghan Patrick has inked to Make Wake Artists for management, working with Chris Kappy and Randi McFadden, and WME for global representation.

Continuing her longstanding label partnership with Riser House Records, Patrick kicks off 2023 with her latest single, “She’s No Good for Me,” due 1/20.

“I could not be more excited to be a part of the Make Wake and WME families,” said Patrick. “I know I have finally found my home, and we are going to do big things!”

“She is the true definition of a rockstar,” shared Make Wake’s McFadden.

“Meghan is a force to be reckoned with,” added WME Nashville Partner Nate Towne. “Her powerful performances and bold songwriting captivates audiences everywhere. We’re thrilled to have her at WME and to continue building on her proven success.”

"Meghan Patrick has a rich culture and a strong, definable brand," said Riser House Entertainment President/co-Founder Jennifer Johnson. "We are honored to present Meghan and her message to the world in 2023."

Pictured above before heading to the nearest hot chicken joint to celebrate are (l-r) Sayre Baker, Patrick and McFadden.

Photo Credit: Kurt Ozan