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NEAR TRUTHS:
DEVELOPING STORIES
The kids are almighty. (8/3a)
LEADING OFF:
RON’S BIG RUN
Not your father's Columbia (8/3a)
ON THE COVER
Happier days are here again. (8/3a)
AN AUGUST HITS LIST
Look at the guns on these giants. (8/3a)
GRAMMY CHEW: SEEING BIEBER
It's high time for Justice in the Academy. (8/4a)
NEW & DEVELOPING ARTISTS
From tender shoots to mighty oaks.
MARKETSHARE MANIA
Let's do the numbers.
DELTA VARIANT
It is not the name of a Henry Miller novel.
IS IT TIME FOR ANOTHER ROCK STORY?
Could be. Dunno.
Music City
NASHVILLE'S DIGITAL INROADS: SPOTIFY
7/13/16

During CMA’s event at C2C fest in London, the following people requested Tyler, Texas BBQ sauce to go on their steak-and-kidney pies: CMA NashvilleSVP Marketing and Strategic Partnerships Damon Whiteside, artist Lauren Alaina, Spotify Head of Country John Marks, CMA Board Member and Capitol Music Group Sweden MD Mara Molin, artist Frankie Ballard, CMA Board Member and BBC Director of Music Bob Shennan and CMA Nashville CEOSarah Trahern.

The digital platforms are acutely aware of the potential of country music, which, as the reps from AppleSpotifyPandora and Shazam collectively point out, is one of the most active and fastest-growing areas of the music-content spectrum.

John Marks Global Head of Country Music, Spotify 

Thus far, the biggest streaming songs/acts are from genres other than country. Why do you think that is? I think it’s only a matter of time until we see a global country hit. The promise of platforms like Spotify is that artists can reach millions of fans around the world instantaneously. Country artists need to start thinking about building out their fan bases in other countries and engage the global marketplace.

What initiatives have you implemented to cultivate this market? I traveled to London for the C2C Country Festival last March, and I met with many industry professionals, including my Spotify colleagues, regarding the country market in the U.K. I learned from them, and also from watching the fans at the festival, that there is a surging interest, especially in the 18-34 demo, for current country music.

Based on this, my U.K. colleagues debuted a playlist on April 12 called Very Nearly Nashville. It’s a hybrid list of U.S. and U.K. artists that represent the best of country in the U.K. We also collaborate by “infiltrating” country music into other playlists, in addition to featuring our syndicated country lists more prominently to grow interest in the music. And in turn, I also feature U.K. artists in U.S. playlists as well.

In addition to C2C, the CMA previewed a worldwide study of country—including the U.K.—that showed the tremendous growth potential in the youth category, with 71% of country discovery driven by Spotify in the U.K. market. The CMA just released the results of their study, with the U.K., Australia, the Nordics and Germany all showing potential in country’s growth, in particular the 18-34 demo. I plan to take this information and share it with my colleagues and industry professionals in those regions to perhaps implement similar strategies as the U.K. to grow global interest in the genre—despite the lack of label interest.

As a global platform, what’s your sense of the growth possibilities for Nashville artists in international territories? Right now is the time for country artists to move globally. Sadly, the superstars in the format who have not worked the markets can’t scale touring Europe and Australia financially. But I encourage anyone I talk to from baby acts to medium range acts to infiltrate Europe now before they get too tethered to the United States. Develop the fan base and touring base and you will have income forever. During CMA Music Fest, I talked to Mark Chesnutt and The Bellamy Brothers, among others, and most of their big income from touring is generated overseas. It’s a large opportunity right now for current artists to earn additional revenue and to be global stars. Artists like Cadillac ThreeOld Dominion and Striking Matches are current examples that I’m aware of who are cultivating their audiences globally.

 In the “playlist culture,” is format destiny or is it less genre-restrictive? While I lead the genre of country music, the most fun of all is breaking down the music “borders.” Many of the Moods and Moments playlists are genre-agnostic and provide opportunities for artists large and small to increase their profiles. In the country lists, I’ve featured AviciiJustin TimberlakeElle King and others who would not normally have been played on Country radio stations. Look at the collaborations now coming from Little Big Town-Pharrell WilliamsBrad Paisley-Demi LovatoDierks Bentley-Elle King and Keith Urban-Nile Rogers-Pitbull, with more to come.

Some get exercised about what is and is not country music. I’d say anytime I can playlist a song not released as country that has the feel, or a collaboration, as noted, it only means there ultimately will be a broader acceptance of the music form both nationally and globally.

What has surprised you most since you’ve arrived at Spotify? The culture. I love the fact that I am trusted to do my job. They make me feel like my presence, thoughts and ideas are worthwhile—even though not every one of them can be actuated. I feel like I have a stake in Spotify’s growth and well-being.