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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)
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Here's who's lighting up the scoreboard before and after the Grammys. (2/3a)
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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
NASHVILLE OUTSIDE IN:
KEN ROBOLD
7/14/16

EVP/COO, Sony Music Nashville

How has the dynamic of breaking artists changed?

Defining what breaking an act means has become more difficult as both the sources of revenue and ways in which the artist can now directly interact and engage with fans has become more diverse. With that said, it always comes down to an artist and their art consistently connecting with the masses. While the most efficient way to do that is still Country radio, we have so much more information at our fingertips now to help us measure that connection with consumers, and do everything in our power to broaden it.

When you’re looking at potential acts, what things are now driving your vision?

First and foremost, we are looking to sign artists, and not merely talented people who can sing great songs. We use the words “unique” and “compelling” every time we meet with, or see live, a prospective artist. As a team, we have to collectively believe they have the talent and artistry to be on the Sony roster for the long term. Second, we are in the process of building a stylistically diverse roster. As an example, while both Cam and Old Dominion were on their first singles when the new executive team came on board, our first two signings were Maren Morris and LANco. Two new females and two new bands; however, all four are unique and compelling artists who are stylistically diverse.

Isn’t it difficult to debut two females within the same 12-month period?

While some may say we’re crazy for launching two new females inside of a year, the fact is that both Cam and Maren Morris are extraordinary artists, regardless of gender. Both are very intelligent and strong women with a clear vision of who they are, and both have connected with very different musical styles. Cam was signed by Doug Morris and our New York label venture partner, RCA. After an initial single went to radio with moderate success, Sony was collectively able to get “Burning House” on iHeart’s On the Verge program, which proved to be a great platform for this amazing song. Maren came to us with a launch plan in place for “My Church” as a focus track, followed by a Spotify EP, and we plugged into that as a label as the initiation of our launch plan. Maren has a very well defined and confident image of who she is, and every aspect of her music and branding fits perfectly.

You’ve got some of the biggest acts in the business. If the growth is going to be flatter, what do you focus on/how do you grow them?

Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, Brad Paisley and Kenny Chesney are the superstars we consider the four pillars of the label. All are obviously incredibly well established and distinctly different brands. With all four continuing to achieve the highest levels of success during their careers, our focus is to keep them at the superstar level each time we bring a new project to the marketplace. To do that, it is vital that our team works in conjunction with them and their teams to develop the most robust plans we can in an ever-evolving marketplace and challenging revenue environment.

What is the most creative thing your team has done this year?

I would say launching Carrie Underwood’s Storyteller essentially three months after Randy, Steve [Hodges] and I walked in the door at Sony. In a very short amount of time, we had to meet Carrie and her team, hear the new music, formulate a comprehensive marketing and promotion plan and instill in Carrie and her team the confidence and belief that we could deliver in a big way. Of course, Carrie had the music and a creative vision before we entered the picture; however, it took a great team effort and a lot of creativity to deliver. One of the key components of that plan was that Carrie became the first country artist to headline the Apple Music Festival in London, which was a big success.