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Founding Partner, ROAR

When ROAR started its Music Row office, you initially focused on country but have expanded beyond the genre. Did you throw out the playbook or did you keep some of the conventional strategy?

I was aware of the “playbook” going back to my Music Row lawyering days, and it was really ingrained in me that it all starts with the songwriters. In fact, ROAR partner and head of our Nashville office Matt Maher was a former artist and songwriter himself, and together with the entire ROAR team we always emphasized the importance of working with artists who are writers first. Of course, we hit the trifecta with Zac [Brown], as he and the band are not only gifted writers but some of the best players and performers in the world. Beyond that foundation, we also knew that Country radio was absolutely crucial, and to that end, along with our label and talented promo teams over the years, we really focused on building and servicing those relationships. Other than that, we basically torched the playbook—we focused on global touring, data/streaming analysis, community building and engagement, and tripled down on digital. In 2006, we acquired Jennie Smythe’s Girlilla Digital, becoming the first Music Row management company to support our clients with a full-service digital agency.

Now you have singer/songwriter Ben Rector breaking into Pop out of Nashville as well. He also seems to be blazing his own trail; what does the playbook say in his case?

Different genres, but same DNAgreat songs and an artist who knows exactly who he is and delivers live. Different playbook, but definite similarities in building the business through strategic hard-ticket touring and promoter relationships. And after several successful truly indie releases, we’ve added great partners at Caroline and Capitol promo. Another great partner of ours has been Sirius; they were central to our “radio strategy” here and really helped us build a story that helped Ben gain traction everywhere, including terrestrial radio. The majority of Ben’s audience is a younger, digital-savvy demo, and one of the challenges is maintaining a steady presence on social media through real conversation and not a parade of advertisements. Fortunately, Ben has a real knack for the medium, and we help to create opportunities to keep that conversation going. For example, this week Ben started an online conversation with his fans to see who wanted to join him at Six Flags for the day. We helped him create a flashy flyaway with a fairly complicated video element in about a week. It was a really fun activation that both Ben and his fans loved. At the same time, his tour was going on sale and the promotion created lots of buzz with his fans without having to remind them to check back one more time to buy tickets.