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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
NASHVILLE OUTSIDE IN:
BRAD BELANGER
7/14/16

Red Light Management

Sam Hunt has always taken an alternate path. Is there anything conventional that makes sense for Sam?

Absolutely. The No. 1 tool we credit for Sam’s success is Country radio. Without radio, Sam might be a fringe act with critical acclaim. In a business that seems to evolve on a daily basis, radio is still king.

Have you had any growth glitches or resistance because of the new music-business model?

We had resistance in the beginning from a few folks in the industry—even members of our own team—but once Sam had unprecedented success out of the gate, that resistance waned. It’s called the music business, and when business is good, the support is there.

What sets Sam apart from what people expect from a “country star”? How do you make that work for you?

What makes it work is authenticity. When you’re honest and true to yourself and your work, there’s no need to compensate for anything. He does what he wants to do the way he wants to do it. If it works, great. If it doesn’t, at least he’s genuine in his endeavors.

What is the single biggest factor in Sam’s success?

That’s easy: the songs. People talk a lot about our unconventional marketing style, but none of the outside-the-box ideas would work if the songwriting wasn’t top-notch. Everything we do is built on the strength of the music.

Like Chris Stapleton, writing was Sam’s gateway to the format as an artist. Given the strength of his songs, do you think his evolution as an artist would’ve been different, or even possible, if he hadn’t gotten covers early on?

Sam’s songwriting and Zach Crowell’s production work are so strong, I believe he would have the same success, regardless of whether or not popular artists cut his songs a few years back. That said, the money we received from those #1s came in handy in the early days when we were traveling the country in a van and trying to win fans over a few hundred at a time.

What’s your favorite moment so far?

You might think I’d say the multiple Grammy nominations or the sold-out show [60k+] at Stagecoach this year, but honestly, some of my favorite moments come from driving the van three years ago with Sam and the band—loading the gear into tiny clubs and packing into crappy hotel rooms each night. Back then, there were no expectations and no pressure. We were just a bunch of guys traveling the country and having the time of our lives.