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BATTLE OF THE
HITS LIST STARS
Celebrity faceoff (6/24a)
CHART FINAL: DRAKE'S DANCE VICTORY
Drizzy's fox trot (6/24a)
SOULFUL NOIR
Today's quiet storm (6/24a)
COOPER PLANS TO DEPART WMG IN '23
See ya later, alligator. (6/23a)
NEAR TRUTHS: FROM THE MOUNTAINTOPS
I.B. Bad surveys the landscape. (6/22a)
SUPERSTAR RELEASES
Who's next?
MUSIC BIZ SPECIAL
It's Comic-Con for numbers geeks.
THE BIG CHEESE
Theories of evolution from 30,000 feet.
THE NEXT GIANT DEAL
A&R in overdrive.
Music City
LIVE FROM NASHVILLE:
ROB BECKHAM AND GREG OSWALD
7/6/17

Co-Heads, WME Nashville

Given Nashville’s changing landscape, what’s changing in your world? How are you meeting the challenge? What needs to be fixed?
Rob Beckham: The evolution of Nashville becoming a big city. For example, we tried to stay on Music Row, but there just wasn’t the ability. One of the great things about our office space is that Greg’s on one side of it where it’s looking back at the history of Music Row and where we were and my office is pointed more toward downtown, The Gulch and where much of the music business has gone. Maybe I’m being a little sentimental, but Music Row will always have a place. It’s just so close to Vanderbilt, between the university and the medical center; that land became so valuable so fast that it was easier to buy those old houses—where all those great songs were written and recorded—and turn them into giant condo buildings.

What are you guys doing to adjust your business to reflect all of these changes happening in the marketplace?
Oswald: In Nashville the evolution has been based on the need to be intimately involved in more areas of the artist’s career. In other words, the core mission used to be booking concerts—which is still where we derive the vast majority of our revenue, so that hasn’t changed in terms of it being an area of focus. We found ourselves having responsibility for a lot of things where we need to be involved more or less on behalf of every artist, whether it’s a brand new developmental artist or the most established stadium artist. Brand new, don’t-know-’em acts on one end, and Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Chris Stapleton and Florida Georgia Line on the other end. In addition to the basic platforms—concert booking, TV, film, books—that we’ve traditionally taken responsibility for, we’ve added more and put resources in them that are above and beyond what a few years ago we’d never have dreamt: it’s people, it’s money, it’s space, it’s equipment, it’s bandwidth.

Our Artist Development area is a platform that’s important to us. In the last two years 22 of the artists that we’ve signed to the development program went on to having major record companies offer them deals, which is still the most powerful entity in this ecosystem. Our international area is our second one that we’re pouring our dollars into. We had under 50 shows booked on artists outside America three years ago; this year we’ll have about 350. We’ve opened up a whole digital/marketing department, which is to support the artist’s digital efforts. That can be anything from monetization to advertising to album releases, geo-ticketing, presales—and that’s happening from the very early developing artists all the way to Jason Aldean and everyone in between. Then the fourth one is going deep in the branding relationships that these artists have; that group is six people and all they do is work on brand relationships for artists. We’re throwing time, money, resources, into those four places.

How are you facing the challenge of exporting your country acts?
Beckham: With WME and IMG together, and offices in 130 countries around the world, we already were a global company. The entire team across the board has to believe in the rest of the world. It’s really simple to get in a booking pattern to where you’re playing your amphitheaters and your arenas and you’re making all this money and you shut it down and you don’t care. We have artists that don’t care about the rest of the world, and we have artists that have blown up all around the world. When Akiko Rogers moved to Nashville we had an international agent who literally knew the world from doing everything, from K-Pop to rock and pop and whatever else. She knows the promoters, the buildings, the territories, where things are working and where things are not. Whether it’s Brad Paisley, or Thomas Rhett, or Stapleton or The Cadillac Three, all variances and sizes of artists all committing and going and going over and over and over again. If an artist just wants to go one time to the U.K. and do four clubs and be done that’s not ever going to establish a career for them there.