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Music City
STATE OF THE STATE: SONY MUSIC NASHVILLE
7/9/21

Over the last year, the House of Goodman and his First Lieutenant EVP/COO Ken Robold saw its roster of young breakouts—including Luke Combs, Maren Morris, Kane Brown and Old Dominion—hit new heights and score multiple awards.

River House Artists/Columbia Nashville’s Combs saw his What You See Is What You Get hold the #1 spot on the Country Albums chart for 25 weeks—becoming the first artist in the chart’s 56-year history to attain the top spot for 25+ weeks with his first two studio albums (his debut, This One’s for You, spent 50 weeks at #1). At radio, meanwhile, Combs recently scored his 11th consecutive #1 hit with “Forever After All,” which was also the sixth #1 from the deluxe What You See Ain’t Always What You Get, tying the record for most #1s from a single set. “Forever” also had the highest all-genre debut ever by a country solo artist, bowing at #2.

And then there’s the hardware. SMN took home 12 statuettes—more than any label group, and the most in its 30-year history—at the ACMs in September; at the CMAs two months later, Sony snagged seven (leading the label groups again and hitting a 14-year company best). At this year’s ACMs Sony took five trophies. Superstar Miranda Lambert won the 2021 Grammy for Best Country Album with her highly acclaimed Wildcard, and her “Fooled Around and Fell in Love” supergroup took Vocal Event. Combs won Album and Male Artist at the 2020 CMAs. Old Dominion earned their fourth CMA Group win and their third ACM Group victory (along with Song trophies for penning “One Man Band”).

Morris won big at both the ACMs and CMAs, scoring Female Artist  as well as Song trophy for her crossover giant “The Bones” (which also took Single of the Year at the CMAs). Kane Brown became the first Black solo artist to win the ACM Video of the Year trophy (for the smash “Worldwide Beautiful”) in 2021—following his fifth CMA win, this time for Favorite Male Artist, in 2020.

SMN’s capacity for developing and breaking new acts continued unabated. River House/Columbia Nashville’s Jameson Rodgers scored a platinum #1 Country hit with “Some Girls Do.” “Good Time” by RCA Nashville’s Niko Moon (also platinum) was the first debut single of 2021 to hit #1 on the Country airplay and songs charts. Columbia Nashville’s Tenille Townes took New Female Artist of the Year at the ACMs, and also shared in the Musical Event win by the Lambert-led “Fooled Around” ensemble. Most recently, Townes’ debut album, Lemonade Stand, won Country Album of the Year at the 2021 Juno Awards.

Several talented execs on Goodman’s team earned promotions, notably Jennifer Way (upped to SVP Marketing), Taylor Lindsey (anointed SVP A&R, heading the department) and Margaret Tomlin (elevated to VP A&R), Lauren Thomas (elevated to VP National Promotion), Paige Altone and Liz Cost (both promoted to VP Marketing).

“Our artists are getting better range, reaching more and different people,” Goodman noted in our 2020 Rainmakers profile. In much the same way, SMN is widening its reach—and turning a new class of young acts into stars.