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"It costs just as much to find out you have a stiff as it does to discover you have a hit."
——RLG's Butch Waugh
RCA LABEL GROUP'S BUSTIN'
RETAIL BRONCS
Nashville Operation Continues to Rope
Serious Sales

When it comes to crossing Country artists over to the Pop mainstream, RCA Label Group Nashville’s Joe Galante and Butch Waugh are more than just good ol’ boys—they’re honest-to-goodness pop starmakers.

The duo has been together 21 years, and since returning to Nashville in the mid-’90s after a stint at the parent company in New York, they’ve turned RLG—which combines RCA Nashville, Arista Nashville and BNA—into one of the hottest label groups in any musical genre. They’re one of the four groups represented at this week’s BMG label presentations in New York.

Last week, Brooks & Dunn’s Red Dirt Road debuted at #4 with more than 110k sold, This week, Brad Paisley’s Mud on the Tires will debut in the Top 10 on sales approaching 100k. Alan Jackson’s Greatest Hits Volume II arrives Aug. 12, following his 2002 quadruple-platinum Drive, which crossed the Country superstar over into the mainstream, thanks to the Grammy-winning 9/11 anthem, “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)?” The new single, “It’s Five O’ Clock Somewhere,” a duet with Jimmy Buffett, could be following in its footsteps.

And that’s just the tip of the cowboy hat. Kenny Chesney, who has officially busted through thanks to the 2.5-million selling No Shoes No Shirt No Problems, as well as one of the most profitable tours of the year, returns with a Christmas album Oct. 6. Also scheduled are albums from Martina McBride (9/20), Clay Walker (9/9) and an Alabama “farewell” LP (10/6).

RLG Sr. VP/GM Waugh isn’t just whistling Dixie when he says it’s all about following the vision set out by Galante and implemented by the signings of longtime A&R chief Renee Bell:  “The main thing is to focus on the music. If you get that right, everything falls in line. Renee has such passion for the song, because it’s all about the song in Country music.”

Waugh credits the A&R department for bringing the promotion and marketing staffs into the creative process early on, along with artist and management. “By the time the album comes out, the plan is totally unified, because we’ve all been on the same page from the beginning. We want to make sure we’ve married the right image to the music.”

Waugh predicts Chesney will be his next crossover Country phenom. “He has the same kind of relationship with his audience I saw Dave Matthews have with his fans eight years ago.”

Butch insists he never sets out to cross a record at Pop radio “unless it’s getting big requests, is testing huge and has tremendous airplay.” A few years ago, RLG made Lonestar’s “Amazed” the first Country single to reach #1 at Pop radio.

Adds Waugh: “You better be right, though, because it costs just as much to find out you have a stiff as it does to discover you have a hit.”

Even with five straight years of rising sales, Waugh isn’t sitting still. “We follow our beliefs, stick to our disciplines and make sure we have the music. The most important part of this job is to keep my door, and mind, open.”

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