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“The music is right for those formats right now, given the success of an act like James Blunt. If you’re looking to target 16-34-year-old women, it’s perfect.”
A GOODMAN FOR BREAKING ACTS
Lyric Street’s Label Vet Chief Randy Goodman Takes the Flatts to New Heights
Lyric Street chief Randy Goodman got his start working at RCA Nashville in 1981 as a publicist when he was 24 years old, hired by Joe Galante. He segued into marketing and sales at the company until moving to New York with Joe to run RCA Records in 1990, leaving after seven years to join Lyric Street, where he marks his 10th anniversary in June 2007. Among his successes are crossover acts Rascal Flatts, whose new album Me and My Gang remains ensconced atop the HITS sales chart for the third week in a row, selling more than a million copies, and SHEdaisy. Goodman shares the wealth—and risks his mental health—with HITS’ own brokeback cowboy Roy Rogers Trakin.

It’s been a pretty good couple of weeks for you.
I’m doing good, but you know how this business goes. At a record label, it just depends on which manager you’re talking to, whether you’re up or down. But it always keeps you humble. That’s the good thing about it.

The Rascal Flatts success story is something you’ve been working on for years. This band just continued to grow through their first three albums.
There’s always something to be said about that developmental process, building a foundation and growing it each time. That’s a much better way to develop careers and build a catalog for your label. A lot of it is trying to manage that on a daily basis. A lot of hard work and planning went into this. We’ve tried to be strategic. The band’s management team—Trey Turner and Doug Nichols—thinks that way as well. It’s very organic. The planning becomes part of the daily process.

What was different about this Rascal Flatts album that made it the perfect storm for the band?
We had a 4.2 million-strong fan base to alert and activate, to make them aware a new record was coming out. The band started the year on the road, and played the new songs in concert. They kept telling the fans their fourth album was coming out on the fourth day of the fourth month... they turned it into a game. We were able to go to places like iTunes, AOL Music and Yahoo! Music to get that kind of online presence we never had before. That first week, the Apple store was our fifth largest account. We did 30k units, which was huge for us. We also did well at Starbucks, the first time they’d ever carried a finished piece of country product. They re-ordered the first Thursday after the album release, which they said they’d never done.

Can you cross the band over to a pop audience?
When you see Rascal Flatts live, it’s basically a rock concert with giant, ‘70s-style production. They attract a very young, female-driven audience. But we want to make sure our format understands this band will always be about country. As this album came together, I began sharing the music with Bob Cavallo, Abbey Konowitch, Justin Fontaine and Nick Bedding, who all expressed a real excitement about it.  For the first time, we’re going to start working “What Hurts the Most” in May at AC. The best-case scenario would be if it went from AC to CHR to Hot AC, like Tim McGraw’s “Live Like You Were Dying.” It has that kind of power. The music is right for those formats right now, given the success of an act like James Blunt. If you’re looking to target 16-34-year-old women, it’s perfect.

How can you sustain this level of success?
The band just did a remake of Tom Cochrane’s “Life Is a Highway” for John Lassiter’s new Pixar movie, Cars, the first time a Pixar film will have a full-blown original soundtrack on Disney. We’re doing a video, too, which will hopefully give us an opportunity to increase the brand awareness of Rascal Flatts internationally as well. In June, they’re going to start doing some stadium dates. When you get to this place, it opens up so many options for you that, typically, acts in our format don’t get. We want to continue to do the right thing, and move it along.

You are taking advantage of the cross-promotional opportunities offered by Disney.
We had to bring something to the table of value to experience that synergy. There were people at ABC who believed and put us on Good Morning America early on, as well as the American Music Awards

Can we expect a Rascal Flatts roller coaster at Disneyland?
The only thing that can limit us is our imagination. The bigger this thing becomes, the more undeniable it is in all these different realms, both inside and outside Disney. They’re getting calls from all sorts of brands and sponsorships, with the key being the right fit. So, you can hopefully build a relationship that’s good for the long-term.

How do you explain country’s current sales strength?
We’re creating stars the old-fashioned way. Carrie Underwood, Rascal Flatts and Toby Keith, to a lesser degree, are all touching on a younger, more active demographic with songs that are motivating people. There’s a lot of poignancy when Rascal Flatts perform a song like “I’m Moving On,” which can touch so many lives, or “What Hurts the Most.” They sing about relationships. And no other musical genre is creating songs like that. We cross paths with contemporary Christian music in this area, too. [Lead vocalist] Gary [LeVox] sings with a gospel soul that attracts people like Snoop Dogg to the band’s music. The group’s singing back-up on an India.Arie record. Part of it is they sing these real heartfelt songs. When you listen to “What Hurts the Most,” you can hear the soulful blues element which comes with southern music. And that’s the same route Elvis Presley took.

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