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CHURCH'S 61 DAYS GOES LIVE WITH APPLE LEADOFF

EMI Nashville star Eric Church has dropped a live playlist, 61 Days in Church, as a two-week Apple Music exclusive that will subsequently go wide and then form part of a special Record Store Day package.

The initial 30-song playlist on Apple Music will subsequently be expanded to include more music from the tour, and the live package will eventually become part of double-disc and vinyl sets for release on Record Store Day 2018.

"The truth is," recalls manager John Peets of Q Prime, [Apple's] Jay Liepis and I were sitting around in a hotel lobby post the surprise release of Mr. Misunderstood, kicking around ideas. He said, 'Wouldn’t it be cool to have a living playlist of live material to go along with a tour?' I said, 'I have the right guy for that, and the timing is good.' From there, we worked on it on and off for about five months to get the idea refined and executed."

And though it will eventually become a (collectible) retail release, it’s interesting to consider 61 Days as a unique product of the streaming era (an ever-expanding playlist from a single tour), not to mention a reflection of Apple’s continued drive to cultivate new subscribers. It’s also engaging in a spirited battle for Country mindshare with Spotify and the newly formidable Amazon.

Church recorded every single moment of the 200+ hours of music he and his hard-working musicians cranked out over 61 dates on his Holdin’ My Own Tour earlier this year (which has sold 930k+ tickets thus far; Church and band will be adding to the heat in Tahoe over the holiday weekend). The shows averaged 37 songs per night, and the singer/songwriter upped the spontaneity by, in certain instances, giving the band short notice about setlist additions and refusing to rehearse some of the material with them.

Church’s passions are evident in all aspects of the project. You may recall that he launched Mr. Misunderstood by delivering it directly to his entire fan club. His affinity for three-plus-hour shows that dig deep into catalog and covers recalls one of his big influences (he had a hit called “Springsteen”). And delivering the whole kit and caboodle on vinyl next year reflects his abiding love of that format (see his LP-loving smash “Record Year”).

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