Once upon a time, we told you about promising kids like Chris Stapleton, Sam Hunt, Maren Morris, Dan + Shay, Midland and Kane Brown. Now we present our latest batch of Music City’s potential breakouts. They’ve all generated serious industry buzz, earned killer reviews and variously made impressive inroads at radio, streaming and sales, not to mention on the road. So allow us to present some key stats on Big Loud RecordsMorgan Wallen, Monument’s Walker Hayes, Warner Music Nashville’s Ashley McBryde, Riser House/Columbia Nashville’s Mitchell Tenpenny, Big Machine Label Group’s Riley Green and Interscope/UMG Nashville’s Kassi Ashton. They may be relative newcomers, but we’d wager they’ll be household names before too long. The smart money also says they’ll want to forget their appearance in our hard-to-watch publication.

Morgan Wallen (Big Loud Records)

Why We’re Hooked:
Wallen’s debut album, If I Know Me, released 4/27, includes the gold-certified “Up Down” featuring Florida Georgia Line. The track has racked up 130m+ streams, lodging it in the Top 25 country streaming songs year-to-date. It’s also notched 27m+ video plays, while Taste of Country has named “Up Down” its “Song of Summer 2018.” On the live front, Wallen’s Riverfront Stage performance ranked as one of the “best moments from CMA Fest 2018,” according to Billboard. He’s garnering rave reviews on the road as support for Luke Bryan’s What Makes You Country Tour, including opening nearly a dozen dates on his What Makes You Country Tour XL—Stadium Sized. Wallen scored his first #1 as a songwriter with Jason Aldean’s “You Make It Easy.” His songs have also been cut by Dustin Lynch, Kane Brown and A Thousand Horses.

Publishing: Big Loud Mountain Publishing
Booking: Austin Neal/WME Nashville
Management: Chief Zaruk and Seth England/Big Loud Mgmt.


Mitchell Tenpenny (Riser House/Columbia Nashville)

Why We’re Hooked:
It didn’t take long for Mitchell Tenpenny to connect with the country world. A month after he released his self-titled EP at the end of February, debut single “Drunk Me” made history as the best add week total (60 first-week stations) for a country debut single since labelmate Maren Morris in 2016. The song is the newest entry in the Country Top 40 and has also amassed over 30m on-demand streams at a rate of nearly 2.5m per week. The Nashville native has opened for a range of influential acts including Jake Owen, Brett Young and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Before breaking out as an artist, Tenpenny achieved success as a songwriter, penning the Top 5 hit “If the Boot Fits” for Granger Smith.

Publishing: Riser House
Booking: Barrett Sellers & Greg Oswald/WME
Management: Kristen Ashley/Riser House Management


Riley Green (Big Machine Label Group)

Why We’re Hooked:
Riley Green has toured throughout the Southeast over the past five years, performing in front of tens of thousands of fans, 
but that’s just one of the reasons Scott Borchetta’s Big Machine inked the upward-
ly mobile young artist. His original music has amassed more than 27m streams to date, and the video for his latest single, “Bury Me in Dixie,” has been viewed over a million times since last fall. Born and raised in Alabama, Green developed a grassroots following in the area of such size that his family built an outdoor stage for his performances, even selling tickets themselves. Their “backyard” concert drew thousands of fans and is now an annual local festival. Green is currently in the studio recording new material with award-winning producer Dann Huff.

Publishing: Warner/Chappell
Booking: WME
Management: Rogue Management


Kassi Ashton (Interscope/UMG Nashville)

Why We’re Hooked:
Signed to UMG Nashville in conjunction with Interscope, Kassi Ashton has been making a name for herself in the Nashville music scene thanks to her fearless storytelling and rich, soulful voice. After standout performances at this year’s Stagecoach and CMA Fest, she started the summer by releasing “Taxidermy,” her second single, penned by the all-star team of Natalie Hemby, Luke Dick and Rosi Golan. In a timely momentum boost to her burgeoning career, Ashton was featured on the chorus of Keith Urban’s “Drop Top,” from his latest effort, Graffiti U.  Her first single, “California, Missouri,” made it into Spotify’s Top 25 U.S. Viral Chart.

Publishing: Creative Nation
Booking: WME
Management: Creative Nation


Walker Hayes
 (Monument Records)

Why We’re Hooked:
Walker has spent the year touring in support of his debut album, boom, with Thomas Rhett and Kelsea Ballerini and was on the bill for C2C and Stagecoach. Certified platinum in the U.S. and Canada, “You Broke Up With Me” is a smash by any measure. The single peaked Top 10 at Country radio and was a #1 track at SiriusXM’s The Highway. It’s also at 150m+ streams, while the video was nominated for CMT’s Breakthrough Video of the Year. Behind a bona fide hit single and a relentless tour schedule, boom is nearing 200k in total activity to date. Grinding out the last decade in Nashville with a publishing job and writing songs for other artists, Hayes is finally enjoying the fruits of his own labor.

Booking: Aaron Tannebaum/CAA
Management: Robert Carlton/SMACKManagement
Publishing: RareSpark


Ashley McBryde
 (Warner Nashville)

Why We’re Hooked:
With the biggest debut by a solo country artist this year, Girl Going Nowhere, Ashley McBryde has quickly become country’s critical darling. The New York Times raved that she’s made “among the most varied, warm and effortlessly confident country music albums of the past few years.” McBryde’s single “A Little Dive Bar in Dahlonega” topped SiriusXM’s The Highway and also made her the most-added female and most-added new artist since hitting country radio. On the touring front, she has opened for some of country’s most accomplished artists, including Chris Stapleton, Miranda Lambert and Eric Church. Additionally, she’s performed on such shows as Late Night With Seth Myers and Jimmy Kimmel Live. McBryde will take her impressive résumé overseas this fall for a string of dates in the U.K.

Publishing: The Song Factory
Booking: WME
Management: Q Prime

It's the most wonderful time of the year. (12/7a)
Long live Hitsville USA. (12/6a)
The post-Ferdy era begins. (12/6a)
Remembering an indie-label legend. (12/6a)
For your consideration (12/6a)
Who's likely to win in the major categories? We have no idea.
in the catalog game is...
Totally less fraudulent than Trump Corp.

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