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RAINMAKERS:
MIKE DUNGAN

Our latest edition of Rainmakers, smacking onto doorsteps now, chronicles influential players from all corners of the biz; this excerpt notes the extraordinary success of UMG Nashville's chief.

Finding the joy is part of Dungan’s success. He’s also a major proponent of keeping it real; recognizing the need to bring the core country consumer to streaming, he implored Amazon, Apple, Spotify and the other DSPs to teach the market how to stream.

It paid off. In 2016 Luke Bryan hit 292 million streams, up to 360 million the next year. By 2018 Chris Stapleton was north of 410 million streams, with Hunt just under 340 million and Eric Church topping 330 million. As of press time, Bryan is just under 5.8 billion, Stapleton is approaching 3.7 billion and Sam Hunt and Church have each surpassed 3.8 billion in on-demand audio streams total activity to date. 

Stapleton and Church were both outside-the-box signings that proved hugely successful. Californian honky-tonk revivalist Jon Pardi, a similarly unconventional inking, not only achieved chart traction but subtly altered the direction of the genre itself.

Carrie Underwood came to UMG in 2017, co-producing Cry Pretty and launching an all-female tour that flew in the face of radio’s continued resistance to women. “The Champion,” her song with Ludacris for the NFL, packed a massive punch, after which the American Idol winner’s already huge career went into overdrive.

Underwood was one of the few female country stars who could scale the charts in the male-dominated radio world, and despite the format’s resistance to women artists, Dungan doubled down, signing promising newcomers Mickey Guyton, Caylee Hammack, Kylie Morgan, Chrissy Metz and Kassi Ashton.

Asked about his deep bench of big acts, Dungan told HITS in 2019, “I know people say, ‘UMG Nashville is glutted with superstars.’ But I always tell them, ‘Here’s a list of our artists who’ve had success for 15 years, who’ve had success for five to eight years, who’ve just started to have success and who still haven’t. Pick up the phone and call them. See if they’re happy here.’”

Read the entire profile here.

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