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RAINMAKERS:
RANDY GOODMAN

When Randy Goodman took the helm of Sony Music Nashville in 2015, it was a homecoming. The bespectacled industry leader started his label career in the publicity department at RCA Records in 1981—and moved through essentially every department at the iconic label.

Joe [Galante] never let me stay in a job very long,” Goodman tells HITS. “Publicity, artist development and dealing with TV, product management, sales with Dave Wheeler—Joe kept moving me as soon as I got good at something.”

Born in Albuquerque, where his father was stationed after the Korean War, and moving six months later to Nashville, he developed the flexibility demonstrated under Galante moving to New Holland, Penn., for his father’s work, back to Nashville at 12, then off to Bowling Green, Ky., for two years of high school. Though he took classes at David Lipscomb University before his senior year, he never bothered going back to high school. But he did go back to Bowling Green, to play drums in a couple of local bands, including Southern Star with band members Bill Lloyd and Kim Richey.

It was college classes in Nashville during the week, local band guy on the weekend. Along the way, Goodman struck up a friendship with Owsley Manier, one of the Exit/In’s founders. Helping with local bookings, he began a working relationship with Dave Perkins of The Flying Burrito Brothers’ last incarnation. He later booked, promoted, tour-managed and played drums when needed with The Dave Perkins Band.

He remembers getting stiffed opening for Kinky Freedman at the original Lone Star Café, shows at Kenny’s Castaways, college dates. It was all fun and games until he got a call from Don Cusic at Cashbox. “I was in New York trying to find a job, and he told me Top Billing needed a publicist. I said, ‘I don’t know how.’ And he said, ‘Yes, you do. You’re doing it right now.’”

Top Billing, Tandy Rice’s agency, was booking Tom T. Hall, Jim Ed Brown & Helen Cornelius, Don Gibson, Bobby Bare, The Bellamy Brothers and comic Jerry Clower. Goodman took his last few dollars, flew back to Nashville and got the job. Surviving Top Billings’ rite of passage—a trip to Clower’s hometown of Yazoo, Miss.—he thrived.

Goodman graduated from Lipscomb with a B.A. in Political Science and Economics. He also audited every course offered in Belmont College’s developing Music Business curriculum.

He began his RCA Nashville tenure in PR; after stints in marketing and merch he was named VP/Product Development in 1988 and later, VP of Promotion & Product Development. He’d become Nipper Nashville’s secret weapon.

When Galante was sent to New York to run all of RCA, he took his utility player with him, tapping Goodman as VP of Product Development.

“Joe goes to New York, and I think, ‘Oh, wow! The ultimate position; I’ll now get to run this [Nashville] division!’” Goodman relates. “But he calls and says, ‘I need you here.’ Out of 80 names, I only recognized Bruce Hornsby’s... But I got to be there for KRS-One and Kool Moe Dee, this nascent hip-hop thing. I got to work the Wu-Tang Clan and Dave Matthews.” His stretch there also gave him an opportunity to meet biz players like Barry Weiss, Coran Capshaw and Terry Hemmings (now head of Provident Entertainment under the SMN banner).

“It was a time for RCA New York where ‘anything you’re going to eat, you’re going to have to go out and kill,’” he adds.

By 1991, Goodman had been named SVP of Marketing and become active in several charitable organizations, in 1994 serving on the executive council of the sixth annual T. J. Martell Industry Roast. Still, heand Galantemissed Nashville.

Galante became head of BMG operations, overseeing RCA, BNA and Christian label Reunion, which were reconstituted as RCA Records Label Group/Nashville. Goodman was named SVP/GM.

Not long after his return to Nashville, uber-barrister Joel Katz reached out, saying that Walt Disney Records wanted to start a country label and needed a leader. Goodman felt it wasn’t necessarily a good time for a country start-up, and he certainly wouldn’t pursue such a thing without Galante’s okay. But Galante signed off and, as Goodman told Radio & Records in 2007, “It finally dawned on me: How many times do you have an opportunity to start a company, and for a company like Walt Disney?”

Goodman launched Lyric Street as a division of Hollywood Records, initially set up in the Bama House on the corner of Chet Atkins Place and 19th Ave. South, where he “hung with Alabama back in the day.”

Understanding that it would take five years to see a profit, Goodman and his team set to work. In year three, the label sold almost 3 million units and Rascal Flatts was launched. High School Musical was 2006’s #1 Disney album; Rascal Flatts was #2. The Flatts tour generated more than $50 million on the way to multiplatinum...

Read the entire profile here.

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