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Music City
NASHVILLE PUBLISHERS, UNMASKED: SONY MUSIC PUBLISHING
7/16/21

How did Music City pubberies fare during lockdown? What new approaches to collaboration were opened up by our Year of Zooming? What lies ahead? We invited some key players in the space to join us in a virtual bourbon and give us the lowdown.

Sony Music Publishing
“Working virtually over the last year has provided us with many new opportunities for collaboration,” reflects SMP Nashville CEO Rusty Gaston, “and it also enabled us to create new ways for us to engage with our songwriters and staff.” The pubco’s 2021 Kick-Off Week virtual event was a smorgasbord of information, resources and support for songwriters, including guest A&R execs who furnished specific goals, and revealing conversations with artists like Tim McGraw, Luke Bryan and Garth Brooks. All these talks, Gaston emphasizes, “were geared toward fueling our songwriters for the year ahead and making them feel engaged.”

This strange and unprecedented period, he adds, produced some extraordinary moments. Gaston says he was particularly energized by the phenomenal crossover success of new signing Gabby Barrett’s “I Hope,” which was co-penned by fellow SMP tunesmiths Zachary Kale (another new signing) and Jon Nite and co-produced by Kale and Sony veteran Ross Copperman.

Another huge inking, of course, was Kane Brown, who launched the JV Verse 2 Music with the pubco. Sony’s subsequent purchase of River House Artists and JV go-forward preceded Luke Combs’ #1 monster “Forever After All.”

Gaston is effusive in praise of his team, and gives particular credit to Dane Schmidt (newly upped to Senior Creative Director) in the success of Zachary Kale and the signing of Gabby Barrett. Publishing veteran Dale Bobo, meanwhile, came aboard in the freshly minted role of Catalog Strategist, while Kenley Flynn was tapped as Senior Creative Director.