Features Festivals

Country Music by the Numbers

A staggering statistic, the Country Music Summit stressed on numerous occasions that 42% of the US population are country music fans. With that said, certain stereotypes about the average country music fan are still prevalent, but they shouldn’t be.

During two breakout panels at the Country Music Summit on Tuesday in Nashville, Greg Fuson, market research director of Country Music Association, let attendants know that the country music fan is not always who you think. His research was based on two separate studies: MRI data, a study of American consumers based on 50,000 respondents, and CMA proprietary research, a survey sent to CMA music festival attendees each year. Below are 8 statistics that might surprise you.

95 million listeners.

This is how many people in the United States consider themselves country music fans. For a better gauge, this number accounts to 2.5x the total population of Canada.

For the complete article, visit Billboard Pro.

Features Festivals

The Times Are A-Changin’

42% of the American public consider themselves country music fans (42%!!). That’s according to Sheri Warnke, VP of Corporate Partnerships at the Country Music Association. With so much music saturating the airwaves, however, how can country artists–or any artists, for that matter–hope to stand out?

The first day of the Country Music Summit in Nashville stressed the necessity of community, hard work and, most importantly, the music fan. With all-star panels that included Charlie Daniels, Jason Aldean, and Carrie Underwood, as well as many of the drivers behind the industry, the summit provided tips on navigating hurdles in one’s career and advice on achieving longevity. Below are 10 takeaways every artist should heed.

Radio remains an important platform for exposure.
“65 million people a week listen to country radio,” said panelist T.K. Kimbrell of TKO Artist Management who works with Toby Keith. “If there’s one focus I want my acts concentrating on, it’s radio.”

Ken Levitan, co-president of Vector Management and manager of Trace Adkins, Kings of Leon and Hank Williams Jr., agreed. “Country radio is probably the most important tool [for country artists].”

For the complete article visit Billboard Pro.


Greetings From Nashville!

Early this morning I began my trek to Nashville as I’m in town for the week covering Billboard’s Country Music Summit and CMA Music Fest. I’ll be tweeting and blogging my journey so be sure to follow me on Twitter and YSIW!

While the Summit includes numerous industry panels, artists like Carrie Underwood, Jason Aldean and Kenny Chesney will be interviewed so I’ll be sure to post info on that as well as fan parties I’m attending.

Are you interested in reading live reviews too? Thursday-Sunday is full of all day and night concerts so I’ll be attending everything! Let me know what you’re excited to read in the comments and I’ll be sure to keep you filled in.

Now off to find some sweet tea…

Features Festivals

2011 CMA Music Festival Lineup Announced

Early Tuesday morning, the first list of performers was revealed for country music’s annual CMA Music Festival in Nashville, Tennessee. The festival will be held June 9-12 and include sets by Blake Shelton, Lady Antebellum, Trace Adkins, Jason Aldean, The Band Perry, Sheryl Crow, Martina McBride, Rascal Flatts, Reba, Darius Rucker, and Keith Urban. These are the first 12 artists to perform during the Nightly Concerts at LP Field.

If your favorite artist isn’t in the current lineup, don’t you worry as additional names and performance schedules will be announced in coming weeks. For the most up-to-date information, be sure to visit I’m hoping to make the trip to Nashville again this year so stay tuned for more info in the coming weeks. Be sure to check out my 2009 CMA Fest video interviews with Jake Owen, Holly Williams and David Nail below.

Jake Owen

Holly Williams

David Nail

Related Links:
CMA 2009: Six Artists To Watch
CMA Music Festival Recap
Martina McBride and Former Miss America Speak Out on Domestic Violence
Hundreds of Fans Camp Out to Meet Taylor Swift
Features Festivals

It’s About The Song: Radio and A&R Panel Discuss Music, Songwriting, Local Talent

Photo Credit: Courtesy, The Jazz Lawyer

In a world of instant gratification, at one of CMJ’s most informative panels, music industry pros discussed the power of the song, perseverance and passion.

Moderated by RXP’s Matt Pinfield, combined with panelists Leslie Fram (Program Director, RXP), Brian Phillips (Music Director, RXP), Matt Pollack (Manager, Monotone Inc.), Ron Burman (Senior VP of A&R, RoadRunner Records) and S*A*M* Hollander (Songwriter/Producer), the 75-minute talk provided music lovers and makers insider information on how to get their favorite music heard.

What differentiated this panel from others was the evident excitement each panelist held for live music and the love to promote good music.

“We love music. We’re passionate about it. I consider this panel to be more the exception than the rule at this point. There are a lot of people in it [the music business] who don’t care about music, artists, or artist development. It saddens me, but we do every part that we can,” Pinfield told the audience.

Time and time again, each speaker stressed that great artists aren’t the product of overnight success.

“Get there on your own time table. Do it at your own pace,” Burman advised. “Have a level of credibility and live sense about you so that you can spread your art.”

Each panelist agreed on the importance to make a mark in your community first before anything else.

“If you can make a noise in your community and draw well, we’re going to take notice,” Fram said.

While the live show is one of the most important elements before signing a band for Pollack, the rest of the panelists spoke of the importance of the song.

“It’s about the song. It’s about the connection. I’ll listen to hundreds of songs in a week and it’s just that gut reaction that makes me want to hear the song again and again,” RXP’s Phillips said. “I’ll do some legwork and look up the band and their blog and their MySpace page. It’s about presenting that song, that feeling, that excitement of playing a new song on the radio that’s cool and that people will really enjoy… it’s about that connection as a music fan.”

Though Burman, who signed Nickelback, wants to see a band that can deliver live, he says the song has to strike a chord with him to make him interested.

“It’s more of an intuitive thing where I love a song, I love a vibe, I love what I hear and if they’re selling or reacting, that’s a plus. It’s the song and how I connect with it first and foremost; something that can appeal to people all over every walk of life,” Burman said.

While it is evident that the impact the song has on music lovers holds great importance, without the help of radio many bands wouldn’t have the success they have today. On the outside for the first 10 years of his career, writer/producer S*A*M* Hollander talked of his rise to co-writing and hit songs he wrote with artists including Gym Class Heroes, Gabe Saporta, and Katy Perry.

“Hits are still king. I like to throw around sports analogies very loosely. It’s almost like baseball. To make radio, it’s like the closing pitch. It’s Mariano Rivera of the Yankees. Radio, we need to bring the thing home. Blogs are a great aggregator and iTunes, but radio is king to me. You still want that one big hit that’s iconic,” Hollander said.

Whether you’re on a major record label or independent, RXP’s Fram doesn’t care.

“We didn’t look at labels. We felt, if an unsigned band had a great song, what’s the difference in that with a signed band that had a great song? We were all about developing artists, and not the song mentality,” she said talking of her time at radio station 99X in Georgia.

RXP’s Pinfield got his start at college radio while attending Rutgers University. Adamant about playing local bands on his radio show, he urged students to do the same.

“[College radio] was a way to create community. Do as much for the artist you believe in. Give them a shout out. College radio is the place for that to start,” he said.

“My main advice to you is don’t give up. If you love something, whether you’re an artist, you want to be a disc jockey, you want to work in radio. Just don’t give up and don’t let people discourage you and tell you that you’re not good enough or you can’t do it if you believe in it wholeheartedly in your whole soul. It’s just a matter of persistence. It’s just that love for it,” Pinfield said.

This article was originally posted on The Jazz Lawyer.

Features Festivals

CMJ 2010: Five Artists to Watch

With hundreds of musicians in New York for CMJ last month, it’s nearly impossible to not discover a new favorite band. While bigger shows like Phoenix at Madison Square Garden created hype, up-and-coming musicians left impressions of their own. Below is a list of five acts to keep your eyes on in the next few months. Whether it was a room of 20 or 200, each band left their mark. Give them a listen and see why.

1. Elizabeth and the Catapult

Rockwood 2 was packed to capacity Saturday night as Elizabeth and the Catapult took the stage. While a line continued to form out the door, the band impressed with a 40 minute set that featured breathtaking vocals from Elizabeth Ziman combined with fitting musical accompaniment. The official CMJ showcase acted as a mini CD release show as the band’s next release was due out Oct. 26. While fan favorites like “Taller Children“ had concertgoers singing along word for word, newer tracks like the powerful “Go Away My Lover” hushed and captivated the room. As Ziman alternated vocals with Jeff Taylor, additional cello and edgy percussion parts accentuated the song well. Complete with whistling and a darker sound than previous songs on their set-list, the stand-out track impressed.

Watch a video of “Go Away My Lover” from Elizabeth and the Catapult’s CMJ performance below.

2. The Honeymoon Thrillers

Based in Nashville, The Honeymoon Thrillers came together after a discovery of records from the 1950s lying around the house. The five members are from four different bands and while they haven’t left their separate projects just yet, after I witnessed them live at CMJ they might soon reconsider. With classic guitar licks and “woah-oh-oh’s” that bring back rock & roll from the 50s, their energetic set was a crowd pleaser. Tracks like “Shine” embody the Beach Boys with spot-on harmonies and catchy choruses while frontman Nathan Barlowe’s energetic stage presence brought to mind Elvis Presley and his gyrating dance moves.

3. Matthew Mayfield

After a jam-packed morning of panels, while waiting for a friend to finish an interview I stopped by Rockwood 2 just as Matthew Mayfield took the stage at 3pm. Alone on acoustic guitar, his vocals reverberated throughout the room, having all in attendance drop everything to listen. With raspy Dave Matthews-esque vocals accompanied by his emotion-filled lyrics, the singer-songwriter struck a chord. Older songs like “Element” livened up his Friday afternoon performance while his intricate guitar finger picking fueled more angst-ridden songs including “Dead To You.” Mayfield’s vocals sound so familiar it comes as no surprise that his music has appeared on “Grey’s Anatomy.” While “First In Line” can easily be pictured on the show, it was “Fact or Fable” that made the greatest impact. Combined with fierce guitar strumming and Mayfield’s deep vocals, his voice silenced the room.

Watch Mayfield perform “Fact or Fable” on YouTube below and learn why he says it’s the heaviest song he’s written.

4. James Maddock

Combined with powerful vocals and descriptive lyrics, James Maddock’s music holds a certain timeless quality to it. His songs paint vivid pictures of love and failed relationships accompanied by soaring guitar and Maddock’s wavering vocals. Tracks like “Chance” embody an epic sound that can easily be pictured on the big stage while slower ballads like “Beautiful Now” showcase his more sensitive side. At times, his music evokes a certain Bruce Springsteen quality so it’s no surprise that The Boss himself is a fan and frequently plays Maddock’s music before he takes the stage. In the process of recording his next album, fans can expect to hear much more from the Englishman soon.

Watch James Maddock perform “When the Sun’s Out” on YouTube below.

5. The Ramblers

While they’ve been compared to The Band and “the finest Tennessee sippin’ whiskey,” the New York-based ensemble showcased their southern flavor during a performance at National Underground. The Ramblers had the room stomping their feet during upbeat numbers including “Leave a Letter Behind” and “Matter of Fact.” Alternating vocals between Jeremiah Birnbaum and Scott Stein proved effective and additional singer Shanna Zell added to their classic Americana rock. With soulful vocals and fleshed-out piano and guitar interludes, it was hard to assess who was having more fun: the band onstage or the fans on the floor. The Ramblers transformed the NYC venue into a southern honky tonk, having concertgoers sing and dance along during Birnbaum’s impressive guitar licks and Stein’s ferocious strokes of the piano. With frequent NYC gigs, The Ramblers are never too hard to find.

This article was originally posted on The Jazz Lawyer. Stay tuned for more interviews from CMJ in the coming weeks.

Festivals News

Join YSIW for CMJ Thursday Night in Williamsburg!

I’m psyched to be hosting my first CMJ party next Thursday night in Williamsburg! The show will feature performances by two of my favorite New York bands including The Ramblers, The Canon Logic and Los Angeles based Nightmare and The Cat.

Free shirts from CPHARRIK, and all kinds of delicious food from YIEatN will also be provided. The show starts at 10pm and all are welcome, but space is limited so make sure you RSVP. Come say hi if you do stop by!

Complete details below:
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Food: 7:30pm, Show: 10pm
132 N 5th St, Brooklyn, NY

Hope to see you there!

Festivals Q&A Videos

Video Interview: The Ting Tings

The Ting Tings exploded onto the music scene with catchy dance track, “That’s Not My Name”  two years ago. Their songs have become staples at clubs and bars ever since.

I sat down with Katie White and Jules De Martino last summer when they were in town for All Points West. Watch below as the UK sensation discuss the success of their album, hit single and being fashion icons. For more, be sure to visit their Web site.


Video credit: Wendy Hu

Festivals Q&A Videos

Video Interview: Jake Owen

One of the most comical musicians I’ve interviewed, Jake Owen sure knows how to make those around him laugh. When asked about his dog touring with him, he informed the CMA press room that his dog was just neutered, adding, “I realize I need to get neutered. I would probably chill out a lot if that happened.” The room erupted in laughter.

Whether it’s his heartwarming ballads or edgier tracks, Owen brings his diversity to the table. After he hurt his shoulder wakeboarding, he picked up guitar during rehabilitation and the rest, as they say, is history. I chatted with Jake last summer about his writing process, the stories behind his songs and what he thinks about while onstage performing. Some of his answers may surprise you.

Watch the video below and read the complete transcription here.


Video credit: Wendy Hu

Festivals Videos

Video Interview: Holly Williams

Music is in Holly Williams’ blood. Writing her first song at the age of eight is just one indication. Being the granddaughter of the legendary Hank Williams Sr. and daughter of Hank Williams Jr. doesn’t hurt either.

I chatted with Holly in Nashville last year right before her album, Here With Me, was released. Watch below as Holly discusses her music, what she thinks about while performing and her stylish boutique in Nashville. For more on Holly Williams, visit MySpace.


Video credit: Wendy Hu