Michael Ray helping animals in need

Collects animal shelter donations on 15-stop trek

Michael Ray with adopted dog Wrigley. Credit: Courtesy PAWS Chicago

I already knew Michael Ray was a great guy but he’s gone up even higher in my estimation as he proves how much he cares about animals that need a helping hand.

Inspired by his rescue dog Wrigley, Michael Ray has launched a special initiative, Wrigley Cares: Helping Animals In Need, just as he sets out on his “Get To You” Tour. The Gold-selling artist, whose latest single “Get To You” is currently climbing the charts, will collect donations with help from Zappos For Good and local animal shelters.

Wrigley Cares: Helping Animals In Need kicked off as Ray took the stage for the tour’s opening night in Tuscaloosa, AL. Since adopting Wrigley earlier this summer at Chicago’s Country Lakeshake Fest, Ray has been searching for impactful ways he and his fans can give back to rescued animals. Wrigley came to Michael from Paws Chicago, a no-kill animal shelter.

Changing lives of shelter dogs

“Wrigley is a huge part of my life – she’s on the road with us and she’s there for all the major moments,” shared Ray. “She changed my life back in June and I’m hoping we can change the lives of other shelter dogs by lending a helping hand.”

The Atlantic Records/Warner Music Nashville recording artist logged thousands of miles in 2017 and will wrap the year with his second headline tour. Already achieving two No. 1 singles, Ray’s anticipated lead single “Get To You” notched the most-added on the country airplay charts upon release and previews his forthcoming sophomore album.

Helping local shelters

Zappos for Good, the charity team at Zappos.com, will amplify Wrigley Cares by identifying local shelters in need and setting up donation stations at each tour stop. Concert attendees can drop supplies at the donation stations and receive a special discount code redeemable on Ray merchandise. All donations are welcome and each local shelter is specifically looking for: dry/wet dog and cat food in addition to new/slightly used towels and blankets which will be used to line shelter crates.

“We’re thrilled to work with Michael Ray and team to help support animal rescue,” said Steven Bautista, Head of Charity for Zappos.com. “We’re passionate about animal welfare and see this adoption event as an extension of our core, which is customer service.”

You can find out more about Michael Ray (and Wrigley!) and check out his full tour schedule here.

October ‘Inside Track on Music Row’ posted

Big & Rich, Craig Wayne Boyd, EXILE and more

My column, ‘Inside Track on Music Row,’ is America’s longest-running monthly country music column, and here’s a ‘heads up’ to let you know that the full October 2017 column is now posted at my other website, I Know Country.  Meanwhile, here’s a taste of a few items from the column…

Big & Rich are doing it for the party!

Big & Rich, Did It For the Party

Big & Rich have released their sixth studio album DID IT FOR THE PARTY, guesting on several national TV shows and a major media blitz. They will also be the musical guest on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” October 2.

The new project features 13 new songs, all produced by Big Kenny and John Rich. Fans, who are dubbed the “Freak Parade,” can order the album now on Apple Music / iTunes, Amazon and Google Play, as well as pick up a CD at major retailers nationwide through a partnership with TWIX®.

In addition to the lead single “California,” the album is classic Big & Rich, featuring a combination of upbeat anthems like the “Congratulations (You’re A Rockstar)” and “No Sleep,” while also showing their softer side with the heartfelt tribute to their sons, “My Son” featuring The Isaacs. Thirty Tigers and The Orchard are handling marketing and distribution for the album. Tour dates and more at bigandrich.com

Craig Wayne Boyd’s TOP SHELF

Craig Wayne Boyd, Top Shelf

Fans who pre-order Craig Wayne Boyd‘s new album, TOP SHELF, will receive an instant download of Boyd’s never-before-heard new single, “Stuck In My Head.” The album will be released everywhere Oct. 27 by Copperline Music Group and is available for pre-order at iTunes.

Those who pre-order can also receive Boyd’s “We Sweat” through instant download from September 29, and will receive the track “Better Together,” which Boyd co-penned, on October 13. TOP SHELF has been described as ‘a musical kaleidoscope – a whirl of celebration, heartbreak, the sweet pain of love, and the comfort of faith’s embrace.’

During his rise to fame after winning Season 7 of NBC’s “The Voice,” Boyd’s “My Baby’s Got a Smile on Her Face” debuted at No. 1 on the Hot Country Songs chart, becoming the second song (following Garth Brooks’ “More Than a Memory”) to achieve that level of chart success. More at craigwayneboyd.com.

EXILE’s ‘Fan Appreciation’ show set for Oct 17

EXILE

EXILE will stage a fan appreciation concert at the Wildhorse Saloon October 17. Soon-to-be announced special guests will help the band kick off the road to their 55th anniversary “No Limit Tour” in 2018.

Partnering with WSM-AM for the free show, Exile is set to perform at 6 p.m. CT with special guests starting at 4 p.m. CT. Concert details at WildhorseSaloon.com. 2018 will be the 55th anniversary for the band, which formed in Richmond, KY. Since beginning in 1963 the band has had No. 1 hits on both the pop and country charts, achieving ten No. 1 hits on the country chart. Today, the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame members continue to tour performing their greatest hits and fan-favorite on-the-road songs from over the years. More at Exile.biz and Facebook/Twitter.

A personal note: Growing up in Kentucky, in the late 70’s to the mid 80s, a day didn’t go by without hearing Exile on the radio. So to be able to celebrate their ’55 years in the business’ kick-off concert is like one item marked off my bucket list!

Read the complete column, and an archive of many previous columns, at iknowcountry.com and check out my music Q&A book, “I Know Country!”

Logan Mize inspires singers, songwriters: Never give up

New video series: “Somebody to Thank”

If you’re a singer or songwriter and thinking that you should forget your dream and go get a ‘real’ job, take heart from Logan Mize’s story.

Click to watch Logan Mize’s new “Somebody to Thank” video

His new album, COME BACK ROAD, notched up a Top 20 debut on Billboard and iTunes’ All Genre charts, but his personal road has not been an easy one, filled with roadblocks that would have stymied lesser beings.

Logan, a native of Clearwater, Kansas, came to Nashville with the goal of becoming a success in the music business.  But that success seemed to slip from his grasp at every step of the journey. He was turned down again and again by every music publisher and record label on Music Row.

Logan Mize. Photo: Montgomery Lee

To make ends meet, he took on day jobs, including driving a party bus and even a dump truck, while writing songs and playing club dates wherever he could snag them. Then in 2010, several years after arriving in Nashville, he signed a publishing and record deal with Big Yellow Dog Music, and a booking deal with a major agency.

Many artists would look at those contracts and figure they’d achieved their goal, but Logan knew that this was only the beginning. He spent the next seven years playing seemingly every venue in every town across the United States, building his fan base at every stop along the way.

Use the power of social media

Logan understands the power of social media. In 2016, he undertook a solo acoustic tour, promoted entirely via social media, traveling more than 20,000 miles in less than two months in a 1989 station wagon that he named ‘Glenn.’

He ran his own sound and lights at each show, performing 3-hour sets, before packing everything back in the car and moving on to the next venue.  He knew that every stop along the way added to his fan base, and each fan was a potential buyer of his music and would probably spread the news to their own social media contacts.

Thankful to those who have helped

As well as knowing the importance of sheer hard work in developing his music career, Logan is also deeply thankful to those who have helped him along the way. He has now partnered with Budweiser to create a new monthly video series based around his song, “Somebody to Thank.”

“It is so important that we always remember and give thanks to those who helped us get to where we are,” he said. “Even the smallest gesture of gratitude can make a big difference in someone’s life.”

A new video will be released monthly via Logan’s YouTube channel and Facebook spotlighting the relationships built around the struggles, gratitude and opportunities that have helped shape Mize into who he is as a person, artist, husband and father. He hopes it will also remind everyone to always say thank you to those who were a part of one’s journey.

Persevere despite the setbacks

There are two lessons that can be learned from Logan’s story. Firstly, if you believe in your music, persevere. Keep going, despite the setbacks and treat each roadblock as a ‘learning experience’ while you steadfastly follow your dream.  It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen.

Secondly, take charge of your own destiny.  Don’t put your career entirely in the hands of others. Certainly, seek guidance and develop business alliances with those who can help you, but understand that only you can make the decisions and take the steps to achieve your goals.

COME BACK ROAD includes the hit single “Ain’t Always Pretty” which has been featured on major playlists across digital streaming platforms garnering over 25 million streams on Spotify alone.

More information at loganmize.com and on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

ASCAP, BMI creating joint music database

Set to go live by end of 2018

ASCAP and BMI, the nation’s two leading performing rights organizations, have joined forces to create a single, comprehensive database of musical works from their combined repertories that will deliver an authoritative view of ownership shares in the vast majority of music licensed in the United States.

As you know, virtually all other countries get by with one P.R.O.  The USA has three: ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. Actually, there are four, if you include Global Music Rights (GMR) an invitation-only organization formed by Irving Azoff in 2013. Although all the P.R.O.s have a good working relationship, there have been limited instances of any of them truly working together. Until now.

We now have what appears to be good news for songwriters, publishers and those wishing to more easily identify information to, say, acquire sync licenses. The announcement came a few days after news that Rep Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis) had introduced the Transparency in Music Licensing and Ownership Act that was not viewed favorably by the P.R.O.s representing songwriters and publishers.

Predictably, the lawmakers who sponsored the bill reacted negatively to the announcement from the P.R.O.s. Also expressing a negative opinion was the Music Innovation Consumer (MIC) Coalition. MIC is an organization that lobbies on behalf of the radio and tech sectors, such as the Digital Media Association and the National Association of Broadcasters.

ASCAP, BMI issue joint statement

The remainder of this post mostly contains the text of a joint release issued by ASCAP and BMI on June 26, 2017.  You can read the original release at ASCAP’s website here and at BMI’s website here.

Elizabeth Matthews, ASCAP CEO

Expected to launch in the fourth quarter of 2018, the first-of-its-kind database will feature aggregated song ownership data from ASCAP and BMI and offer greater transparency to music users and the industry.  The announcement was made today by Elizabeth Matthews, CEO, ASCAP and Mike O’Neill, President and CEO, BMI.

Michael O’Neill, BMI CEO

A cross functional team of copyright, technical and data experts from BMI and ASCAP began working on the project over one year ago in anticipation of the demand from licensees and the industry for more clarity around ownership shares.  The database, which will be publicly available initially via ASCAP’s and BMI’s websites, will feature aggregated information from BMI’s and ASCAP’s repertories and will indicate where other performing rights organizations may have an interest in a musical work. The joint database will serve as a foundation that can evolve to include a broader range of music information across the entire industry.

Matthews commented, “ASCAP and BMI are proactively and voluntarily moving the entire industry a step forward to more accurate, reliable and user-friendly data. We believe in a free market with more industry cooperation and alignment on data issues.  Together, ASCAP and BMI have the most expertise in building and managing complex copyright ownership databases. With our combined experience, we are best positioned to make faster headway in creating a robust, cost effective market solution to meet the needs of the licensing marketplace.” Continue reading “ASCAP, BMI creating joint music database”

It’s NAMM Show time again!

Music Industry Day will be open to the public

The 2017 NAMM Show is heading back to Nashville’s Music City Center, July 13-15, and is set to welcome a variety of music legends including Charley Pride.  As always, it will be a ‘must’ event for members of Nashville’s music community.

The National Association of Music Merchants Inc (NAMM) will be showcasing a complete product landscape while celebrating the local community music store and honoring the industry’s Top 100 Dealers. The annual summer gathering of the music product, pro audio and entertainment tech community brings together top brands, professional development sessions and an opportunity to network with peers, with Music City as the backdrop.

Charley Pride set for July 7

Charley Pride. Photo: Ben DeRienzo

This year’s show will feature a special performance from country music pioneer and multi-Grammy® award winner, Charley Pride, who will release his new album, “Music in My Heart” on July 7. Pride continues to perform concerts worldwide and will perform on Saturday, July 15 at 1:00 p.m. on the NAMM Reverb Stage on the Terrace as part of the show’s Music Industry Day.

Attendance at NAMM trade shows is restricted to owners, suppliers, employees, endorsed artists and guests of NAMM member companies. However, on the final day, July 15, NAMM is open to the public and welcomes and invites musicians, songwriters, sound and recording professionals, music educators and students to experience Music Industry Day. There will be a chance to attend workshops, check out the new gear and enjoy artist performances.

Music Industry Day offered a once-a-year opportunity to demo new music instruments and products, attend workshops, enjoy live performances, and network with industry leaders at Summer NAMM, an exclusive, trade-only event.  You may pick up your Summer NAMM Music Industry Day passes at Badge Will Call beginning at 9 am on Saturday, July 15. Passes are $10 in advance; $20 on the day of the event. All sales are final.  To purchase tickets and to read details about NAMM’s Music Industry Day, click here.

Music Career Workshops at NAMM Show

In addition to musical instrument and product demos from more than 1,600 music product brands, Music Industry Day features workshops designed to bolster careers in music. Learn more here … But wait, there’s more! The 34th Annual American Eagle Awards, presented by the National Music Council, brought major star power to NAMM’s Music Industry Day. The awards honor individuals and institutions that have made comprehensive contributions to musical life in America. More about the National Music Council here.

Music Biz 2017 hits Nashville in May

Hope to see you there!

If you have any connection to the music industry – or if you want to increase your knowledge of how it works – you have a great opportunity coming up in the next couple of weeks.  I already have my ticket to Music Biz 2017 and I’m excited at the prospect of keeping current with whats happening.  Even after 27+ years in various aspects of the Nashville music scene, I know there’s still plenty to learn.  If you feel that way too, please read on.

FOUR DAYS OF MEETINGS, EDUCATION AND NETWORKING

Since moving the annual Music Biz convention to Nashville two years ago, attendance has grown by 50% … to 1,500. It’s the only music business event in North America that brings together the influential decision-makers from the commerce, content and creative communities under one roof for four productive days of meetings, education and networking.

You can find a complete schedule of events for Music Biz 2017 here. Just take a quick glance and you can see that this could be a great investment of your time and money if you have any involvement in music. Continue reading “Music Biz 2017 hits Nashville in May”

Your music IS your business

Don’t leave your career in the hands of others

“With an artist, everything is hunky-dory until he wakes up and can’t pay his rent. Everything is hunky-dory until he wakes up and realizes he got ripped off.   I mean, you always get these artists who say, ‘I dunno man, I just play the music. I don’t know anything about the business.’ But if you ask a guy who owns a restaurant and he says, ‘Oh, I just cook the food, I don’t know anything about the business’ – that restaurant is gonna fail, y’know?”

Joe Bonamassa, blues guitarist and songwriter, interviewed by Henry Yates in The Blues Magazine.

Blues guitarist and songwriter, Joe Bonamassa

Everyone starting out on a career in music should pay attention to those words of wisdom from Joe Bonamasso, who began playing the guitar at the age of four and opened for blues icon B.B. King when he was twelve years old. It would have been easy for him to concentrate solely on his guitar playing and leave the business side of his career in the hands of others.

But, from an early age, he saw what happened to artists who knew little or nothing about the business side of their own careers. When other people are controlling your management, your bookings, your publishing, your copyrights and your royalties, there’s a good chance that they are more focused on their own interests rather than on yours.

Your music is your business

Of course, as your career expands, you won’t be able to personally handle absolutely everything entirely by yourself: you will need to utilize the expertise of others who are professionals in their field. But it is still essential that you have at least a working knowledge of the major aspects of the music business.

With that knowledge, you can protect yourself from being taken advantage of; you can review documents before you sign, ask questions that demonstrate your familiarity with the subject. In short, treat your music career as your business – because that’s what it is – and you greatly reduce the risk of getting ripped off.