Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Class of 2017

Induction ceremony set for October 23

Four of Nashville’s finest will receive one of the music industry’s most coveted honors: induction into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. The class of 2017 consists of Jim McBride, Walt Aldridge, Tim Nichols and the late Vern Gosdin.

Pictured (l-r) are: Pat Alger, Buddy Cannon (representing the late Vern Gosdin), Jim McBride, Tim Nichols, Walt Aldridge and Mark Ford, executive director of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. (Photo courtesy: Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame)

The announcement was made at a news conference on August 9 by Pat Alger, chair of the organization’s board of directors. The induction ceremony will take place on October 23 at the Music City Center.

As in previous years, there are several categories for the new inductees. Aldridge and Nichols will be inducted in the Songwriters category, McBride is the inductee in the Veterans category, and Gosdin will be honored in the Songwriter/Artist category.

Walt Aldridge

Walt Aldridge

Walt Adridge has written hit songs for artists such as Ronnie Milsap (“There’s No Getting Over Me”), Earl Thomas Conley (“Holding Her and Loving You”) and Conway Twitty (“She’s Got a Single Thing In Mind”). Florence, AL, native Aldridge was also an integral part of the Muscle Shoals music scene, working at the aptly named Fame Studios.

Tim Nichols

Tim Nichols

Tim Nichols wrote “You’re Not in Kansas Anymore” for Jo Dee Messina, “I’m Over You” for Keith Whitley and “Cowboys and Angels for Dustin Lynch. One of his biggest hits was his 2004 song for Tim McGraw, “Live Like You Were Dying,” co-written with Craig Wiseman. That song won the Grammy Award for Best Country Song at the 47th Grammy Awards and was the ACM ‘Song of the Year.’

Jim McBride

Jim McBride

Jim McBride, the honoree in the Veteran category, has had a long career as a songwriter, having written his first song when he was twelve. Success eluded him until he moved from Huntsville, AL, to Nashville and began to get cuts including “A Bridge That Just Won’t Burn” for Conway Twitty. The song won McBride’s first BMI Award along with co-writer Roger Murrah. Other McBride hits include “Chattahoochie” for Alan Jackson and songs cut by John Anderson, Waylon Jennings and many more.

Vern Gosdin

Vern Gosdin

Vern Gosdin racked up nineteen Top-Ten Country chart hits between 1977 and 1990, including three Number Ones: “I Can Tell By the Way You Dance,” “Set ‘Em Up Joe” (a tribute to Ernest Tubb), and “I’m Still Crazy.” He faced several setbacks including signing with record labels that either shut down or went bankrupt. He almost left the music business entirely in the 1970s, operating a glass company in Cartersville, GA, before being coaxed back and creating a string of hits including 1983’s “Tennessee Courage,” a song Gosdin co-wrote with Louis Brown and Max D. Barnes.  Known to his many fans as ‘The Voice,’ Vern Gosdin passed away following a stroke in April 2009.

The Hall of Fame

The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to honoring and preserving the songwriting legacy that is uniquely associated with the Nashville music community. Its purpose is to educate, celebrate and archive the achievements and contributions made by members of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame to the world.  The class of 2017 will join be joining the 203 members previously inducted in the NSHoF.

Read more about the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and see photos and info about all the inductees here.

Triple Number One party for Aldean and songwriters

Celebrating three Number Ones from latest album

It was a songwriters’ night with a difference: each of the featured writers on stage was a co-writer of a Number One hit for Jason Aldean from his album, THEY DON’T KNOW. The event also marked some ‘firsts’ for some of the writers.

First row (L to R): Deric Ruttan, Brian Kelly, Tyler Hubbard, Jason Aldean, Josh Thompson, Michael Knox / Second Row (L to R): Wendell Mobley, Jimmy Robbins, Tony Martin, Brad Martin, Jordan Schmidt, Jerry Flowers, Brett Warren
Photo Credit: Steve Lowry

Two-time and reigning ACM Entertainer of the Year Jason Aldean took over Nashville’s Wildhorse Saloon August 2nd to celebrate each single off his seventh studio album THEY DON’T KNOW reaching No. One. Marking 19 career chart-toppers, Aldean gathered alongside friends and family to perform “Lights Come On,” “A Little More Summertime” and “Any Ol’ Barstool” with each of the tracks’ songwriters. For the event, fans were invited to Lower Broadway’s famed venue, which is the same place Aldean played the showcase that landed him his record deal with Broken Bow Records.

Lights Come On

Serving as the lead single and No. One hit from THEY DON’T KNOW, Jason Aldean performed the smash hit “Lights Come On,” sharing vocals with songwriters Florida Georgia Line’s Brian Kelley (BMI) and Tyler Hubbard (BMI), as well as Jimmy Robbins (ASCAP), Jordan Schmidt (ASCAP), Brad Warren (BMI) and Brett Warren (BMI). The hit serves as Schmidt’s first No. One as a songwriter as well as the first for Kelley and Hubbard’s Tree Vibez Music publishing company.

A Little More Summertime

Following suit, Aldean was joined on stage by songwriters Jerry Flowers (ASCAP), Tony Martin (BMI) and Wendell Mobley (BMI) to perform a stripped-down version of THEY DON’T KNOW’s second No. One single, “A Little More Summertime.”

Any Ol’ Barstool

To close out the round, Aldean invited Deric Ruttan (ASCAP) and Josh Thompson (BMI) to the stage who serve as the songwriters behind his “Any Ol’ Barstool.” It is the third consecutive chart topper off his seventh studio album. Aldean’s 19th career No. One serves as Thompson’s first No. One as a songwriter.

Aldean’s most recent album, THEY DON’T KNOW, follows each album release earning PLATINUM certification or better, tallying more than 15 million total album sales and 19 No. One hits. The longevity of his career reached new heights as he debuted at the No. One position on Billboard’s all-genre Top 200 Album chart for the third consecutive time. In addition to his THEY DON’T KNOW TOUR, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is showcasing a special exhibit titled  ‘Jason Aldean: Asphalt Cowboy,’ commemorating his wide-open sound that has been one of the defining influences on today’s Country Music. For more information and for a full list of upcoming tour dates, visit www.jasonaldean.com.

Information provided by the Green Room, Nashville.

Hit songwriters kick off ’30 Days of Hope’ at 3rd & Lindsley

Hope Nation Radio concert to support families of children with cancer

Songwriters can always be relied upon to step up and offer their time and talent when the call for help goes out.  I can attest to that from personal experience!  And now, some of Nashville’s finest singer/songwriters are joining with Hope Nation Radio to kick off their 8th annual ’30 Days of Hope’ campaign.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and Hope Nation Radio will host a fundraiser at 3rd & Lindsley in Nashville on Wednesday September 6, 2017. Doors open at 6:00 pm and the show starts at 7:00 pm. The show will benefit the Live4Tay Foundation. Proceeds raised this night will go directly to the foundation to support families of children with cancer.

And just look who is on the bill! You’ve gotta see this one!

All-Star singer/songwriter lineup

The all-star lineup will feature acoustic performances from Brady Seals (formerly of Little Texas, “God Blessed Texas”), Buddy Jewell (Nashville Star winner), Gordon Kennedy (multi-Grammy winner), John Berry (with 20+ hit singles), Keith Anderson (hit songwriter for Big & Rich, Garth Brooks and George Jones), Paul Jefferson (with hits for Aaron Tippin, Keith Urban, etc), and Sonny Lemaire (formerly of Exile “Kiss You All Over” + 9 Number Ones).

Tickets are $15 online at www.3rdandlindsley.com or $20 at the door. Kids 12 and under get in FREE.

About Live4Tay Foundation: The foundation financially supports families who have children with cancer by raising money and awareness through benevolent fundraising events. They have helped 110 families in Tennessee and raised around $200k for local families. They also assist other organizations in financing research for preventing and curing cancer, especially in children. Find out more about the live4Tay Foundation here.

About Hope Nation Radio: Formed in 2013 by Nile “Big Daddy” Peaytt and Thomas Hammonds, this station plays a variety of country music, pop, rock, contemporary, Christian and gospel from signed and independent artists. This is a station anyone can listen to, including the children in the hospital; whether it be for a lengthy stay or to help pass the time while getting treatments. Visit their website here and follow them on all social media @HopeNationRadio.

Who owns the songs you write?

What you must do to ensure you receive your share of the song’s royalties.

Rule Number One: Be sure you don’t leave the writers’ room without noting each co-writer’s contact info, publishing info, percentage split and P.R.O. affiliation.

Rule Number Two: Only people actively involved in writing the song should be present in the writers’ room.

Let’s see why those rules are so important to you, the songwriter.

You’ve just written a new song and you feel pretty certain that it has real ‘hit’ potential, if it gets cut by the right act. In fact, the song is a co-write: you co-wrote it with John and Mary during a two-hour session in a writing room.  At some point – maybe not right away – but at some point, you are going to get the song lyrics typed up in the correct format and submit it to the US Copyright Office using the online electronic (eCO) system.

You’ll also register the song with your P.R.O. because that is how you will earn royalties when the song gets cut. As there are three writers, it is possible that it will be registered with as many as three P.R.O.s: ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. (See note at the end of this article for links to song registration info for each of the three P.R.O.s.)

But wait a minute.

Who actually owns the copyright to the song the three of you have just written?  More importantly, what percentage of the royalties generated by the song does each of you own? What is your ‘split’?  Maybe it doesn’t seem important right now because if the song never gets cut, then a hundred percent of nothing is still nothing.  But what if your hunch was right and the song does have hit potential?  What if the song is a Number One hit single and then gets added to a multi-platinum ‘Greatest Hits’ album and also scores millions of downloads?  Now the writers’ split issue gets very important indeed!

As a general rule, if you agree to a co-write, it’s understood that each of the ‘collaborators’ (to use the legal description) is entitled to an equal split of the writers’ share of the royalties generated by the song. (We’ll get to the Song Publishers’ split in a minute.)

More than once, I’ve heard a songwriter emerge from a writing session and mutter that “[name] didn’t contribute anything” to the co-write. But an entire song might have been spawned by a single line – maybe three of four words – that one writer brought to the table.

A single line can spawn a hit song

That’s exactly what happened when Jerry Butler and Otis Redding got together after performing in a show in Chicago in the mid 1960s.  They talked about writing a song together and Butler said he had a line going around in his head: “I’ve been loving you too long to stop now.”  They didn’t take it any further that night, but Redding returned to Memphis and fleshed out the song from that one line. He recorded the song as a soulful ballad, with that line as the song title.  It sold millions of copies, making it the second biggest seller of Otis Redding’s career.

The only line Jerry Butler contributed was the one that became the song’s title, but without that, the song wouldn’t exist. (As a side note, early copies of the single only list Redding as the writer, something that was rectified after Butler pointed out the error!)

Keep it ‘writers only’ in the writers’ room!

It is advisable to have an agreement before you start any writing session as to what the split will be, if there is to be anything other than an equal split. Again, unless you specify otherwise, in writing, everyone in the writing session gets equal writing credit regardless of each individual’s participation. And that is a very good reason to consider your writing session a ‘closed door’ affair.  That means not letting anyone just ‘hang out’ with you and your co-writers unless you consider them to be actively involved in the creative process. Anyone present in the writers’ room could be entitled to get a writer’s credit!

Case in point: Infamous song producer Phil Spector managed to insinuate himself into early writing-recording sessions where songs were composed by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. As he was there when some songs were written, he gets writer’s credit.  Okay, so it’s unlikely that Phil Spector will crash your writing session (you’d better hope not) but if someone is in the room when you are writing, there’s a strong chance you will find yourself including them in the credit.  And splitting the $$$ with them, if the song gets cut.

What about the song publishers?

Up to now, we’ve talked about the writers’ splits.  But each song gets published and traditionally, the publisher retains half of the revenue from the song.  If you write alone and own your own publishing company, it’s simple: you own the publisher’s 50% AND the writer’s 50%.  If you co-write with one other person and she owns her own publishing, the two publishing companies equally split the publishers’ 50% and the two writers split the writers’ 50% of the total revenue.  The more writers and the more publishing companies, the thinner the slices of the revenue pie become. (I go into more detail about song publishing in my book, “The College of Songology 101: The Singer/Songwriter’s Need To Know Reference Handbook.”  See the note at the end of this article.)

If anything, that situation makes it even more vital that you have an agreement before you write as to whether you all agree to an equal split or not. There could be instances when one writer agrees to take less than an equal split: for example, a novice writer co-writing with a major hit writer, mainly for the experience he or she gains from the session.  But in a case like that – where there will be an unequal split of the writers’ credit – it is essential that the percentage split is clearly spelled out in writing. Never assume that the other collaborator ‘understood’ that would be the case.

Specify the split on the P.R.O. song registration

When you submit your song registration form to your P.R.O. you will see a space where you specify the percentage of the royalty – the split – that each writer is entitled to. You’ll make a similar entry regarding the publishing split.  As there’s a possibility that you and your co-writers are affiliated with different P.R.O.s, it is essential that you agree on the split before the song is registered because the split info must be the same on each P.R.O.s registry.

When it comes to registering the song with P.R.O.s, if two or more writers are affiliated with the same P.R.O. it is important that the song is registered only ONCE with that P.R.O.  For example, if you and John are affiliated with ASCAP and Mary is with BMI, the song you wrote together would be registered once with ASCAP (because you and John are both with ASCAP) and once with BMI. If you and John both submitted the same song to ASCAP, there would be confusion over duplication of writer and publisher. Both you and John receive writer’s credit even though only one of you registered the song with your P.R.O.

The takeaway is this: The writers’ credit is split equally between all the collaborators who created the work, regardless of each collaborator’s actual contribution, unless there is a prior agreement that there will be an uneven split. As the registration with your P.R.O. will include this vital information, be sure all writers are in agreement about the split!

Notes: Each of the P.R.O.s in the United States have slightly different processes when it comes to song registration. Although it is helpful to understand how each of them operates, you only need to be fully familiar with the workings of your own P.R.O.  And, of course you can only register a song with the P.R.O. with which you are affiliated. Here are links to song registration info for ASCAP, BMI and SESAC:

ASCAP registration here. 

BMI registration here.

SESAC registration here. 

Preshias Harris is the author of “The College of Songology 101: The Singer/songwriter’s Need To Know Reference Handbook.”  It is available in print and e-book versions at www.collegeofsongology.com  The book includes more detailed information about the copyright process, song publishing, working with your P.R.O., licensing your music and much more.

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”

Brett Young celebrates new Number One

First ‘Number One’ for three co-writers

It’s always a great day for me when I can celebrate songwriters’ success, and nothing says ‘success’ like a Number One party.  When it’s a writer’s first-ever Number One, that’s an even greater thrill.

On Monday, July 17, Nashville’s music community showed up at FGL House at a party co-hosted by ASCAP and BMI to acclaim Brett Young’s second consecutive Number One hit, the Platinum-certified “In Case You Didn’t Know.” Brett was on hand to celebrate with his three co-writers, for whom this song was their first chart-topper.

Kyle Schlienger (ASCAP), Tyler Reeve (BMI) and Trent Tomlinson (BMI) had apparently gotten together ‘south of the border’ to pen the hit with Brett.

Pictured (L-R): Kyle Schlienger, Brett Young, Tyler Reeve, Trent Tomlinson. Photo: ASCAP

“In 2015, I asked these guys to come to Puerto Vallarta with me to write some songs,” explained Brett. “I was lucky enough that they agreed even though they didn’t know me well. But who passes up a free trip to Mexico? We knew we had something special with ‘In Case You Didn’t Know’ from the start, but I’m so thankful for how this song continues to change my life.”

Song’s ‘Making Of’ video shown

At the party, we saw a video that had been recorded during their songwriting retreat, showing how the song developed from the original concept.  For novice songwriters attending the Number One party, it was a fascinating opportunity to watch ‘behind the scenes’ as the four guys collaborated on the song’s creation. If you are a ‘rookie’ songwriter and, even if a hit recording artist isn’t likely to ask you to join him on an expenses-paid trip to the beach, it certainly was an inspiration to see how hard work and persistence can pay off in the long run.

The song ultimately landed at No. 1 across multiple platforms: Mediabase and Billboard Charts, Sirius XM’s The Highway, Vevo Country Chart for six consecutive weeks and No. 1 CMT Hot 20 Chart for two consecutive weeks. With “In Case You Didn’t Know,” Brett is also currently nominated for a Teen Choice Award in the Choice Country Song category and fans can vote here

For additional information and a full list of tour dates, including stops on Lady Antebellum’s YOU LOOK GOOD WORLD TOUR, visit Brett’s website.

Steve Azar knows there’s something in the water

New album, ‘Down At The Liquor Store,’ recorded at historic Mississippi studio

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “There’s something in the water.” Steve Azar certainly believes that to be true. He and his collaborators have launched a crowdfunding campaign to bring about the completion of a full-length documentary titled “Something In The Water.” You can pledge your support to the campaign here.

The documentary was filmed during the making of the album titled “Down At The Liquor Store” [Ride Records] by Steve Azar & The Kings Men, due out August 11, 2017.

Club Ebony, Mississippi landmark

Club Ebony Blues Trail Marker, Indianola, MS

In April of 2016, Steve Azar became the first artist to record a full-length studio album at the legendary Mississippi landmark, Club Ebony. A long time in the making, and his first record in 5 years, Steve cut 13 new original tracks.

The club, now belonging to the B.B. King Museum, was turned into a recording studio capturing the rich history and vibe of the room and in turn creating inspirational performances on the record.

Steve Azar and the Kings Men

The album, “Down At The Liquor Store,” was made with the participation of The Kings Men, a group of musicians who backed B.B. King, Elvis Presley, and other musical Kings. The combination of Steve’s Delta songwriting approach and the band’s musical background has created a unique and soulful sound that audiences will be hearing in the later part of 2017.

Steve Azar calls it Delta Soul

The combination of Steve’s Delta-born songwriting approach, the band’s musical background and intuitive nature has created a unique and soulful sound that isn’t country, per se, isn’t specifically rock, nor is it traditional blues. It is, rather, a unique amalgam of these forms along with Azar’s own take on creating work that is elevating, liberating and transformative. He calls it “Delta Soul.”

The album’s title was derived from his experiences in his younger days helping his parents, descendants of Lebanese/Syrian immigrants, run the family business which served as a kind of community center for generations of Mississippians of all backgrounds and races.

Artist in Residence at Delta Music Institute

Steve Azar. Photo credit: steveazar.com

In addition to this new project, Steve is also artist in residence at Delta State University’s Delta Music Institute and hosts the Delta Soul Celebrity Golf & Charity Event. It’s the annual fundraiser that benefits the Steve Azar St. Cecilia Foundation (SASCF), established by Steve and his wife Gwen in 2006. Since its inception, SASCF and its Delta Soul Event, has donated over $600,000 to the many arts for children programs and scholarships throughout the delta.

More about Steve Azar, the new album and the opportunity to pledge support for the “Something In The Water” documentary film campaign here.

Singer-songwriter Parker Willingham hosts listening party

Unveils new music at Nashville acoustic show

Parker Willingham hosted a New Music Review listening party at The Westin L27 Rooftop, July 5th. Willingham spotlighted tracks from his new recording project YOU GET ME EVERY TIME (Apple Row Music Group).

From Left To Right: Robin Majors/Robin Majors Management, Kat Atwood/Music City Media, Parker Willingham, Shelly Mullins/ProMO Image, Neal Spielberg/Spielberg Entertainment
Photo Credit: Karen Will Rogers Photography

Willingham gave an acoustic performance before friends, family, fans, peers and music industry execs. Featuring solo and co-writes titled “Raining Down,” “Flipside,” “All Over You” and the title track, YOU GET ME EVERY TIME is a canvas of Parker’s wit, grit, heart and soul, and offers an authentic insight to passionate, poignant, pivotal and painful pages of his life.

The ballads (such as “One Kiss At A Time” and “Hard To Say”) depict the innocence and confusion of falling in love, and love at the right time, while “Chase Her Dreams” and “Me Loving You” set love free. The beachy, true-to-his roots party anthem, “Cold Creek,” celebrates a spiritual freedom and “We Got It All Right” turns the page to a forever love potential.

Satisfying the traditional country music fan and country music enthusiasts with a more flavorful palate, YOU GET ME EVERY TIME has also garnered early applause from radio and the media with every noteworthy ingredient.

“Parker Willingham is absolutely incredible; this guy must be heard. He’s ‘Nashville’s best-kept secret’ and he’s going to be explosive!” — Seth Coburn, Morning Drive Host / KLAW101 (OK)

“I’m spinning Parker Willingham on CMR Nashville now and mark his new album with high ratings. He is a star in the making with a great voice.”  Lee Williams/CMR Nashville

YOU GET ME EVERY TIME is now available via all digital platforms (Spotify/Amazon/iTunes).

Michael Ray celebrates Number One again

Michael Ray, songwriters, honored at Number One party

Once again, Atlantic/WEA’s Michael Ray celebrated another Number One, for ‘Think A Little Less.’ Here is Michael pictured with the writers. Pictured (l-r) are Thomas Rhett, Ray, Jimmy Robbins and Barry Dean. Not pictured was the fourth writer – ASCAP’s Jon Nite. This makes the second number one single from Michael’s debut self-titled album. His summer touring dates are full and he has a new single, ‘Get To You,’ that was released a few days ago. It’s going to be a grrrreat summer for this Eustis Florida native, who now calls Nashville home.

You can find Michael’s tour schedule and catch the official video for ‘Get To You’ here.

Music Row Award Winners honored

Music Row’s Song of the Year: “Blue Ain’t Your Color”

MusicRow, Nashville’s leading music industry publication, presented its 29th annual subscriber-voted awards on Wednesday, June 28, during a private ceremony hosted for the first time by SESAC and sponsored by Anderson Benson insurance in the CMA event space.

MusicRow Song of the Year winning co-writers perform at the 29th Annual MusicRow Awards. Pictured (L-R): Clint Lagerberg, Steven Lee Olsen, Hillary Lindsey. Photo: Bev Moser/Moments by Moser

The 2017 MusicRow Awards recognized Song of the Year “Blue Ain’t Your Color,” recorded by Keith Urban and written by Hillary Lindsey, Clint Lagerberg and Steven Lee Olsen. Sony Nashville’s Maren Morris was honored as Breakthrough Artist. An award Morris received in 2016, Breakthrough Songwriter, went to Parallel Music Publishing’s Jesse Lee. Universal Music Group’s Lauren Alaina won the inaugural award category, Breakthrough Artist-Writer, for co-writing her first Top 10 hit, the No. 1 “Road Less Traveled.Jay Joyce received his second plaque for Producer of the Year, having worked in the studio with Eric Church, Brandy Clark, Little Big Town, Carrie Underwood, Brothers Osborne, Devin Dawson, LANCO, and The Wild Feathers.

Top 10 Album All-Stars

The event also recognized MusicRow’s Top 10 Album All-Stars, studio whiz kids who appeared on the most Billboard Top 10 album credits in eight categories over the past 12 months. Those players include: Jimmie Lee Sloas (bass), Justin Niebank (engineer), Aubrey Haynie (fiddle), Ilya Toshinskiy (guitar), Charles Judge (keyboards), Russell Terrell (vocals) and a tie for Fred Eltringham and Greg Morrow (guitar), and Dan Dugmore, Paul Franklin and Russ Pahl (steel).

“It’s our honor to feature the winners MusicRow subscribed members voted to become the 2017 class,” said MusicRow Owner/Publisher Sherod Robertson. “Often a key predictor of future awards ceremonies, these honors allow this publication’s subscribed members to select who they think best represents today’s top music makers. Our 2017 Top Ten Album All-Star Musician Awards salute studio players creating the sound that reaches all corners of the world.”

The MusicRow Awards was hosted for the first year by SESAC and sponsored for the second year by Nashville-based insurance company Anderson Benson, a company dedicated to serving and supporting the entertainment industry. Read more here