Louis Messina

President/CEO • Messina Touring Group


Messina pandemic Touring imposed Group’s a moratorium formidable on roster touring: has George come roaring Strait, Kenny back to Chesney, life on the Eric road Church, after Blake the Shelton and Little Big Town grossed over $170 million combined across roughly 90 shows between August 2021 and May 2022. Messina says he has been actively hiring young people to boost his company’s digital marketing efforts, but his mission is the same as it always was: “I’m not in the rent-a-van business,” he says. “I’m in the career business.” Even for his slate of stadium-ready acts, Messina is adamant that there’s still room for growth. After congratula­ting Church on a recent show at Madison Square Garden in New York, Messina texted: “Next tour, stadiums. Then we’ll figure out what’s bigger.” Is there a particular achievemen­t from the last year-plus that you’re especially proud of?

The fact that I still have a company. My team stayed with me. We all survived. All the artists that I work for stayed with me. They all survived. I’m lucky. We put the future on hold for a bit. Now it’s time to start saying, “What’s next for MTG?”

And what is next? What’s your vision?

It’s not my vision, it’s my artists’ vision. Instead of trying to sign 12 other acts, my idea is, “How am I involved in getting the artist to a

level thought dreaming this their is dreams. where actually they about?,” they were That’s beyond always but how I still grow one my act business. at a time. I’m I want to work with an act that I’m passionate about and an act that enjoys working with me, which is sometimes difficult. No, it’s not difficult at all — I’m a lot of fun.

Has the live business changed permanentl­y in the past two years?

The live-music business changes in a different way every day. Nothing is permanent. Every day is an evolution of artists, of music, of presentati­on.

You look where it once was and where it is today. Used to be only one or two acts could play stadiums. Now a lot of people are playing stadiums. I feel like our company was one of the first ones to create that mentality, especially in country music.

You’ve obviously seen a lot of changes in country music over the years. What’s the biggest issue facing the genre now?

I think it’s as healthy as can be. The only issue you have in country music is it’s too crowded. Everyone wants to work at the same time. Acts tour every year — c’mon, man, stay home every once in a while. Learn from George Strait: Less is more.

You used to work with AC/DC. What’s the difference between an AC/DC show and a George Strait show?

I don’t see George in schoolboy pants. That’s a big difference there. Maybe there’s a different attitude, but it’s the same thing: They’re bringing their art to the people.

When is Taylor Swift going back on tour?

When she tells me.

Ben Vaughn

President/CEO Warner Chappell

Music Nashville

Warner Chappell Music Nashville — country music’s top publisher for the 21st consecutiv­e quarter — celebrated big wins for Chris Stapleton, Brothers Osborne and Old Dominion at the Grammys, CMA Awards and ACM Awards, but Vaughn is not resting on his laurels. He’s bringing in more developing talent to the roster, including Flatland Cavalry’s Cleto Cordero, Warren Zeiders and Bailey

Zimmerman. Additional­ly, the WCM Nashville offices received an upgrade — an “entire gut renovation of its offices,” says Vaughn — making its headquarte­rs a far more “songwriter­focused space,” even putting writers’ favorite books on the shelves.

Mike Whelan

Senior vp/GM • Round Hill Nashville Round Hill’s roster includes Jimmy Robbins, co-author of Brett Young’s “You Didn’t,” which reached No. 35 on Country Airplay, plus, “[We] own catalogs of country hit writers such as Ashley Gorley, Craig Wiseman and Dallas Davidson,” says Whelan. The publisher’s Music City office also dips into rock — Nashvilleb­ased songwriter­s Marti Frederikse­n and Scott Stevens penned hits by Daughtry and others, and Blues Traveler recorded its Grammynomi­nated Traveler’s Blues at the Nashville studio. “Nashville has become a major hub for a crosssecti­on of great music,” says Whelan. “I’m so proud to be a part of the Round Hill team and the success we are having.”

Tim Wipperman

President • Anthem Music Publishing, Nashville, Anthem Entertainm­ent

“I am most proud of the amazing success of our creative team,” says Wipperman. His company counts among its hit-making songwriter­s Jordan Davis, whose “Buy Dirt” (with Luke Bryan) topped Country Airplay and Hot Country Songs simultaneo­usly, and Cody Johnson, who reached No. 1 with “Til You Can’t.” Headquarte­red in Canada, Anthem also completed the acquisitio­n of Combustion Music, launched a joint venture with Anthem songwriter Chris Janson and signed Kelly Archer to an exclusive publishing deal with partner Jeremy Stover’s RED Creative, according to Wipperman.


VP of creative, Nashville BMI

Bradley began his role in March 2020, “just as we were all sent home,” he says. In the time since, his team has focused on creating opportunit­ies for BMI’s songwriter­s and publishers, including at the Key West Songwriter­s Festival — a five-day event with over 175 songwriter­s — in May and through a recently introduced monthly showcase called BMI Presents at the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville. The series has already featured the Fisk Jubilee Singers, John Oates and Dean Dillon. Says Bradley: “We work every day to lend support to the greatest asset we have in Music City: the songwriter­s.”

“Nashville has become a major hub for a crosssecti­on of great music.”

Shannan Hatch

VP of creative services

SESAC Performing Rights

Anthem Entertainm­ent is the publishing company for Jordan Davis, co-writer of “Buy Dirt,” which hit No. 1 on Hot Country Songs.

Hatch leads SESAC’s Nashville creative team and has had plenty to celebrate in the past year thanks to the roster of songwriter­s she has helped shape during her two decades with the company. In addition to the success of country stars including Lee Brice, Jimmie Allen and Zac Brown, Josh Jenkins co-wrote Walker Hayes’ “Fancy Like,” which reached No. 3 on the Hot 100, and Alex Kline and Allison Veltz Cruz co-wrote Tenille Arts’ “Somebody Like That,” which became the first song by a female artist to reach the Country Airplay chart’s top 10 that was entirely produced and written by women.

Mike Sistad

VP of Nashville membership • ASCAP “We’re excited to keep moving forward and providing our members with the support and career services they need,” says Sistad of ASCAP’s Nashville team. Overall, the performing rights organizati­on reported $1.254 billion in payouts to its members in 2021, a 4% increase over the previous year. ASCAP, as a whole, also surpassed the $1 billion mark in domestic revenue last year for the first time. Its members have likewise thrived: At the Grammys in April, Chris Stapleton dominated in the country categories thanks to the success of his album Starting Over.


Tatum Allsep

Founder/CEO • Music Health Alliance

Shelia Shipley Biddy CFO/certified senior adviser

Music Health Alliance

Due to their work and innovation at the forefront of COVID-19 relief, Nashville-based Music Health Alliance received the 2021 CMA Foundation Humanitari­an Award along with Dolly Parton. The alliance provided over 900,000 meals and 1,700 counseling sessions and became a source of pandemic informatio­n for those within the country music world and beyond. “The awareness created for MHA’s services during that pandemic has continued to grow our nonprofit, as those served then tell others who are now reaching out for our services,” Biddy says of the impact of MHA’s work. It also partnered with Universal Music Group to help their artists and songwriter­s across all genres save over $5.3 million in health care costs through a new pilot program.

Lori Badgett Diane Pearson

Senior vps/team leaders of the entertainm­ent division in Nashville

• City National Bank

After spending the last 24 months assisting many Nashville artists and companies with COVID-19-related setbacks, Badgett says that “with restrictio­ns easing, we have seen a significan­t increase in demand for live shows and expect the trend to continue through the rest of the year.” Badgett and Pearson helped companies leverage assistance from the Paycheck Protection Program, ACM Lifting Lives’ philanthro­py and Music Health Alliance.

Julie Boos

Chairman • FBMM Duane Clark President • FBMM Jamie Cheek Carmen Romano Vice presidents • FBMM

Chris Hughes

Business manager • FBMM

One of Nashville’s leading business management firms, FBMM has spent much of the last year delving into intellectu­al property opportunit­ies with private equity firms. Despite the firm’s deep country roots, opportunit­ies have expanded into rock, EDM, R&B/hiphop and pop. “We have also, despite the crazy circumstan­ces, managed to continue our training and coaching programs and have seen employees achieve higher levels of expertise,” says Boos.

Kella Farris Stephanie Self Catherine Moore

Partners • Farris Self & Moore

The Nashville business management and financial planning firm keeps its client list confidenti­al but has expanded steadily in the past year, adding six new positions to its now 22-person staff — “a testament,” says Moore, “to our commitment to remain boutique, full service and all-in.” The company also expanded its tax and royalty department­s and other segments of the operation. “We are excited to continue to provide a family-like culture and the highest level of business management and financial planning services to our clients,” she says.

Bret Guest

Business manager • Tri Star Sports and Entertainm­ent Group

Amid the uncertaint­y of touring income during the pandemic, the Tri Star team guided its clients “through the constraint­s of 2021 into the hybrid touring environmen­t” — a mixture of virtual and in-person events — to keep those artists going, says Guest. The company does not identify its clients but has previously reported representi­ng Florida Georgia Line and Reba McEntire. “Throughout this dynamic period,” says Guest, “we focused on alternate revenue streams such as digital appearance­s and catalog investment opportunit­ies to maintain positive cash flow.”

Jeremy Holley Laura Hutfless

Co-founders • FlyteVu

Entertainm­ent marketing agency FlyteVu worked with some of country music’s biggest artists over the past year on several promotiona­l cam

The marketing agency FlyteVu guided Kacey Musgraves’ Simple Times Machine promotiona­l campaign with Spotify.

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Messina (left) and Chesney
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