Speaking about his recent signing with Big Machine’s NASH Icon record label, which was set up to create radio support for artists left behind by mainstream country’s current obsession with youth, the once CMA Entertainer of the Year recipient said, “If you’re gonna be heard, you have to get on the radio. The internet alone is not gonna do it.”
Cumulus Media’s NASH concept wants to become the one stop shop for corporate country consumers, and the country industry is more than willing to play ball as long as the company spreads its capital around to launch grandiose ventures and continues to play its artists on the radio. But there’s a problem. A big one.
Trying to get a handle on Ronnie Dunn over the last few years has been like trying to catch a greased piglet. His rhetoric has been nothing short of revolutionary, but his artistic output has been a mixed bag at best. The former Brooks & Dunn member became disenfranchised by the Nashville system after his first solo release in 2011, and so he started a public relations crusade through his Facebook page.
Operating a site called “Saving Country Music” for the last eight years, I’ve learned the patient art of losing every single day with grace. It is the ever-present conceit of the living to believe that the present times are the worst there’s ever been, and country music is no exception. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that people weren’t yelling that the sky was falling when John Denver was winning the CMA Entertainer of the Year…
Where is talk of the format split on the agenda at CRS? You would think it would be dominating the proceedings. I mean, we’re talking about what would be the largest overhaul of country radio in its existence. But is it even being discussed, or are people more focused on the big Garth Brooks party as he tries to retool after his retirement and make up for now two failed radio singles.
NASH Icon is ramping up for a big 2015, making some significant moves on Monday (1-12) to start the year where 2014 ended: stirring conversation about where country music is headed and potentially stimulating a format split that would see more older country music return to the airwaves en masse. The long rumored signing of Ronnie Dunn to the label has been officially announced.
It’s not every day you get trolled by a CMA Entertainer of the Year winner, but that’s what Saving Country Music found itself experiencing Sunday night (12-28) when Ronnie Dunn took to his always colorful Facebook page to post links and commentary to recent stories on SCM about his involvement (or non involvement) with the new Cumulus Media/Big Machine Records’ joint venture called NASH Icon.
NASH Icon, the partnership between Cumulus Media and Big Machine Label Group meant to give new life to older country stars, has its second signee. Martina McBride, rumored since the beginning of the new imprint to be a possible artist for the label, made it official on Tuesday (12-23). But there is a curious situation brewing between the label and another older star—Ronnie Dunn.
It looks like Hank Williams Jr. might be the next signee to the Cumulus Media / Big Machine Label Group joint venture known as NASH Icon meant to give new life to aging artists who’ve been passed over by mainstream country radio. In the midst of Hank’s ACCA performance, he switched over from a cowboy hat to a black hat with gold lettering that simply read “ICON” across the front.
In the fall of 2012 when Ronnie Dunn (of Brooks & Dunn) was looking to write and record material for his upcoming album, he reached out to Texas music songwriting guru Ray Wylie Hubbard after falling in love with the gritty sound Hubbard imbibes on all his records. Dunn flew into Austin as Ray Wylie wrangled up an A-list of Austin musicians to to participate in a recording session.
Bobby Keys, Brooks & Dunn, Bruce Robison, Buddy Holly, Bump Band, Chelle Rose, Faces, George Reiff, Gurf Morlix, Ian McLagan, James McMurtry, Jennifer Nettles, Joe Ely, John Hiatt, Kelly Willis, Lucinda Williams, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Mary Gauthier, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Robert Earl Keen, Rod Stewart, Ronnie Dunn, Small Faces, Sugarland, The Rolling Stones, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson
Cumulus Media’s NASH Icon radio concept mixing older country music in with more contemporary songs continues to gain steam, while yet another radio format called NASH Classics is on its way, and some big signings to the label side of NASH Icon appear to be imminent. John Dickey gave the first indication that the media giant could be giving classic country music a bigger home on the radio.
“Bro-country” is the phrase that has been on the tip of the tongue of many country music and culture writers when they try to describe the current phenomenon gripping popular country music that calls heavily on pickup trucks, beer, backroads, etc. etc., but according to Florida Georgia Line’s Brian Kelley, he’s clueless to what the term stands for.
With 34 CMA Awards, over 20 Grammys, and and some 80 million records sold between the two, they both have seen their share of overwhelming commercial success, public notoriety, and peer recognition. But over the last few years the writing has been on the wall that their time has come, and their days of widespread radio play and big awards are over. And so what did these two men do?
Alabama, Alan Jackson, Bakersfiled, Bill Monroe, Brooks & Dunn, Buck Owens, Dave Matthews, Emmylou Harris, Kenny Chesney, Kenny Rogers, Kid Rock, Merle Haggard, Paul Franklin, Ronnie Dunn, Sheryl Crow, The Bluegrass Album, The Dillards, Vince Gill, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson
After parting ways with his record label Sony on June 8th, 2012, Ronnie Dunn’s been making bold moves in the music business, accompanied by inspired, breathy statements on his Facebook page that many times decry the current structure of the country music business, especially radio and distribution. Yesterday (7-2-13), Dunn took to Facebook to announce he has formed a record label, “Little Will-E Records.”
Where most musicians might peak in their 20’s, Ray Wylie Hubbard seems to be hitting his stride in his 60’s. Since the release of his latest album The Grifter’s Hymal, he’s been asked to play David Letterman, and write and record with Ronnie Dunn of Brooks & Dunn fame. But he’s taking time out of his busy schedule to put on a festival of the music he likes.
Brad Rice, Dirty River Boys, Grit 'n Groove Fest, Gurf Morlix, Hayes Carll, Ian McLagan, Jerry Jeff Walker, Joe Walsh, Lucas Hubbard, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Ringo Starr, Ronnie Dunn, Same Baker Brooks & Dunn, Son Volt, The Beatles, The Black Crowes, The Rolling Stones, The Trishas, Tony Joe White, Uncle Lucius
Sunday night is the most important night in music of the year as the 55th annual Grammy Awards will be transpiring in Los Angeles. Independent-minded music consumers can go back and forth about just how important Grammy night is, but regardless if you like the winners or even care to pay attention, what transpires Sunday night will have effects on the entire music world.
Alison Krauss, Bonnie Raitt, Carrie Underwood, Don Williams, Eric Church, Hunter Hayes, Jamey Johnson, John Fullbright, Mumford & Sons, Ronnie Dunn, Taylor Swift, The Avett Brothers, The Grammy Awards, The Lumineers, Will Hoge, Zac Brown Band
Ray Wylie Hubbard and Ronnie Dunn wrote some songs together back in September, and has been in Austin where for the last few days, they’ve been recording with an all-star band of George Reiff, Rick Richards, Ian McLagan from Faces, Brad Rice formerly of Son Volt, and others. “Started recording in Austin yesterday,” Ronnie Dunn posted on Facebook.
Last week Ronnie Dunn took to his Facepalm page to educate his fans on why it is important how they consume music. Dunn is one of these artists whose facing declining sales and support because he’s seen as an aging, more traditional country star. What he said applies very much to how older country artists are getting shut out of the chart process as well.
What’s refreshing about “Bleed Red” is even though it has the epic, anthemic approach indicative of the flag-waving anthem, it is not about politics, or any polarizing subject at all. It’s about the opposite. It’s the antithesis of the awful, too-often called upon emotional-driven overballad, that doesn’t sacrifice the soul-stirring epicness that makes these type of songs the best reminders of why we love music.
It usually takes 6-9 months for the bloated machine of Music Row to realize and catch up on trends, but no doubt that within the next few months, we will begin to see more and more hip-hop infiltration into mainstream country. The next question will be, will the one artist that sits at the very top of the totem pole decide to lead ahead of that trend, or follow it?