CRS 2018

In the words of Country Radio Broadcasters President and Senior VP of Townsquare Media, “There’s nothing like CRS. The educational aspect of the event is phenomenal. Gathering a huge number of radio and music business professionals to celebrate this great musical form is fantastic. Who wouldn’t want to be involved in that?”

Happening February 5th- 7th, this year’s event promises to be consistent with Johnson’s praise. The Omni Nashville Hotel once again plays host to Country radio professionals for a three-day event of “educational programming, panels of key business leaders in various fields, presentations on new technology, business practices, and personal career development topics, new music showcases and, of course, more.”

And when they say educational programming, they’re not just talking Selector 101 brush-ups. They’re talking motivational, inspirational reminders like what can be expected from Miles Adcox, who’ll share his thoughts on Intentional Living (How to Get Control of Your Life Back). Adcox is CEO and Owner of Nashville-based Onsite, which offers short and long-term experiential therapy workshops designed to help individuals and couples experience a breakthrough and discover a better future.  Adcox and his messages of personal growth have been featured on many national radio shows alongside appearances on TV’s The Doctors and Dr. Phil.

Such a presentation is consistent with CRS’s commitment to a long-standing motto: “Growth through sharing.” The organization boast a best and brightest Board, whose members hail from industry giants UMG Nashville, Curb Records, Townsquare Media, Warner Music Nashville, Cumulus Media and more.

Music fans all, they’ve joined radio professionals across the format in voting for this year’s New Faces of Country Music Show® sponsored by Academy of Country Music and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Nominees are: Midland, Dylan Scott, Luke Combs, Runaway June, Lauren Alaina, Russell Dickerson, Walker Hayes, Devin Dawson, Craig Campbell, Michael Ray, LOCASH, Aaron Watson, LANCO, Carly Pearce, Chris Lane, and High Valley.

In addition to the to-be-announced winning performances, attendees will be on hand for recognition of this year’s Rusty Walker Scholarship Recipients.  Jennifer “Jenn Parker” Hays, MD at KCTR in Billings MT, and Mark “Haystack” Wells (PD at KCYT in Fayetteville, AR join Jamie Jackson Promo Director at KRTY in San Jose in receiving the honor.  The Rusty Walker Scholarship program was named in honor of Country Radio Hall of Fame member Rusty Walker, who passed away 2012 at 59. CRS created the scholarship program in his name, enabling young members of the business who may not otherwise have the chance, to attend CRS. Another marker of an all-around swell org.

Additional honorees will include the recipient of the Tom Rivers Humanitarian Award, presented in honor of former CRB board member Tom Rivers. The award recognizes “an individual in the country radio industry who has displayed a magnanimous spirit of caring and generosity in service to his or her community.  Known for his work at WQYK – Tampa/St. Petersburg and WUSN-Chicago, Rivers was highly regarded for his exemplary public service.  This is not an annual award, but given when the board feels an individual, through outstanding service, warrants the recognition.” This just scratches the surface of the award ceremonies honoring Country Radio Broadcasting’s living legends.  Amidst the live music, self-care and exploration, though, appropriately enough, CRS festivities will of course include visits to the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum.

Cumulus’ Greg Frey, Chair of the Agenda Committee, neatly offered a few nuggets about what to expect. “Highlights include two research studies, presented by CMA and Edison Research, and a ground-breaking talk from Cumulus Media’s CEO, Mary Berner.”  Attendees can even expect things to get…topical. “We have an obligation to our industry to speak on the areas of personal responsibility, sexual harassment, and treating others with dignity and respect. This hot topic discussion … will be addressed in this year’s agenda.” Frey shared.  Not one to be missed!

For deets and to register, head to

2017: The Year That Was

And just like that, 2017 comes to a close. A year marked by tumult and loss, it’s been another solidifying reminder of music’s power to connect and heal.

As with any Oscars annual tribute montage, reflection on the losses can be jolting. We saw the departure of greats in the music world this year:  Tom Petty, Fats Domino, Chris Cornell, David Cassidy, Greg Allman, Butch Trucks, Walter Beck, Glen Campbell…too touch on just a few.  Artist turned record exec Tommy Page was just 46 when he was taken from us this year. Having recorded a number hit with “I’ll Be Your Everything,” Page pursued an equally successful career behind the scenes.  A&R Exec and VP of Promotion for Warner Bros., Page helped shape the careers of Green Day, Alanis Morrissette, Josh Groban, later joining Billboard as publisher. Billboard Entertainment Group President John Amato shared “We are all mourning the loss of our friend and colleague Tommy Page. He was a magnetic soul and a true entertainer.”

We continue to absorb and process the tremendous losses of The Route 91 Harvest Music Festival, our view of outdoor concerts now inevitably tied to the tragedy. Jason Aldean performed recently in Nashville at the Country Rising Benefit Concert, which raised more than $4 million for victims of the shooting and those affected by recent hurricanes.

“It’s been a rough couple months for us up here, and it’s a lot of fun to get back out and play for the people who matter which is you guys,” Aldean shared from the stage. “I love getting up every day and playing music, and I’ll be damned if anybody out there will ever stop me from doing that.”

Aldean later opened up on Today.  “I just hope that everybody can start to heal. Some of that stuff you can never get over, but I hope it gets better for everybody as time goes on.”  Alongside 2017’s tapestry of tragedy is a soundtrack of unmatched gems. Adele brought us “Hello.” David Bowie gifted us a farewell Black Star.  Randy Newman, meanwhile, returned after 9 years with Dark Matter.  Continuing with the theme, Danzig returned after five years with Black Laden Crown.  Living Colour also re-emerged following an extensive hiatus.  And 2017 saw U2 return with Songs of Experience, which is heading for a number one.

After a five-year break, Pink returned with her 7th album, Beautiful Trauma, topping the charts immediately, and in doing so enjoying the biggest opening for a female artist since Beyoncé gave us Lemonade last year. To the delight of romantics and wedding DJ’s everywhere, Tim McGraw & Faith Hill released their first collaborative album, The Rest of Our Life.

It was a year that, like any other, saw reconciliations, reformations, and disbandings.  A Tribe Called Quest reformed and toured, following the death of Phife Dawg last year. Similarly bittersweet, Audioslave and the Eagles also reconnected.

Others chose 2017 to hit pause for a bit:  One Direction, fun., Twenty One Pilots, Slipknot, Dave Matthews Band.

The big sellers this year are of course dominated by known giants.  Taylor Swift takes the prize with Reputation being the top seller, unseating Ed Sheeran’s Divide. They join fellow behemoths Kendrick Lamar, Bruno Mars, and Drake.

As for the business itself, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) recently released the 2017 Music Consumer Insight Report, brimming with encouraging tidbits, not least of which the notion that 87% of all internet users consume music via traditional radio concurrently.  Cheers to that and to 2018.

Gram Slams: A Preview of the 2018 GRAMMYS

Well, strap in folks- the Grammys awards ceremony is right around the corner, January 28th. (Weren’t we just watching Adele absolutely kill “Fast Love”?)

Well, no matter…time flies when you’re hearing hits. The leader of the pack for the 60th annual soiree is JAY-Z, with 8 nods  (including the big guns of course, album, record, song, and specifically best rap album).  Following closely behind, Kendrick Lamar boasts 7 nominations, just ahead of Bruno Mars’ 6.

Mr. Mars is currently busy on the road, with earnings topping… ya ready? $129 million. He’s off to Ecuador, Colombia, and Costa Rica this month before returning home.

The media has noted the prevalence of people of color among this year’s nominees. Speaking with Billboard,  producer No I.D. shared  “Urban culture is now pop culture. Sometimes the weather changes, the season changes. We’re just in a season where the world loves this culture of music. Now everybody’s doing it, and some people have been doing it longer…And so they’re just better.”

It’s been noted specifically too that “the big four” includes no rock artists. (Not even the Foos, whose ninth studio album Concrete and Gold has been overlooked, though they get a shout out for Best Rock Performance for “Run.”) A reminder of legends we’ve lost, Leonard Cohen’s “You Want it Darker” and Chris Cornell’s “The Promise” are nominated alongside the Foo Fighters.

As the lines between alt and pop inevitably blur, with pop categories hosting Portugal. The Man, Imagine Dragons, Coldplay, and Lana Del Rey alongside Ed Sheeran.

Up for Best New Artist this year: Khalid, Alessia Cara, Lil Uzi Vert, SZA, and Julia Michaels. Michaels opened up about the experience, sharing “ “Every artist dreams of being nominated for a Grammy. I was really nervous. I’m such a pessimist, I was like it’s not going to happen, I want it to happen but it’s not gonna happen, and I just decided last night I was gonna wake up like it’s Christmas morning and I was either going to get the bike that I wanted or the pair of socks and I was just going to have to accept the outcome. And I was woken up early to the news and I just couldn’t believe it. I still can’t believe it, I’m still in shock.”

And with perhaps the ultimate line on such accolades, SZA declared “This entire thing puts my wildest dreams to shame.”

List of nominees below:

Record Of The Year:
“Redbone” — Childish Gambino
“Despacito” — Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee Featuring Justin Bieber
“The Story Of O.J.” — Jay-Z
“HUMBLE.” — Kendrick Lamar
“24K Magic” — Bruno Mars

Album Of The Year:
“Awaken, My Love!” — Childish Gambino
4:44 — Jay-Z
DAMN. — Kendrick Lamar
Melodrama — Lorde
24K Magic — Bruno Mars

Song Of The Year:
“Despacito” — Ramón Ayala, Justin Bieber, Jason “Poo Bear” Boyd, Erika Ender, Luis Fonsi & Marty James Garton, songwriters (Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee Featuring Justin Bieber)
“4:44” — Shawn Carter & Dion Wilson, songwriters (Jay-Z)
“Issues” — Benny Blanco, Mikkel Storleer Eriksen, Tor Erik Hermansen, Julia Michaels & Justin Drew Tranter, songwriters (Julia Michaels)
“1-800-273-8255” — Alessia Caracciolo, Sir Robert Bryson Hall II, Arjun Ivatury & Khalid Robinson, songwriters (Logic Featuring Alessia Cara & Khalid)
“That’s What I Like” — Christopher Brody Brown, James Fauntleroy, Philip Lawrence, Bruno Mars, Ray Charles McCullough II, Jeremy Reeves, Ray Romulus & Jonathan Yip, songwriters (Bruno Mars)

Best New Artist:
Alessia Cara
Lil Uzi Vert
Julia Michaels


Best Pop Solo Performance:
“Love So Soft” — Kelly Clarkson
“Praying” — Kesha
“Million Reasons” — Lady Gaga
“What About Us” — P!nk
“Shape Of You” — Ed Sheeran

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance:
“Something Just Like This” — The Chainsmokers & Coldplay
“Despacito” — Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee Featuring Justin Bieber
“Thunder” — Imagine Dragons
“Feel It Still” — Portugal. The Man
“Stay” — Zedd & Alessia Cara

Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album:
Nobody But Me (Deluxe Version) — Michael Bublé
Triplicate — Bob Dylan
In Full Swing — Seth MacFarlane
Wonderland — Sarah McLachlan
Tony Bennett Celebrates 90 — (Various Artists) Dae Bennett, Producer

Best Pop Vocal Album:
Kaleidoscope EP — Coldplay
Lust For Life — Lana Del Rey
Evolve — Imagine Dragons
Rainbow — Kesha
Joanne — Lady Gaga
÷ (Divide) — Ed Sheeran


Best Dance Recording:
“Bambro Koyo Ganda” — Bonobo Featuring Innov Gnawa
“Cola” — Camelphat & Elderbrook
“Andromeda” — Gorillaz Featuring DRAM
“Tonite” — LCD Soundsystem
“Line Of Sight” — Odesza Featuring WYNNE & Mansionair

Best Dance/Electronic Album:
Migration — Bonobo
3-D The Catalogue — Kraftwerk
Mura Masa — Mura Masa
A Moment Apart — Odesza
What Now — Sylvan Esso


Best Contemporary Instrumental Album:
What If — The Jerry Douglas Band
Spirit — Alex Han
Mount Royal — Julian Lage & Chris Eldridge
Prototype — Jeff Lorber Fusion
Bad Hombre — Antonio Sanchez


Best Rock Performance:
“You Want It Darker” — Leonard Cohen
“The Promise” — Chris Cornell
“Run” — Foo Fighters
“No Good” — Kaleo
“Go To War” — Nothing More

Best Metal Performance:
“Invisible Enemy” — August Burns Red
“Black Hoodie” — Body Count
“Forever” — Code Orange
“Sultan’s Curse” — Mastodon
“Clockworks” — Meshuggah

Best Rock Song:
“Atlas, Rise!” — James Hetfield & Lars Ulrich, songwriters (Metallica)
“Blood In The Cut” — JT Daly & Kristine Flaherty, songwriters (K.Flay)
“Go To War” — Ben Anderson, Jonny Hawkins, Will Hoffman, Daniel Oliver, David Pramik & Mark Vollelunga, songwriters (Nothing More)
“Run” — Foo Fighters, songwriters (Foo Fighters)
“The Stage” — Zachary Baker, Brian Haner, Matthew Sanders, Jonathan Seward & Brooks Wackerman, songwriters (Avenged Sevenfold)

Best Rock Album:
Emperor Of Sand — Mastodon
Hardwired…To Self-Destruct — Metallica
The Stories We Tell Ourselves — Nothing More
Villains — Queens Of The Stone Age
A Deeper Understanding — The War On Drugs


Best Alternative Music Album:
Everything Now — Arcade Fire
Humanz — Gorillaz
American Dream — LCD Soundsystem
Pure Comedy — Father John Misty
Sleep Well Beast — The National


Best R&B Performance:
“Get You” — Daniel Caesar Featuring Kali Uchis
“Distraction” — Kehlani
“High” — Ledisi
“That’s What I Like” — Bruno Mars
“The Weekend” — SZA

Best Traditional R&B Performance:
“Laugh And Move On” — The Baylor Project
“Redbone” — Childish Gambino
“What I’m Feelin’” — Anthony Hamilton Featuring The Hamiltones|
“All The Way” — Ledisi
“Still” — Mali Music

Best R&B Song:
“First Began” — PJ Morton, songwriter (PJ Morton)
“Location” — Alfredo Gonzalez, Olatunji Ige, Samuel David Jiminez, Christopher McClenney, Khalid Robinson & Joshua Scruggs, songwriters (Khalid)
“Redbone” — Donald Glover & Ludwig Goransson, songwriters (Childish Gambino)
“Supermodel” — Tyran Donaldson, Terrence Henderson, Greg Landfair Jr., Solana Rowe & Pharrell Williams, songwriters (SZA)
“That’s What I Like” — Christopher Brody Brown, James Fauntleroy, Philip Lawrence, Bruno Mars, Ray Charles McCullough II, Jeremy Reeves, Ray Romulus & Jonathan Yip, songwriters (Bruno Mars)

Best Urban Contemporary Album:
Free 6LACK — 6LACK
Awaken, My Love! — Childish Gambino
American Teen — Khalid
Ctrl — SZA
Starboy — The Weeknd

Best R&B Album:
Freudian — Daniel Caesar
Let Love Rule — Ledisi
24K Magic — Bruno Mars
Gumbo — PJ Morton
Feel The Real –Musiq Soulchild


Best Rap Performance:
“Bounce Back” — Big Sean
“Bodak Yellow” — Cardi B
“4:44” — Jay-Z
“HUMBLE.” — Kendrick Lamar
“Bad And Boujee” — Migos Featuring Lil Uzi Vert

Best Rap/Sung Performance:
“Crew” — Goldlink Featuring Brent Faiyaz & Shy Glizzy
“Family Feud” — Jay-Z Featuring Beyoncé
“LOYALTY.” — Kendrick Lamar Featuring Rihanna
“Love Galore” — SZA Featuring Travis Scott

Best Rap Song:
“Bodak Yellow” — Dieuson Octave, Klenord Raphael, Shaftizm, Jordan Thorpe, Washpoppin & J White, songwriters (Cardi B)
“Chase Me” — Judah Bauer, Brian Burton, Hector Delgado, Jaime Meline, Antwan Patton, Michael Render, Russell Simins & Jon Spencer, songwriters (Danger Mouse Featuring Run The Jewels & Big Boi)
“HUMBLE.” — Duckworth, Asheton Hogan & M. Williams II, songwriters (Kendrick Lamar)
“Sassy” — Gabouer & M. Evans, songwriters (Rapsody)
“The Story Of O.J.” — Shawn Carter & Dion Wilson, songwriters (Jay-Z)

Best Rap Album:
4:44 — Jay-Z
DAMN. — Kendrick Lamar
Culture — Migos
Laila’s Wisdom — Rapsody
Flower Boy — Tyler, The Creator


Best Country Solo Performance:
“Body Like A Back Road” — Sam Hunt
“Losing You: –Alison Krauss
“Tin Man” — Miranda Lambert
“I Could Use A Love Song” — Maren Morris
“Either Way” — Chris Stapleton

Best Country Duo/Group Performance:
“It Ain’t My Fault” — Brothers Osborne
“My Old Man” — Zac Brown Band
“You Look Good” — Lady Antebellum
“Better Man” — Little Big Town
“Drinkin’ Problem” — Midland

Best Country Song:
“Better Man” — Taylor Swift, songwriter (Little Big Town)
“Body Like A Back Road” — Zach Crowell, Sam Hunt, Shane McAnally & Josh Osborne, songwriters (Sam Hunt)
“Broken Halos” — Mike Henderson & Chris Stapleton, songwriters (Chris Stapleton)
“Drinkin’ Problem” — Jess Carson, Cameron Duddy, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne & Mark Wystrach, songwriters (Midland)
“Tin Man” — Jack Ingram, Miranda Lambert & Jon Randall, songwriters (Miranda Lambert)

Best Country Album:
Cosmic Hallelujah — Kenny Chesney
Heart Break — Lady Antebellum
The Breaker — Little Big Town
Life Changes — Thomas Rhett
From A Room: Volume 1 — Chris Stapleton


Best New Age Album:
Reflection — Brian Eno
SongVersation: Medicine — India.Arie
Dancing On Water — Peter Kater
Sacred Journey Of Ku-Kai, Volume 5 — Kitaro
Spiral Revelation — Steve Roach


Best Improvised Jazz Solo:
“Can’t Remember Why” — Sara Caswell, soloist
“Dance Of Shiva” — Billy Childs, soloist
“Whisper Not” — Fred Hersch, soloist
“Miles Beyond” — John McLaughlin, soloist
“Ilimba” — Chris Potter, soloist

Best Jazz Vocal Album:
The Journey — The Baylor Project
A Social Call — Jazzmeia Horn
Bad Ass And Blind — Raul Midón
Porter Plays Porter — Randy Porter Trio With Nancy King
Dreams And Daggers — Cécile McLorin Salvant

Best Jazz Instrumental Album:
Uptown, Downtown — Bill Charlap Trio
Rebirth — Billy Childs
Project Freedom –Joey DeFrancesco & The People
Open Book — Fred Hersch
The Dreamer Is The Dream — Chris Potter

Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album:
MONK’estra Vol. 2 — John Beasley
Jigsaw — Alan Ferber Big Band
Bringin’ It — Christian McBride Big Band
Homecoming — Vince Mendoza & WDR Big Band Cologne
Whispers On The Wind — Chuck Owen And The Jazz Surge

Best Latin Jazz Album:
Hybrido – From Rio To Wayne Shorter — Antonio Adolfo
Oddara — Jane Bunnett & Maqueque
Outra Coisa – The Music Of Moacir Santos — Anat Cohen & Marcello Gonçalves
Típico — Miguel Zenón
Jazz Tango — Pablo Ziegler Trio


Best Gospel Performance/Song:
“Too Hard Not To” — Tina Campbell
“You Deserve It” — JJ Hairston & Youthful Praise Featuring Bishop Cortez Vaughn
“Better Days” — Le’Andria
“My Life” — The Walls Group
“Never Have To Be Alone” — CeCe Winans

Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song:
“Oh My Soul” — Casting Crowns
“Clean” — Natalie Grant
“What A Beautiful Name” — Hillsong Worship
“Even If” — MercyMe
“Hills And Valleys” — Tauren Wells

Best Gospel Album:
Crossover: Live From Music City — Travis Greene
Bigger Than Me — Le’Andria
Close — Marvin Sapp
Sunday Song — Anita Wilson
Let Them Fall In Love — CeCe Winans

Best Contemporary Christian Music Album:
Rise — Danny Gokey
Echoes (Deluxe Edition) — Matt Maher
Lifer — MercyMe
Hills And Valleys — Tauren Wells
Chain Breaker — Zach Williams

Best Roots Gospel Album:
The Best Of The Collingsworth Family – Volume 1 — The Collingsworth Family
Give Me Jesus — Larry Cordle
Resurrection — Joseph Habedank
Sing It Now: Songs Of Faith & Hope — Reba McEntire
Hope For All Nations — Karen Peck & New River


Best Latin Pop Album:
Lo Único Constante — Alex Cuba
Mis Planes Son Amarte — Juanes
Amar Y Vivir En Vivo Desde La Ciudad De México, 2017 — La Santa Cecilia
Musas (Un Homenaje Al Folclore Latinoamericano En Manos De Los Macorinos) — Natalia Lafourcade
El Dorado — Shakira

Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album:
Ayo — Bomba Estéreo
Pa’ Fuera — C4 Trío & Desorden Público
Salvavidas De Hielo — Jorge Drexler
El Paradise — Los Amigos Invisibles
Residente — Residente

Best Regional Mexican Music Album (Including Tejano):
Ni Diablo Ni Santo — Julión Álvarez Y Su Norteño Banda
Ayer Y Hoy — Banda El Recodo De Cruz Lizárraga
Momentos — Alex Campos
Arriero Somos Versiones Acústicas — Aida Cuevas
Zapateando En El Norte — Humberto Novoa, producer (Various Artists)

Best Tropical Latin Album:
Albita — Albita
Art Of The Arrangement — Doug Beavers
Salsa Big Band — Rubén Blades Con Roberto Delgado & Orquesta
Gente Valiente — Silvestre Dangond
Indestructible — Diego El Cigala


Best American Roots Performance:
Killer Diller Blues — Alabama Shakes
Let My Mother Live — Blind Boys Of Alabama
Arkansas Farmboy — Glen Campbell
Steer Your Way — Leonard Cohen
I Never Cared For You — Alison Krauss

Best American Roots Song:
“Cumberland Gap” — David Rawlings
“I Wish You Well” — The Mavericks
“If We Were Vampires” — Jason Isbell And The 400 Unit
“It Ain’t Over Yet” — Rodney Crowell Featuring Rosanne Cash & John Paul White
“My Only True Friend” –Gregg Allman

Best Americana Album:
Southern Blood — Gregg Allman
Shine On Rainy Day — Brent Cobb
Beast Epic — Iron & Wine
The Nashville Sound — Jason Isbell And The 400 Unit
Brand New Day — The Mavericks

Best Bluegrass Album:
Fiddler’s Dream — Michael Cleveland
Laws Of Gravity — The Infamous Stringdusters
Original — Bobby Osborne
Universal Favorite — Noam Pikelny
All The Rage – In Concert Volume One [Live] — Rhonda Vincent And The Rage

Best Traditional Blues Album:
Migration Blues — Eric Bibb
Elvin Bishop’s Big Fun Trio — Elvin Bishop’s Big Fun Trio
Roll And Tumble — R.L. Boyce
Sonny & Brownie’s Last Train — Guy Davis & Fabrizio Poggi
Blue & Lonesome — The Rolling Stones

Best Contemporary Blues Album:
Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm — Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm
Recorded Live In Lafayette — Sonny Landreth
TajMo — Taj Mahal & Keb’ Mo’
Got Soul — Robert Randolph & The Family Band
Live From The Fox Oakland — Tedeschi Trucks Band

Best Folk Album:
Mental Illness — Aimee Mann
Semper Femina — Laura Marling
The Queen Of Hearts — Offa Rex
You Don’t Own Me Anymore — The Secret Sisters
The Laughing Apple — Yusuf / Cat Stevens

Best Regional Roots Music Album:
Top Of The Mountain — Dwayne Dopsie And The Zydeco Hellraisers
Ho’okena 3.0 — Ho’okena
Kalenda — Lost Bayou Ramblers
Miyo Kekisepa, Make A Stand [Live] — Northern Cree
Pua Kiele — Josh Tatofi


Best Reggae Album:
Chronology — Chronixx
Lost In Paradise — Common Kings
Wash House Ting — J Boog
Stony Hill — Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley
Avrakedabra — Morgan Heritage


Best World Music Album:
Memoria De Los Sentidos — Vicente Amigo
Para Mi — Buika
Rosa Dos Ventos — Anat Cohen & Trio Brasileiro
Shaka Zulu Revisited: 30th Anniversary Celebration — Ladysmith Black Mambazo
Elwan — Tinariwen


Best Children’s Album:
Brighter Side — Gustafer Yellowgold
Feel What U Feel — Lisa Loeb
Lemonade — Justin Roberts
Rise Shine #Woke — Alphabet Rockers
Songs Of Peace & Love For Kids & Parents Around The World — Ladysmith Black Mambazo


Best Spoken Word Album (Includes Poetry, Audio Books & Storytelling):
Astrophysics For People In A Hurry — Neil Degrasse Tyson
Born To Run — Bruce Springsteen
Confessions Of A Serial Songwriter — Shelly Peiken
Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In (Bernie Sanders) — Bernie Sanders And Mark Ruffalo
The Princess Diarist — Carrie Fisher


Best Comedy Album:
The Age Of Spin & Deep In The Heart Of Texas — Dave Chappelle
Cinco — Jim Gaffigan
Jerry Before Seinfeld — Jerry Seinfeld
A Speck Of Dust — Sarah Silverman
What Now? — Kevin Hart


Best Musical Theater Album:
Come From Away — Ian Eisendrath, August Eriksmoen, David Hein, David Lai & Irene Sankoff, producers; David Hein & Irene Sankoff, composers/lyricists (Original Broadway Cast Recording)
Dear Evan Hansen — Ben Platt, principal soloist; Alex Lacamoire, Stacey Mindich, Benj Pasek & Justin Paul, producers; Benj Pasek & Justin Paul, composers/lyricists (Original Broadway Cast Recording)
Hello, Dolly! — Bette Midler, principal soloist; Steven Epstein, producer (Jerry Herman, composer & lyricist) (New Broadway Cast Recording)


Best Compilation Soundtrack For Visual Media:
Baby Driver — (Various Artists)
Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2: Awesome Mix Vol. 2 — (Various Artists)
Hidden Figures: The Album — (Various Artists)
La La Land — (Various Artists)
Moana: The Songs — (Various Artists)

Best Score Soundtrack For Visual Media:
Arrival — Jóhann Jóhannsson, composer
Dunkirk — Hans Zimmer, composer
Game Of Thrones: Season 7 — Ramin Djawadi, composer
Hidden Figures — Benjamin Wallfisch, Pharrell Williams & Hans Zimmer, composers
La La Land — Justin Hurwitz, composer

Best Song Written For Visual Media:
“City Of Stars” — Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek & Justin Paul, songwriters (Ryan Gosling & Emma Stone)
“How Far I’ll Go” — Lin-Manuel Miranda, songwriter (Auli’i Cravalho)
“I Don’t Wanna Live Forever (‘Fifty Shades Darker’)” — Jack Antonoff, Sam Dew & Taylor Swift, songwriters (Zayn & Taylor Swift)
“Never Give Up” — Sia Furler & Greg Kurstin, songwriters (Sia)
“Stand Up For Something” — Common & Diane Warren, songwriters (Andra Day Featuring Common)


Best Instrumental Composition:
“Alkaline” — Pascal Le Boeuf, composer (Le Boeuf Brothers & JACK Quartet)
“Choros #3” — Vince Mendoza, composer (Vince Mendoza & WDR Big Band Cologne)
“Home Free (For Peter Joe)” — Nate Smith, composer (Nate Smith)
“Three Revolutions” — Arturo O’Farrill, composer (Arturo O’Farrill & Chucho Valdés)
“Warped Cowboy” — Chuck Owen, composer (Chuck Owen And The Jazz Surge)

Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella:
“All Hat, No Saddle” — Chuck Owen, arranger (Chuck Owen And The Jazz Surge)
“Escapades For Alto Saxophone And Orchestra From Catch Me If You Can” — John Williams, arranger (John Williams)
“Home Free (For Peter Joe)” — Nate Smith, arranger (Nate Smith)
“Ugly Beauty/Pannonica” — John Beasley, arranger (John Beasley)
“White Christmas” — Chris Walden, arranger (Herb Alpert)

Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals:
“Another Day Of Sun” — Justin Hurwitz, arranger (La La Land Cast)
“Every Time We Say Goodbye” — Jorge Calandrelli, arranger (Clint Holmes Featuring Jane Monheit)
“I Like Myself” — Joel McNeely, arranger (Seth MacFarlane)
“I Loves You Porgy/There’s A Boat That’s Leavin’ Soon For New York” — Shelly Berg, Gregg Field, Gordon Goodwin & Clint Holmes, arrangers (Clint Holmes Featuring Dee Dee Bridgewater And The Count Basie Orchestra)
“Putin” — Randy Newman, arranger (Randy Newman)


Best Recording Package:
El Orisha De La Rosa — Claudio Roncoli & Cactus Taller, art directors (Magín Díaz)
Mura Masa — Alex Crossan & Matt De Jong, art directors (Mura Masa)
Pure Comedy (Deluxe Edition) — Sasha Barr, Ed Steed & Josh Tillman, art directors (Father John Misty)
Sleep Well Beast — Elyanna Blaser-Gould, Luke Hayman & Andrea Trabucco-Campos, art directors (The National)
Solid State — Gail Marowitz, art director (Jonathan Coulton)

Best Boxed Or Special Limited Edition Package:
Bobo Yeye: Belle Epoque In Upper Volta — Tim Breen, art director (Various Artists)
Lovely Creatures: The Best Of Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds (1984 – 2014) — Tom Hingston, art director (Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds)
May 1977: Get Shown The Light — Masaki Koike, art director (Grateful Dead)
The Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition — Lawrence Azerrad, Timothy Daly & David Pescovitz, art directors (Various Artists)
Warfaring Strangers: Acid Nightmares — Tim Breen, Benjamin Marra & Ken Shipley, art directors (Various Artists)


Best Album Notes:
Arthur Q. Smith: The Trouble With The Truth — Wayne Bledsoe & Bradley Reeves, album notes writers (Various Artists)
Big Bend Killing: The Appalachian Ballad Tradition — Ted Olson, album notes writer (Various Artists)
The Complete Piano Works Of Scott Joplin — Bryan S. Wright, album notes writer (Richard Dowling)
Edouard-Léon Scott De Martinville, Inventor Of Sound Recording: A Bicentennial Tribute — David Giovannoni, album notes writer (Various Artists)
Live At The Whisky A Go Go: The Complete Recordings — Lynell George, album notes writer (Otis Redding)
Washington Phillips And His Manzarene Dreams — Michael Corcoran, album notes writer (Washington Phillips)


Best Historical Album:
Bobo Yeye: Belle Epoque In Upper Volta — Jon Kirby, Florent Mazzoleni, Rob Sevier & Ken Shipley, compilation producers; Jeff Lipton & Maria Rice, mastering engineers (Various Artists)
The Goldberg Variations – The Complete Unreleased Recording Sessions June 1955 — Robert Russ, compilation producer; Matthias Erb, Martin Kistner & Andreas K. Meyer, mastering engineers (Glenn Gould)
Leonard Bernstein – The Composer — Robert Russ, compilation producer; Martin Kistner & Andreas K. Meyer, mastering engineers (Leonard Bernstein)
Sweet As Broken Dates: Lost Somali Tapes From The Horn Of Africa — Nicolas Sheikholeslami & Vik Sohonie, compilation producers; Michael Graves, mastering engineer (Various Artists)
Washington Phillips And His Manzarene Dreams — Michael Corcoran, April G. Ledbetter & Steven Lance Ledbetter, compilation producers; Michael Graves, mastering engineer (Washington Phillips)


Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical:
Every Where Is Some Where — Brent Arrowood, Miles Comaskey, JT Daly, Tommy English, Kristine Flaherty, Adam Hawkins, Chad Howat & Tony Maserati, engineers; Joe LaPorta, mastering engineer (K.Flay)
Is This The Life We Really Want? — Nigel Godrich, Sam Petts-Davies & Darrell Thorp, engineers; Bob Ludwig, mastering engineer (Roger Waters)
Natural Conclusion — Ryan Freeland, engineer; Joao Carvalho, mastering engineer (Rose Cousins)
No Shape — Shawn Everett & Joseph Lorge, engineers; Patricia Sullivan, mastering engineer (Perfume Genius)
24K Magic — Serban Ghenea, John Hanes & Charles Moniz, engineers; Tom Coyne, mastering engineer (Bruno Mars)

Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical:
Calvin Harris
Greg Kurstin
Blake Mills
No I.D.
The Stereotypes

Best Remixed Recording:
“Can’t Let You Go (Louie Vega Roots Mix)” — Louie Vega, remixer (Loleatta Holloway)
“Funk O’ De Funk (SMLE Remix)” — SMLE, remixers (Bobby Rush)
“Undercover (Adventure Club Remix)” — Leighton James & Christian Srigley, remixers (Kehlani)
“A Violent Noise (Four Tet Remix)” — Four Tet, remixer (The xx)
“You Move (Latroit Remix)” — Dennis White, remixer (Depeche Mode)


Best Surround Sound Album:
Early Americans — Jim Anderson, surround mix engineer; Darcy Proper, surround mastering engineer; Jim Anderson & Jane Ira Bloom, surround producers (Jane Ira Bloom)
Kleiberg: Mass For Modern Man — Morten Lindberg, surround mix engineer; Morten Lindberg, surround mastering engineer; Morten Lindberg, surround producer (Eivind Gullberg Jensen & Trondheim Symphony Orchestra And Choir)
So Is My Love — Morten Lindberg, surround mix engineer; Morten Lindberg, surround mastering engineer; Morten Lindberg, surround producer (Nina T. Karlsen & Ensemble 96)
3-D The Catalogue — Fritz Hilpert, surround mix engineer; Tom Ammermann, surround mastering engineer; Fritz Hilpert, surround producer (Kraftwerk)
Tyberg: Masses — Jesse Brayman, surround mix engineer; Jesse Brayman, surround mastering engineer; Blanton Alspaugh, surround producer (Brian A. Schmidt, Christopher Jacobson & South Dakota Chorale)


Best Engineered Album, Classical:
Danielpour: Songs Of Solitude & War Songs — Gary Call, engineer (Thomas Hampson, Giancarlo Guerrero & Nashville Symphony)
Kleiberg: Mass For Modern Man — Morten Lindberg, engineer (Eivind Gullberg Jensen, Trondheim Vokalensemble & Trondheim Symphony Orchestra)
Schoenberg, Adam: American Symphony; Finding Rothko; Picture Studies — Keith O. Johnson & Sean Royce Martin, engineers (Michael Stern & Kansas City Symphony)
Shostakovich: Symphony No. 5; Barber: Adagio — Mark Donahue, engineer (Manfred Honeck & Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra)
Tyberg: Masses — John Newton, engineer; Jesse Brayman, mastering engineer (Brian A. Schmidt, Christopher Jacobson & South Dakota Chorale)

Producer Of The Year, Classical:
Blanton Alspaugh
Manfred Eicher
David Frost
Morten Lindberg
Judith Sherman


Best Orchestral Performance:
Concertos For Orchestra — Louis Langrée, conductor (Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra)
Copland: Symphony No. 3; Three Latin American Sketches — Leonard Slatkin, conductor (Detroit Symphony Orchestra)
Debussy: Images; Jeux & La Plus Que Lente — Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor (San Francisco Symphony)
Mahler: Symphony No. 5 — Osmo Vänskä, conductor (Minnesota Orchestra)
Shostakovich: Symphony No. 5; Barber: Adagio — Manfred Honeck, conductor (Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra)

Best Opera Recording:
Berg: Lulu — Lothar Koenigs, conductor; Daniel Brenna, Marlis Petersen & Johan Reuter; Jay David Saks, producer (The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra)
Berg: Wozzeck — Hans Graf, conductor; Anne Schwanewilms & Roman Trekel; Hans Graf, producer (Houston Symphony; Chorus Of Students And Alumni, Shepherd School Of Music, Rice University & Houston Grand Opera Children’s Chorus)
Bizet: Les Pêcheurs De Perles — Gianandrea Noseda, conductor; Diana Damrau, Mariusz Kwiecień, Matthew Polenzani & Nicolas Testé; Jay David Saks, producer (The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra; The Metropolitan Opera Chorus)
Handel: Ottone — George Petrou, conductor; Max Emanuel Cencic & Lauren Snouffer; Jacob Händel, producer (Il Pomo D’Oro)
Rimsky-Korsakov: The Golden Cockerel — Valery Gergiev, conductor; Vladimir Feliauer, Aida Garifullina & Kira Loginova; Ilya Petrov, producer (Mariinsky Orchestra; Mariinsky Chorus)

Best Choral Performance:
Bryars: The Fifth Century — Donald Nally, conductor (PRISM Quartet; The Crossing)
Handel: Messiah — Andrew Davis, conductor; Noel Edison, chorus master (Elizabeth DeShong, John Relyea, Andrew Staples & Erin Wall; Toronto Symphony Orchestra; Toronto Mendelssohn Choir)
Mansurian: Requiem — Alexander Liebreich, conductor; Florian Helgath, chorus master (Anja Petersen & Andrew Redmond; Münchener Kammerorchester; RIAS Kammerchor)
Music Of The Spheres — Nigel Short, conductor (Tenebrae)
Tyberg: Masses — Brian A. Schmidt, conductor (Christopher Jacobson; South Dakota Chorale)

Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance:
Buxtehude: Trio Sonatas, Op. 1 — Arcangelo
Death & The Maiden — Patricia Kopatchinskaja & The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra
Divine Theatre – Sacred Motets By Giaches De Wert — Stile Antico
Franck, Kurtág, Previn & Schumann — Joyce Yang & Augustin Hadelich
Martha Argerich & Friends – Live From Lugano 2016 — Martha Argerich & Various Artists

Best Classical Instrumental Solo:
Bach: The French Suites — Murray Perahia
Haydn: Cello Concertos — Steven Isserlis; Florian Donderer, conductor (The Deutsch Kammerphilharmonie Bremen)
Levina: The Piano Concertos — Maria Lettberg; Ariane Matiakh, conductor (Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin)
Shostakovich: Violin Concertos Nos. 1 & 2 — Frank Peter Zimmermann; Alan Gilbert, conductor (NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester)
Transcendental — Daniil Trifonov

Best Classical Solo Vocal Album:
Bach & Telemann: Sacred Cantatas — Philippe Jaroussky; Petra Müllejans, conductor (Ann-Kathrin Brüggemann & Juan de la Rubia; Freiburger Barockorchester)
Crazy Girl Crazy – Music By Gershwin, Berg & Berio — Barbara Hannigan (Orchestra Ludwig)
Gods & Monsters — Nicholas Phan; Myra Huang, accompanist
In War & Peace – Harmony Through Music — Joyce DiDonato; Maxim Emelyanychev, conductor (Il Pomo D’Oro)
Sviridov: Russia Cast Adrift — Dmitri Hvorostovsky; Constantine Orbelian, conductor (St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra & Style Of Five Ensemble)

Best Classical Compendium:
Barbara — Alexandre Tharaud; Cécile Lenoir, producer
Higdon: All Things Majestic, Viola Concerto & Oboe Concerto — Giancarlo Guerrero, conductor; Tim Handley, producer
Kurtág: Complete Works For Ensemble & Choir — Reinbert de Leeuw, conductor; Guido Tichelman, producer
Les Routes De L’Esclavage — Jordi Savall, conductor; Benjamin Bleton, producer
Mademoiselle: Première Audience – Unknown Music Of Nadia Boulanger — Lucy Mauro; Lucy Mauro, producer

Best Contemporary Classical Composition:
Danielpour: Songs Of Solitude — Richard Danielpour, composer (Thomas Hampson, Giancarlo Guerrero & Nashville Symphony)
Higdon: Viola Concerto — Jennifer Higdon, composer (Roberto Díaz, Giancarlo Guerrero & Nashville Symphony)
Mansurian: Requiem — Tigran Mansurian, composer (Alexander Liebreich, Florian Helgath, RIAS Kammerchor & Münchener Kammerorchester)
Schoenberg, Adam: Picture Studies — Adam Schoenberg, composer (Michael Stern & Kansas City Symphony)
Zhou Tian: Concerto For Orchestra — Zhou Tian, composer (Louis Langrée & Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra)


Best Music Video:
“Up All Night” — Beck
“Makeba” — Jain
“The Story Of O.J.” — Jay-Z
“Humble.” — Kendrick Lamar
“1-800-273-8255” — Logic Featuring Alessia Cara & Khalid

Best Music Film:
“One More Time With Feeling” — Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
“Long Strange Trip” — (The Grateful Dead)
“The Defiant Ones” — (Various Artists)
“Soundbreaking” — (Various Artists)
“Two Trains Runnin’” — (Various Artists)

It Would Be So Nice: Holiday Nuggets

The holidays are upon us…a time for all of us to take a breath, reflect, and enjoy our loved ones.  And a time for radio programmers to panic about filling 24 festive hours, seven days a week.  Well fret not, Selector slaves.  Play MPE has your title and artist conflicts all worked out for the season. Oodles of artists have come to the rescue this season, blessing us with all manner of delightful December goodies.

Take REO Speedwagon. Just in time for Santa Claus, their definitive Christmas With REO Speedwagon boasts a new version of “I Believe in Santa Claus” as well as classics we count on. The remastered collection includes versions of “Sleigh Ride,” “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” and “We Three Kings.”  Definitive is right. They don’t stop there. Out this week on vinyl, the collection also includes “Little Drummer Boy,” “Deck the Halls,” “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” and “Silent Night.”  Having already sold over 40 million albums worldwide, the band is sure to put a number of these under trees this year.

Joining in the spirit of the season, Bret Michaels has just released “Jingle Bells,” coinciding with Michaels’ Life Rocks Foundation fundraiser in LA. It marks the first holiday release for Michaels, with proceeds benefiting St Jude’s Children’s Hospital. The Life Rocks Foundation channels its funds to causes including Hurricane Harvey Relief, The American Red Cross, JDRF, Military Charities and others.

Luke Bryan brings us a soulful version of the standard “O Holy Night.” Call it a holiday tiding to tide fans over ‘till Bryan’s 6th studio album What Makes You Country, out December 8th.  The aptly titled A Very Nashville Christmas includes contributions from Ali Morgan, Brandon Chase, Crystal Yates, The Young Fables, and more.

Bad Religion joins the party with some good music. Christmas Songs features “O Come All Ye Faithful”, “White Christmas”, a nice cover of The Kinks’ “Father Christmas” and “What Child is This?”

Concord Music has a bevy of releases under their umbrella collection “Concord Music – Holiday Music 2017.”  This keeper includes contributions from Steve Martin, Nathaniel Rateliff, Paul Simon, Jewel, fun., Isaac Hayes, Andrew Bird, Indigo Girls and more.

The Minus 5 treat us to original music with Dear December.  Scott McCaughey and Peter Buck are joined by a stellar group of guests, including  M. Ward, Benjamin Gibbard, Mike Mills, Colin Meloy, Chuck Prophet, Tammy Ealom, The Posies, Kelly Hogan, and Nora O’Connor.

Just by logging in to the player, Play MPE users can delight to more sounds of the season, including nuggets from Blake Shelton,  John Prine, Alabama, Delta Rae, Robert Earl Keen, and The Mavericks.

Guitar Hero

New Year, new leaf. As resolution time is upon us, we get to thinking about the promises we make to ourselves— to turn our downtime into something enriching, productive, healthy.  Or to make more time for enriching, productive, healthy things.

Music fans all of us, many probably took lessons as young kids…on the recorder perhaps, clarinet… piano. And then, over time, and without practice- like sands through the hourglass, so went our ability to read and play music.

Dr Anita Collins, award-winning educator and researcher in music education, produced a Ted talk on the impact that playing music has on one’s brain: “Playing music is the brain’s equivalent of a full-body workout…… Playing an instrument engages practically every area of the brain at once — especially the visual, auditory, and motor cortices. And, as in any other workout, disciplined, structured practice in playing music strengthens those brain functions, allowing us to apply that strength to other activities…Playing music has been found to increase the volume and activity in the brain’s corpus callosum — the bridge between the two hemispheres — allowing messages to get across the brain faster and through more diverse routes. This may allow musicians to solve problems more effectively and creatively, in both academic and social settings.”

As They Might Be Giants once sang “You’re older than you’ve ever been. And now you’re even older.  And now you’re even older. And now you’re even older.” So what better time to turn over a new leaf and learn or re-learn a new instrument?  The perfectly named Sally Keys has made it easy for us. Straightforward and engaging, “How to Play Guitar: The Fool’s Gold Method” is Keys’ step-by-step take on the process.  She reminds us “You need to develop the proper muscle memory to get your fingers to fly, and this takes time. Just like learning how to type requires you to start with hunting and pecking until you can build up speed, playing guitar requires you to move slowly at first until your brain can figure things out and wire the neural pathways needed.”

It’s an ideal go-to for those looking to dip their toes back in (and those ready to add callouses to their fingers). Keys’ overview serves as an inspiring reminder of how easy it can be to re-engage in a lost hobby…even if along the way, we exclaim, Helter Skelter style, “I’ve got blisters on my fingers!”

Check it out at

Industry Spotlight: Bob Divney

We were pleased as punch to catch up with Bob Divney about his 30 years in the biz and all things The Artist Cooperative. Talk about a nice guys finish first pitch. Bob reflected on his road traveled and the road ahead for the veritable Mount Rushmore collective of promo vets. As Managing Partner at The Artist Cooperative, Divney is at the helm of Marketing & National Modern, Active & AAA Promotion. With a masthead boasting titles such as VP of Promotion for Warner Bros Records, and VP of Promotion for The Firm, and a roster of Green Day, Depeche Mode, The B-52’s, Audioslave, and Barenaked Ladies (to barely scratch the surface), Divney is clearly a man of experience and gracious in his appreciation for the career he’s had. We spoke off the bat about the synergy that exists working with old friends and colleagues.

“We (Andrew Govatsos and I) started at Reprise around ‘86, ‘87 maybe.  I was at Reprise Records for about 17 years and then left to go work for management company The Firm, and helped start CO5, which is still going strong today, with Todd and Tracey. Mid-2000’s I had an new opportunity and I left promotion altogether for a Marketing and Distribution gig with Adrenaline which had distribution through ADA, and allowed me to learn how out physically put out records, understand and execute contracts, manage distribution timelines, and co-op advertising, all the things I never had the opportunity to learn doing promotion.”

Following that, Divney spent a couple of years doing freelance marketing and worked with The Doobie Brothers’ for their World Gone Crazy release, as well as a few independent labels.  It was around then that Warner and Reprise merged their promo staffs, and Bob needed some extra team members for a current project.  And thus, 6 months later, The Artist Cooperative was born. “Basically, a lot of us are former Warner-Reprise promotions reps, Andrew Govatsos in Boston, Shanna Fischer joined us from Wind-up and is based in NY from New York, Amit Kumar, Atlanta, who was at Reprise after I was there, Tom Cunningham, who I worked together with at Reprise in Philadelphia; Bob Hathaway from the Warner side is in Chicago. Kathie Romero, who was also at Reprise after I was there, is in Dallas. Rich Garcia, who I worked with at Reprise, is our Denver partner and Nancy Klugman, from Warner Bros is on the West coast.  Last year we also started a second promotion arm called MARS MUSIC RADIO SERVICES  which is run Lynn McDonnell and Lisa Cristiano and Glen Firstenberg from Universal and Apple also joined to run Sales & Marketing Services.”

Divney had been at Warner until 2002. When he moved on from WEA, artist management was the intended path.  “I left Warner’s in 2002 ‘cause I thought I wanted to be a manager and realized that was not something I wanted to do, and fell back into promotion and then learned more.  When you’re at a major label and you’re tasked with doing promotion, that’s really all you know and all you’re allowed to know. I think every opportunity I’ve had since then has brought in my skillset, my ability to not just organize but understand it from the management perspective, and artists’ perspective. We’re essentially doing the same job as at Reprise but we now answer to clients, independent labels.”  Those clients include Nettwerk Records, Kobalt, BMG Rights, alongside major label work and independent artists.

Divney reflected on the nuances of the work now vs. back in the day, pre-Artist Cooperative.  “We’re in a position where we built up this company from nothing and we are invested in our own success.   We are all partners in this company and win or lose we do it together. With the constant changes in the radio & retail landscape, Glen Firstenberg joined a few years ago to help us work with the DSPs and Streaming Platforms to round out complete promotion and marketing services.   Our bet is with the constant consolidation within the industry and the constant downward pressure of physical and digital sales the logical conclusion is that more and more companies will look for savings wherever they can find them and out-sourcing this work will continue to gain traction. Our collective years of experience help our clients be competitive at a fraction of the costs and allows them to re-purpose those savings into other areas.”

And compete they do.  The Artist Cooperative has been proud to be a part of projects that include, Passenger, Andrew McMahon, Family of the Year, The Goo Goo Dolls, Andy Grammer, Boy and Bear, among others.   It’s that thrill that keeps any true music person in the game, decade after decade. “When you’re able to be an extension of our partner labels or independent artists and work as their own private promotion staff, it gives you some investment in the projects over the long term. We not only enjoy it because it’s our business, we enjoy it because we’ve actually been able to break records.“

“Working with our label partners over longer time lines allows you to develop stronger relationships and a shorthand, that leads to greater efficiencies. We provide daily updates on all our current projects for our label partner, we have weekly conference calls and offer our clients complete access to the team. While the nuts and bolts of the promotion work is what we have been doing for years the engagement with the artist and labels we serve is different in that we are more in tune to our client’s needs. They are part of the process and included in the updates and on our conference calls. Our partners can see firsthand the difficulties and help with the heavy lift in breaking by direct participation.”

To this observer, the success feels inevitable – from a Boston kid, an Emerson student working at Strawberries, the progression seems a natural. Divney’s built the skills to build the business, surrounding himself with like-minded talent and building a partnership along the way.

“Working for yourself can be an eat what you kill environment and because you are so close to all aspect of the business you learn to adapt and make changes as you go. The Artist Cooperative works as a major label promotion team and over time, it became evident that to better serve the needs of our clients we needed a way to develop projects on a micro level and that’s when Mars Music Services was born.”

We discuss the nature of sales overall. “It can be a hard job if you have a hard time with rejection, records take a long time to develop and while you are selling a song you are also selling yourself and your credibility and experience when you are advocating for music on behalf of the artist.  The excitement in breaking in developing a project has not gone away after 30 years.”

And then there’s former Reprise “artist,” Morrissey. “We all worked Morrissey together at Reprise as a solo artist and he’s back with his biggest song in well over a decade and breaking at Triple-A Radio and it reminds me that everything in our business in connected from past to present. And yes, KROQ adding the record is still huge!”

And Morrissey’s not the only old friend. “We got to work Barenaked Ladies briefly, which is a record I took a lot of pride in breaking at Reprise.  Reprise had the City of Angels record which was a number one record for the Goo Goo Dolls at alternative and we’re working with them again.  We have a long-term vested interest in the success of these projects. We are grateful for the opportunity to continue to work with these amazing artists”

Not a bad day’s work.


On a day we all awoke to the shock and sadness of what was unfolding in Vegas, trying to wrap our brains and hearts around an unthinkable sense of loss, another kick in the gut followed: we had lost Tom Petty.

Warner Bros. Records CEO Cameron Strang issued the following statement:
“Tom’s sudden passing is a stunning loss to everyone at Warner Bros. Records. Our thoughts and prayers are with Tom, his family, the Heartbreakers, and his millions of fans across the globe who loved him and his music.
An artist and songwriter of incredible power and unmistakable character, his music will forever be part of America’s cultural heritage.
Thank you, Tom, for being a man of deep soul, grace and humility.
Peace and love,

Tom’s portrait now graces the offices of Warner’s LA base, an outdoor mural for all to see, stopping and reflecting as they go about their days.

“It’s shocking, crushing news,” Bob Dylan said in a statement. “I thought the world of Tom. He was a great performer, full of the light, a friend, and I’ll never forget him.”  Longtime collaborator and friend Jeff Lynne said, “Tom Petty was the coolest guy I ever knew.”

Producer Rick Rubin told Rolling Stone he wasn’t a Tom Petty fan growing up. “I usually liked more edgy music.” But with Full Moon Fever, released in 1989, he was hooked. “The consistency and quality of songwriting on the whole album sucked me in. I listened to it all day every day in my car for a year.”

Full Moon Fever included “Running Down a Dream”, one in countless titles that just make you go… “Aw man… love that one”… and immediately start singing the words. I mean…really…. really think about it. The volume of songs Tom Petty gifted us is staggering, giving a run for Clive Davis’s “Soundtrack of Our Lives “title”: Running Down A Dream, American Girl, Free Fallin’, I Won’t Back Down, Learning to Fly, A Face in the Crowd, You Wreck Me, Don’t Do Me Like That, The Waiting, Don’t Come Around Here No More, Here Comes My Girl, Mary Jane’s Last Dance, Even the Losers, Refugee, Breakdown… and so on and so on and so on.

Petty’s talent and catalog were matched only by the tangibly genuine, drama-free sincerity with which he clearly approached life. The outpouring of shock, sadness, and gratitude was evident across social media immediately, many retweeting a characteristically classy post Tom had shared just days prior: Thanks to everyone for supporting us for the last 40 years! Without YOU, there’d be no US! #TPHB40”

Just a sampling of tweets in tribute:


Damn ….Tom Petty I remember standing backstage w him & he tells me ‘Go Get Em at a. Presentation #rockAnointed


I’m crushed…
Praying for all those affected by Vegas last night.
And now the loss of one of my great influences Tom Petty today.


I loved Tom Petty and I covered his songs because I wanted know what it felt like to fly.
“you belong somewhere you feel free.”


My  goes out to all the people affected by the horrible shooting in Las Vegas, & to family,friends & fans of Tom Petty, of which I’m one.


This is unbearable. Vegas and now a great music hero has passed. You brought us so much joy, @tompetty. We will miss you.  #RIPTomPetty


Man this cannot be happening. Not Tom Petty please. Our deepest love and condolences to his family and band. A brother and true believer.


Today Just gets worse . The very talented musician , writer Tom Petty has just passed away . Another great has…


So sad to hear of the passing of Tom Petty. Such an incredible, inspiring artist. I’ll treasure fond memories of our time spent together this past summer


RIP Tom Petty. Thanks for all the great rockin’ music, hard to believe you’re gone.


What a horrid day for our country, music fans and music itself. RIP Tom Petty. His songs are always good medicine. Love to his family.


I can’t believe we have lost Tom Petty on this already horrible day. My love to his wife & children and the entire Heartbreaker family.


Just when I thought today could not get any worse…
R.I.P. Tom Petty. Thank you for your beautiful music and inspiration.


Sending love to Tom Petty and his family at this difficult time.


No! We have lost Tom Petty. From our opening act in the seventies to becoming a brilliant songwriter and performer I have loved his music.


Tom Petty’s music and songs are timeless. He was a wonderful writer, musician and singer. Irreplaceable and unique. #RIPTomPetty


Bless his powerful spirit. #TomPetty


So sad about Tom Petty, he made some great music. Thoughts are with his family.


blasting tom on the tour bus tonight.


God bless Tom Petty peace and love to his family I’m sure going to miss you Tom

Sweet Relief

While each year seems to offer us more tragic reminders of the force of mother nature, each hurricane has also gratefully shone a light on our ability to come together as a species, celebrities and mortals alike. Hurricane season and its wrath have sparked monetary donations and public awareness campaigns across the music industry and beyond. Artist Liners are available via Play MPE from artists urging further support:  Blake Shelton, Rascal Flatts, Florida Georgia Line, and many more have lent their voices.

Social media continues to hold a mirror to those who’ve given, including the industry’s brightest stars, including Taylor Swift, who, according to the organization’s official FB page,  donated to the Houston Food Bank: “Taylor Swift has generously made a very sizable donation to Houston Food Bank in honor of her mother, who graduated from the University of Houston. We thank you, Taylor, and we thank everyone for donating to help rebuild our community. #houstonstrong.”

Houston native Beyoncé was discreet regarding her amount donated, but shared the following with the Houston Chronicle.  “My heart goes out to my hometown, Houston, and I remain in constant prayer for those affected and for the rescuers who have been so brave and determined to do so much to help.”  Beyoncé’s camp  has joined forces with Bread of Life and Greater Houston Community Foundation to help with relief efforts.

DJ Khaled followed Kevin Hart’s lead, tweeting “ HOUSTON TEXAS my prayers are wit you ! I just sent 25k your way to help all the families in need and help the city HOUSTON TEXAS  @kevinhart4real I accepted your challenge @kevinhart4real bless up ! GOD IS THE GREATEST!!!”

Chris Young posted As everyone knows, Texas was hit Friday by Hurricane Harvey which made landfall as a category four hurricane, the largest storm to hit the area in decades. Port Aransas, Rockport, Corpus Christi, Houston and so many other places are going to be dealing with so much damage and loss of life for a long time to come. I’m worried about the people there — my friends, family and neighbors — and I want to help. I’m starting this GoFundMe campaign in an effort to help everyone in Texas that has been affected by this hurricane. I’m pledging $100,000 to relief efforts and hope you will join me.”

Artists came together to join the multi-network telethon, as well. “Hand in Hand: A Benefit for Hurricane Harvey Relief” welcomed participants Justin Bieber, Tori Kelly, Barbra Streisand (to name a few), in helping to raise funds for United Way of Greater Houston, Habitat for Humanity, Save the Children, Direct Relief, Feeding Texas, and the Mayor’s Fund for Hurricane Harvey Relief.

Indeed, musicians themselves have been affected directly, prompting campaigns from organizations like The Grammys’ MusiCares: “MusiCares is lending a hand to those affected by the devastation of Hurricane Harvey by establishing a relief fund to support members of the music community affected by the storm. Assistance will include help with basic living expenses such as shelter, food, utilities, transportation, medical expenses, doctor and hospital bills, medications, clothing, instrument and recording equipment replacement, relocation costs, home repairs, debris removal, and more.”

President and CEO of the Recording Academy stated “Now is a time when we must come together and take care of those who need help, as we are only just beginning to understand how life-altering Hurricane Harvey will be for its victims and their communities. It’s important that we step up and support the creative community, and take action to provide immediate assistance to members of our music family.”

Sweet Relief reminded those affected: “Sweet Relief Musicians Fund is here to provide immediate assistance to people affected by the massive flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma.  Musicians and music industry workers who require emergency aid please call our Toll-Free Assistance Line at 1-888-955-7880 or submit an application to us via email at”

For artist liners in support of Hurricane Relief efforts, check out your Play MPE account!

Santa Cause: Rock by the Sea

‘Tis the season of giving, but for Tallahassee-based Rock by the Sea, that’s true all day, err day. For 11 years, the community-organization has devoted time, resources and over $500,000 to worthy charities ranging from the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, and the Polycystic Kidney Disease foundation to local libraries and families in need. Eight of their years in operation have also seen the release of an annual Christmas music CD, as conceived by Rock by the Sea’s Tod Elmore. We caught up with Tod to get the scoop on the organization and this season’s holiday music nuggets.

“We’re doing very serious work. We take it very seriously, but we have a good time doing it. It’s very rewarding. We do music festivals that are small and intimate–a thousand people, 3 different events a year… We do a fall event that’s also a golf tournament. The annual CD is accompanied by its own concert. “It’s funny– the charity is called Rock by the Sea, but we do the Christmas show in Nashville, nowhere near the water. We celebrate the release. Some of the artists who contribute to the CD come play the show, and other artists who are sort of part of the community play.”  Alongside the festive concerts, the organization lays claim to less conventional fundraising: “Two weeks ago, several of our charity board members went to Washington, D.C. and repelled down a 30-story building. It was sort of like, if you recall the old March of Dimes walk-a-thon. You get people to sponsor you, and they give you money and you go on your walk; it was a similar premise.  We had people sponsor our board members (who flew from all over the U.S.) and we had board members repel down a 30-floor building in Washington D.C. and we raised $15,000 doing just doing that.”

As for this year’s CD, Elmore speaks excitedly about the offerings. “Most of these artists are friends of mine, or run in my circle. One guy here in Atlanta, he and his wife (The Hot Hearts) delivered this song I had never heard of my whole life…completely, completely unfamiliar with.  (“In The Bleak Midwinter”) 8 years in, we have a really deep catalog of really diverse music.  An, now in a Spotify world, it is sort of evergreen. Every year these songs sort of pop back up and pop back on.  This song in particular gets 200-300,000 streams on Spotify every Christmas and I had never even heard of it.”

This year’s offerings include original and standard gems from Keaton Simons, Pat McGee, Carly Burruss, and more, including the The Wealthy West’s version of “Carol Of The Bells” (“haunting”, as described by Mr. Elmore). “I chose ‘Carol Of The Bells’ because I thought it would be a fun challenge,” reports Brandon Kinder of The Wealthy West. “I LOVE Christmas music, and I felt like I hadn’t really heard many non-choral versions of the song. I think it turned out pretty special, and hope you do, too.”

As Elmore shared, “People give their own interpretations of really familiar songs and some are really really creative.”  FRIENDSWITHBENEFITS, the synth-pop side project of The Rocketboys’ Justin Wiseman, contributed”‘Ding Dong Merrily On High.’ “I chose (it) because it’s got such a cool, upbeat melody and it’s a little more obscure than other Christmas carols,” Wise shared. “I heard the song originally from a rendition by Canadian Brass. And synthesizers make similar sounds, bright sounds to brass instruments, so I thought it would be awesome to combine that vibe with a nice, fun groove!”

Rock by the Sea Volume 8 also provides the traditional New Year’s offering, “Auld Lang Syne”

“I began arranging my version of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ a few years ago as the holidays had come and gone,” Lang Freeman opines “The new year was swiftly approaching and I, like so many folks around late December, was struggling with a previous year’s worth of laments.  I took some creative liberties with the tune (given that it’s 300 or so years old) and penned a few of my own verses, allowing me to personalize the song a bit.  I think what came out is a beautiful song about joy, sorrow, happiness and regret all occupying the same space at the same time.”

You can check out those and the rest of the holiday treats in your Play MPE account, just click here!

What’s Up Doc?

My professional life has been a constant record of disillusion, and many things that seem wonderful to most men are the every-day commonplaces of my business.  – Harry Houdini

A friend of mine once referred to Houdini as the first great marketer. Lessons may be taken by those looking to spread their own good word…it’s right there in his repute: “the master of illusion” —and the highest paid man in vaudeville.

With mystery of the unknown comes curiosity. Give ‘em just enough. Give em a story. Build tension.

In a post reality TV world, the social dynamic tides have shifted at a frog in boiling water pace. While once mystery sold, today, it’s a tweet all, bare all world.  Forty somethings now in the music industry grew up reading about their heroes in Rolling Stone…but never had the opportunity to share direct exchanges with them over 140 characters on Twitter, much less read their favorite artists’ ponderings, gaining greater insight into them as a person vs. an artist. These days, there’s a desire to knock down the fourth wall. Kids have been weaned on The Real World, now selfie-ing their way through their own day to day lives, documenting daily moments.

So, it’s no wonder that a bevy of rock docs are now available, peeling back the curtains to those “Celebrities: They’re Just Like Us” moments. At 25, Demi Lovato has released Simply Complicated via YouTube. Longtime friend Selena Gomez has proclaimed her support of Lovato’s disclosures about her substance abuse problems and eating disorder.

Lady GagaJust dropped on Netflix, Lady Gaga’s long-awaited Five Foot Two offers plenty of behind the scenes on the queen. For its part, Five Foot Two provides glimpses into the singer’s interactions with fans, as well as her struggles with chronic pain.

You can also on demand your way to some rare, previously unreleased Beatles footage via 2017’s It Was Fifty Years Ago Today! The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper and Beyond which explores the making of the legendary record.

Also on Netflix is 2014’s gut-wrenching tribute to Glenn Campbell, I’ll Be Me, an up-close look at Campbell’s recent performances, never shying away from filming Alzheimer’s’ impact on the artist and his family. Local theaters have organized screenings complete with expert Q&A sessions regarding the illness, all to raise funds for the Alzheimer’s Family Organization.

Dr.DreStandard-bearer HBO continues to see success with The Defiant Ones, their captivating look at Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre. In it, Jimmy Iovine opens up about resisting pressure to offload Dr. Dre’s Death Row Records from his own Interscope amidst response to gangster rap’s growing popularity.

Jimmy IovineAs the title suggests, it’s an homage to shared traits of the unlikely duo’s impact on culture as a whole. (In the context of hip-hop and post 90s music, one can forget Iovine’s roots as a producer dating back to John Lennon, Patti Smith, Bruce Springsteen, and Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks –who, as legend has it, Iovine was dating prior to the magical release of “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.”) Petty shared “Next thing I know he goes, ‘Hey, I got something I gotta play you,’ and he plays me ‘Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,’ the same track, with her singing…I go, ‘Jimmy, you just took the song?’… His comeback was like, ‘This is gonna buy you a house.’ But it pissed me off because … [Nicks’ track and ‘ours’] came out at the same time, so I think our single suffered.”

Clive DavisSuch reveals are also inevitable with Apple’s release of Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives. It’s a title that’s really not too big for its britches: Davis’ golden touch has impacted or launched the careers of countless artists across nearly every conceivable genre: Janis Joplin, Bruce Springsteen, Simon & Garfunkel, Santana, Miles Davis, Billy Joel, Barry Manilow, Patti Smith, The Grateful Dead, Kenny G, Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Sean Combs, Alicia Keys…just scratches the surface.  The biopic and look at history features archival footage and contemporary interviews in tribute to the legend Aretha called “the greatest record man of all time.”

Grab the cuddlduds blankie and the popcorn–with the winter months looming, we music freaks have more than enough binge-ing to sink our teeth into.

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