On Music Row: Hit producer launches label

Monday, July 21, 2008 at 3:29am

Hit producer James Stroud opened his own Stroudavarious Records last week on Music Row, but has yet to announce artist signings.

Stroud, named Billboard‘s Top Country Producer two years in a row, has produced more than 90 No. 1 records. And while he has produced albums by Alabama, Tim McGraw, Willie Nelson, Melissa Etheridge and others that have collectively sold more than 52 million copies, Stroud also has plenty of experience on the business side of music.

Early in his career, he formed publishing company The Writers Group. In 1992, he became president of Giant Records and later helped found and head DreamWorks Records Nashville, where he produced and oversaw multi-platinum acts, including Toby Keith.

“Even though the business model of the music industry changes, the one constant has been the importance of the artists and their songs,” Stroud said. “The vision of Stroudavarious Records will be for the creativity to take precedent and allow the music to take care of the business.”

Sony BMG Nashville clear leader in country radio

Collectively, Sony BMG Nashville’s four label imprints — Arista Nashville, BNA Records, Columbia Nashville and RCA Nashville — are racking up an impressive summer on the country airwaves, averaging a nearly 45 percent airplay chart share over each of the past five weeks, based on Nielsen BDS-monitored audience impressions.

With recent No. 1 singles from Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, Carrie Underwood and Montgomery Gentry, the label group has topped the BDS country chart for seven of the past nine weeks.

Similarly, on the Mediabase country chart, Sony BMG Nashville has been No. 1 for eight of the past nine weeks with all of the above artists, with the addition of Alan Jackson’s “Good Time.” In all, the label group’s artists have spent 50 percent of the year to date at No. 1 on the Mediabase country airplay chart.

Broadway will work ‘9 to 5’

Dolly Parton’s 1980 blockbuster film 9 to 5 is headed for the stage. About 20 Parton-penned songs will be used for the musical adaptation, which will open in September at Los Angeles’ Ahmanson Theater for a seven-week pre-Broadway run.

The show will then move to New York, settling in at Broadway’s Marquis Theater next April. The production will star Allison Janney, who is best known for her role as C.J. Cregg on The West Wing, Stephanie J. Block, Megan Hilty and Marc Kudisch.

CMA Music Festival means millions to Music City

Nashville entertained a record number of CMA Music Festival attendees in June, generating about $22 million in direct visitor spending for the city, according to data released by the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Held June 5-8 in downtown Nashville, the 2008 CMA Music Festival boasted record-breaking attendance numbers, up 9.4 percent from 2007. The CMA will donate a portion of the event proceeds to “Keep the Music Playing,” a program that supports music education and children in Nashville’s schools.

A two-hour television special, CMA Music Festival: Country’s Night to Rock, is set to air on ABC Sept. 8.

Baez to receive AMA’s Free Speech Award

The Americana Music Association will bestow the “Spirit of Americana” Free Speech Award on Joan Baez during the organization’s 7th Annual Honors and Awards ceremony on Sept. 18 at the Ryman Auditorium. Artist of the Year nominee and previous “Spirit of Americana” recipient Steve Earle will present the honor.

Since her career began 50 years ago, Baez has marched with Martin Luther King, toured for Amnesty International, and most recently helped Nelson Mandela celebrate his 90th birthday. In 2007, Baez received the Grammy’s prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award. Her first studio album in five years, Day After Tomorrow, produced by Earle, is slated for release Sept. 9.

The AMA Honors and Awards is part of the Americana Music Festival and Conference, which will take place Sept. 17-20 in Nashville.

Date set for ‘Country Music’s Biggest Night’

The 42nd Annual CMA Awards will air live Nov. 12 at 7 p.m. Central on ABC from the Sommet Center. Last year, “Country Music’s Biggest Night” ranked behind only the Academy Awards and Grammy Awards during the 2007-2008 season for award shows among Total Viewers and Adults 18-49.

—© Music Row Communications Inc.

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