MusicRow: Exclusive Interview With ole’s John Ozier

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• November 18, 2013
John Ozier

John Ozier

ole’s Nashville office is thriving under the new leadership of General Manager John Ozier. Since taking helm of the operation in May, Ozier has signed several songwriters and added staffers.

“We have a completely new, restructured creative team over here,” he explains. “We have five full-time creative people: Ben Strain, Emily Mueller, Shellien Kinsey, Gary Ray and myself. Shellien and Gary came over as part of the Better Angels catalog purchase. We have a roster of about 15 writers, so it’s a really good ratio. We’re ready to go to the next level with client service.”

The 2013 Better Angels catalog transaction, which includes almost every song on Josh Thompson’s current album, is one of the publisher’s many acquisitions in the nine years since its inception. In recent years the company bought the Jody Williams catalog which includes several Taylor Swift songs. In the last two years ole has grown 150 percent. “ole has invested over $275 million in deals, which is pretty amazing,” continues Ozier. “And we’ve just added $135 million to our capital structure. ole is more committed to Music Row than ever. When I came over Robert Ott [ole’s Toronto based Chairman and CEO] gave me carte blanche to run things the way we need to be successful. Then I hired Ben and Emily. Now it’s time for us to make everyone aware of what we’re doing here. I don’t think people realize how big our catalog is. We’ve got over 30,000 country songs.”

Tyler Farr

Tyler Farr

The creative team is combing through that back catalog. That’s how they scored a cut by new Warner Music Nashville artist Michael Ray. The song was penned in 2008 by Marty Dodson and Jimmy Yeary and is part of the Blacktop catalog, which ole now owns.

ole has fingerprints all over the debut album by another rising WMN star, Charlie Worsham. He is an ole writer who penned most of the project and co-produced it with fellow ole songwriter Ryan Tyndell.

Since taking office Ozier has signed Sony Music Nashville artist Tyler Farr as well as writer Josh Dorr. He plans to finalize agreements with two or three others before the end of the year. Farr has writing credits on eight songs on his debut album and Dorr scored a Casey James cut the first week of his publishing deal. All of these writers call ole home along with Brett Jones, Bruce Wallace, Dave Turnbull, Dean Brody, Frank Myers, Gord Bamford, Jeff Copland, Jesse Lee, Lyndi Ortega and Matt Rogers.

“We’ve got over 30,000 country songs.”

In recent months ole writers have scored cuts by cast members of Duck Dynasty and Florida Georgia Line. The FGL song, “People Back Home,” was written by Tyndell, Brent Anderson and FGL’s Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard on the ole tour bus. “The bus is a wonderful tool,” continues Ozier. “It lets us put our writers in an intimate setting with the artist, and allows the artist to get off their crowded bus to write. It gives us direct access to the artist. It’s publishing in 2013 and it’s a testament to ole’s vision. Our slogan is majorly indie because we have the funding of a major but the flexibility of an indie. Coming from Curb, I’m really familiar with that. It fits really well with what I do.”

Josh Dorr

Josh Dorr

Ozier made the move after more than a decade at Curb Records and Curb Publishing. The last two years of his time there were spent as VP of A&R for the label where he placed hits by Rodney Atkins (“Take A Back Road”) and Lee Brice (“A Woman Like You,” and “I Drive Your Truck”). The latter of which won CMA Song Of The Year and MusicRow Song of the Year. Ozier also secured and co-wrote Brice’s smash “Hard To Love.”

It was his first hit as a songwriter and was selected by his peers as one of the “Songs I Wish I’d Written,” an honor presented at the Nashville Songwriters Hall Fame Dinner and Induction Ceremony. “It was very humbling to be on the stage with that caliber of writers,” admits Ozier. “Even to be standing in the room with those people is an honor and to be up there as a peer and a co-writer took my breath away.” His latest cuts are by Farr (“Whiskey In My Water”), Worsham (“Rubberband”) and Thompson. “Since I’ve been at ole I haven’t written a song,” he says. “I want our writers to know I’m here to work for them and I’m not competing for opportunities. I wanted to focus on running the company. The next two years are going to be very exciting.”

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About the Author

Sarah Skates is Sr. News Editor of MusicRow Enterprises. Now in her ninth year with the company, she contributes to musicrow.com and the print magazine. She welcomes your inquiries to sskates@musicrow.com. Please send press releases, photos, and news items to news@musicrow.com.

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