As equity would have it, the first No. 1 party of 2017 was hosted by ASCAP, BMI and SESAC and was a first for many of the copyright shareholders on Brett Young’s “Sleep Without You.”
The celebration not only recognized Young’s first No. 1 as an artist on Big Machine Records and as a songwriter with Big Machine Music, but first No. 1’s co-writers Justin Ebach and Kelly Archer. Archer’s co-publishers, Red Creative Group and Downtown Music Publishing Nashville, and Ebach’s publisher, Word Country, all celebrated their first No. 1’s as well.
Remarks were heavily directed at Big Machine Label Group’s Laurel Kittleson, A&R Manager. Young was the first artist Kittleson brought to sign. Credit was also given to ShowbizRo’s Liz Morin and Ronna Reeves for their early work with Young.
Additional remarks and gifts were made at the ceremony from Pinnacle Bank’s Ron Cox, Country Aircheck’s Lon Helton and the CRB’s Holly Lane, who noted “Sleep Without You” had notched 99.16 million impressions to date.
ASCAP’s Mike Sistad hosted the event at The Westin Nashville’s L27 rooftop bar, welcoming his company’s Michael Martin to the stage with the support of First Tennessee Bank to present Young’s first No. 1 ASCAP guitar.
“This has happened really quick, it’s insane,” said Martin. “Through his honest lyrics, west coast music and southern style, he’s created this whole thing called ‘Caliville.’”
Mike Molinar of Big Machine Music presented plaques and remarks before BMLG CEO Scott Borchetta and the label group’s Exec. VP and label President Jimmy Harnen.
“As the kids say, [Brett] gives you all the feels. He understands the swoon…and he is sweeping the country music audience off their feet.”
Producer Dann Huff offered praise for the newcomer. “This is an extremely special No. 1 for me. You are one special human being and artist. You have a gift that I know you’ve worked so hard at, but it is so transcendent to hear you sing and it’s an honor to be a part of your music.”
Young concluded, “I thought for my whole life I would play baseball. God decided I wasn’t going to do that, and the only thing I loved that much was music. Making that a career seemed as ridiculous as making baseball a career…I played in [Beverly Hills] every week, and one week I meet this gentleman from Atlanta named Ruddy Polhill. His wife Rhonda emailed me…and said we’re in this position we would like to help you. That literally changed everything. I made a record at Blackbird in Nashville and met a lot of people and realized I needed to move here. It’s not about your money—it’s about you believing in me, so thank you so much.
“Overnight success is a funny thing. Anyone that calls it that can…This is a 14-year success. But in that moment [when Jimmy Harnen offered me a record deal], it felt like the very beginning. So to Laurel for bringing this to Jimmy…For Liz and Ronna for bringing this to Laurel…to Jimmy for believing in it enough…and to Scott for believing in Jimmy enough to let all this happen, thank you guys so much!”
Shannan Hatch from SESAC presented plaques on behalf of Franklin Synergy Bank and her writer, Ebach.
“Each No. 1 party has something special about it, but this has so many special things about it,” said Hatch. “It’s the first for all the writers, the artist, and the song went No. 1 while Justin and his bride Janine were on their honeymoon in Las Vegas. You absolutely can’t plan to celebrate such monumental moments in life at the same time.”
Janine Appleton, Ebach’s wife and publisher at Word Country, continued the celebration with plaques and lively jest.
“Dale Mathews had the vision to expand Word Publishing into a multi-genre entity, which is why I stand before you,” explained Appleton on behalf of CEO Rod Riley. “We as publishers are only as good as the songs we bring to folks, so thank you Ebach for making my job a little easier.
“Laurel is the reason I found out about Brett. When Kelly Archer pulled Ebach in on this co-write I was like if Laurel believes in [Brett], I’m in,” said Appleton.
“I grew up in an atmosphere where dreaming was okay…so thank you to my parents,” Ebach offered. “I want to thank my two kids. Through all the ups and downs of the industry…my kids give me a reason and purpose to get up every day. Thank you all so much, I’m so grateful!”
BMI’s David Preston spoke with the support of Pinnacle Bank on behalf of Archer, presenting her first No. 1 Epiphone guitar and silver BMI cups for all.
“Never in my life at BMI have I ever seen our office so excited for any one songwriter to have their first No. 1,” cheered Preston. “All you new writers out there, if you’re looking for an example of somebody to set your sights on and show you the way, Kelly Archer is a great example of the determination and grit it takes to make it in this city.”
Jeremy Stover from Red Creative Group offered plaques and remarks and plaques.
“When Steve Markland and I decided to partner on this Kelly publishing deal, we were both very excited,” remarked Stover. “She’s from Vancouver, B.C. and such a hard worker…Kelly, what you came [to Nashville] to do, you did it!”
Downtown Music Publishing’s Steve Markland then took the stage with plaques.
“Kelly Archer is on fire!” Markland led the audience in cheering. “If you’ve been around our office, about twice a week you hear [that]. It only means Kelly got another cut or her song had a great week on the chart.”
Through her speech, Archer offered thanks for everyone on her journey since her move to Nashville in 2001 and through five publishing deals.
“A lot of things had to go right for this to happen…and I would also have to say, a lot of things had to go wrong to feel the amount of gratitude having everyone here,” she poignantly said. “About two and a half years ago I signed a co-venture publishing deal with Steve Markland and Jeremy Stover…You guys came in at a time I was lacking a lot of confidence. I had been through a few deals and spinning—trying to figure out my purpose in Nashville, living far away from my family…I will always appreciate [their] confidence in my abilities.
“My mom will always be the one who thinks my songs are better than anyone. Everyone needs someone in their life who thinks that.”
Archer raised her glass to the late Andrew Dorff, who had texted a congrats to her before his untimely passing in December.
Archer’s mother concluded the event on stage saying it’s true, she can’t sleep without her husband of 47 years. “I already have a song for when we reach our 50th anniversary. It is going to be “In Case You Didn’t Know.”
“In Case You Didn’t Know” is Young’s follow-up single, and was most added on the first MusicRow CountryBreakout chart of 2017. Young’s self-titled, 12-track album will be available by Big Machine Records Feb. 10.
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About the AuthorEric T. Parker oversees marketing initiatives and contributes editorial for MusicRow's print magazine, MusicRow.com, the RowFax tip sheet and the MusicRow CountryBreakout chart. He also facilitates annual events for the enterprise, including MusicRow Awards, CountryBreakout Awards and the Rising Women on the Row. [email protected] @EricTParker
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