Women in Music 2016

Clarence Spalding Is the Nashville Ace in Maverick’s Sleeve

Austin Hargrave
Clarence Spalding photographed by Austin Hargrave at Quixote Studios in West Hollywood, California on October 7, 2014.

THE NASHVILLE NETWORKER

This profile is part of Billboard's Oct. 25 cover story package on the launch of Maverick, a new music-management consortium. You can find our full coverage right here.

AGE: 57

TITLE:
President, Spalding Entertainment

STAFF
: 8

CITY:
Nashville

COMPANY FOUNDED IN:
2004

KEY ARTISTS:
Jason Aldean, Rascal Flatts, Kix Brooks (of Brooks & Dunn), Terri Clark

ACHIEVEMENT

Scoring Jason Aldean his second consecutive Billboard 200 chart-topper, Old Boots, New Dirt, with first-week sales of 278,000 -- without the aid of a major label. Aldean has been signed to indie Broken Bow since 2005, and recently renewed his relationship for several more albums. “I think the Town,” says Spalding, referring to his Nashville peers, “felt that as soon as Jason finished this deal we’d go major. And I told everyone, ‘There’s no place we’d rather be than Broken Bow.’ It’s nimble, it’s a great team, and I don’t know where else I’m going to get that kind of attention, because we are the big boy on the label.”

Jason Aldean Jumps to No. 1 on Billboard Artist 100

NEW ROLE

As Maverick’s sole Nashville member, Spalding has interacted the least with the group prior to joining it. But during the past few weeks, he has been particularly keen to learn the global touring secrets of Oseary and Rodger, and see how those can translate to his country roster. “We’ve historically been a North American product that’s between the two coasts and mostly the flyover states,” says Spalding of Nashville’s core product. “But we really are making an effort in Nashville to go out and spread that message to the world, and these are guys who have those areas wired that I can tap into.”

MAJOR CHALLENGE

“Keeping scalpers as much as we can out of our business. We pull reports on every show that goes up on sale and look for discrepancies in IP addresses [and] variations in names/credit cards, and purge those people from our fan club so that our customers can buy those tickets.”

SIGN OF THE TIMES

“I started working as a tour manager for [Exile], who had one big hit called ‘I Wanna Kiss You All Over.’ We were still in the business of selling cassettes and LPs -- no Internet, no streaming -- and country acts were not selling out stadiums. Now it’s like we have an awards show to play every month if we choose to. The business and social community have grown ­exponentially.”

Billboard Cover: Jason Aldean on the Curse of Nashville, 'Baby-Making Music' and Dealing With Tabloid Scandals

KEY LESSON

“At the beginning of my career, I worked for a company and we had a lot of acts, a lot of whom probably would have had a better chance of succeeding at a smaller place. That’s why I keep my roster small here for that reason -- I don’t want to be launching a new album and a tour with one client, then have six baby acts I’m not touching.”

MANAGEMENT PHILOSOPHY

“After 6 o’clock, you don’t call me unless somebody’s dead.”

IF I WASN’T A MUSIC MANAGER...

“I’d probably make a good sports agent. Give me back 25 years and give me a good mentor to take me under their wing, and I could be the next Jerry Maguire.”

MYSELF, IN FIVE WORDS

“Passionate, fair, man-of-my-word.”

MEET THE MAVERICKS: Guy Oseary | Cortez Bryant | Caron Veazey | Ron Laffitte | Adam Leber | Gee Roberson | Scott Rodger | Larry Rudolph | Clarence Spalding

This article first appeared in the Oct. 25 issue of Billboard.