The new series set in and around the music industry and politics in Nashville will feature between three and seven musical performances weekly and at least one song per week will be released to iTunes for sale via Big Machine Records. Co-star Hayden Panettiere's version of "Love Like Mine" and Charles Esten's rendition of "Back Home" will also be released on Oct. 10.
Cast members Clare Bowen and Sam Palladio sing "If I Didn't Know Better," which White and Arum Rae wrote, at the close of the pilot. "Telescope," which Panettiere sings in the second episode, will be the first song sent to country radio. Hillary Lindsey and Cary Barlowe, who wrote the Lady Antebellum hit "American Honey," penned "Telescope."
While songs that will be heard on the series may be available via YouTube clips and elsewhere online, ABC Studios senior vice president, TV Music, Dawn Soler says "We want our use to be the first commercial use."
With seven of the actors singing in the first five episodes completed, ABC is hoping to develop each performer stylistically. Panettiere's character has a pop crossover appeal, Connie Britton is more in line with Reba McEntire and other characters' music will be along the lines of George Strait, Jack White and various male-female duet acts.
"We've been frustrated in the past trying to have a real partnership - music was an afterthought and didn't come from the same creative starting point," says Big Machine Label Group CEO Scott Borchetta, whose label's roster includes Swift and Tim McGraw. "We wanted to have an opportunity to work with something in the early stages to tie music into the psychological elements on the screen and make an emotional connection (with consumers). This was the right one to jump in on."
Besides new material, "Nashville" will license a good number of existing tracks. The pilot includes classics -- Tammy Wynette's "Stand By Your Man" and John Conlee's "Rose Colored Glasses" -- in addition to three songs from Big Machine artists: Eli Young's "Even If it Breaks Your Heart," Justin Moore's "Small Town USA" and Greg Bates' "Did it for the Girl."
Borchetta says he will wait to see the show's momentum before announcing the release of a soundtrack album. It could come early next year or in May, at the end of the first season.