No. 81

Gary Overton

Sony Music Nashville
Twitter: @SonyNashville

POWER MOVE: Chart-toppers from Carrie Underwood and Kenny Chesney, with more on the way from Chesney, Brad Paisley, Jake Owen and Chris Young.

THE RUNDOWN: As cutting-edge technologies force country labels to grapple with a new way of life, Sony Music Nashville chairman/CEO Gary Overton says one rule hasn’t changed: “You can’t fake a hit.” And Overton has kept delivering them since he took the company reins in 2010.

Sony Music Nashville, which includes Christian label Provident, didn’t miss a beat last year: Judged by track-equivalent album market share, the company came in at 3.08% in 2012 versus 3.11% in 2011, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Carrie Underwood’s Blown Away spent two weeks atop the Billboard 200 and seven weeks at No. 1 on Top Country Albums. Kenny Chesney’s Welcome to the Fishbowl spent three weeks at No. 1 on Top Country Albums. Miranda Lambert’s 2011 Four the Record continued to sell in 2012, as did her side project Pistol Annies. Even newcomer Casey James scored a top 20 hit with the single “Crying on a Suitcase.”

Judged by album and track sales and radio activity, last year Sony was “right at the top of the heap when it comes to Nashville labels,” says Overton, who joined the company in 2010 after 15 years heading EMI’s Nashville publishing operation. With upcoming albums from Chesney, Brad Paisley, Jake Owen and Chris Young, as well as new acts like the Henningsens (which he signed to a publishing deal while at EMI), Overton likes his chances in 2013 too.

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Gary Overton photo by Josh Anderson