The 2012 CRS New Faces line-up.
The final day of Country Radio Seminar (CRS) 2012 featured a variety of panels and events and capped by the annual New Faces Show, which showcased young artists trying to make themselves known at radio.
The morning began with "Digital University: Professional Development Roundtables." Pros with different areas of expertise invited attendees to sit, chat and ask questions. The experts included Laura Fitton with Hub Spot, Paul Jacobs from Jacobs Media, Daniel Anstandig representing Listener Driven Radio, Gregg Baldinger of NHL Radio, Mike Lewis from Music City Networks, Kissy Black of Lotos Nile/Colligent, Paul Slack from Splash Media, Jason Hill representing CMT, Todd Cassetty of Hi-Fi Fusion and Tori Theiss from Levelwing.
The "Digital Dashboard" panel discussed new technologies and opportunities with Dan Halyburton moderating. Joining him were John Ousby of vTuner, Owen Grover of iHeartRadio and Michelle Avary with Toyota. The panel mulled over the myriad of new opportunities in the ever-changing radio market.
Bob Richards moderated a session on "Non Traditional Relationships" that examined business opportunities many might not have considered working with before - an important strategy in difficult economic times. Panelists included Alan Bullington of the Kentucky Bar Association, Melony Wilson of Bull's Eye Promotions and Butch Spyridon of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Faith Hill's performance at the Warner Music Nashville luncheon was one of the day's highlights. It was Hill's first performance at CRS in more than a decade. She performed a selection of hits including "Mississippi Girl," "The Way You Love Me", "This Kiss", "Breathe" and "Piece of My Heart." The singer also debuted two new songs, 600 Years" and "American Heart," from her forthcoming as yet untitled CD."
Afternoon sessions included Radio's National Digital Strategy, hosted by Marc Chase with Dermot McCormack of MTV Networks, Kathleen Bricketto from Beasley Broadcast and Leon Levitt of Cox.
A panel moderated by Bob Richards discussed "Artist Visits: How to Create a Win-Win." Joining him were Erik Johnson of KXKT/Omaha, Josh Easler of RCA, Enzo DiVencenzo of 377 Management and Rodney Atkins. Discussion centered on maximizing artist visits. The panel was sponsored by New York Rock Exchange, the company's first CRS. Jeff Anniston, CEO told Billboard.biz that CRS is a "great way for us to reach out to artists with our product. We have talked to a number of artists, including Shooter Jennings and Gloriana, who were interested to hear what we had to offer. It is a great way to test the waters and get feedback on what we are doing."
Other afternoon panels included "Small Market Programming: Making the Pieces Fit," hosted by Beverlee Brannigan with Steve Albertsen of KFGE in Lincoln, NE; Rob Kelley of WQHK in Ft. Wayne, Ind.; and Christie Matthews of KDXY in Jonesboro, AR.
Marc Chase moderated "Show Me Your Hits: What Defines A Hit In Your World?" with Mike Moore of KWJJ, Portland, Ore and Tom Baldrica of Average Joes. The group discussed what exactly makes a hit record and how to know if you have one.
Songwriter Larry Cordle was at the seminar for the first time on Saturday and said he immediately realized he should have been there every day. "I came in to talk to the folks at New York Rock Exchange, but I've been seeing people everywhere that I know," said the writer of hits including "Murder on Music Row" by George Strait and Alan Jackson, and Ricky Skaggs' "Highway 40 Blues."
"I'm amazed at the people here that I know and the contacts that can be made during the seminar," Cordle added. "It is an important event where you can reconnect with people and make new contacts."
"Myth Busters: Debunking Myths You Think You Know" was a tongue-in-cheek look at -- as well as debunking -- several radio myths. Skip Bishop, former senior vice president of Sony Music Nashville; Laurie Gail of Play MPE and Paul Lovelace of CDX participated in the panel hosted by Charlie Morgan. Among the topics discussed included how record companies can still help radio and how small market stations can continue to receive new product.
Lovelace spoke on the importance of small market radio having artists' current singles in the age of digital downloading. Now, if a listener hears something they like, they can buy it immediately. Plus, in all the towns where CDX services are, here is a Wal-Mart, which is still a major player in country music CD sales. "We service 1,800 stations here and 300 in Europe," he said. "The stations support the hits and help create sales, plus they can still help break an artist."
The New Faces of Country Music dinner and performance closed out the evening. This event gave a select group of new acts the opportunity to showcase in front of major radio personnel. Eli Young Band, Hunter Hayes, David Nail and Sunny Sweeney all performed. Thompson Square was scheduled to perform but did not because of the death of Shawna Thompson's father.
Though not a part of the CRS festivities, Jason Aldean "played in his own backyard" at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville on Friday. His sold-out "My Kinda Party" tour stop featured Lauren Alaina and Luke Bryant. Kelly Clarkson was a special guest, coming out to sing their hit duet, "Don't You Wanna Stay."