A pair of sessions will examine the role of touring in the country music business at the 3rd Annual Billboard Country Music Summit, June 4-5 at the newly-renovated Cannery Ballroom in Nashville. The Summit is presented in association with the Country Music Assn. as the industry-related start to CMA Music Fest week.


The 3rd Annual Billboard Country Music Summit -- featuring in-depth artist Q&As with Luke Bryan and Willie Nelson and two days of country music business programming -- takes place June 4 and 5 in Nashville. Head here to register and get more information, and Billboard.biz readers can get a 15% discount by using promo code BIZ12.

In country music, success at retail and radio generally parallel success on the road, a connection not always seen in other genres. As is the case throughout the music industry, touring in country music is critical to building and sustaining an overall career, and country as a format has been very successful at developing new headliners. Touring has become, for most artists, the most lucrative and consistent revenue stream in their career, and the Country Summit will come at this critical sector from two angles: buyers and sellers.

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Titled "Buyers (And An Artist) Talk Business," the first touring-related session takes on the former. Talent buyers are a crucial component of the country music business, and the Summit will tap into the expertise of a wide range of promoters and producers regarding what it takes to make a show or tour profitable. Moderated by Billboard's long time touring writer Ray Waddell, the panel includes Brock Jones, VP of booking for Philadelphia-based venue management firm Global Comcast; Brian O'Connell, president, Live Nation Country Music; Jason Kane, managing director of entertainment, RodeoHouston, aka the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo; Ali Harnell, Nashville-based VP for TMG/AEG Live; and veteran live country music executive Tony Conway, CEO, Conway Entertainment Group. The "artist" role in the panel will be filled by hard-touring (and notoriously outspoken) singer/songwriter Shooter Jennings who, as the son of legendary Outlaw Waylon Jennings, was pretty much raised on a tour bus and carries on his father's legacy as a powerful live performer.

"This panel offers a diverse mix of talent buyers and promoters that have a proven track record of successful events and tours that make money, build careers and entertain fans," says Waddell. "Having Shooter on this panel adds another dimension; Shooter always has a take and he doesn't mince words."

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The second Touring session will offer up the sellers' perspective. More than ever, booking agents play a pivotal role in both building an artist to headlining status and maximizing a touring strategy that ensures long term box office viability. Some of the most successful and visionary Nashville agents will share their secrets to strategic booking in a session moderated by Sally Williams, GM of the Ryman Auditorium. On board are agents Rob Beckham, William Morris Endeavor Entertainment; Curt Motley, Paradigm Talent; Marc Dennis, Creative Artists Agency; Kevin Neal, president, Buddy Lee Attractions; Lance Roberts, the Bobby Roberts Co.; and Paul Lohr, president, New Frontier Touring.

"The agents on this panel represent some of the most successful touring artists within the mainstream and on the fringes of country music, from the Avett Brothers to Jason Aldean, and most all of them have played the Ryman," says Waddell. "Beyond that, these are experts on building acts that connect with fans from the club to the stadium level, and these agents know how to take them up that ladder."

Go here to get plugged in for the 2012 Billboard Country Music Summit.