"Telescope," which Hayden Panettiere sings and was written by Hillary Lindsey and Cary Barlowe, will appear in the second episode and be the first song sent to radio.
At least one song from each original episode will be released to iTunes for sale during its first season.
"We consider Big Machine a soundtrack partner, but also a partner for the series in post production, development and A&R," ABC Studios senior VP of TV music Dawn Soler tells Billboard.biz. Big Machine Label Group CEO Scott Borchetta "was there every second of the day. He wanted to be there for the smallest issues up to the biggest issues. It's such an intimate production that it's important that all the stakes holders are involved."
Borchetta told Billboard.biz that when ABC visited Nashville in April with the pilot, at the beginning of the screening he was saying, "this is not our thing." Halfway through it became, "we could do this."
"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," Borchetta says. "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."
ABC has finished the first five episodes and seven of the cast members have onscreen performances. Soler says the show is reaching far beyond country music, bringing in music from indie crossover and country pop bands; executive music producer T Bone Burnett has two new songs from Elvis Costello and one from Lucinda Williams banked for later episodes.
"Every kind of music is happening in Nashville," Soler says. "It's so much more than country now."
Each episode of "Nashville" is expected to have between three and seven performances. In the pilot, co-star Connie Britton, who plays a country singer with more than 20 years of hits, performs at the Grand Ole Opry and Panettiere, portraying a young pop-country crossover artist enjoying immediate success, is seen in concert and in the studio.
"If I Didn't Know Better" closes the episode in a montage while Bowen, playing a shy waitress at the Bluebird Cafe, and Sam Palladio, a budding songwriter and guitarist, sing the tune on an open mic night.
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 four songs from Big Machine artists Eli Young ("Even If it Breaks Your Heart"), Justin Moore ("Small Town USA"), Greg Bates ("Did it for the Girl") and Edens Edge ("Too Good To Be True").
Borchetta says he will wait to see the momentum of the show before announcing the release of a soundtrack album. It could come early next year or in May at the end of the first season.