President, Universal Music Group Nashville
Last Year's Rank: 35
URBAN RENAISSANCE: UMGN and its imprint Capitol Nashville topped every one of Billboard's label-based country year-end charts, thanks to Keith Urban and Chris Stapleton, who occupied the top three country album of the year slots. (Stapleton's Traveller and From A Room: Vol. 1 grabbed a pair.) "Keith's career has come roaring back [in terms of] relevance and as one of the top performers in country music," says Dungan.
THE KEY TO COUNTRY STREAMING SUCCESS: Sam Hunt, whose "Body Like a Back Road" spent a record 34 weeks atop Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart, is the genre leader when it comes to streaming. "He streams more like a pop artist than a country artist," says Mabe. "If everybody looks at country from a streaming standpoint and how we get our fans there, this is the guy who probably paves the way."
MUSIC TREND THAT SHOULD BE RETIRED: (Mabe) "Someone along the way decided to kill melody. I want to end this trend of very linear, same-sounding songs that no one can sing along to."