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Apple Plans for Nashville Expansion as Jay Liepis Moves to Music City

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Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Apple

       

The longtime staffer will lead a team dedicated to being more involved with artists, managers, songwriters and the label community at large.

Longtime Apple staffer Jay Liepis has relocated to Nashville to lead a team dedicated to being more involved with artists, managers, songwriters and the general record label community, Billboard has learned. The move precede plans to open an Apple office in Music City later this year. 

Liepis has been with Apple since 2004, and over the years has helped lead artist and label relations and music programming strategy for iTunes and Apple Music, which launched in 2015. 

He moves to Nashville with a number of supporters in the industry. Warner Nashville chairman and CEO John Esposito complimented Liepis' "clear understanding of the digital landscape" in a statement. 

"I'm thrilled he's back in Nashville, he is a great collaborator," said Esposito. "The work he's done most recently for Ashley McBryde is just the tip of the iceberg. Can't wait to see what else we accomplish together.”

Added Universal Music Nashville chairman and CEO Mike Dungan: "Jay is one of the brightest minds of our (well, his) generation and we are anxious for him to join our business and personal community. I can't wait to take him to Arnold's (where every meal is our Sunday best) for beef tips and fried okra."

As was reported last week, Apple Music recently hit 40 million subscribers in 115 countries around the world. It is growing its users at a 5 percent rate, making it the world's fastest-growing subscription music streaming service. 

Specific to country music, the genre continues to grow on Apple Music as its A-List Country playlist currently ranks as service's third most popular playlist, with a 151 percent increase in listeners year-over-year. As well, the Pure Country station ranked second on Apple Music's radio platform, up 35 percent YOY, while the Modern Country station grew 70 percent last year and the country music category on Apple Music is up 66 percent in the U.S. 

As well as developing greater relationships with the country music community, Apple hopes its focus on Nashville will benefit other genres the city has to offer, including singer/songwriter, Christian & gospel, alternative, rock, pop, hip-hop and Americana.  

Among recent efforts to greater engage with country music are Apple Music's exclusive offering of Jason Aldean's "Drowns the Whiskey (Live)" track for its first week of availability, as well as his recent in-depth interview on Beats 1 discussing his new album Rearview Town

"Jay's move to Nashville is a reflection of Apple Music's ongoing investment to our ever-growing and increasingly diverse music community," said Sandbox Entertainment president and CEO Jason Owen in a statement. "The impact that Apple has on our industry worldwide is undeniable, and it excites me to know that Nashville is a top priority. The expertise that Jay brings from his tenure paired with his long-term relationships with our city makes this move ideal on every level. Plus, he's an awesome hang."


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