Empire Launches Nashville Division, Hires Eric Hurt as VP A&R

Independent music label, distributor and publisher Empire has started a Nashville division and hired Eric Hurt as its vp A&R, the company announced Tuesday (Sept. 3).

“Empire is built on culture and authenticity,” said Empire CEO and founder Ghazi Shami in a statement. “As we expand into country music, we believe Eric fits our company ethos and is an integral part of Nashville’s vibrant music industry. We look forward to empowering country music singers and songwriters for years to come.”

Hurt, who previously served as senior director of creative at Black River Entertainment, will report directly to Shami and work closely with Empire’s global team as he signs and develops talent in Nashville. In his new role, he will continue building the career of emerging country/hip-hop singer and former U.S. X Factor contestant Willie Jones, whom Hurt was instrumental in signing to Black River Publishing last October.

“I couldn’t be more excited to join the team at Empire,” added Hurt. “Ghazi’s forward-thinking approach to launching and supporting artists will be a great addition to the Nashville market. As we continue building Willie Jones’ career we’ll also grow and develop our roster in country with a diverse group of talent.”

Founded in 2010, the San Francisco-based Empire focuses on early-stage artist development and has helped launch the careers of such artists as Kendrick Lamar, Anderson.Paak and D.R.A.M. The company signed a multi-year global distribution deal with Universal Music Group in April 2018.


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