Warner Chappell Nashville CEO/President Ben Vaughn on the Publisher's ASCAP, BMI & SESAC Sweep

Jon Paul Bruno
Ben Vaughn

Warner Chappell Music (WCM) was named ASCAP, BMI and SESAC's publisher of the year during CMA Awards week in Nashville, marking only the third time a publishing company has swept the honor at all three performing rights organizations’ annual celebrations.

Only Sony/ATV Nashville has ever also achieved this honor: first in 2007 and again in 2012.

On Sunday, WCM took home the SESAC publisher of the year award for the second time in three years. On Monday, WCM marked its seventh consecutive win as ASCAP publisher of the year. And on Tuesday, WCM captured its second consecutive publisher of the year award from BMI.

WCM songwriters nabbed a record 56 awards across the three award shows. Additionally Nicolle Galyon won BMI songwriter of the year (sharing the award with Ross Copperman); Dan + Shay’s “Tequila,” co-written by WCM songwriters Dan Smyers, Jordan Reynolds and  Galyon, won BMI song of the year; and The Brothers Osborne received the ASCAP Vanguard Award. 

“This momentous achievement is a testament to our songwriters and the groundbreaking work Ben [Vaughn, CEO/president of Warner Chappell Nashville] and his team are doing over in Nashville," said Guy Moot, WCM co-chair and CEO, and Carianne Marshall, WCM co-chair and COO, in a joint statement. "There’s no doubt country music is thriving, and WCM is in command, shaping the future of the genre and redefining what success looks like."

Vaughn spoke with Billboard via email about his team capturing the Triple Crown. 

What strategy do you have in place for working with your writers that led to this year’s success? 

Our strategy is to be consistent in a market that has been seeing many changes. It matters what you do in the day-to-day details and we’re always aware of that. Being a place where people can trust they are taken care of -- from creative, to licensing, to staying on the leading edge of changes in the industry, is how we roll. 

I’m proud that the success we’ve had this year is spread out -- from longtime partners Lady Antebellum and Nicolle Galyon (celebrating her first BMI writer of the year!) to writers receiving their first song awards like Riley Green and Morgan Evans.  And we are all loving the real-time global exploding story that is Dan + Shay and are proud to say they were OG WCM from day one! 

What did you think the first time you heard “Tequila?” 

I got a text of the song from Dan after he, Nicolle and Jordan wrote it. I thought it was special -- and it was just great to see the continued evolution of that group of writers as they’d been working together for a while. It’s just the best when writers really gel and find creative safety in each other -- real magic can happen.

The Brothers Osborne received ASCAP’s Vanguard Award. Talk about how they have developed a strong career that includes airplay, but isn’t dependent upon it.

Go see a Brothers Osborne show and watch John Osborne shred guitar and TJ Osborne wail through their set. Everything they do is so authentic to who they are as creators -- same authentic guys on stage, in the writer room and the studio.   

Many of your Nashville-based songwriters, including Nicolle Galyon and Emily Weisband have been seeing cross-genre success. Do you see any barriers that still need to come down?

I think the barriers are down in so many ways for like-minded talent finding connection in Nashville. I see the next step as continuing to build on all of the cross-genre success with more collaboration domestically and internationally. It’s great to watch so many writers and artists from all over the globe finding their way into Nashville writing rooms and being very happy with the sessions. We’ve only scratched the surface in terms of what’s possible and I’m excited for what’s to come.

How are you going to celebrate?

We decided to give a spa day to all our staff and songwriters that received an award this year. Everyone deserves a total chill moment within this crazy year!


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