In 2013, while attending an industry showcase, songwriter Nicolle Galyon invited Ben Vaughn, then-Warner Chappell Music Nashville executive vp, to her car to listen to a rough mix of Keith Urban and Miranda Lambert’s “We Were Us,” a song she had co-written. “When it was over, he said, ‘I’ll see you at the BMI Awards next year. Have fun picking out your dress,’ ” she recalls. “That song went on to be my first No. 1.”
Six years later, at its 67th annual Country Awards last November, BMI named Galyon songwriter of the year. Vaughn “poured rocket fuel” onto her career, says Galyon. A WCMN writer since 2007, she felt a momentous shift when Vaughn, who became president/CEO in 2019, arrived in 2012 after 10 years at EMI Music Publishing. “He was like, ‘We’re going to make some stuff happen for you,’ ” she says.
Galyon isn’t the only songwriter who has flourished under Vaughn. Home to hitmakers such as Liz Rose, Chris Stapleton, Jesse Frasure and Kacey Musgraves, WCMN has become a powerhouse during Vaughn’s tenure, claiming the No. 1 slot on Billboard’s Publishers Quarterly rankings (based on the top 100 country radio songs) for 14 consecutive quarters. For the latest tally, ending June 30, WCMN’s share was 21.44%, six percentage points higher than the next-closest publisher. In November 2019, ASCAP, BMI and SESAC all named WCMN their country publisher of the year — only the third time a publishing company has been honored as such, and a first for WCMN.