At a June 4 "Artist Development Case Study," Luke Bryan and his team narrated the story of how he went from a 25-year-old who sat in his apartment all day writing songs to a 35-year-old poised to be country's next superstar. Along the way, Bryan survived rejection from every label in Nashville and learned a few things, which he summed up in his advice to an aspiring 16-year-old in the audience as the panel concluded: "Play every day, work on songs," Bryan said. "Fate, luck, working hard and being good to people are all important. Most importantly, enjoy your life now."

Panelist Jay Williams, from William Morris Endeavor, went to see Bryan early on and immediately recognized his strength as a live act. Before the singer released his first single and album, Williams continued to promote him on a regional level, especially in college towns, as well as in cities outside the South. At the same time, Bryan continued a tradition he had started early in his career - handing out free CDs of his demos in clubs when he played.

"If I handed out 500 CDs, then the next time I went into that town those CDs would have morphed onto iPhones and iPads and more people would come to see me," Bryan said.

He continued building that following as he opened tour after tour, and though Williams admitted considering sending Bryan out as a headliner this year, that will wait until 2013. This summer, he heads out with Jason Aldean. "When we are not playing with Jason, we are selling out 6,0000- to 7,000-seat auditoriums," Williams said. Bryan has moved through the ranks from clubs to auditoriums and amphitheaters - a true case study in development.••••