Name: Pinky Gonzales
Title: Digital strategist/adjunct professor, new media, Belmont University
Panel: How to Make New Media Work, 10:15am – 11:15am, Tuesday (June 8). For more info visit

Who is the one upcoming country artist to keep an eye on and why?
Jason Aldean. I believe he is the next in line for the male vocalist of the year nominations. Once an artist reaches that threshold, they are taken far more seriously as a household name and things begin to snowball. Our current industry stalwarts are all fabulous, but fresh blood is always needed to keep things interesting.

What's the last album you bought?
MuteMath “Armistice.”

What's the last show you saw?
Hangout Music Festival in Gulf Shores, Ala. Various artists.

My favorite Nashville venue to see a band is ________.
5 Spot.

Do you Twitter? If so, how often?
Yes. Daily. It is responsible for half of the web traffic I see on my business website.

What digital tools work best for your business?
Gmail. iPhone.

What revenue stream is going to eventually replace CDs?
There won't be a replacement. Just because one source of revenue dries up doesn't mean nature is required to offer a replacement. Sometimes things just die. With that said, there are and always will be multiple ways for an artist/musician to make a living. Recorded music sales are just one of many, and have been this whole time.

What's the most innovative business idea you've seen in the last year?
Inconsistent and overly expensive licensing terms from disparate parties prevent innovation in this space. The most innovative business ideas in the last year have all been non-music focused. Until that changes, we're looking at the music business 10 years from now, today. And it sucks.

At this moment in time, what most worries you about the country music business?
360 deals that provide no additional expertise or support and that tie up an artist indefinitely may be necessary to keep the machine running, but it will not result in better music reaching a broader audience. I think country music in particular is susceptible to cultural changes that will require country artists to be pop artists, which in the end leads to lack of differentiation and obsolescence.

What encourages you most about the business?
The fact that people make music for the joy of making music and always will. And that others will always be inspired to lend a hand with the business side of that equation. The "sky is falling" hysteria brought on by the rise of Napster and its offspring is old and pathetic, and thankfully, the industry is catching on to the fact that there are, and always will be, ways to monetize entertainment content, online, in recorded form, live and otherwise. Amen.

For more info on Billboard's first annual Billboard Country Music Summit, in association with CMA, visit