Cumulus Media's NASH brand of country music programming is busy these days. Cumulus, which owns over 60 NASH and NASH Icon radio stations, is in the midst of its inaugural round of NASH Next, an American Idol-style online competition in which the winner receives a record deal on a new label of the same name.
NASH Next is Cumulus' second imprint after NASH Icon Music, a joint venture with Big Machine. Artists signed to that classic artist-centric label include Reba McEntire, Martina McBride and Hank Williams, Jr.
Lewis Dickey, the CEO of Cumulus, says he is also nearing a deal to create a new Americana-themed lifestyle brand to go with company’s slate of non-radio ventures like Country Weekly magazine and partnerships with Qello and Music Choice, according to the New York Post.
"Everybody is getting into everybody’s else’s business," Dickey said.
Voting for the audition round of Nash Next closes in about eleven days. Current leader board favorites include Matt Williams, Kaylee Rutland and Dani-elle. Over the next couple of months, artists will engage in a series of challenges such as performing cover songs and originals on social media sites like Periscope and Instagram. A final challenge involves creating a music video that incorporates animation. In addition to a record deal for the winner, top finalists will embark on a tour.
The Atlanta-based Cumulus is the No. 2 radio company after iHeartMedia, formerly Clear Channel. A company spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article mistakenly referred to the NASH Next talent competition as in the planning stages. It is in fact under way.