The ink has barely dried on the deal between Cumulus Media and Big Machine Label Group creating a new country music record label (Nash Icons) and live events business. Now comes the fun part. Big Machine president/CEO Scott Borchetta is searching for big stars to sign up — and Garth Brooks, Faith Hill, Alan Jackson and Shania Twain are all said to be in his sights.
“I would look for Scott to make an announcement in the next 30 days,” says Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey.
The biggest fallout of this new project? The shake-up of the static world of country radio. The Nash Icons format will reach a demographic that has been underserved.
“It’s not that 35- to 54-year-olds don’t like the hits,” says Dickey. “They just miss the biggest country artists of the last two decades, who are still recording and touring but not getting enough exposure today.”
The betting is that Nash Icons can serve as a platform for new music from veteran artists and a bridge between current and classic hits.
“While in pop you have the middle ground of [adult top 40] between top 40 and classic hits, there’s really no such thing in country,” says Dickey. Cumulus plans to offer the format to affiliates — including 70 owned country stations, plus another 1,500 through its Westwood One network — in 2015.
The venture also will include syndicated programming along the lines of Cumulus’ 40-year warhorse American Country Countdown, along with content for print, video and digital distribution. A Nash Icons tour is in the works for next summer. Says Dickey, “We want to be thought of as an omni-channel, multiplatform brand.”
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