During the last two years, Warner/Chappell Nashville has emerged as a prime player in country music publishing. In the quarter just completed, it racked up its highest market share in country radio airplay since Billboard began tracking the category in first-quarter 2010.
“We have upped the pace in how we are attacking the market,” says Ben Vaughn, who in October 2012 was named head of the publisher’s Nashville office. “We are deepening our conversations with the labels and making sure we are everywhere.” Vaughn, who reports to Warner/Chappell Music president of creative Jon Platt, began his music career as an intern in the Nashville office. Along the way, he’s served as GM of Nashville’s Big Tractor Music before heading up EMI’s Nashville team where he previously worked with Platt.
Vaughn says Warner/Chappell Nashville is “very selective about the writers we sign-the roster slots at Warner/Chappell are valuable, and the platform we create for that writer is significant.”
The country division has a pair of young songwriters who are just now having their first hits: Nicolle Galyon is a co-writer of Keith Urban and Miranda Lambert’s “We Were Us,” which is No. 5 on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart, while Laura Veltz is a co-writer on Eli Young Band’s “Drunk Last Night,” which is No. 10. Recent Warner/Chappell signings include Lee Miller, who has a No. 3 hit as a co-writer of Tim McGraw’s “Southern Girl” and Dan & Shay, who broke into the top 40 four weeks ago with their song “You and Me.”
The Nashville roster also includes Willie Nelson, Deana Carter, Rodney Crowell, Brett James, Wendell Mobley, Tim J. Nichols, Marla Cannon-Goodman, Michael Dulaney and members of Little Big Town and Lady Antebellum.
“In Nashville, we have songwriters who are topping the charts for the very first time, and we have those who are doing it for the 20th time,” Warner/Chappell Music chairman/CEO Cameron Strang, who is also chairman/CEO of Warner Bros. Records, said in a statement.
On the Nov. 2 Country Airplay chart, the Warner/Chappell Nashville roster “has 29 singles,” Vaughn says. “We never had this many at the same time.” Moreover, the company has placed 35 singles among the top 100 country airplay songs of the third quarter.
With a diverse roster, the publisher sets “individual strategies around each writer and executes in a team environment,” Vaughn says. ” When you sign to W/C Nashville, you not only have the dedicated team in Nashville, the worldwide team is behind you.” For example, the company has an employee who liaises with Warner/Chappell’s various synch teams.
“The Nashville office is a microcosm of the wider W/C culture,” Vaughn says. “Warner/Chappell has been around for over 200 years, and we know how to take care of songwriters.”