The Academy of Country Music has tapped a highly regarded Nashville music executive to fill its vacant chief executive officer position. Grand Ole Opry vp/GM Pete Fisher will step into the role effective Jan. 30.
The ACM is based in Encino, Calif., and Fisher and his wife, Hope, are expected to relocate from the Nashville area to California in the next few months.
ACM board chairman Ken Tucker, who oversees country and Christian music programming for Apple Music and iTunes, tells Billboard there were dozens of applicants for the job, but he believes “we got the right guy” in Fisher. “He’s so well respected in [Nashville] by artists, managers and pretty much anyone else that he’s dealt with. He’s artist-centric and genre-centric. Throughout his career he’s taken a forward-looking view at growing and exposing our format in a positive manner. He’s a great strategist and brand-planner, a great communicator within the industry, a team builder [and he] believes in solid partnerships.”
The new CEO is already well acquainted with the inner workings of the Academy. Fisher has served on its board since 2003 and been involved with its charitable arm, Lifting Lives, since its inception. Fisher’s other board positions include the Recording Academy, MusiCares and the Opry Trust Fund, among others.
Fisher’s background included stints in music publishing and artist management before he joined the Opry 17 years ago. He was director of creative services at WarnerSongs, and then a partner in management firm Fisher Raines Entertainment, where clients included singer/songwriters Paul Brandt and Marcus Hummon.
Fisher’s job at the Opry encompassed all operations of the 4,400-seat Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville, its world-famous weekly radio shows and numerous other audio and television specials. One of his most recent production projects is the Grammy-nominated 2016 concert film American Saturday Night — Live From the Grand Ole Opry.
He is widely credited with turning around the Opry’s fortunes during his time there, largely by modernizing the production while respecting the show’s storied history. He became known for booking shows with an eclectic mix of country superstars, promising newcomers and heritage Opry members. After the Opry House was badly damaged during Nashville’s 2010 flooding, Fisher oversaw its $20 million restoration.
“My time at the Grand Ole Opry, and my 32 years in Nashville, have been the best years of my life,” Fisher tells Billboard. “As I enter this new chapter, in partnership with our talented, committed, passionate board and staff, I am incredibly honored to play a part in building upon the Academy’s rich 53 year legacy.”
“I’ve always been impressed with him, with the class that he exudes, with what he’s done for the genre and for the artists and what he’s done for the Grand Ole Opry,” Tucker says of Fisher. “I’m so thrilled and so excited about what this means for the Academy of Country Music. He’s going to take this organization to a whole new level. We’ve never had a leader like Pete Fisher.”
The CEO post had been open for eight months since Bob Romeo abruptly departed last May after 13 years at the helm. The Academy’s executive VP and managing director Tiffany Moon filled in as interim CEO since then.
“The process took a little longer than we hoped it would, but in the end the result is worth the time we took,” Tucker says of the executive search.
No word yet on who will replace Fisher at the Opry.