Industry veteran Ryan Dokke has joined Play It Again Music as CEO, Billboard has learned exclusively, as the publishing company — owned by songwriter Dallas Davidson (“What Makes You Country,” “Just a Kiss”) — looks to widen its role in the country business.
Dokke started the job on June1, just days after ending a run as Curb | Word senior vp/GM, with eyes on expanding the publishing house into management and label services. Part of his initial mission is to assist two of the six songwriters on the existing staff, Dylan Marlowe and Walker Montgomery, pursue their recording goals. Montgomery is the son of John Michael Montgomery and nephew of Eddie Montgomery; Marlowe is a 23-year-old who is developing his own, identifiable sound.
“He’s never had a cut, he’s never had a single, but every time he sends a song, Dallas and I are looking at each other going, ‘This is brilliant,'” says Dokke.
Davidson has racked up more than 300 cuts as a songwriter. He established Play It Again in 2015, naming the company after one of his Luke Bryan hits. Dokke left a radio career in 2011 to join the promotion staff at Arista Nashville, then moved to Curb in 2014, widening his duties into other areas of label business and publishing with his promotion to GM.
“Growing Play It Again Music is something I’ve been planning to do, but I needed the right partner to lead it,” said Davidson in a statement. “From the first time Dokke and I met, I knew that he had the right passion, vision and knowledge to take PIA Music where it needs to go. Among other things, he brings an incredible energy to the company.”
The long-term vision for PIA Music is to grow it similarly to Big Loud, which was formed initially as a publishing venture by songwriter Craig Wiseman (“Live Like You Were Dying”), before adding a management division, then forming a competitive independent label. Other indie publishing companies, such as Creative Nation and Big Yellow Dog, have operated labels for their writers. Ashley Gorley‘s Tape Room Music partnered with Big Machine to create a recording path for one of its acts, Avenue Beat.
“If really what’s happening on the front end is artist development, that by nature then turns itself into a label,” reasons Dokke. “That’s where Dallas and I really want to go, but I do recognize — and I know Dallas does, too – that at the beginning it might make the most sense to find a partner on a couple of early findings.”
PIA currently includes four additional employees, and further staff announcements are expected. In addition to Montgomery and Marlowe, the songwriting roster features Tommy Cecil (“Home Alone Tonight”), Justin Wilson (“Happens Like That”) and Kyle Fishman (“Small Town Boy”), plus singer-songwriter Trea Landon, who is signed as an artist to Warner Music Nashville.
Dokke hopes that as the company grows, it creates careers and products that allow PIA to impact the community by reinvesting financially and by developing a catalog of music that has an emotional effect.
“Music moves people and creates moments,” he says. “We just want to be a part of that process.”