Investors are Pouring Millions of Dollars into Nashville's Country Music Market

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Investors are pouring millions of dollars into new country music artists, independent labels, and production of upcoming talent in Nashville with overwhelming success. Billboard author Ken Tucker predicts the rise of the independent country label to superstar status in the next two years. During a recent week in November, a full third of all the songs listed in Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart were from independent labels. This was unheard of even 5 years ago. From Billboard, page 26 December 9, 2006 issue of Billboard Magazine

We're taking a lot of our own personal research and development...about how to compete out of the box at the highest level

With over $13 billion dollars spent on an ever increasing music market last year, and the stock market at its highest level in history, investors have poured over $3 trillion dollars in the entertainment industry. Country music continues to lead the markets with investors finding more and more acts at younger ages to put their money into. The number of country music listeners has grown in major metropolitan areas during this past year from 21% to 26% according to the Country Music Association. Country music leads all other genres of music and has since 1992 (fourteen years).

Sales revenues from country music have quadrupled since 2000, far surpassing the average of a 10% per year increase over the past seven years. According to Pollstar Magazine, this year marks the first time in history that seven country music artists are found in the top money making tours world wide, all in the top 25 money makers were Alan Jackson, Brooks & Dunn, Kenny Chesney, Rascal Flatts, Tim McGraw & Faith Hill and Toby Keith's tour. George Strait's tours are categorized separately against the largest rock & pop acts in the business. Strait is an industry unto himself making more money than all other artists combined.

The top grossing country tours were up 16.4% over last year, grossing $158.4 million dollars in ticket sales for the year and up some $22.3 million dollars from the previous year. The CMA awards show was again the highest rated television show on ABC Monday night during its reign over the other networks for the past several years. CBS Network thought so much of the power of the country audience, it recently spent $1.55 billion dollars to purchase The Nashville Network (TNN/CMT). The Spike Network now has 78 million households and sister network CMT has 38 million households. This was a bold move by SONY/CBS and was heralded by Wall Street and the financial world as a positive investment in the future of "Hillbilly Hollywood." Garth Brooks as a solo male artist has surpassed the 150 million mark in record sales, making him the best selling solo artist in American Music History, surpassing even the sales records of The Eagles. Brooks continues to lead all country acts in a Wal-Mart frenzy of sales and income from all sources.

Country radio each week has 43 million Americans tuned in to their radio stations, leading all radio formats in the United States for the most listened to music in America. Country radio has more 18-24 year old listeners than any other format of music. The first ever free standing advertising supplement for country music reached 100 million households during the year as Fan Fair 2007 again sold out in two hours. Clear Channel Radio, Infinity, Citadel, and the major radio chains have made more money in country music in the past five years than any other format of music.

Big Machine Records has been heralded as the most successful of all the new Independent Record labels in Nashville. Big Machine President Scott Borchetta leans heavily on his past experience, including executive stints at MCA and Dreamworks. "We're taking a lot of our own personal research and development...about how to compete out of the box at the highest level," says Borchetta who counts Jack Ingram and Taylor Swift among his roster of talent. At Equity Records, "Our artists maintain ownership of their own masters," GM Mike Kraski is quoted as an absolute must for a country music artist. Former Sony Music Nashville President Allen Butler has started his own indie label. Montage is now the home of Little Texas, Andy Griggs, and others. Borchetta says one way that his label remains cost effective is that "We're not too top heavy with executives. I don't have to check with New York or LA. My crew walks in, we talk about something and either we do it or we don't. There's not a long drawn out process."

Bob Freese, GM of Navarre distribution says, "Our biggest selling titles this year are without a doubt country records. Broken Bow's GM Howell says, "I still believe that anybody can have a hit on any given day. With the right song, the right artist and the right people working the record, regardless of the record label, you can have a hit." One of the companies developing talent for this upsurge of indie success is the production team of Legends Hall Of Fame producer, Robert Metzgar & Charles E Fach, Jr. in Nashville. Fach was the day to day operations manager of Mercury Records in New York for 26 years. Platinum Plus Universal develops talent to pitch to the ever growing list of successful independent labels and major label imprints that sign the talent coming to Nashville to record. A demo album now costs about $35,000 to complete in a major studio and a major label project can be done for about $150,000 with videos shot on 16 mm film completed for a budget of $45-50,000 thousand dollars.

"It's all about the right song," says MCA Universal producer, Robert Metzgar who has been working in production for over 30 years. He recently got several songs from Pop Record Producer Scott Storch (Storch produced the latest Paris Hilton album) who is also a songwriter. Metzgar looks for songs in every nook and cranny in Nashville, New York, and Hollywood for the list of talent he develops each year. He recently produced the "Humanitarian Album Of The Year" which features 20 artists who donated their music to the Autism Society of America. The album was paid for by Captain D's Restaurants, and sponsored by Billy Bob's (World's largest Honky Tonk) and the Nashville Palace. All the proceeds assist autistic children through the ASA.

NBC Universal, Sony/BMG Entertainment, Warner Brothers, Sun Records, and other country music companies that have gone public or have plans to go public, have proven to be a great stock investment for the public investor. The stock in the country music community has been driven up by extraordinary successes. Look at the amazing multi-billion dollar acquisition of NBC Television this past year by UNIVERSAL and General Electric and it's climb to the top of the list of companies showing profits world-wide and one can easily see why so many millions of dollars have been spent to back even independent and unknown artists into the spotlight. Investors have seen their stocks actual value increase by over 18% in the last year alone (DJIA 12,471.32 Markets 2006) and many who sponsored individual artists and their recordings have turned seven times their original investment (NASDAQ Markets) in just the past five years. This doesn't even take into account the dividends paid or the long term appreciation of a country music master recording. Investing in country music is a win-win situation for everyone involved from the artist to the producer who develops the talent.

From all indications, the success will continue into the next millennium with female acts beginning to sell records like the huge male stars of years gone by. Female acts have all had multi-platinum success and the "year of the woman" has finally arrived in country music. Metzgar was quoted in the Toronto Star as saying, "When you cut me, I bleed George Jones and Alan Jackson." His past predictions of the success of country music have come to pass with the most aggressive investment schedule in country music labels taking place during the past 12 months. "I see nothing on the horizon but continued success for the indie label and especially the country music artist," Metzgar predicts for the new year of 2007.

Written by: Mikel Gore

Entertainment Headline News

All media outlets are free to copy, reprint or use this article completely free of charge. All content and photos are available for use by radio, television or print media outlets without charge. Quotations from the Billboard Magazine of December 9, 2006 are by permission of Billboard.

Contact: Robert Metzgar, GM

Platinum Plus Universal Records

1214 16th Avenue South

Nashville, TN 37212-2902

800-767-4984 (toll free)

615-321-0600 (wk)

615-321-0182 (fax)

Fan Fair Tickets

Country Music Association

One Music Circle South

Nashville, TN 37203

800-788-3045 (toll free)

615-244-2840 (wk)

615-726-0314 (fax)

Country Radio Seminar

CRB 38 February 28-March 2, 2007

819 18th Avenue South

Nashville, TN 37203

615-327-4487 (wk)

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