Music News 10/25/12


Warner/Chappell Music announced today (Oct. 25) that Ben Vaughn has been appointed to run the Nashville office as Executive Vice President, Warner/Chappell Nashville, a newly created position. In his new role Vaughn, previously Executive VP/GM for EMI Music Publishing Nashville, will report to Jon Platt, President, Creative – North America, Warner/Chappell. Continuing at the Nashville office are General Manager Phil May and VP Steve Markland.

In 2010 Vaughn was tapped to lead EMI Publishing’s Country division, making him the youngest executive to head a major publisher in Nashville, a post which he held until the company was acquired by Sony/ATV in 2012. In total, Vaughn spent 10 years with EMI, signing writers such as Dallas Davidson, Rhett Akins, and Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott, among others. The move reunites Vaughn with Platt, who previously served as President of North America Creative for EMI Music Publishing until Summer 2012, and marks a talent coup for Warner/Chappell Chairman/CEO Cameron Strang.

“Ben will bring an additional level of creativity and innovative thinking to our senior team and our thriving Nashville operations,” said Strang. “With Ben working with our General Manager, Phil May, we will continue to build our ability to provide great services to our songwriters and publishing partners, taking their success to new heights.”

Warner/Chappell Nashville’s track record over the past year has included nine No. 1 hits and a 15.1 percent share of Country radio airplay. The company has newly signed songwriters including Dean Alexander, Josh Abbott, TJ and John Osborne, and Laura Veltz.


Tim Johnson

Songwriter Tim Johnson passed away Sun., Oct. 21, following a two-year battle with cancer. He was 52 and died at home. The established member of Nashville’s music community had more than 100 major label cuts to his credit, with some of his biggest hits including Diamond Rio’s “God Only Cries,” Jimmy Wayne’s “Do You Believe Me Now,” and Daryle Singletary’s “I Let Her Lie.”

His list of singles and cuts also includes Joey + Rory’s “Remember Me” and “That’s Important to Me,” Tim Rushlow’s “She Misses Him,” Jeannie Kendall’s “Out of Loneliness,” Rockie Lynne’s “I Can’t Believe It’s Me,” Tracy Lawrence’s “Up to Him,” Blaine Larsen’s “The Best Man,” Derek Sholl’s “When They Come Back,” and Doug Stone’s “Nice Problem.” Johnson’s “I Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” written with Jon Wolfe and James Dean Hicks, was recorded by Joe Nichols for his 2011 album release.

Johnson’s talent extended to the studio, where he produced artists including Blaine Larsen. The respected songwriter was active with NSAI, where he served on its Song Camp faculty and was a longtime board member. He assisted the organization with its legislative work in Washington, D.C. Friends say he was a champion of songs and songwriters, and always encouraged aspiring writers. He also founded the Songwriter’s Institute.

Johnson is survived by wife Meg, son Jack and daughter CeyMusicRow extends sincere condolences to his loved ones.

A memorial service for Tim Johnson will be held Thurs., Nov. 1, 3 to 5 p.m. at the Cheekwood Botanical Garden’s Massey Hall. There will be no admission charge for attendees. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to MusiCares


(L-R): Bradley Collins (BMI), Butch Baker (HoriPro), Ryan Beaver, Jonathan Motley (Safford Motley PLC), Laura McKinley (Clover Management), Lee Krabel (HoriPro), Tim Stehli (HoriPro), and Clay Bradley (BMI)

Ryan Beaver has entered into an exclusive publishing agreement with HoriPro Entertainment Group, Inc. The Austin-based artist has been busy touring the South to promote his two independently released albums, Under the Neons and the most recent Constant. This is Beaver’s first publishing deal.


David Hodges

Multiple Grammy and BMI award-winning songwriter and producer, David Hodges, has signed an exclusive worldwide agreement with Kobalt Music Group to administer all new and forthcoming works via his publishing company, 3 Weddings Music. Formerly a member of the band Evanescence, Hodges co-wrote its worldwide hits “Bring Me to Life” and “My Immortal.” He has won several BMI Pop Awards, which include awards for his No. 1 singles “Because Of You” by Kelly Clarkson, “Crush” by David Archuleta, and “What About Now” by Daughtry, among others. His songs have also been recorded by major artists such as Celine Dion, Backstreet Boys, Carrie Underwood, Christina Perri, Train and David Cook.

Hodges is currently collaborating with Avril Lavigne, Natasha Bedingfield, Sara Evans, and Christina Perri for their new albums. As an active film and TV composer, Hodges most recently penned end title, “Thousand Years,” for The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, as well as the title song, “There’s a Place for Us,” for The Chronicles Of Narnia, which garnered him a Golden Globe nomination for Best Song.

In more Kobalt news, the company plans to invest up to 100 million USD in the next 12 months in music royalties. Willard Ahdritz, CEO and Founder of Kobalt Music Group, explained, “In order to respond to existing and new clients’ needs for bigger advances, or part or whole acquisitions, Kobalt formed an investment advisory company in 2011 which now has substantial capital resources backed by blue chip family office and other institutional investors.” Kobalt has already made a number of investments with more to follow. The company manages more than 300,000 copyrights worldwide on behalf of over 1000 content holders.


Suzanne Strickland and Scot Sherrod have officially launched RareSpark Media Group, Inc., offering music publishing, production, development and management services. The company’s first signings are songwriter/producer Jon McElroy, Victoria Banks, Jim Reilley, and E Marlowe.

McElroy’s cuts include Lee Brice’s “Happy Endings” and “Upper Middle Class White Trash,” Neal McCoy’s “The Shake,” and Patty Loveless’ “She Drew A Broken Heart.” Banks, the 2010 CCMA Female Artist and Songwriter of the Year, has had cuts by Sara Evans and Jessica Simpson. Singer-songwriter/producer Reilley is formerly of The New Dylans and has cuts by Vince Gill, Hal Ketchum, Jack Ingram, and Sam Bush. Rising writer E Marlowe is a past winner of the CMT/NSAI song contest.

Scot Sherrod will oversee day-to-day operations as VP/GM. “We are forging ahead in this ever-evolving industry,” he says, “continually finding new ways to help the songwriter develop, build, and manage their career—constantly striving to increase their brand, building enterprises for each individual that will financially sustain them through their art.”

Owner/CEO Suzanne Strickland brings more than a decade as a songwriter and CCM touring artist to the venture. She also spent 10 years as director of operations for A&M Recovery Services, Inc., a mortgage field services company. “Our deals will fundamentally be the same for every songwriter as far as ownership, but we will tailor every deal from a creative perspective to meet the needs of each individual,” she says. “Being based in Nashville, the epicenter of songwriting, is important to us. However, we are passionate about coming up with new and innovative ways of marketing our songwriters in the industry and the marketplace without limiting ourselves geographically, or with regard to platform and genre.”

In recent years Sherrod has represented, produced, composed and/or performed works licensed in theatrical trailers and movies including Zombieland, Bounty Hunter, Knight and Day, Airbender, Green Lantern and Lost Boys III, as well as a national ad for Volvo. He previously spent 12 years at Major Bob Music and two years at Muy Bueno Music Group. As a producer he worked with Juno Award winner George Canyon. He also helped place “More Than A Memory” with Garth Brooks.

RareSpark is located at 508 E. Iris Dr., Nashville, TN 37204; Phone: (615) 678-5709; Email: