Music News (1/13/21)


NSAI Announces 20th Annual Song Contest Winners, 2021 Judging Underway

Each year, the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI), along with presenting partners Martin Guitars and Strings and CMT hold an annual song contest inviting aspiring songwriters around the world to enter their songs and/or lyrics into one of two categories for a chance to win several incredible prizes.

Pictured (L-R): Robert Ragosta, Grand Prize Winner; Mark Giufre, Lyric-Only Winner.

Robert Ragosta (Nashville, Tennessee) was awarded the 20th annual contest’s Grand Prize for his song “Bad Idea For A Love Song,” (co-written with Zack Dyer, Austin Nivarel, and Joe Ragosta) and took home $5,000 cash, mentor sessions with multi-platinum singer-songwriter Elle King and hit songwriters Ross Golan and Joe London, as well as several other prizes including a brand new Martin guitar.

Mark Giufre (Burnt Hills, New York) won the 20th annual contest’s Lyric-Only category with his entry “Cast Away,” winning a mentor session with legendary songwriter Tom Douglas, $2,000 cash, a Martin guitar, and more. Ten additional songwriters placed in the contest, each winning a Martin guitar as well as a year membership to NSAI.

With nearly 3,000 entries, each of the total 21 placing songs advanced through several levels of judging with the final judging event taking place Spring 2020, where the Grand Prize-winning song was determined by a panel of elite judges. In the Fall of 2020, each of the winners connected via Zoom with their mentors, receiving valuable insight and inspiration to propel them into the new year.

The judging process for the 21st Annual NSAI Song Contest presented by Martin Guitars and Strings and CMT is now underway, with the final judging set to take place February 2021. Up to 22 songwriters will place, and this year the Grand Prize winner will take home $5,000 cash, mentor sessions with songwriter-artist Tenille Townes and hit songwriters Ross Golan and Joe London of And The Writer Is… podcast, a CMT prize pack, and a Martin guitar. The Lyric-Only winner will receive $2,000 cash, a mentor session with Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter Brett James, and a Martin guitar as well.

NSAI sends special thanks to And The Writer Is…, Anthem Entertainment, ASCAP, BMI, CMT, Martin Guitars and Strings, SESAC, Southwest Airlines®, and We Make Tapes & Discs for supporting the contest and NSAI Mission.

John Ozier Named AIMP National Chair; Initial 2021 Events Announced

John Ozier

The Executive Committee of the Association of Independent Music Publishers (AIMP) has named John Ozier as its new National Chair.

Ozier, EVP Creative at Reservoir Media Management, has been President of the Nashville Chapter since 2015. He succeeds Teri Nelson-Carpenter, who remains the President of the Los Angeles Chapter. AIMP National Chairs are selected from the three chapter presidents by the Executive Committee, and serve one two-year term.

“Teri did a fabulous job especially this past year leading us through some of the biggest changes that our industry—and the world—have seen in a hundred years,” said Ozier. “I am so glad she will continue to serve on our executive Board as the Los Angeles Chapter President, and I look forward to working with her and our New York Chapter President Michael Lau as together we navigate this new terrain.”

The organization will continue to have its events as webinars in the coming months, starting on Tuesday, Jan. 12, “AIMP & IMPF present: The State Of The Music Publishing Industry Post-Covid. How Are We Going To Do In 2021?” Moderated by Emmanuel Legrand, editor of the Creative Industries Newsletter, the discussion will dive into the report that the IMPF (Independent Music Publishers International Forum) released last year, which for the first time detailed the economic importance of indie music publishers on a global scale. The panelists include Ender Atis, COO Budde Music Publishing; Michael Lau, CTO Round Hill Music Publishing & AIMP NY Chapter President; Michelle Lewis, Co-Founder SONA & award-winning songwriter; and Mary Jo Mennella, Founder & CEO Music Asset Management. This special event will be held at 9 a.m. PT/ noon ET / 5 p.m. GMT; full information and registration is here.

The regular Thursday panels at 4:30 p.m. CST / 5:30 p.m. ET / 2:30 p.m. PT begin Jan. 14, on “Being Creative In A Pandemic: How It Has Affected Songwriters, Publishers, and Labels.” The speakers will be Bart Butler, songwriter and producer; Chris Van Belkom, VP, Combustion Music; and Laura Veltz, songwriter at Big Machine Music; moderated by AIMP Nashville Board member Shannan Hatch, President of Fourward Music.

In past years, David Israelite, President of the NMPA, has spoken at the Los Angeles Chapter pre-Grammy lunch event, and will stay in the spirit of that tradition in a webinar presentation on Jan. 28.

The AIMP will also host an online version of its Global Music Publishing Summit June 7-9; more details on this and other upcoming events are available at

Primary Wave Music Publishing Acquires Catalog Of Dan Wilson

Dan Wilson

Primary Wave Music Publishing has acquired the catalog of acclaimed songwriter and producer Dan Wilson.

Wilson co-wrote wrote Dierks Bentley’s No. 1, “Home,” as well as six songs on The Chicks multiple-Grammy-winning album Taking the Long Way, including “Not Ready to Make Nice,” which earned him a Grammy for Song of the Year in 2007. Wilson has had songs recorded by Chris Stapleton, Keith Urban, Taylor Swift, P!nk, and more.

The deal with Primary Wave includes some of Wilson’s biggest hits including Adele’s “One and Only,” “Don’t You Remember” and her smash single “Someone Like You,” which was a Top 10 hit around the world, reaching No. 1 in the U.S., U.K., Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand, and “Not Ready to Make Nice.” Wilson’s producer credit on Adele’s 21 also earned him a Grammy for Album of the Year. The acquisition also encompasses songs by Swift, Bentley, Stapleton, P!nk, John Legend, Josh Groban, Leon Bridges, and many others, as well as his material for his band, Semisonic, most known for their hit “Closing Time,” which spent 13 weeks at No. 1 on the Modern Rock chart in 1998.

A native of St. Louis Park, Minnesota, Wilson attended Harvard University studying visual arts and while there began collaborating with his brother in several bands. In 1987, he joined the band Trip Shakespeare and released three albums. After taking a break from the band in 1992, he continued collaborating with his brother and formed Semisonic. The band would go on to release three full-length albums, one EP, and this year returned with the EP You’re Not Alone, their first new music in 20 years. The 1998 release of Feeling Strangely Fine brought international acclaim powered by Wilson’s song, “Closing Time” and the follow up singles, “Singing in My Sleep” and “Secret Smile,” and went Platinum, with “Closing Time” receiving a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Song. Wilson also released three solo albums, Free Life, Love Without Fear, and Re-Covered. In 2018, he began releasing new music.

“The musical art that Dan has created as a songwriter is undeniable,” says Justin Shukat, president of Primary Wave Music Publishing. He goes on, “His work has been enjoyed by fans around the world through both the lens of his own band, Semisonic, as well as through the voices of the countless artists he’s collaborated with and written for. We are honored and thrilled to have him join Primary Wave.”

CMT To Premiere ‘Skyville Live’ Specials With Kris Kristofferson And More

Kris Kristofferson. Photo: Mary Ellen Mark

CMT announced today (Jan. 13) its partnership with Skyville Live, the Emmy Award-winning music series from Academy and Emmy-Award winning studio Believe Entertainment Group, to bring ten of its music specials to life in 2021.

Celebrating the music of legendary artists throughout the year, CMT will host the broadcast premiere of the one-hour specials, with exact timing for each to be announced at a later date. All specials were filmed pre-COVID in front of an intimate studio audience at the Skyville Live Music venue in Nashville.

The first special, Skyville Live: Kris Kristofferson & Friends, is set to premiere on Tuesday, Jan. 19 at 10/9 CST, celebrating the music of the legendary singer-songwriter Kris Kristofferson. Kristofferson will be joined by Brandy Clark, Jason Isbell, Lady A and Raul Malo for the one-hour tribute showcasing his most memorable songs from his storied career, including “Me And Bobby McGee” and “Help Me Make It Through the Night,” among others.

Next month, Midnight Train To Georgia: Gladys Knight & Guests will premiere Wednesday, Feb. 17 at 10/9 CST. Music royalty Gladys Knight is joined by superstars Martina McBride and Estelle to perform beloved classics, including “Midnight Train To Georgia” and “Neither One Of Us.”

The full slate of Skyville Live specials airing later this year will feature world-class entertainers and musicians including Cyndi Lauper, Graham Nash, the late Gregg Allman, Emmylou Harris, a salute to Jerry Lee Lewis, Martina McBride and more.

Skyville Live began as a very small club in Nashville as a way for up-and-coming artists to showcase their talents. It became very popular, but there was little room for growth. Wally Wilson, who co-owned Skyville Music, along with music industry insiders, created a live-streamed concert series, bringing together famous artists from the world of classic rock and country, with new artists in a funky warehouse in Nashville in front of a live audience for intimate performances.

Quartz Hill Records Signs Ben Gallaher

Pictured (L-R, top row): Quartz Hill Records’ Paul Brown and April Rider; Warner Chappell Music’s Ben Vaughn, BSB Management’s Shawn Pennington. Pictured (L-R, bottom row): Quartz Hill Records’ Jason Sellers, Ben Gallaher, Benny Brown.

Quartz Hill Records, the newly-formed joint partnership with global music distribution company The Orchard, announced the signing of Ben Gallaher to its label roster.

Gallaher has earned a fast-growing fanbase due to his commanding guitar prowess and energetic live shows while opening for the likes of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Hank Williams Jr., Blake Shelton, 3 Doors Down, Lee Brice, and has toured the Pennsylvania State Prisons for ten years on his annual, headlining Prison Tour.

Gallaher was introduced to Quartz Hill Records’ Benny Brown by Brown’s longtime friend Ben Vaughn, President & CEO of Warner Chappell Music Nashville, and Gallaher’s publisher. After meeting with Brown and Quartz Hill managing partners Paul Brown and Jason Sellers, they knew the label had found its next rising star.

Fans will get their first taste of new music from Gallaher on Friday, Feb. 5 with the worldwide release of “Every Small Town,” co-written by Gallaher, Ash Bowers and Jim Collins. Gallaher is currently in the studio recording his debut Quartz Hill Records album with producers Mickey Jack Cones (Jason Aldean, Thomas Rhett) and Derek George (Dustin Lynch, Randy Houser).

Gallaher is signed to Warner Chappell Music Nashville and is an ASCAP writer. He is booked by WME and managed by BSB Management.