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CRS Goes Vertical
January 4, 2016, Issue 480
A new footprint, better decor and a possible solution for the townies are just some of what CRS 2016 attendees can expect. Country Aircheck spoke with CRS Exec. Dir. Bill Mayne about the big move from the Nashville Convention Center and Renaissance Hotel to the Omni Hotel. High Heel Friendly: Unlike previous years that involved many long walks from the Renaissance to the NCC and back, getting to the CRS registration area is as simple as a quick trip down the elevator or, from the lobby, up the escalator to the second level. Attendees should be able to quickly find their way around with some help. “There will be über signage,” says Mayne. “People have been on autopilot for the last 18 years, and everyone will be directionally challenged this year.” Parking choices include Omni valet or self-parking at the Music City Center, about a block away, a choice that can be made at check-in. Most events and exhibits will be on the second floor, with some taking CRS Registration Area up space on the third and fourth levels. “For the last 18 years, the environment was a horizontal configuration,” Mayne says. “There was a lot of walking. This year it’s a much more vertical configuration. You’ll walk out of your hotel room to the elevator, and choose which floor to get off based on which event you’re going to. It’s going to be much more convenient.” One note about the elevators at the Omni that will take some getting used to: there are two sets to choose from based on which floor you’re going to. Room keys are required to operate them, regardless of floor. (Those not staying at the hotel will have to use the escalators.) The Omni’s Legends Ballroom will be segmented to serve as the presentation hall (think NCC 204/205), and the larger panel room (NCC 206). The Broadway Ballroom will host (continued on page 8) performances, including the New Faces
Good As Drew: Radio friends join Cold River’s Drew Baldridge in Las Vegas for a “Drew Year’s Eve” showcase. Pictured are (back, l-r) WQYK/Tampa’s Cadillac Jack, Beasley/Las Vegas’ Courtney Robinette, KTGX/Tulsa’s Kristina Carlyle, KWOF/Denver’s Brad Hansen, WPCV/ Lakeland’s Mike James, Cold River’s Kellie Longworth, WUSH/Norfolk’s Brandon O’Brien, WME’s Doug Neff, Cold River’s Bill Heltemes, KUPL/Portland’s B-Dub, K-JUG/ Visalia, CA’s Rik McNeil and WKLI/Albany’s Jon Reilly; (middle, l-r) KUBL/Salt Lake City’s Aaron Rosen, Cold River’s Taylor Eschbach, KEGA/Salt Lake City’s Justin Taylor and Jon Watkins, the label’s Mary Lynne O’Neal and Marie Wapelhorst and WCOS/Columbia, SC’s Andy Woods; (front, l-r) This Music’s Rusty Gaston, Cold River’s Pete O’Heeron, Baldridge and Jim Dandy, and Aly Costello and boyfriend KAJA/San Antonio’s Lance Tidwell.
Ratings In An Instant?
What if there was an automated digital offering that allowed radio stations to increase tune-in occasions and time-spentlistening simultaneously and by an impressive margin? Apparently there is. Futuri’s LDR1 platform can automatically notify listeners when a favorite song is about to play and the company has been working with Nielsen to understand the effect on ratings. LDR1 is a social-enabled playlist window for use on station websites or mobile apps that allows listeners to rate songs and control the playlist during programmer-defined voting sessions. Listeners can also sign up for LDR1 Instant Alerts, which send text, tweet, or e-mail alerts signaling that a favorite song is coming up.
The Futuri-commissioned Instant Alert Efficacy Study tracked listening activity for several months across 10 mainstream formats at 40 radio stations in 16 major markets and the results are telling. “As with anything you sort of go in with fingers crossed hoping there’s something there,” notes SVP/ Operations Todd Thomas. “We felt good about it having the ability to attract tune-ins, but it was very exciting to see that people were actually listening longer.” Findings: The Nielsen study showed 62% of stations using Futuri’s Instant Alerts increased tune-in occasions within 90 days of setting up the feature. Those stations were 36% more likely to boost occasions by at Todd Thomas least 10% than a control group of similarly formatted stations in comparable-sized markets which didn’t offer the feature. Stations using Instant Alerts increased the number of tune-in occasions by an average of 5.75 times in comparison with the control group. Moreover, the use of Instant Alerts may lead to more robust listener engagement. Nielsen found that more than 83% of consumers who became Instant Alert users said they planned to listen more to that station in the coming week, with a majority saying they intended to listen “a lot more.” More than 70% of these also said they were more likely to recommend the station to a friend. Front Lines: Programmers were hesitant to discuss local results in detail, but were quick to sing the platform’s praises. “I really like it,” notes a major market PD who doesn’t want to be named. “Anything that allows additional listener interaction and input is good. It definitely helps boost our brand with already existing P1s and that really helps TSL.” Another Country programmer in a large market agrees and appreciates the “cool factor” it brings to the station – though definite, measurable results are hard to identify. “We do so many things that may or may not move the needle,” the programmer explains. “For the small segment of the audience that’s on Twitter – Facebook is still a way bigger deal with the Country audience than Twitter – it certainly has the potential to drive some tune-in occasions if you sign up for an alert and have a meter.” And there’s a revenue aspect that’s also attractive. “We have a great sponsor for LDR since we launched it a few years ago,” the programmer continues. “And that part makes an awful lot of sense for us.” In The Futuri: Given the results of the study, Futuri is considering bonus features for the coming year. Among them, Thomas says, might be various metrics on listeners who use the
PA G E T H R E E P I C
Run For The Border: Then-KYCY/San Francisco personality Melissa McConnell with Capitol’s Garth Brooks at CRS 1994’s artist taping session where he mingled for nearly eight hours. “As it got late Garth said he could ‘easily make a Taco Bell run and drop about 20 bucks!’ We were all pretty punchy at that point and he surprised me with a neck lock and made everybody laugh.” Send your own “happy shots” to [email protected] platform, like their age, sex and regularity of use. “I can’t go into details, but we’ll be stepping up the game,” he promises. Contact SVP/Sales Tracy Gilliam at 571-230-6730 for more information on LDR1 and other Futuri products. –Russ Penuell
Congrats to Thomas Rhett, George Briner and the Valory promotion staff on landing the first No. 1 of the year with “Die A Happy Man.” The song is the second charttopper from his current album Tangled Up. And kudos to Kristen Williams and the WMN gang on securing 76 adds for Cole Swindell’s “You Should Be Here,” topping this week’s board.
OFF THE RECORD: Drew Baldridge Cold River’s Drew Baldridge puts an industry spin on the artist interview: I grew up listening to 93.7 The Bull [KSD/St. Louis]. When they spun my song for the first time, I screamed like a little schoolgirl. Of course there were some tears, but it was pretty awesome. I just wish my family could have been with me. Drew Baldridge One of our station visits got canceled so we pulled over at a Waffle House to get coffee. They asked what we did and then said, “We want to hear a song.” So we grabbed our guitars, set up in the Waffle House and played. So many people told me radio tour was going to be the hardest touring of my life. For the past three years I’ve been touring in an Excursion with a band, sleeping on each other and sharing beds. This is the first time I’ve had my own room and bed! As soon as I get on a plane I pull up Candy Crush. I’m only on level 89 and I’m stuck. I started playing it when radio tour started and I only play on flights or long car rides. We’ll be all quiet in the car and suddenly I’ll scream, “Yes! I just beat the level!” We were in a radio visit and I was playing my song and forgot the words. That was pretty embarrassing. There was no catching up. I had to start it over. I have a bracelet I take with me everywhere. I had it made for me and it has my favorite Bible verse on it. It’s a good reminder that Jesus is always with me. My single is called “Dance With Ya” and my least favorite interview question has been “Do you like to dance?” Yeah, I love to dance. That’s why I wrote it. My music comes from a real spot. I like to put out stories I’ve been through and things that influence me. My favorite artists are Josh Turner and Michael Jackson. I know that sounds weird, but if you listen to the single you’ll hear that. We were just in Phoenix and it was the first time I’d ever been out west. I loved that place. I love being outdoors and we went hiking. I’d love to be stuck there for a while. I’d never seen a cactus before, so that was pretty cool.
Cumulus WWWQ-HD2/Atlanta and 250W FM translator W255CJ have dropped the Nash Icon format for Active Rock as “99X.” The station had been airing Christmas music since late November (CAT 11/24). Adams Radio’s WWFW-HD2 (Great Country 103.3)/Fort Wayne, IN and FM translator W277KA have dropped Country to simulcast Talk sister WLYV-AM. iHeartRadio’s WBUL/Lexington, WAMZ/Louisville, WSEK/Somerset, KY and WTCR/Huntington, WV will present their annual Red, White & Boom Music Festival Sept. 2-4 in Lexington featuring Eric Church, Jason Aldean, Florida Georgia Line, Kacey Musgraves, Thomas Rhett and Cole Swindell. More here.
News & Notes
The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame has debuted “The Evolution of a Great Song.” The free exhibit in the Music City Center features memorabilia and lyric drafts from HoF members Bill Anderson, Bobby Braddock, Paul Craft, Tom Douglas, Dallas Frazier, Dickey Lee, Richard Leigh, Layng Martine Jr., Hugh Prestwood, Curly Putman, Johnny Russell, Allen Shamblin and Hank Williams. Music Health Alliance is offering a series of free “Get Covered” seminars to help members of the music industry make informed healthcare decisions. The seminars will be held Jan. 12 and Jan. 19. More here. Songwriter/producer Steve Freeman has launched publishing and artist development company Vices Verses Music with offices in Nashville and Manhattan Beach, CA. VVM will focus on signing new and established staff writers and producers, catalog acquisition and artist development. The first songwriter signing is John Kennedy, whose songs have been recorded by LeAnn Rimes, Jack Ingram, Faith Hill and others. Staff additions are expected soon; those interested in employment should call 424-239-8206. More here. Country Music Hall of Famer Bobby Braddock has launched a companion website for his memoir Bobby Braddock: A Life on Nashville’s Music Row featuring streaming demos of his songs including “He Stopped Loving Her Today” and “People Are Crazy.” Listen here.
MY TUNES: MUSIC THAT SHAPED MY LIFE Big Loud’s Chris Lane discusses his most influential music: 1. Keith Urban: I saw him in concert when I was a freshman in college. He was opening for Kenny Chesney. I became a fan of his that night and went to several more concerts of his throughout college. I was really drawn to the way he performed Chris Lane and how he interacted with the crowd. 2. “Live Like You Were Dying”/Tim McGraw: That was such a huge song for me. Years later, I’m now working with the guy who wrote it [Big Loud Mountain’s Craig Wiseman]. That’s pretty cool. 3. Garth Brooks: I met him for the first time recently. I was sitting in the studio and he just walked in, from out of nowhere. He shook my hand and asked me who my influences were. I said, “Well ... you!” He started laughing and was like, “Well alright then!” 4. Kenny Chesney: His songs always have a way of taking me back to great times in my life, whether it was in high school, college or even now. 5. Taylor Swift: Anything she does is great. • Highly regarded music you’ve actually never heard: I hear a lot of news about Kanye West but I can honestly say I’ve never listened to one of his records. • “Important” music you just don’t get: As a kid I never really understood classical music or how anyone could even listen to it. But as I get older I find myself, in my downtime when we’re heading to the next city, falling asleep to classical music. It soothes my mind. • An album you listened to incessantly: Usher’s My Way. • An obscure or non-country song everyone should listen to right now: Billy Ocean’s “Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car.” I find myself playing that all the time in the band room before shows. It’s just a fun song. • Music you’d rather not admit to enjoying: Backstreet Boys, ‘NSYNC, Britney Spears. I generally warm up to the boy band stuff in my car because it’s at the top of my vocal range and I get to choose five different voices to sing with. Clay [Big Loud Pres. Clay Hunnicutt] has been subjected to that every single day on my radio tour.
The Week’s Top Stories
Full coverage at countryaircheck.com. • Nielsen Audio released diary ratings for Fall 2015. (1/4) • WNSH/New York PD John Foxx was named to the position permanently and Hot AC clustermate WPLJ Coord./Music Mike Allan was named APD for ‹NSH and WPLJ. (1/4) • Top 40 WDZH/Detroit personality Sean “Coop” Taylor joined Max’s WGH/Norfolk for mornings. (1/4) • WKIS/Miami morning host Kenny Walker departed after six years. (1/4) • Nielsen Audio released PPM numbers for December 2015. (12/29) • KPLX & KSCS/Dallas responded to the area tornadoes. (12/29) • Longtime WDSY/Pittsburgh morning host Brian “Monty” Montgomery exited. (12/29) • Entercom added new employee benefits. (12/29)
CRS Goes Vertical
(continued from page 1) show. “The sound in that room is incredible,” Mayne says. “At the NCC we had a concrete floor, [but] our production team is so good that the sound was awesome. It’s going to be even better here because of the design of the room and the plush carpeting. The acoustics overall are just much better. I get goose bumps.” Ditch The Drapes: Mayne promises many aesthetic improvements as well. “The NCC was a concrete bunker,” he says. “With our design team, decorators and set designers, it was about covering that up. The entire thing was piped and draped from floor to ceiling – in some areas for sound more than decor, but also for the look. Everything else was done design-wise to cover up the fact you’re in a concrete bunker or a hotel meeting room.” Many of those efforts are not necessary at the Omni, which leaves time and effort for some surprises. “People will walk into the presentation hall and it will resemble what they’ve seen before, but there will be a new video wall this year.” Other second floor features CRS Signage include vendor exhibits, press and media rooms, the St. Jude Internet Cafe and interview rooms, and what Mayne calls “special events and features” in the Music Row rooms. Breakout panels will take place on the third floor, along with some to-be-announced vendor events. Three large meeting rooms on the fourth floor will house “some things we’re looking at that I can’t talk about yet,” he says. Mayne also points to the hotel’s amenities as upgrades. Bob’s Steak & Chop House adds a fine dining element, while the Omni’s Kitchen Notes is similar to the Renaissance’s Commerce Street Grille. What he’s most excited about is the hotel’s Bar Lines bar, which will host live performances each night of seminar. And unlike the Bridge Bar, Mayne says it will be less packed, with less opportunity for non-attendees to get in. Alco Hall: “We couldn’t privatize the Bridge Bar because the hotel was attached to the city’s public parking garage,” Mayne says. “The Omni is a different situation. Bar Lines will fill up and they are very strict about fire code number. There will be a door man there counting, and when they get to their magic number, sorry you can’t get in until someone else leaves. Due to the space and the way the Omni manages Bar Lines, it won’t be anything like the Bridge Bar. There won’t be room for them, because there will be too many of us!” Creating more bar space to accommodate overflow is also under consideration as part of what promises to be a long learning curve. “You have to go through a period of transition in every new relationship,” he says. “Every moving part of CRS has had to be reevaluated, reconfigured and modified because it’s a different facility. There will be a whole lot of new.” In fact, that learning curve will likely require some quick thinking. “We’ve done 18 months of intense due diligence, but there will be a lot of mid-course correction.” While this year’s timeline moves the seminar to MondayWednesday and two weeks earlier than normal, Mayne says next year it will be Wednesday-Friday and later in the month. “It may continue to be fluid,” he says, “We’re at the mercy of availability.” In about a month, CRS planners will be at the mercy of their constituents’ opinions. “I understand there will be things people like and things they are confused by,” Mayne says. “And there will likely be a small segment of curmudgeons who will hate it because it’s not exactly like it used to be – as we saw when we moved downtown from Opryland. It is going to be a completely new experience and, knowing what I know, a very cool window to the next 10 years of CRS.” –Jess Wright
A D D DAT E S January 11 Jennifer Nettles/Unlove You (Big Machine) BIG & RICH f/tim mcgraw/Lovin’ Lately (B&R/New Revolution) cole swindell/You Should Be Here (Warner Bros./WMN) OLD DOMINION/Snapback (RCA)
January 19 Trace Adkins/Jesus And Jones (Wheelhouse)
January 25 jordan rager/Feels Like One Of Them (Broken Bow) STEVEN TYLER/Red White And You (Dot) Send yours to [email protected]
KENNY CHESNEY/Save It For A Rainy Day (Blue Chair/Columbia) 10463 BRETT ELDREDGE/Lose My Mind (Atlantic/WMN)
COLE SWINDELL/Let Me See Ya Girl (Warner Bros./WMN)