2021 In Charge – Music

Each year, our In Charge list brings together business, political and civic leaders from all corners of the Middle Tennessee landscape. This year's list is our 12th iteration and features roughly 500 people driving change across the region. We thank our friends and colleagues at the Scene and Nfocus for their help in creating it.


Kris Ahrend — CEO, Mechanical Licensing Collective: Worked on various labels’ legal teams and at Rhino Entertainment before rising to president of U.S. Shared Services for Warner Music Group in Nashville. Was tapped in early 2020 to lead the MLC, which was created by publishers and songwriters to license and administer rights under the Music Modernization Act.

John Allen — President, New West Records: Former VP at BMG Chrysalis opened New West’s first Nashville office after being appointed president in late 2014. Roster includes Buddy Miller, Ben Folds, Rodney Crowell, John Hiatt and Nikki Lane.

Dan Auerbach — Musician, Producer, Frontman of The Black Keys and The Arcs: Owns and operates Easy Eye Sound recording studio and record label. Has produced albums by The Pretenders, Lana Del Rey and Yola. Co-founding business partner at Barista Parlor Golden Sound.

Scott Bailey — President, Opry Entertainment Group: Former president of The Enthusiast Network’s automotive group was named to current position in September 2018. Has overseen launch and buildout of Circle TV joint venture and polished the Opry brand during pandemic with successful livestreams.

Scott Borchetta — President and CEO, Big Machine Label Group: Set in motion label ecosystem that launched Taylor Swift and also houses Rascal Flatts, Cheap Trick and Lady A, among others. In 2019 sold to entity led by artist manager Scooter Braun for reported $300 million.

Richard Busch — Head of Entertainment and Intellectual Property Sections, King & Ballow: Lawyer who won famous “Blurred Lines” case also has successfully represented numerous other clients in trials and appellate court cases, including copyright infringement actions for big names such as Eight Mile Style and Jillian Michaels.

Ashley Capps — President and CEO, AC Entertainment: Started music biz career in 1970s booking shows in Knoxville and in 1991 founded music promotion company that co-produces Bonnaroo and several other festivals. Opened a Nashville office in 2013. Sold in 2016 a majority stake in AC to Live Nation.

Jamie Cheek — President and Co-Owner, Flood Bumstead McCready & McCarthy: Role was elevated in 2018 when founding partners Chuck Flood, Frank Bumstead and Mary Ann McCready stepped away from day-to-day operations at financial advisory firm that employs 140.

Dave Cobb — Producer: One of Nashville’s most in-demand producers. Has worked with and won awards alongside Jason Isbell, Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson and Rival Sons, among others. Tenant of historic RCA Studio A since 2016.

Derek Crownover — Partner, Loeb & Loeb: Prominent entertainment, media and sports attorney whose songwriter, publisher, artist and producer clients have sold more than one billion albums and singles. Selected to Super Lawyers list from 2007–09 and 2018–19. Has practiced for more than 20 years.

Mike Curb — Founder and Chairman, Curb Records: California’s former lieutenant governor and ex-acting governor. Songwriter, producer and owner of independent record company since 1962, yielding more than 400 No. 1 records. Major Belmont University benefactor.

Doyle Davis and Mike Grimes — Co-Owners, Grimey’s New & Preloved Music: Co-proprietors of nationally respected indie record store, which moved from Eighth Avenue South to East Nashville in 2018. Davis hosts WXNA’s D-Funk radio show, Grimes runs live music venues The Basement Nashville and The Basement East.

Mike DuCharme — VP, Nashville Regional Office, AEG Live: Moved to Nashville from AEG’s Kansas City office to help oversee work on two venues in the works at downtown’s future Nashville Yards.

Mike Dungan — Chairman and CEO, UMG Nashville: Former Capitol Records Nashville president and CEO. Appointed to position at UMG following 2012 merger with EMI. Regular on Billboard’s Power 100 list.

John Esposito — Chairman and CEO, Warner Music Nashville: Formerly at Def Jam, Polygram and WEA Corp. Runs Warner Music Nashville, encompassing Warner Bros. Nashville, Atlantic Nashville, Elektra Nashville and LoudMouth.

Rod Essig — VP, Creative Artists Agency Nashville: Helped build CAA into one of the most formidable agencies in Music City. Moved into penthouse of downtown’s SunTrust Plaza building in 2012. Agent for Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Martina McBride and Tim McGraw.

Katie Fagan — Head of A&R, Prescription Songs Nashville: An early hire at publishing company founded by multi-platinum producer and songwriter Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald. Helped launch L.A.-based firm’s Nashville office in 2017 and was promoted to head of A&R in 2018.

Leslie Fram — Senior VP of Music Strategy, Country Music Television: Omnipresent exec who oversees music integration throughout CMT’s brands and across all platforms, including on CMT, CMT.com and CMT Radio. Georgia Radio Hall of Fame member and T.J. Martell Foundation Award recipient.

Joe Galante — CEO, Galante Entertainment Organization: Industry veteran and former Sony Music Nashville chairman holds key positions in various philanthropic organizations. Vice chairperson of CMA Foundation, which raises funds for music education programs, and adviser to numerous entrepreneurs.

Becky Gardenhire — Co-Head, WME Nashville: Promoted to partner role in 2019 alongside Scott Clayton, Joey Lee and Jay Williams. Serves on boards of Academy of Country Music, TJ Martell’s Nashville chapter and W.O. Smith Music School.

Randy Goodman — Chairman and CEO, Sony Music Nashville: Former VP and general manager of RCA Label Group and senior VP of marketing at RCA before that. Member of Music City Music Council and board member of Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

Jed Hilly — Executive Director, Americana Music Association: Has overseen nonprofit artist advocacy group since 2007 and been key in growing genre’s stature. Grammy and Emmy winner as producer of “Levon Helm: Ramble at the Ryman” and two-time Regional Emmy winner.

Joe Hudak — Senior Editor, Rolling Stone Country: Former TV Guide editor and Country Weekly managing editor who helped launch and now oversees Rolling Stone’s Nashville-based country coverage. Also contributes to magazine’s non-country reporting and hosts panels and Q&As.

Jay Joyce — Producer and Songwriter: Has produced career-defining albums by Eric Church, Brandy Clark, Miranda Lambert, Cage the Elephant, Patty Griffin, Little Big Town and Thomas Rhett, among others. Songwriting credits include tunes cut by Emmylou Harris, Keith Urban and Faith Hill. 2015 winner of ACM Honors Studio Recording Award.

Ken Levitan — Co-President and Founder, Vector Management: Co-partner of Vector and immediate past chair of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp. board. Launched upscale Music City Food & Wine Festival in 2013 with concert promoter C3 Presents and longtime clients Kings of Leon.

Jonathan Loba — Executive Vice President, BBR Music Group: Longtime label group executive has had relationship with label’s flagship artist Jason Aldean since start of latter’s career. Industry giant BMG bought label group in 2017.

David Macias — CEO and Co-Founder, Thirty Tigers: Versatile Grammy-winning producer who handles marketing, distribution and management for Jason Isbell, Lucinda Williams, Patty Griffin, Aaron Watson, Trampled by Turtles and others.

Shane McAnally — CEO, SMACK and Co-President, Monument Records: Respected hit songwriter founded music publisher SMACK in 2012. In 2017, Sony Music tapped him and Sandbox Entertainment CEO Jason Owen to run revival of Monument, which released early albums by Roy Orbison, Dolly Parton and others.

Michael Milom — Partner and Founding Member, Milom Horsnell Crow Kelley Beckett Shehan: Founding member of Tennessee Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts board. Legal counsel to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Country Radio Broadcasters and other big industry names. Taught copyright and entertainment law at Vanderbilt for more than 35 years.

Jason Owen — President and CEO, Sandbox Entertainment: Company’s client roster includes Kacey Musgraves, Faith Hill and Little Big Town. Billboard’s 2018 Executive of the Year for Country Power Players. Also serves as co-president of Monument Records with Shane McAnally.

John Peets — Founder, Q Prime South: Manages from East Nashville office Eric Church, The Black Keys, Rhiannon Giddens and The Wild Feathers.

Kelly Rich — Senior Label Relations Manager for Nashville, Amazon Music: In 2017, left position at Big Machine to help online sales and streaming media giant expand local business, where country music accounts for above-average share of streaming volume.

Sherod Robertson — President and Owner, Music Row Enterprises: Former CFO for ex-Post parent company SouthComm. Bought publisher of MusicRow magazine in 2010 and oversees brand’s operations and strategic initiatives.

Jessie Scott — Program Director, WMOT: Veteran DJ and radio programmer with more than 45 years of industry experience. Hired when MTSU-based station switched to Americana format in 2016. Co-founder of Americana Music Association and popular YouTube channel Music Fog.

Jim Selby — Chief Publishing Executive, Concord: Former Naxos of America CEO who has been with Concord since March 2016 and was its COO until taking over publishing role from Jake Wisely at beginning of 2021. Concord employs more than 200 here and in Los Angeles, New York, Miami, London and Berlin.

Mike Sistad — Vice President, The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers: Belmont University alumnus and recipient of the Music City Milestone Award in 2019. Promoted to ASCAP VP in 2019.

Jennie Smythe — CEO, Girlilla Marketing: Founded digital marketing firm in 2008, with client roster now including Tim McGraw, Brandy Clark and the Academy of Country Music. Making industry opportunities for women has been major focus.

Brian Traeger — President, Live Nation’s Tennessee Business Unit: In charge of programming at Live Nation’s Ascend Amphitheater. Nominated for Talent Buyer of the Year at the 2015 Pollstar Awards.

Sarah Trahern — CEO, Country Music Association: Former Great American Country executive who before that covered politics and public affairs at C-SPAN. Took over as trade group’s leader in early 2014 and has grown membership.

Kelli Turner — President and COO, SESAC: Brought extensive media background to SESAC in 2014 as CFO and EVP of operations and development. Promoted to current roles in fall 2018. Led sale of SESAC to private equity firm Blackstone and revenue collections have reportedly doubled during her tenure.

Lester Turner — President, Tuned-In Broadcasting: Company is home to WRLT Lightning 100 and Live on the Green Music Festival. Family owns downtown building housing Acme Feed and Seed.

Mike Vaden — Principal, Elliott Davis: Accountant with long history of working with music industry figures including Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and George Jones. Leads regional firm’s entertainment and family office/business management practice.

Jack White — Musician and Owner, Third Man Records: Grammy winner known for work with The White Stripes, The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather. Landed a star on the Music City Walk of Fame in 2015 and recently opened record pressing plant in native Detroit.

Sally Williams — President of Nashville Business and Music Strategy, Live Nation: Former head of Opry Entertainment Group programming and artist relations division and Grand Ole Opry GM. Oversees Live Nation operations of Live Nation Nashville venues Ascend Amphitheater, The Quarry and Brooklyn Bowl.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.