NASH NEXT: Featured Artist

Go to www.nashnextcountry.com to vote in the Nash Next Country Superstar Contest.

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Press Release: Beginning June 15, talent competitions will never be the same. On that day, the unique NASH Next Challenge officially launches, bringing a brand-new idea to talent searches and ushering in a bold and exciting era.

NASH Next is an artist development competition aimed at discovering and releasing music from prominent and talented newcomers.

The grand prize winner, which could be either a solo artist or a band, will be signed to the new NASH Next record label, with the Top 10 also participating in the NASH Next concert tour, which will kick off in early 2016. 

At this point, you might be asking, what sets this apart? 

Several factors, actually, but the main difference involves the fans. Online engagement between fans and artists will be measured and counted in the talent competition. That means that fans will be directly involved in finding and choosing the next generation of country stars.

On Monday, June 15, the NASH Next website will open for artists and bands to register. And here’s some additionally exciting news. That same day, fans can also register to be judges. That’s right—you might actually have a voice in selecting country’s next big star.

The winner will be decided by a combination of three industry professionals who will serve as judges, a “Spin Index” tracking social media activity plus voting on the NASH Next website. The competitors will compete in a series of challenges, which you’ll find in the sidebar in this section. 

The three industry pros in charge of judging the talent represent a cross section of expertise. KIX BROOKS, best known as one-half of the award-winning duo Brooks & Dunn, is a top songwriter and radio personality on Nash radio. JOHN DICKEY serves as the executive vice president and co-chief operating officer of Cumulus Media, which owns several radio stations throughout the U.S., Nash Country Weekly magazine and the Nash Icon record label. The third judge, award-winning record producer JAMES STROUD, has worked with such artists as Reba McEntire, Tracy Lawrence and Clay Walker and was formerly the president of Giant Records. 

“I think you can say that the Internet is the new A&R. A lot of these artists who will be competing already have groundswells of support going on, and it’s all due to online and social media.”

KIX BROOKS

Kix obviously brings the artist viewpoint to the competition. NASH Next marks his first stint as an official talent judge, and he’s savoring the opportunity. “I’ve never really had any desire to be a TV judge,” Kix says with a smile. “I don’t think I have the talent for doing that. But having been an artist, it’s sort of your job to pick good songs and look at talent.”

NASH Next offers something different for competitors, Kix points out, because the competition will be promoted on more than 200 Cumulus radio stations. “You’ll be getting the radio and network support, and that is the game changer,” he says. 

“This is going to be groundbreaking for a couple of reasons,” offers John Dickey. “What we are really pioneering is the way we’re going about discovering talent. This is going to be the first of its kind in the sense that no one has ever tried to undertake a talent search exclusively online. Also, the Spin Index that we’re creating will help measure and determine the viability of the talent. No one has ever really looked at fan engagement with an artist or a band and tried to quantify how that can predict success in the music business.”

“What we are pioneering is the way we’re going about discovering talent. This is going to be the first of its kind in the sense that no one has ever tried to undertake a talent search exclusively online. ”

JOHN DICKEY, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT AND CO-CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER OF CUMULUS MEDIA

John notes that he’ll be coming at it from a different side than Kix and James. “Kix will have the artist perspective and he’s going to bring that to the judging process,” John explains. “James is an acclaimed producer and talent guy and will bring a distinct and creative perspective to the process. What I’ll bring to the table,” John adds, “is the commercial perspective. Art for art’s sake is great, but if it doesn’t have commercial viability, it’s not going to work. That will be part of the weeding-out process.” 

James Stroud eagerly anticipates the excitement of discovering new talent from across the country. “This is a great way to get these new kids heard,” James says. “This gives these people an opportunity to learn and be exposed to situations that they are not used to. That is what I am looking forward to. I’ve never been an official judge,” James explains, “but of course, I judged every day when I ran the label. But you couldn’t ask for two more important or effective people in our business than Kix and John. I really believe that the artist who wins is in good hands with us.”

James feels that the online and social media components make NASH Next unique. “It’s the technology that allows us to do it like this,” he says. “It allows these artists to expose their creativity compared to years ago.”

“This is a great way to get these new kids heard. This gives these people an opportunity to learn and be exposed to situations that they are not used to. That is what I am looking forward to.”

JAMES STROUD, AWARD-WINNING RECORD PRODUCER

Kix would second that thought in a heartbeat. “Ronnie [Dunn] and I came up playing in bars and places like that,” Kix recalls. “You tried to build up enough energy in your local communities to make it to the next level. You had to rely on word of mouth. But now, thousands of people can just start pinging online or getting on Twitter and calling attention to an act. That was never available to us. The world of distribution has completely changed. I think you can say that the Internet is the new A&R [artist and repertoire] of the business these days. A lot of these artists who will be competing already have real groundswells of support going on, and it’s all due to online and social media.”

The judging process as a whole, Kix notes, will be tough and fair-minded, but without the dramatics of television judging. “It’s not going to be theatrical,” Kix says. “It’s not like we’re trying to make good television, because everything we’re doing will be online. If there are clashes among the judges, they will be intelligent discussions. We’ll work through who really is the best out there.”

NASH Next is definitely the largest online talent search ever undertaken. If you want to vote go to https://www.nashnextcountry.com