ole + ASCAP: A Reel Fulfilling Partnership
With the help of our friends at ASCAP, ole made a big splash and a great introductory impression among a gathering of Nashville's country songwriting elite at the 11th Annual Key West Songwriting Festival, held May 3-7.
As a co-sponsor of the First Annual ASCAP/ole Fishing Tournament, the rapidly expanding "majorly indie" music publisher sponsored five boats in partnership with ASCAP Nashville under the banner "ole - great songs" and invited some notable music industry folk to cast a line into the Gulf Of Mexico for a few relaxing hours with ole writers Gerald O'Brien and Willie Mack and staffers Shane Barrett and Norbert Nix.
Esteemed guests included reigning ASCAP Songwriter Of The Year Craig Wiseman, Brett James, Rivers Rutherford, Marc Beeson, James Dean Hicks and ASCAP's Ralph Murphy and Mike Sistad.
"It was a big brand-building exercise and it worked flawlessly," reports Shane Barrett, ole creative director, Nashville.
"Although everyone on the whole knew about ole, the tournament put a face with that name -- even with hit songwriters -- with those of our writers and us."
"It was a real coup for us."
Norbert Nix, ole Nashville creative and acquisitions, echoes Barrett's sentiments.
"ASCAP's Ralph Murphy and Mike Sistad know everybody and everybody knows them," Nix explained. "The fact that they want to partner up with ole speaks volumes for ole as far as the credibility of this publishing company.
"They picture ole as a true publishing company with its talented personnel, writers and thousands of great songs, so they see the value that it's going to help them as well as help us."
ASCAP's Ralph Murphy also declared the event to be a resounding success.
"Everyone had so much fun - it really opened up a lot of people to what ole is because these people are new to ole as an entity, " noted Murphy, the ASCAP Nashville vice-president who jokes that he's known ole co-founder and managing partner Robert Ott "since God was in short pants."
Murphy says the partnership between ASCAP and ole is a perfect fit.
"We have common goals in seeking the best avenues for our songwriters -- and also to make sure they feel valued," Murphy explains. "There's a duality in events like the Key West Songfest and the ASCAP/ole fishing tournament in as much that we're saying, 'Hey, we want you to network with us' and 'We want you to understand us' and common goals are best communicated in downtime.
"When you're sitting there in a meeting looking across a desk, it doesn't have the same currency as rubbing shoulders and talking about where you came from and why you are who you are. We're a business of people. In this business you are some of the people you know well, and getting to know each other is not necessarily done on a corporate level on a regular basis. It's on a social level."
As for the impact of the event, Murphy feels that ole has made a strong and lasting Music Row impression.
"I think this fishing tournament -- because there were over 200 industry executives there in Key West -- will get them a lot of notice from both the corporate and the songwriting community," he offers.
"When you have Grammy winners like Craig Wiseman fishing on the ole /ASCAP boat, it's kind of a cool deal."
According to ole's Norbert Nix, the relatively exclusive and informal nature of the event only adds to its lustre.
"It's not highly publicized. It's not like it's a big music industry event -- and that's the cool thing. It's just the songwriters."
Nix said the triumph included having ole writers Willie Mack and Gerald O'Brien involved in the mix.
"The fact that Willie and Gerald were down there networking and there were a few key writers who really said some good things about these guys is significant," says Nix.
"They're on the radar -- and the possibility of getting in and collaborating with this group of writers that is the creative community and nucleus of Nashville - the guys who collectively pen hits that dominate the charts -- exists. It's a matter of following it up and working it."
The timing couldn't be better either, with ole's Mack -- author of the title track of the platinum Sara Evans album Restless -- landing three tracks on an upcoming Brett James-produced Mark Wills album including the single "Entertaining Angels" or Gerald O'Brien, who wrote the title track for Ronnie Milsap's soon-to-be-released My Life and has a strong chance of landing his song "High" on the upcoming Trace Adkins effort Dangerous Man, scheduled for an August release.
"Brett recently cutting three of Willie's songs for Mark Wills turned him into a fan of Willie as a writer - and he commended us to signing him," says Shane Barrett. "It's the ultimate compliment to us from a heavyweight songwriter like that."
"Gerald really had a chance to shine a light on himself. Even though he's had a lot of success in the past, most of that success has occurred in the pop market. Now we feel that Gerald is just getting started in the country market. In the last two months, he got the important Ronnie Milsap cut and the big Trace Adkins cut and I think it's going to turn into a big snowball for him."
"In this town, the pedigree of how songs happen is who you co-write with -- that's how they become huge. People will let them in the door knowing they're legitimate writers."
"The combination of the branding of ole in Nashville and internationally and the legitimacy of the song catalogue and the writers and the people that we have speaks volumes to these people. That's why they're noticing us."
Another long-term advantage of the ASCAP partnership: referrals.
"We've been consistently getting calls from Ralph Murphy and others over at ASCAP referring writers to us," reveals ole's Barrett. "That says a lot about the reputation we've built so far as a publishing company of choice."
With a handful of ole-branded catalogue-filled Nano iPods handed out in a draw and Willie Mack catching the biggest fish -- a 25 lb. mahi-mahi that was cooked up at a celebratory dinner the next evening -- the first annual ASCAP/ole Fishing Tournament left participants with a single thought: Let's make waves with this again at next year's Key West gathering.
"It's been an incredible opportunity for us to sponsor with an organization, who, like us, is about great songs and great writers," says Barrett.
"We planted a lot of seeds in what I hope is the first year of a long celebrated tradition between ASCAP and ole."
If you're a film or television music supervisor or an A&R or advertising executive interesting in reeling and rodding and rolling until the break of day, ole invites you to take a plunge into our deep catalogue of 20,000-plus songs.
Visit our website at www.majorlyindie.com and find plenty of hooks from not only Gerald O' Brien and Willie Mack, but our other talented writers: Scarlett, John Wesley Chisholm, James Huff, Dave Tyson, Derek Brin, Ben Dunk, Kinnie Starr, Denny Carr, Keith Follese, Chris Thornsteinson, Dave Wasyliw, Frank J. Myers, Panurge and -- by extension through our exclusive sub-publishing agreement with ARC Music -- songs by such icons as Jerry Butler, Bo Diddley, Etta James, John Lee Hooker and the immortal Chuck Berry.