ATLANTA, July 11, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- America loves country. And what better way to discover the nation's newest star than a grassroots and national search, led by Cumulus Media, radio's dominant source for country music. Kicking off today, Cumulus' NASH Next 2016 competition pays tribute to the great tradition of radio as a launch pad for our most beloved musical talent and celebrates country music, which has become the #1 most popular music genre, with 97 million fans.
The winner of this four-month-long national competition, announced by country legend Reba McEntire, will receive a record deal with Big Machine Label Group, home to such superstars as Taylor Swift and Tim McGraw, as well as substantial exposure, commensurate with a major label release, on Cumulus radio stations nationwide. While television boasts several talent competitions, no other contest -- on any platform -- has ever offered its winners a similar opportunity for coveted radio play, which is the most effective medium to cultivate an artist and propel a major music career.
Sixty-eight NASH/Cumulus stations in 60 markets, including Dallas, New York, Atlanta, Detroit and Nashville, will conduct local searches, with additional national participation made possible by Cumulus' digital properties and syndicated country shows.
"NASH Next 2016 is an ideal way to leverage Cumulus' leadership position in country music. By launching this competition with record-breaking support from our stations and affiliates, we are further signaling to listeners, advertisers and business partners that Cumulus is #1 for country," said Mary G. Berner, president and CEO, Cumulus Media Inc. She added, "With the continued explosion of country's popularity, and with our programming now broadcast on 82% of all country radio stations nationwide, Cumulus has even more opportunities for growth, providing expanded exclusive content for fans, and an even bigger audience for America's newest country star."
Commenting on NASH Next, McEntire said, "Radio has been an essential -- and joyous -- part of my musical career for over four decades. Cumulus is synonymous with country, so it's the pitch perfect vehicle for this search. I'm honored to add my voice to this great project that will help usher in the next generation of country stars."
Stellar Judging Panel
Emerging artists will first be judged by Cumulus listeners and local music industry professionals in their communities. Finalists, and the 2016 winner, will be selected by a panel of country luminaries, including Scott Borchetta, founder, president and CEO of Big Machine Label Group, the world's #1 independent record label, Kix Brooks, half of Brooks & Dunn, one of country music's most successful duos of all time, and Jay DeMarcus of chart-toppers Rascal Flatts, joined by a Cumulus listener.
"While it might not be the only place for listening and discovering, it (radio) is still the most important place. We couldn't have the success that we have without country radio. There is no way," Borchetta has said.
"Internet, Twitter and everything else put together doesn't equal what country radio does for us as artists, and as an industry," Brooks has noted.
Country is #1 Music Genre
In the last five years, country has supplanted pop as the #1 most popular music genre, with 97 million fans (MRI, Fall, 2015). This is due, in part, to the fact that country has been influenced by both pop and rock styles to gain mass appeal.
How the Competition Works
Beginning today, local artists may enter the competition via the NASH Next website (www.nashcountrydaily.com) and will be judged on three challenges, by three local music industry professionals, as well as listeners in their communities. First asked to submit an original song, contestants will then be charged with adapting a popular song, with a new style, and for the third step, provided a phrase and tasked with writing a verse and chorus, using that lyric. Local markets will then host local live events or select their finalist by judging the contestants in a video performance of an original song.
Local winners will move on to the national challenge, submitting a live performance video showcasing their best original song, with the top ten artists selected by country music legends and a Cumulus listener. Those national finalists will then compete at a live concert event in Nashville, in late fall, where the NASH Next 2016 winner will be selected by the celebrity judging panel.
About Cumulus Media
A leader in the radio broadcasting industry, Cumulus Media (NASDAQ: CMLS) combines high-quality local programming with iconic, nationally syndicated media, sports and entertainment brands to deliver premium content choices to the 245 million people reached each week through its 453 owned-and-operated stations broadcasting in 90 US media markets (including eight of the top 10), more than 8,200 broadcast radio stations affiliated with its Westwood One network and numerous digital channels. Together, the Cumulus/Westwood One platforms make Cumulus Media one of the few media companies that can provide advertisers with national reach and local impact. Cumulus/Westwood One is the exclusive radio broadcast partner to some of the largest brands in sports, entertainment, news, and talk, including the NFL, the NCAA, the Masters, the Olympics, the GRAMMYs, the Academy of Country Music Awards, the American Music Awards, the Billboard Music Awards, Westwood One News, and more. Additionally, it is the nation's leading provider of country music and lifestyle content through its NASH brand, which serves country fans nationwide through radio programming, exclusive digital content, and live events. For more information, visit www.cumulus.com.
SOURCE Cumulus Media