Randy Goodman was not ambiguous about his priority when he was hired as chairman and CEO of Sony Music Nashville one year ago.

Sony, Goodman said, needed to prove to Nashville that it could break new artists. Yes, the label was home to superstars Kenny Chesney, Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley. But that wasn't going to cut it.

In media interviews and in early meetings with his staff, Goodman made clear that the goal would be to launch the careers of newcomers.

Then, on his third day on the job, Sony's vice president of artist and repertoire, Jim Catino, whose job is to find artists to sign to recording contracts, poked his head into Goodman's office with music from an independent singer-songwriter named Maren Morris. Music Row was buzzing about Morris and virtually every label wanted to sign her.

“I was blown away by it,” Goodman said.

“The first thing on it was ‘Sugar’ and she breaks into this verse, this sing-songy hip-hop thing, and then it breaks into that incredible hooky chorus. I was like, ‘What is this?’ It was the freshest thing I’d heard.”

Morris said she was far along in talks with Warner Music Nashville, but she ultimately opted for Sony in large part because of Goodman’s sales pitch.

Along with Cam and Old Dominion, Morris has led a renaissance at Sony. In addition to the label’s popular mainstays, the newcomers have provided a shot in the arm for Sony and helped accomplish Goodman’s top goal.

Based on Nielsen data tracking sales, streaming and video plays, Cam and Maren Morris had the two best first-week numbers in country music over the last year. Old Dominion has led the way among new artists in combined sales, streaming and video plays in the last year, according to Nielsen data.

“Because he was the new CEO it really revitalized the team over there,” Morris said. “I think they had something to prove, and so did I. That’s what was so enticing about the deal with them. He really wanted to break new ground.”

Sony was aggressive in signing other new artists as well. Goodman said he offered country band LANco a record deal backstage after hearing the group perform for the first time last year. Kane Brown is another new Sony artist creating buzz within the building. ​And another batch of new artists is on the horizon, including Seth Ennis, Levon and Ryan Hurd.

“Us winning that and signing (Morris) was a huge statement to all the teams in our building and to the music community,” Catino said.

Source: Tennessean.com