2014 will mark the 30th year of the American Songwriter Lyric Contest, and with it comes a brand new panel of judges. This year’s group includes judges from various fields across the music industry, like songwriter Matt Warren, music supervisor Libby Umstead, and Patch Culbertson, A&R Manager at Republic Records. One grand-prize winner will win a trip to Nashville for a “Dream Co-write” with Warner Nashville artist and hit songwriter Ashley Monroe.
Click here to enter the contest. Read a little bit about the new judges below.
A&R Manager, Warner-Chappell Music
Marc Wilson is an A&R Manager at Warner/Chappell Music in Los Angeles, CA. Marc started his career in the music industry nine years ago at BMG Music Publishing. Since at Warner/Chappell Music, Marc has grown his roster by signing new artists and developing songwriters. Currently his roster includes: World-renowned DJ Steve Aoki, Sean Douglas (Demi Lovato – “Heart Attack”, Jason Derulo – “Talk Dirty”), Ian Kirkpatrick (Breathe Carolina – “Blackout”, Blake Shelton – “Do You Remember”), The Ready Set, Breathe Carolina, DEVO, Bad Religion, Royal Teeth, Andrew Goldstein (The Ready Set, Hot Chelle Rae), The Plain White T’s, Simple Plan, Run River North and Royal Teeth.
Hit Songwriter, Always Alone Songs (admin. by Kobalt)
Native Nashvillian and MTSU graduate Matt Warren recently had his first Number 1 Billboard hit with Gary Allan’s “Every Storm Runs Out Of Rain,” co-written with Allan and Hillary Lindsey. He’s had 10 total song cuts with Allan. Matt’s debut record as a recording artist was released October 15 on United We Jam Records (an independent label started by Matt and business partner, backer and best friend, Daniel Loper). The record is a reflection of Matt’s true love for rock-n-roll and old school R&B. It was produced by Tom Bukovac and Warren. The record features the incredible talents of artists, singers and players such as Tom Bukovac, former Black Crowes guitarist Audley Freed, original Black Crowes drummer Steve Gorman, Jedd Hughes, Pat McLaughlin, Michael Rhodes, John Lancaster, former Allman Brothers Band member Johnny Neel, Sarah Buxton, Lari White, Hillary Lindsey and Bonnie Bishop. Matt currently owns his own publishing through his company Always Alone Songs and is administered by Kobalt. Since 2002, he’s held staff writer positions with Fame Music Publishing (Muscle Shoals, Ala.) and Amylase Entertainment (a Warner-Chappell joint venture).
Assistant Manager, Red Light Management
Callie moved to Nashville from Alabama in 2009 to pursue a job in artist management. After a few months of interning with Red Light Management, she was hired there to assist in day-to-day tasks for various artists such as Kip Moore and Tim McGraw. Since May of 2012, she has also been working on the road in tour management and ticketing for Tim McGraw. In addition, Callie interned at American Songwriter during one of her University of Alabama college summers.
A&R Manager, RCA Records
Rob Inadomi joined RCA Records immediately following his graduation from the inaugural class of NYU’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music. In his 6 plus years at RCA Records, Rob has had the privilege of putting his creative stamp on projects ranging from Kelly Clarkson and Christina Aguilera to Kris Allen and Hot Chelle Rae.
Associate Director, Writer/Publisher Relations, BMI
Born-and-raised in Los Angeles, Jake Simon started playing piano at age 4. By age 12, he had picked up the saxophone and begun paving his way towards studying jazz performance at New York University, where he would go on to graduate with a Bachelor of Music degree from Steinhardt’s Music Business program. While completing his final semester at NYU, Jake interned at Universal Music Publishing, working under the tutelage of Jennifer Blakeman and Jessica Rivera in the creative department. After a successful tenure at Universal, Jake’s tenacious and inquisitive personality led him to seek a position which would nurture his acumen in identifying bourgeoning singer-songwriters. In June of 2011, he joined Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) in New York as Associate Director, Writer/Publisher Relations, working under the guidance of respected industry pros Samantha Cox and Charlie Feldman. In this role, Jake is responsible for developing and maintaining relationships with BMI songwriters and music publishers in the Northeast region. He assists BMI writers and publishers with administrative and creative functions and helps coordinate local and national songwriter events (i.e. BMI Acoustic Lounge and BMI’s sponsored stage at Lollapalooza), showcases and seminars.
Creative Manager, ASCAP
Ryan digs songs and songwriters. He has been a Creative Manager at ASCAP for almost four years, where he works closely with developing young songwriters, and helps advance the careers of established songwriters. Before ASCAP, he worked at Universal Music Group in its A&R department, where he helped foster the burgeoning careers of Lady A, Kip Moore and David Nail.
Creative Manager/A&R, Pulse Music Publishing
After graduating from the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, Buffy headed west to jump start her career in the music industry and quickly landed a job as Client Service Manager at The Record Plant Studios in Hollywood. At The Record Plant, Buffy met Ron Fair, then Chairman of Geffen Records and transitioned to a position under his wing. She coordinated projects for marquee acts such as Lady Gaga, Mary J. Blige, Keyshia Cole, Nicole Scherzinger, Queen Latifah and more. After Interscope/ Geffen/A&M, she re-directed to the publishing world to work for Jon Platt at EMI Music Publishing where she organized their Annual Songwriters’ Conference in Los Angeles. In 2013, Buffy took a Creative Manager/A&R position with Pulse Music Publishing where she interweaves her knowledge of production and major label experience to cultivate and grow some of today’s most successful songwriters and producers.
Editor-In-Chief, American Songwriter magazine
Caine O’Rear has written about music and the music business for nine years. He has served as editor-in-chief of American Songwriter since 2010. During his time at American Songwriter he has read tens of thousands of lyrics as a judge for the lyric contest. He believes the lyric contest encapsulates everything that is great about the American Dream.
Creative Director, Big Loud Shirt Industries
Matt graduated from Middle Tennessee State University in 2006 and shortly thereafter was hired as the Catalog Manager for ole (music publishing) in January of 2007. During his time at ole, he was promoted to Creative Manager where he worked day-to-day with hit songwriters Marty Dodson, Ryan Tyndell, Dave Turnbull and Warner Bros. recording artist Charlie Worsham, among others. In June of 2013, Matt was hired to be the Creative Director at Big Loud Shirt Industries, working for the acclaimed songwriter/publisher, Craig Wiseman. Matt now pitches songs for the likes of such writers as Rodney Clawson, Chris Tompkins, Sarah Buxton, and of course, Craig Wiseman. During Matt’s time as a songplugger, he’s had cuts on acts like Easton Corbin, Josh Turner and Randy Travis, Dierks Bentley and Florida Georgia Line.
VP of Creative, A&R, Zavitson Music Group
Eric Hurt is VP of Creative/A&R for Nashville-based publishing company Zavitson Music Group. Hurt oversees the growth and development for Zavitson’s publishing catalog, and is also tasked with structuring a Management subsidiary for the company where he’s signed the up-and-coming rock act MODOC, Nick Wells who is a young R&B pop artist that recently worked alongside Will I AM, and separately manages a new Sony Music act called PawnShop kings. Hurt has been an active member of the national music scene for more than 14 years, bringing his musical and management talents to professionals in the country, Christian, pop/rock and R&B genres. Prior to joining Zavitson, Hurt served as Creative Director for Universal Publishing.
A&R Manager, Republic Records
Patch Culbertson joined the A&R team at Republic Records in 2009. He has delivered projects from Pearl Jam, The Avett Brothers, Mat Kearney, Guster, Colbie Caillat, Dev, Owl City, Dispatch, Godsmack and The Lonely Island. He has also assisted in the development and delivery of multiple TV and film soundtracks, including “Ted,” “Jersey Shore,” “Take Me Home Tonight,” Safe Haven, Snow White and The Huntsman and “MTV Unplugged Presents Florence & The Machine.” His contributions to Republic’s active roster, including Florida Georgia Line, The Naked & Famous, The Last Bison, SoMo, and The Basement Chronicles compilation series, have sold over one million albums and 11 million singles in the U.S.
Director of A&R, Film/TV & Special Projects, Warner Music Group
Rebekah Sterk has had an invaluable impact in Nashville’s music scene for the past ten years working with legends such as Kenny Rogers and on the GRAMMY award-winning comedy record by Jimmy Fallon. She is currently Director, A&R at Warner Music Nashville, working alongside the GRAMMY, ACM and CMA award-winning producer, Sr. VP of A&R, Scott Hendricks, and Vice President, Cris Lacy. Sterk’s responsibilities at Warner Music Nashville include signing talent to recording deals across WMG’s sister labels, overseeing the recording process, searching for songs for all roster artists, and handling Film, TV and synch deals at the company. Hailing from Overland Park, Kansas, Sterk moved to Nashville to work in the music industry in 2002 and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Music Business and Marketing from Belmont University. She attributes her passion for working in A&R to her love of music and her desire to find different ways to fit music into everyday life. Sterk’s credits include working as the Associate Executive Producer for Warner Bros. Records’ The Original Songwriter Demos series and as the A&R Director for the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack forFootloose. Sterk is a voting member of NARAS, CMA, ACM and is a SOLID Alumni.
Director, A&R, Sony Music
In October 2013, Taylor Lindsey joined Sony Music Nashville as Director, A&R. She was most recently Sr. Creative Dir. at BMG Chrysalis. In this newly created role, Lindsey will share day-to-day A&R responsibilities for all artists on the Nashville label group, including the Arista, Columbia and RCA rosters. Taylor reports to Sony Music Nashville VP/A&R Jim Catino, who said of her addition, “Taylor has a tremendous wealth of industry experience and a tangible passion for what she does. She has worked with countless artists and songwriters, and is an advocate for their creative process. We are thrilled to welcome her to Sony Music Nashville; I know she will be a huge asset to our A&R team.” Before joining BMG Chrysalis, Lindsey worked at Raylene Music, plugging hit songwriter Hillary Lindsey’s songs.
Creative Manager, Cal IV Entertainment
Originally from St. Louis, Gallo’s love of music brought her to Nashville after high school where she attended Belmont University. After graduating with a degree in Music Business she began her career in publishing at Zavitson Music Group. During her time there she facilitated cuts by Reba, Thompson Square, Point Of Grace and others. Since March of 2013, Gallo has been with Nashville publishing company Cal IV Entertainment where she works the catalogs of Jim Collins (“The Good Stuff,” “Big Green Tractor”) Eric Paslay (“Barefoot Blue Jean Night,” “Even If It Breaks Your Heart”) Rose Falcon and Triple Run.
Sr. Coordinator, Writer/Publisher Relations, SESAC
Diana Akin is a Coordinator in the SESAC NY Writer/Publisher Relations office and has been with the company for over seven years. As Coordinator, Akin works with many talented songwriters including MNDR, Oberhofer, MGMT, Angela Hunte (“Empire State of Mind”), Vijay Iyer, The Avett Brothers and Ellis Paul, just to name a few. Akin serves on the Board of Directors for Women In Music in NYC and is a member of NARAS, Country Music Association, Academy of Country Music, Americana Music Association and the Association of Independent Music Publishers.
Prior to joining SESAC, Diana’s previous work experience has involved music publishing, event planning, corporate marketing, and non-profit youth theatre productions. She was born and raised in San Antonio, TX where Tex-Mex and queso are a way of life and cowboy boots will never go out of style. Diana lives in NYC with her English Bulldog, Tucker.
Music Supervisor, Zenden
Elizabeth Umstead, known as Libby, is the Music Supervisor for Lifetime’s hit series “Drop Dead Diva,” ABC’s “The Goldbergs” and Fox’s “The Mob Doctor.” With a foot in both Film and TV, Libby works with industry great Dana Sano at her boutique supervision firm Zenden in Santa Monica. Their credits include films August: Osage County, Horrible Bosses, Identity Thief, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, Going the Distance, The Odd Life of Timothy Green, The Immigrant, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, Dan In Real Life, Cabin in the Woods, Fright Night,Hot Tub Time Machine, We Own the Night, Butter and Fox’s television series “Breaking In.” She was featured in Glamour Magazine’s September 2013 issue as one of the 35 under 35 rising stars in Hollywood. Graduating from DC’s American University with a BA in Literature and a lifelong love of music, soundtracks and storytelling, music supervision is Libby’s perfect melding of worlds. Further marrying her love of music and storytelling, Libby is also a lyricist and songwriter. She says, “Being a part of collaborative storytelling in such a grand and lasting way is a truly magical experience. There is so much incredible music out there to get lost and found in. With music being such a beautiful time machine and emotional companion for the lives of us feeling creatures, it’s an amazing honor to introduce an audience to a new artist or rediscover a song they love.”
VP of A&R and Writer Relations, Downtown Music Publishing
Jeremy Yohai started his career at ASCAP, where he spent seven years recruiting and helping the career development of emerging songwriters including Vampire Weekend, Animal Collective, Diplo and Dr. Dog, among others. Jeremy then joined Downtown Music Publishing in 2008, where he focuses on signing new writers and oversees Downtown’s current roster of songwriters, producers and artists. During his time with the company, Downtown’s writers have written/composed songs for Miley Cyrus, Carrie Underwood, Rihanna, Black Eyed Peas, Jay-Z, Katy Perry, Bruno Mars and Beyonce. Jeremy also was a contributor to the building and development of Songtrust – the first online music publishing administration company for DIY songwriters.
Click here to enter the current Lyric Contest.