GRAMMY Award winning producer/songwriter Shane McAnally & visionary music exec Jason Owen join forces to helm new venture
Monument Records signs Caitlyn Smith and Walker Hayes as leading artists
Sony Music announced the re-launching of their label Monument Records, with respected industry veterans Jason Owen and Shane McAnally serving as co-presidents of the label. Critically acclaimed newcomers Caitlyn Smith and Walker Hayes are Monument’s leading artists.
An imprint of Sony Music Entertainment, Monument Records will employ a staff of creative and innovative thinkers in Nashville, Tenn.
Stated Doug Morris, CEO, Sony Music Entertainment, “It’s always an amazing opportunity to work with two people who are as talented and nice as Jason and Shane. We’re proud to be their partners under the iconic Monument name. Jason is a highly respected label and management executive who has played an important role in the careers of some of Nashville’s biggest stars and most exciting newcomers, and Shane is an incredibly accomplished songwriter and fantastic talent developer. We think they’re a great team and a terrific addition to the Sony Music family.”
“It has always been in my nature to create new paths and identify unique opportunities for artists, especially for those who don’t necessarily fit into one particular box. I’ve been waiting to find the perfect scenario, to explore that passion and take it to the next level, and this partnership with Shane and Sony is the perfect opportunity to purposefully sign and market excellent music from unique, one-of-a-kind artists, regardless of genre boundaries. It is something that we believe is needed,” shares Owen. “Instead of focusing solely on how we think an artist might fit into our business model, we are championing their individuality and ability to create incredible music and then forging a path for each artist using Monument as the vehicle for their music to reach the masses.”
“Co-heading a label with Jason Owen was the easiest decision I’ve ever made,” said McAnally. “The opportunity to work side-by-side with artists and their respective teams, to see a project from start to finish has been a dream of mine for a long time. I am always drawn to projects and artists who are met with the question of, ‘Where does this fit?’ I believe that an artist who doesn’t seem to fit anywhere, actually fits everywhere. Monument will be the place for projects of credibility that need creative and unorthodox ways of getting heard. Walker Hayes and Caitlyn Smith are both impossible to compare to anyone else; they are true originals and originality is what we intend to build Monument on.”
The label’s initial signings represent the essence of the groundbreaking co-presidents’ vision. Caitlyn Smith, from Cannon Falls, Minnesota, is best known for co-writing “Like I’m Gonna Lose You,” Meghan Trainor’s duet with John Legend, but her soul-steeped take on country has also attracted Dolly Parton and Garth Brooks to her songs. On Starfire, Smith shows she is her own best interpreter: honest, real, sleek and gorgeous in all the toughest places.
Walker Hayes, an Alabama native, has a lyric heavy, groove based and truth-infused, style that caught the ear of McAnally who immediately signed Hayes to his SMACK music house, helping him release his raw, one-man 8Tracks (Vol. 1 & 2) EP’s in 2016. The tracks have attracted kudos from syndicated radio host Bobby Bones among others. The extremely prolific Hayes is in the studio with McAnally, working fervently on a studio album.
Opening a label with a history as eclectic and rich as Monument Records was important to McAnally and Owen, two industry leaders who have been on the forefront of changing the face of the creative landscape and contemporary music. Cultivating unique ideas and approaches in their respective fields, both have re-written the possibilities for their artists and reframed what music means.
Billboard’s 2015 Hot Country Songwriter of the Year and multi-GRAMMY, CMA and ACM award-winning songwriter/producer Shane McAnally has written and/or produced more than 25 No. 1 songs. His skill as a unique song craftsman combined with his ability to tap into his co-writers’ true voices, has helped launch the careers of Kacey Musgraves, Sam Hunt, Old Dominion and Brandy Clark. An integral leader in the country music community, McAnally was also tapped to arrange and produce “Forever Country,” a three-song collaboration performed by 30 country music icons in honor of the Country Music Association’s 50th Anniversary in 2016. The song debuted atop Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, only the third song in history to achieve this feat. Taking his talents beyond the radio charts, McAnally recently scored music and lyrics for the off-Broadway musical, “Moonshine: The Hee Haw Musical.”
Owen, named as one of “40 Under 40: Music’s Top Young Power Players” by Billboard Magazine, has spent over 15 years in various industry capacities. As President/CEO of Sandbox Entertainment, Owen manages the careers of international superstar Faith Hill, GRAMMY- and-Emmy-winning vocal group Little Big Town, critically acclaimed GRAMMY-winning singer/songwriter Kacey Musgraves and hit country duo Dan + Shay, among several additional cutting edge new artists. In addition to his management, Owen served as executive producer for Little Big Town’s Kimberly Schlapman’s cooking series “Kimberly’s Simply Southern” and Lionel Richie’s GRAMMY-nominated, Platinum-selling Tuskegee. Prior to opening Sandbox, Owen served as SVP of Artist Development and Marketing for Universal Music Group Nashville where he was instrumental in creating successful branding, marketing and publicity campaigns for Shania Twain, George Strait, Vince Gill, Sugarland and many more. He also enjoyed a career in television and film, serving as senior director of marketing and talent relations at Columbia TriStar Television.
Rounding out Monument Records’ executive staff is Katie McCartney, who will serve as SVP Marketing & Label Operations, reporting directly to McAnally and Owen. Previously with Lyric Street, Sony and Black River Records, McCartney most recently served in UMG Nashville’s Marketing & Artist Development department where she oversaw the marketing efforts of several artists including Lauren Alaina, Dierks Bentley, Brothers Osborne, Vince Gill and Shania Twain.
Kelli Porter has been tapped as Manager, Marketing & Label Operations, reporting to McCartney. Formerly with UMG, Porter first served in distribution, then in the UMG Nashville marketing department over the course of four years.
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History of Monument Records
Originally founded in 1958, Monument Records built a reputation as a label that crossed genres, blending sounds and styles with the release of Monument’s first hit “Gotta Travel On” by Billy Grammer, celebrated international crossovers like with “Only The Lonely” by Roy Orbison, and breaking down stereotypes and boundaries with Too Many Chicks by Leona Douglas who was the first African American woman to release a Country recording. Among the artists on Monument’s acclaimed roster are some of the most progressive artists of their respective era — including Kris Kristofferson, Dolly Parton, Connie Smith, Little Big Town and Dixie Chicks, plus many more.
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