How the CMA Awards Impact Talent Buying

Country Music Superstar Talent Hunter Hayes

Hunter Hayes is predicted to take home New Artist of the Year
Photo credit: Academy of Country Music

Award season is upon us and as you sit back and watch the CMA’s with a bowl of popcorn and a glass of your finest, we as talent buyers will be seeing dollar signs ignite around the most celebrated.

As we’ve outlined in previous blogs, talent buying goes through many considerations: radio airplay, new releases, routing, touring and yes, who is nominated and wins an industry award. On the eve of the CMA’s let’s take a look at the impact “Country Music’s Biggest Night” will have on the talent buying season.

First, know that the CMA’s are different from most country music awards shows: they are not fan voted. More than 10,000 industry insiders and members of the Country Music Association sit down and cast their vote in each category. Then, after the votes are counted, we as talent buyers get to find out live on ABC which artists are going to cost more to book than the day before.

Usually the impact is largest when the dark horse, or baby act, turns out to be the star of the night. This is very possible this year with some big up-and-coming acts nominated. The most important category for a new act is New Artist of the Year; the winners of this category generally go on to skyrocket the following year. This means that we could see a bigger price tag on whoever wins–Lee Brice, Brantley Gilbert, Hunter Hayes, Love and Theft or Thompson Square.

However, if a newer act wins there are positives for bookers that may outweigh the jump in price. The artist would now have a permanent and prestigious label attached to their name–“CMA Award Winner”–that could draw in a bigger crowd. Not to mention the increase in TV exposure surrounding the baby artist who may have never had any national exposure before. All of these things add up to make the act a bargain despite the potential price increase.

Remember, just because the awards are voted by industry professionals doesn’t mean the outcome isn’t indicative on what the fans want as well. Thursday as you’re tuned in for the performances and Brad and Carrie’s banter, don’t forget to look close, the next face of a festival is waiting for their debut.

Nashville Celebrities Country Music Awards

Brad and Carrie host the 46th Annual CMA Awards
Photo credit:


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