HITS Daily Double


Ben Vaughn has been upped to President/CEO of Warner/Chappell Nashville, a happy event that coincides with the well-liked exec’s celebration of 25 years on Music Row.

Vaughn’s superb song instincts and considerable people skills have enabled him to work with such diverse talents as Chris Stapleton, Rhett Akins, Thomas Rhett, Nicolle Galyon, Little Big Town, Jesse Frasure, Dan + Shay, Midland, Lady Antebellum, busbee, Matt Ramsey, Brothers Osborne, Dave Cobb and Guy Clark, among other luminaries.

In the new post he’ll report to the company’s as-yet unannounced Co-Chair/CEO (cough, cough, Guy Moot, cough) and Co-Chair/COO Carianne Marshall. WMG CEO Steve Cooper praises him as “an exceptional leader,” while Marshall notes that he’s “played a pivotal role” in elevating the success and importance of Nashville’s songwriting community.

Clockwise from top left: young Ben in the tape room, 1994; with Scott Hendricks at Diamond Rio's #1 party, circa '97; with the legendary Guy Clark; with Scott Borchetta at Randy Travis' #1 party, '98

“I feel like I grew up on Music Row,” says the 43-year-old exec, a native of small-town Sullivan, Kentucky, who landed an on-air job at a local Country radio station at 16 and has been in music ever since. He talked his way into an internship at W/C two weeks after arriving in town, tackling the tape room (“I still have copies of some of those tapes,” he says) and then split after a few years to work at Scott Hendricks’ JV pubco Big Tractor, which he was running before he turned 21.

He then took a gig at EMI Music Publishing, where he worked for 10 years—he credits the mentoring of Gary Overton, Roger Faxon, Dan McCarroll and Hall of Fame songwriters like John Bettis and Tom Shapiro in shaping his understanding of publishing—and ended up running the Nashville division. When the company was absorbed by Sony/ATV, he exited and made the move to W/C, first under the joint stewardship of Cameron Strang and Jon Platt and then under Platt solo. “Of all the people I worked with, I probably worked most closely with Jon,” he says. “I’m really proud to have been part of his story; we’ll always be brothers.”

Ben’s writers have won a ridiculous number of Grammys, CMAs, ACMs and more, while his own team has scooped up more ASCAP, BMI, SESAC and other trophies than you can shake a stick at—and was named NMPA’s Top Publisher in 2018. But it’s clear that what he relishes most is watching the creators in his purview flourish. “I love what I see playing out on the charts over the last few years, where you have Nashville talent becoming consumption monsters,” he says. “Publishing is a crockpot business. It’s slow and builds over time. Now you’re seeing it all coming to fruition.”

Clockwise from top left: with Jay-Z and Jesse Frasure; toasting Rhett Akins' BMI Writer of the Year win; at Thomas Rhett's signing; launching his storied "whisker campaign" for Chris Stapleton

With Platt, Marshall and team, savoring W/C's BMI Pubco of the Year honor