Sally Williams from the Ryman Goes Two for Two
GM wins Venue Exec of the Year and Venue of the Year at IEBA
- by Dave Brooks
- Published: October 10, 2012
Sally Williams accepting her award for Venue Executive of the Year
REPORTING FROM NASHVILLE — Sally Williams won two coveted awards at this year's International Association of Entertainment Buyers conference in Nashville.
The GM of the Ryman Auditorium, Nashville, took home IEBA's Venue Executive of the Year Award and the Country Music Association's Venue of the Year Award during the closing gala dinner Tuesday.
"It's amazing to be on this stage with two icons of the industry," she said of country singer Kix Brooks from Brooks and Dunn, and Country Music Association President Steve Moore, "but I really wanted to get my picture with MC Hammer," she joked about the rapper, who was hosting the evening's dinner. Hammer later presented her second award.
The news follows the announcement that IEBA Executive Director Tiffany Davis is leaving the association after four years of service and five successful conferences.
The announcement came during the closing luncheon of the conference, that had included appearances by music legends like Peter Noone, David Cassidy, Mike Love and Martina McBride.
Davis said she doesn’t have a final date set for her exit, but plans to leave by the end of the year. She explained that she and her husband are moving to Boston for personal reasons.
The former music manager is able to leave on a high note — with 700 attendees, this year’s conference was one of the best attended to date.
“Sponsorships were up, attendance was up and participation in our Agents Alley networking event was very successful,” Davis said. “The agencies are our partners and I think that’s evidenced by the top tier acts many presented at the showcases.”
That included everyone from 3 Doors Down and Hinder for the Agency Group showcase, the Barenaked Ladies and Spin Doctors with Paradigm, Aaron Lewis of Staind for CAA, Rachel Farley with Buddy Lee Attractions and Gary Allan with WME. In fact, a number of bands announced Tuesday for the 2013 outing of Stagecoach in Indio, Calif. — considered one of the top festivals for country music — performed at IEBA this year, including CAA’s Joe Nichols, Buddy Lee Attractions’ Florida Georgia Line, WME’s Thompson Square and IEBA lifetime achievement award winner Charley Pride.
Pride was on hand to accept his award Tuesday during the awards ceremony, which also honored former Amusement Business sales director Ray Pilszak, and the late New York State Fair talent buyer Joe LaGuardia to the IEBA Hall of Fame.
American Idol contestants Melinda Doolittle and Scott MacIntyre award Paula Abdul IEBA's Career Achievement Award while Barry Adelman watches.
Legendary singer Paula Abdul helped open the conference by accepting the IEBA Career Achievement Award, after a rousing and entertaining panel titled “How Reality TV has Affected the Music Industry,” inside the Tennessee Performing Arts Center’s James Polk Theater. Abdul was joined on her panel by Billboard Magazine’s Fred Bronson, American Idol season six contestant Melinda Doolittle, producer and “So You Think You Can Dance” creator Barry Adelman of Dick Clark Productions and “Nashville Star” producer Scott Siman of RPM Entertainment.
While the panel focused on the explosion of music competition shows, much of the discussion centered around the impact of American Idol, which, after launching on Fox in 2001, was one of the highest rated shows on primetime television. Abdul said much of the tension between her and show creator Simon Cowell was real, and that she often thought about leaving the show. She quipped that on the first day of rehearsals, she quit eight times because she was dismayed by Cowell’s harsh criticisms.
“Idol was accused of ruining the industry,” she said. “I had to remind every contestant that it is a TV show first, second and third. Talent comes fourth or fifth. Good singers were left behind for the extraordinarily great or wacky. It introduced me to a whole new aspect of humiliating people. These young adults would leave devastated and crying. It takes a lot to put it all out there.”
Doolittle said she had some experience in the music business prior to Idol, but nothing compared to her season on the show which launched her career, albeit perhaps a bit too fast.
“The top 10 winners did an arena tour after the show and I had to constantly remind the other contestants that this was not what it was normally like,” she said, adding that many will flounder after the tour wraps, not sure what their next move will be.
“You have to give the contestants a chance to make it after the show,” said Abdul. “They got the TV show part right, but picked some of the worst songs to be released on radio at the end. The tour schedule kept the winner from releasing a CD until the next season had begun. By then, the audience’s interest was lower. So, I encouraged them to set up their own websites and YouTube channels.”
Interviewed for this story: Tiffany Davis, (615) 679-9601
- by Dave Brooks
- Published: October 10, 2012