The Nashville Publishers Network, an organization made up of independent publishers, meets monthly to share information about recording artists and labels looking for material. The main focus is Music Row country; however, other genres are also represented. Every month an invited guest speaker from the music community shares his or her insights with the group. In recent years NPN has hosted an impressive list of guests from all aspects of the music business, including, Producers: Allen Reynolds, Tim Dubois, Doug Johnson, Scott Hendricks, Barry Beckett, Norro Wilson, and David Malloy; Publishers: Tim Wipperman, Larry Shell and Woody Bomar; Artists: Cowboy Crush and Chalee Tennyson; and A&R reps: Margie Hunt, Sheila Shipley Biddy, Alison Jones, and Cliff Audretch.

Music Row's best pitch sheet, compiled by Marc Rossi, is discussed and shared among the membership.

As this is written in 2006, the NPN is celebrating 20 years of existence, and is currently under the capable leadership of president Robyn Taylor-Drake, whose mission has been to encourage more member participation, and increase NPN visibility and outreach to the wider music community.

The group that would become the NPN was started back in 1986 by Mickey Hiter under the unlikely name of The Old Turkeys. Thirty people showed up for the first meeting in the ASCAP boardroom. Mickey had cobbled together a pitch sheet and lined up Jimmy Bowen's assistant, Don "Dirt" Lanier, as the featured speaker. The meeting was such a success it became a regular monthly event. Wood Newton and Rob Crosby were among the first members.

In 1987, Rick Beresford became president and the name of the group was changed to the Nashville Publishers Network (NPN). For a while, the group actually pitched songs. Then, after Erik Thorson took over as President in 1990, the group was downsized to about 15 members. NPN would now focus on gathering and sharing information about who was cutting songs, and membership criteria were established to guarantee a highly professional organization.

Marc Rossi became President of NPN in 1993. Under his leadership NPN produced a high-quality demo CD called "Uncut Gems" which was distributed widely in town. Marc also instituted the monthly business planning meetings. Following him as president was Garth Shaw, who started the tradition of NPN writer's nights, and with member Jeff Chase, established our first web site. Bart Barton, who passed away in 2006, served a partial term and was succeeded by Larry Sheridan.

One of NPN's more influential presidents was Sherrill Blackman, who served from 1999 to 2001. He instituted our annual Fall Party, revamped the website, put in place attendance regulations, and started a cap on the number of members in order to keep the group from getting too large. Sherrill was followed by Larry Wayne Clark for 2 terms, and Tom Paden in 1994, who led a group of members that compiled a great demo singer cd.

The Nashville Publishers Network has earned the respect of the music community as an effective counterpoint to the huge publishing conglomerates. Many of its members have become successful at getting their songs cut using information shared among the group, but more than that, great friendships have started and countless fun times and good memories have resulted from our meetings and activities through the years. As we move into the next decade, NPN continues to be an effective networking tool for its members.

By NPN historian Frank Michels

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