“Nashville is a city that is inspired by culture, diversity, arts and entertainment, and – from a business perspective – encourages entrepreneurship and growth with no state-income tax and a low barrier to entry for real estate, including commercial real estate,” The Familie founder/CEO Steve Astephen tells Billboard via email.
The Familie’s roster includes Machine Gun Kelly, Avril Lavigne, Jaden Hossler, Games We Play and sombr.
Former Universal Music Group Nashville executive vp of promotion Royce Risser will lead the company’s new country music division and oversee the Nashville office’s operations. Chase Berlin has been hired as the company’s first artist manager in Nashville.
Risser has more than three decades of music industry experience, starting at MCA Records as an intern in 1991 before being hired as a promotion assistant. Risser rose through the ranks at UMGN, leading promotion efforts and rising to executive vp of promotion. Along the way, Risser worked with artists including George Strait, Vince Gill, Reba McEntire, Luke Bryan, Keith Urban, Chris Stapleton, Sam Hunt, Eric Church, Carrie Underwood, Dierks Bentley, Jon Pardi and Brothers Osborne.
Berlin will work under Risser to sign and develop country artists and build out the genre’s division for The Familie. A University of Florida graduate, Berlin previously worked at management company The AMG and at WME.
“It’s been immediately clear to me that The Familie does things differently,” said Risser in a statement. “I appreciate the team’s non-transactional approach to management, thoughtfully building artist brands and legacies through collaboration and a vast network of cross-industry alliances. Steve Astephen could easily be the smartest, most connected person I’ve ever met and can’t wait to work alongside him in this role. I know this team will be a refreshing addition to the Nashville scene while also integrating with and honoring the history and pedigree of Music Row. I’m absolutely fired up and honored to be at the helm of The Familie’s arrival in Nashville.”
Astephen tells Billboard, “Diversity of thought and experience is what helped us transform sports representation in the 2000s and it’s what will help us do the same in music — which is essentially to not just think outside the box, but to create the box…I entered sports representation from a brand and retail perspective, then music management from a sports agency perspective. Royce has been in radio, which, of course, drives country music. He’s been in marketing and promotions. These are the types of things that add additional opportunities for an artist who signs with us. If you sign with The Familie as a musical artist, we’re looking at: How do we bring you into the sports world? How do we bring you into radio marketing? We’re not just managing an artist’s career, we’re expanding it.”
The first artist signed to the company’s country division is singer-songwriter Evanthia Theodorou.
“She’s the perfect example of the type of artist we look for, which is someone with a 360 degree brand, who is highly marketable, personable, has good values, and appeals to a wide audience through various channels of promotion,” Astephen says, estimating that the country music division could represent up to seven artists.
Astephen launched The Familie in 1998; the company also works with sports figures including supercross champion Ken Roczen, pro skateboarder Ryan Sheckler and 2023 golf US Open champion Wyndham Clark, NFL rookie Kelee Ringo, football player Daniel Carlson, surfer Eli Hanneman, rally driver Oliver Solberg and tennis player Cooper Williams.
Looking ahead, Astephen says The Familie is making its move into Nashville at the perfect time. “I see the industry shifting to show how marketable the country music genre is globally,” he says. “Obviously, we have to respect what Nashville is to country music, but country artists are global superstars and only growing. So with us coming in–along with other companies–I think you’ll see more brand partnerships, more national television commercials. I’m really excited for us to be part of this and to help challenge the industry to do more than just traditional music management.”