2016 Music Row Nominees

The 10 nominees for MusicRow’s Breakthrough Songwriter of the Year each earned their first Top 10 single as a songwriter during the eligibility period (May 1, 2015 to April 30, 2016).

Finalists for the 2016 MusicRow Awards, Nashville’s longest-running music industry trade publication honors, were revealed earlier this week.


Jaron Boyer landed two major hits with Dierks Bentley’s “Somewhere on a Beach” and Dustin Lynch’s “Hell of a Night.” Growing up as a fan of country and hip-hop, musical influences come through in his songwriting.

Corey Crowder made a name for himself in songwriting circles through his back-to-back No. 1 singles for Chris Young: “I’m Comin’ Over” and “Think of You,” the latter featuring special guest Cassadee Pope.

Matt Dragstrem co-wrote Florida Georgia Line’s “Sippin’ on Fire” on the same day he signed his songwriting deal with Big Loud Shirt. His first cut was Kenny Chesney’s “Rock Bottom,” co-written with Craig Wiseman.

Josh Hoge is a co-founder of Whiskey Jam, which has grown into a destination for music discovery in publishing circles. Hoge co-wrote six songs on Chris Young’s latest album, I’m Comin’ Over, including the chart-topping title track.

Josh Kerr quickly found a comfortable co-writing arrangement with Kelsea Ballerini. Their shared writing credits include “Love Me Like You Mean It” and “Dibs,” which were both gold-certified No. 1 country hits.

Maren Morris made the industry take notice with “My Church,” the powerful lead single from her 2016 Columbia Nashville project. She’s also landed cuts with Kelly Clarkson, Tim McGraw and the cast of ABC’s Nashville.

John and TJ Osborne of Brothers Osborne became entrenched in Nashville’s songwriting community long before their No. 1 hit, “Stay a Little Longer.” Letting their blues and country roots shine through, they co-wrote every song on their debut EMI Records Nashville album, Pawn Shop.

Jody Stevens built his career as an artist and producer before racing up the country chart as a songwriter. Top credits include “Let Me See Ya Girl” for Cole Swindell and “Home Alone Tonight” for Luke Bryan and Karen Fairchild.

Cole Taylor moved to Nashville in 2013 and landed a publishing deal that same year. Since then, he’s secured cuts like Luke Bryan and Karen Fairchild’s “Home Alone Tonight” and Florida Georgia Line’s “Sippin’ On Fire.”



Publishing information included inside nominee announcement.

“Burning House”
Cam shared a devastating dream with her co-writers Tyler Johnson and Jeff Bhasker, leading them to write “Burning House.” The ballad established Cam’s career at country radio, earned a Grammy nomination and achieved platinum status.

“Buy Me a Boat”
Chris Janson sailed to stardom after “Buy Me a Boat” caught the attention of country radio, CMT and millions of fans. Co-written with Chris DuBois, the tune has more hooks than a tackle box and became one of the summer’s biggest hits.

“Humble and Kind”
Lori McKenna wrote “Humble and Kind” as a letter to her children, but its wise message reached Tim McGraw too. With his own daughters growing up and leaving home, his perspective and believability resonated with listeners of every age.

“Peter Pan”
Even before it was a single, Kelsea Ballerini says she saw “Peter Pan” connect with girls at her shows. Written with Forest Glen Whitehead and Jesse Lee, the song shows the heartache that comes from loving someone who won’t let a relationship mature.

“Record Year”
When the breakup is final, you turn to vinyl. That’s the theme of Eric Church’s “Record Year,” where he drops the needle on heroes like Willie Nelson and Stevie Wonder. Co-written with Jeff Hyde, the song shows the healing power of music.

The MusicRow Awards are often a key predictor for select CMA Awards categories. For example, Song of the Year honors at both ceremonies went to “Girl Crush” (2015), “I Drive Your Truck” (2013), “If I Die Young” (2011), “The House That Built Me” (2010) and “In Color” (2009).

The MusicRow Awards will be presented at a private ceremony at BMI on Wednesday, June 29. Winners are determined solely by MusicRow subscribers. See the final nominees.

Voting closes on Tuesday, May 24 at 5 p.m. If you do not have a subscription, you may subscribe to receive your ballot.