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CUMULUS MEDIA, #1 FOR COUNTRY, LAUNCHES NASH NEXT 2017, THE 3RD ANNUAL NATIONAL AND GRASSROOTS SEARCH FOR AMERICA’S NEWEST COUNTRY STAR

Seven Diamond Award Winner and Reigning CMA Entertainer of the Year Garth Brooks to Lend Voice to National Campaign

Contest to Guarantee Winning Artist Major Label Recording Contract and Opportunity for National Air Play

Scott Borchetta, Kix Brooks to Serve as Competition’s Finale Judges

Country Inns & Suites by Carlson Returns as National Presenting Sponsor

Nashville, TN, May 31, 2017 – NASH Next 2017, led by Cumulus Media, #1 in country and radio’s dominant source for country music, kicks off its third annual grassroots national search for the nation’s newest star today in over 62 markets across the United States including Dallas, New York, Atlanta, Detroit and Nashville. Beginning today, local artists may enter the competition via the NASH Next website.

The winner of this five-month-long national competition, announced by seven diamond award winner and the reigning CMA Entertainer of the Year Garth Brooks, will receive a record deal with NASH Next Records under the Big Machine Label Group, home to such superstars as Taylor Swift, Rascal Flatts and the reigning ACM Male Vocalist of the Year Thomas Rhett. The NASH Next 2017 winner will receive substantial exposure, commensurate with a major label release, on Cumulus radio stations nationwide. While television boasts several talent competitions, no other contest — on any platform — has ever offered its winners a similar opportunity for coveted radio play, which is the most effective medium to cultivate an artist and propel a major music career.

“I can't think of a better way to inspire and discover up and coming talent than through local Country radio,” said Garth Brooks.

Seventy-nine NASH/Cumulus stations in 62 markets will conduct local searches, with significant national participation made possible by Cumulus’ digital properties and syndicated country shows.

With 99 million fans, Country has become the #1 most popular music genre and Cumulus’ NASH Next 2017 competition pays tribute to the great tradition of radio as a launch pad for country music’s most beloved artists. The NASH Next 2016 winner, Todd O’Neill, released his debut single “Love Again” in April and broke the top 50 country charts in early May and his single continues to climb the charts.

“This whole experience has been truly incredible,” remarked Todd O’Neill, NASH Next 2016 winner. “There is honestly no way to describe what it’s like when you hear your first single played on the radio or when you see your name on the Country music charts – It’s what makes this program stand out from all others.”

Stellar Judging Panel

Cumulus listeners and local music industry professionals in their communities will first judge emerging artists. Finalists, and ultimately the 2017 winner, will be selected by a panel of country luminaries, including Scott Borchetta, founder, president and CEO of Big Machine Label Group, the world’s #1 independent record label, Kix Brooks, half of Brooks & Dunn, one of country music’s most successful duos of all time, with additional celebrity judges to be announced at a later date.

“I’m always on the hunt for great new talent and there’s arguably no better way to do it than through Country Radio,” said Borchetta. “NASH Next provides the Big Machine Label Group an incredible opportunity to have our eyes and ears on the ground in all of the great Cumulus Country radio markets. If you want to be next, enter now. Game on…”

“I really enjoyed being part of NASH Next last year – it was truly incredible to see the level of talent who competed and to now watch the upward trajectory of Todd O’Neill, last year’s winner,” noted Kix Brooks.

How the Competition Works

Beginning today, local artists may enter the competition via the NASH Next website, participating local station websites and NashCountryDaily.com. Three local music industry professionals, as well as listeners in their communities will judge each competitor’s original song. Local markets will then host local live events or select their finalist by judging the contestants in a video performance of that original song.

Local winners will move on to the national challenge, submitting a live performance video showcasing their best original song, with the top ten artists selected by country music industry professionals. Those national finalists will then compete at a live concert event, hosted in Nashville in early November, where the panel of celebrity judges will select the NASH Next 2017 winner.

Country is #1 Music Genre

In the last five years, country has supplanted pop as the #1 most popular music genre, with 99 million fans (MRI, Fall, 2016). This is due, in part, to the fact that country has been influenced by both pop and rock styles to gain mass appeal.

“NASH Next 2016 brought us a potentially great artist whose in-person performances and on-air presence shows him on a trajectory for stardom.,” said Mike McVay, Executive Vice President, Content & Programming, Cumulus Media, Inc. “NASH Next 2017 gives the next woman or man the opportunity of a lifetime. This competition makes for a great career and great radio.”

National Sponsor

Country Inns & Suites by Carlson, an upper midscale hotel brand that provides a modern homelike aesthetic and warm, welcoming service with over 470 locations across North America, will return again in 2017 as the NASH Next 2017 national presenting sponsor.

About Cumulus Media

A leader in the radio broadcasting industry, Cumulus Media (NASDAQ:CMLS) combines high-quality local programming with iconic, nationally syndicated media, sports and entertainment brands to deliver premium content choices to the 245 million people reached each week through its 447 owned-and-operated stations broadcasting in 90 US media markets (including eight of the top 10), more than 8,200 broadcast radio stations affiliated with its Westwood One network and numerous digital channels. Together, the Cumulus/Westwood One platforms make Cumulus Media one of the few media companies that can provide advertisers with national reach and local impact. Cumulus/Westwood One is the exclusive radio broadcast partner to some of the largest brands in sports, entertainment, news, and talk, including the NFL, the NCAA, the Masters, the Olympics, the GRAMMYs, the Academy of Country Music Awards, the American Music Awards, the Billboard Music Awards, Westwood One News, and more. Additionally, it is the nation's leading provider of country music and lifestyle content through its NASH brand, which serves country fans nationwide through radio programming, exclusive digital content, and live events. For more information, visit www.cumulus.com.

About Garth Brooks

Garth Brooks recently won Entertainer of the Year at the CMA Awards for a fifth time, a first for any artist. He is also the first artist in history to receive 7 Diamond awards for the now seven albums certified by the RIAA at over 10 million album sales each and remains the #1-selling solo artist in U.S. history certified by the RIAA with over 149 million album sales. He has received every accolade the recording industry can bestow on an artist. Garth has been inducted into the International Songwriters Hall of Fame in New York, the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, Country Music Hall of Fame and most recently, the Musicians Hall of Fame.

Garth is currently on the three year Garth Brooks World Tour with Trisha Yearwood. The tour began with 11 sold out shows at the Allstate Arena in Chicago. The tour is smashing records previously held by such acts as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and even Garth Brooks. In two and a half years the tour has sold over 5.5 MILLION tickets, making it the biggest tour in the world.

Garth has also launched Inside Studio G, a weekly Facebook Live series. It airs every Monday on Garth's Facebook page at 7:00 PM EST.

You can follow him at:

https://www.facebook.com/GarthBrooks

https://twitter.com/garthbrooks

http://instagram.com/garthbrooks

About Country Inns & Suites By CarlsonSM

Country Inns & Suites By CarlsonSM is a leading upper midscale hotel brand with over 480 hotels in the United States, Canada, India and Latin America. The brand’s Be Our Guest service philosophy encourages employees to serve guests with the same kind and caring spirit given to friends when they are being hosted at home. Signature brand amenities include free high-speed Internet, complimentary hot breakfast served on classic dining ware, fitness centers, a Read It & Return Lending LibrarySM and business centers.

Country Inns & Suites By Carlson is a part of Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, which also includes Quorvus Collection, Radisson Blu®, Radisson®, Radisson RED, Park Plaza® and Park Inn® by Radisson. For reservations and more information visit, www.countryinns.com. Connect with Country Inns & Suites By Carlson on social media: @CountryInns on Twitter and Facebook.com/CountryInns

Contact:

Dixie Owen / All The Buzz / 615-440-6171 / Dixie@allthebuzzllc.com