Do You Need A Manager? | Ryan L. Cunningham & Terry Hudson | Music Industry Management Today

Ryan L. Cunningham #LMS A&R Country Music Artist Manager 2024
"do you need a manager?"

Ryan Cunningham, Nashville A&R and artist manager, with host, Terry, delve into the intricacies of songwriting, touring, and recording. Their discussion sheds light on how better understanding these domains can guide artists in determining the opportune moment to enlist a manager’s expertise.

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Country Industry Heavyweight Ryan L. Cunningham

Ryan L. Cunningham is a prominent figure in the world of country music. He has taken on many roles throughout his career, from A&R and publishing to booking and artist management. Ryan has represented many famous artists over the years, and he’s also helped lots of young musicians to gain a foothold in the industry. Working from the country music capital of Nashville, he is dedicated to changing the world through music.

Ryan is responsible for discovering, developing, and representing many of the artists that define modern country. He’s a man of many hats, working with artists and labels in A&R roles with ONErpm and Music Row Management. Along the way, Ryan has worked as the A&R Director at OakHill Music, the Social Media Coordinator/Publicist at PLA Media, the Artist Manager at Banner Music, and the Director of Membership & Songwriter Relations at NSAI.

Let’s take a look at Ryan L. Cunningham’s career and highlight his ongoing influence on the world of country music.

The Ryan L. Cunningham story

From a small mountain town in the heart of North Carolina, Ryan’s passion for the music industry was there from the start. While his calling was initially met with doubt, it didn’t take long for Ryan to get family and friends on board. This Carolina son now calls Music City his home, with the local industry in Nashville fueling his passion every day.

Ryan currently works as the A&R Director of Country Music at ONErpm. He’s also the Founder/Head of A&R and Artist Management at Music Row Management. Ryan is a member of the Recording Academy (Grammy) and Country Music Association (CMA), a much-loved artist manager, and a widely respected industry consultant.

Songwriting and music publishing

Ryan started out in the world of music publishing, working with a number of amateur and professional songwriters. He supported artists as they developed their craft, connecting them with publishing companies and helping them to get a deal. Ryan has always enjoyed working with young songwriters, showing them a pathway forward in a business that’s often opaque and difficult to navigate.

In the early days, Ryan helped a number of emerging artists to connect with music publishers. He offered insight and created a bridge between the craft of songwriting and the reality of getting paid. From video games to movie soundtracks and corporate work, there are many ways for songwriters to make money. Along with typical industry pathways in America, Ryan helped people to make money through global distribution channels. As the music industry continues to evolve, artists need expert help to embrace these exciting opportunities.


One rpmToday, Ryan L. Cunningham is the A&R Director of ONErpm, an important company for country music artists in Nashville and beyond. While ONErpm is a global organization with over 40 offices, Ryan focuses on country artists working in and around the Nashville area. ONErpm is well-represented in the United States, with the Nashville center joined by offices in Atlanta, Miami, New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

As a modern company with a broad scope, ONErpm offers artists a variety of distribution models. The company is designed to service musicians, with artists maintaining ownership of their music and control of their vision as they grow. More than a gatekeeper, ONErpm aims to build careers by facilitating knowledge and building relationships.

In his position with ONErpm, Ryan is responsible for building the country music roster. He identifies and signs talented artists, and helps people to build proper release strategies and timelines. Ryan works with ONErpm and its affiliate Verge Records, working with names like Trace Adkins, Chuck Wicks, Brett Kissel, and Julie Roberts. Along the way, Ryan has signed William Michael Morgan, Gene Watson, and Jesslee, among other exciting new artists. 

Music Row 

To understand more about Ryan and Music Row Management, it’s important to understand the legend behind the name. Home to famous record labels, recording studios, and radio stations, Music Row is the beating heart of the Nashville music scene. RCA’s iconic Studio B is situated on Music Row, with this building having hosted huge names like Elvis Presley and Dolly Parton.

Somewhat surprisingly, given its status, no one had taken the “Music Row” name for a management company. Ryan swooped in and did just that, snapping up the LLC and using the name to promote his website and social media channels. With this famous title now behind him, Ryan works to sign, manage, and develop up-and-coming artists and songwriters. Lots of great names have already signed to Music Row Management, including Caroline Allen, Shelby Lee Lowe, Queeva, and Karen Waldrup.

Ryan and his team are responsible for booking live country music shows in Nashville and across the United States. From award-winning band Shenandoah to American Idol contestant Payton Taylor, there’s a huge wealth of talent on the roster to work with. Along with solo shows and tours, Ryan has booked musicians for the Grammys and ACM Awards. Whether it’s working directly with publishers, consulting with artists, or negotiating contracts for distribution deals, Ryan L. Cunningham continues to shape the future of country music.

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