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Opry Entertainment Group Invests in Whiskey Riff: Exclusive – Billboard

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Opry Entertainment Group (OEG) has made a minority investment in country music lifestyle label Whiskey Riff to appeal to a younger audience.

OEG, which includes the Grand Ole Opry, Ryman Auditorium, WSM Radio and the Blake Shelton-inspired Ole Red restaurant/music venue in its portfolio, plans to leverage its partnership with Whiskey Riff to reach a younger demographic and reach new audiences its brand, develop a stronger digital presence and further support emerging artists.

Ryman Hospitality Properties of whiskey riff“They appeal to a younger demographic, which gives us another way to connect our brand and the artists we support with younger fans.”

Fioravanti declined to comment on the exact percentage invested in Whiskey Riff, or whether OEG plans to increase its stake in Whiskey Riff in the future.

made by Steve Gazbara and Wes Langler In 2015, Whiskey Riff has become the destination for consumer country music news and content, as well as outdoor and lifestyle content that resonates with country music audiences.

Under the entire Whiskey Riff brand umbrella, including the Whiskey Riff social media accounts as well as @RIFFOutdoors, @WhiskeyRiffShop and @WhiskeyRiffRaff, the sites collectively have attracted more than 3.3 million social media followers, the company said. More than half of Whiskey Riff viewers are between the ages of 18-44.

gazbala told billboard About launching Whiskey Riff, “I just thought, ‘If you’re a college student sitting in class, there’s no place you can go to get playlists, podcasts, funny stories, outdoor activities, music stories, maybe if you want to be at a concert Buy a fun t-shirt from here.”

“We have the same fan base as Opry Entertainment, but we also have a different fan base in some ways,” Langeler added. “The Opry does a great job of promoting independent up-and-coming artists, and then they bring in seasoned veterans as well, [Country Music] Hall of Famer. I think we can really help each other grow and keep bringing each other new fans. “

One element the Whiskey Riff co-founder insists won’t change is the site’s distinctive voice.

“The Opry knew we would have an opinion,” Gazibara said. “Obviously they don’t have a say in the content, but of course you want to scale their content to fit our audience — they have a lot of that.”

OEG currently supports emerging artists in a number of ways, including the Grand Ole Opry premiere and the “My Opry Debut” series on Circle, OEG’s joint venture with Gray Television. In addition, new shows are supported through the Opry NextStage program and performed at various Ole Red locations (Ole Red will add a location in Las Vegas later this year).

OEG and Whiskey Riff are considering a range of partnership options, including podcasts and cross-promotional retail/branding opportunities. “You might see some of their branded products in our brick-and-mortar stores,” Fioravanti said. “We’re only just starting to have these discussions, but this is an opportunity to work with our retail capabilities.”

Gazibara and Langeler envision further expanding Whiskey Riff’s lifestyle content to include food, hunting, fishing and other sports. Meanwhile, Colorado-based Whiskey Riff will soon be operating full-time in Nashville; the site’s operations manager will move to Nashville, and the site’s Nashville-based assistant editor will move full-time.

“They will have the opportunity to go backstage [at the Opry]talk to people, maybe get some fun, quick content before an artist goes on stage, or show a jam band — something that often happens backstage,” Langeler said. thing.

“The Opry is the greatest country music institution in the world,” adds Langeler. “I think we’re going to be a machine going forward, outputting content that fans can access and tell great stories. Country music is such a rich story structure, and we’re going to be able to help the Opry amplify that, and they’re going to be able to help us Tell those stories.”



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