Tuesday night Belmont’s Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business and industry partner ASCAP honored alumnus Rusty Gaston (’98) as the first recipient of the Music City Milestone Award (MCMA), which celebrates Belmont’s connection to Music Row. The award recognizes a young Belmont graduate who has achieved truly superlative success in the entertainment & music industry.
Partner and general manager of This Music, Gaston was raised in Texas and moved to Nashville 16 years ago to pursue a career in the music industry and attend Belmont University. Gaston partnered with hit writers Tim Nichols (“Live Like You Were Dying”) and Connie Harrington (“Girls Lie Too”) to form This Music, a joint venture with Warner Chappell. In only a few years of operation he has built the company into a powerhouse. Today, Gaston is a passionate and committed music publisher who fills his time promoting the songs that his nine seasoned songwriters produce, including 14 award-winning songs and number one hits with artists such as Blake Shelton, Josh Turner, Chris Young and Luke Bryan.
Belmont Instructor of Music Business and creative force behind the MCMA award, Dan Keen, said, “One of the most rewarding facets of nurturing young people is celebrating their growth and successes. Rusty Gaston was a stand out student in my music publishing class at Belmont and is already one of the most successful independent publishers on Music Row. He has a huge servant’s heart as well. He is the type of person that Belmont and ASCAP want to encourage students and young executives to emulate.”
“ASCAP is honored to be partnering with Belmont in inspiring students to achieve greatness in their careers. It is fitting that Rusty Gaston receives the very first Music City Milestone Award as he has been a trendsetter throughout his career. Everybody loves and respects Rusty and writers love writing for him. They know him as a champion. Rusty is passionate about his songs—very passionate about his songwriters and music in general,” explains LeAnn Phelan, ASCAP senior creative director.
“All too often, success is recognized only at the end of a career. We really want to take time to celebrate together the successes along the journey,” said Sr. Director of Curb College Initiatives Sarah Cates. “Rusty defines success as being able to do the thing he loves—making great music happen—every day, and we are proud to honor him for that.”
Gaston expressed his personal formula for success (Love + Fun = Success) while discussing his career with 40 current Belmont students immediately prior to the industry reception and award ceremony. A major topic of discussion revolved around Gaston’s insistence that relationships are not only key to individual personal success in the music industry, but also a major differentiating factor that sets Nashville business apart from other national and global entertainment epicenters. He maintains that Music Row is as much a community as a geographical landmark and that successful songs written here are about core human experiences, the likes of which only evolve from genuine personal interaction.
Kent Earls, executive vice president/general manager, Universal Music Publishing Group, Nashville, expressed a similar opinion about relationships on the Row when asked why he came out to honor one of his competitors: “Rusty is one of my best friends. Outside of the industry, he’s a great guy. We are all family, and everyone respects him.”
Click here to learn more about Rusty Gaston.
About the Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business
The Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business strives to combine academic experience with real world applications and seeks to achieve its mission by implementing innovative courses of study in the entertainment and music industries. A quiet world leader that has been featured in Time Magazine, Rolling Stone, Billboard, and Business Week, CEMB offers three degrees and four majors—a BBA in Music Business and a BA or BS in Audio Engineering Technology, Entertainment Industry Studies, and Songwriting—and provides invaluable experiential learning opportunities like the Belmont East (New York City) and Belmont West (Los Angeles) programs, through which students expand their cultural experiences and career opportunities as they reside, learn, work, and network in NYC or LA. Coupled with entertainment internship opportunities available on and around Music Row, these programs augment students’ chances for entrepreneurial endeavors and career advancement.