#165 – Your Brand is Not Just What You Wear, It’s Also Your Attitude

You’re not a bit of everyone as an artist, or at least you shouldn’t be. You are your own identity.

Do you have a strategy in place to move your career forward? Are you performing music that fits your lifestyle and belief system, or are you only making the moves to please others or attempting to do so to get ahead?

In the end, it’s all about brand loyalty, with you yourself being the brand. So is your branding vertical, or is it horizontal? Do you know the difference, and does it matter?

On this extraordinary episode of Dead Horse Discussions with Rick Caballo and Melissa Core Caballo from Dead Horse Branding, we interview Michael Blanton to discuss exactly these matters. 

Michael Blanton of Brentwood, Tennessee, has celebrated a career in the national and Nashville music industry. But today finds him in all kinds of artistic and entertainment development, not limited to just artist management.

A native of Amarillo, Texas, Blanton got his start in music as an A&R representative at Word Records in Waco, Texas, moving to Nashville in 1978 to open the company’s office on Music Row. He and business partner Dan Harrell launched Blanton/Harrell Production and Management in 1980 with Amy Grant as their first client. In 1981 with friend Brown Bannister (’75), they created Reunion Records and Reunion Publishing and soon launched artists’ careers, including Michael W. Smith and Rich Mullins, and Wayne Kirkpatrick.

Blanton served as executive producer for some of Grant’s biggest hits, including the albums Unguarded (1985), Lead Me On (1988), and the multi-platinum Heart in Motion (1992), which sold more than ten million copies and received five Grammy nominations, including Album of the Year. He also executive produced hits for Smith, including his debut, Michael W. Smith Project (1983) featuring the song “Friends,” The Big Picture (1986), i 2 (EYE) (1988), and Change Your World (1992). In addition, Blanton and Harrell worked with authors including Frank Peretti, helping him release his multi-million-selling This Present Darkness in 1986 and Piercing the Darkness in 1989.

Beginning in 1997, Blanton and Harrell served as co-presidents of Gaylord’s Idea Entertainment. Still, in 2009 the golden franchise ended between Blanton and Harrell and thus started the new chapter for Blanton in artist development and branding.

Currently, Blanton has partnered in the development with Songwriting University to help support the songwriters of Nashville and help develop new artistic talent. Also, Blanton is a partner with Vertigo Media and a new management launch called Halogen-BNA. Vertigo and Halogen will work together to build and develop new artists and songwriters thru technology and community. But not to be left out of the development lane, Blanton today is also working with new film projects, with Terry Benedict(producer of Hacksaw Ridge) and TV productions for a Texas non-profit, Heartlight and Parenting Today’s Teens. He has also joined with long-time friend Gary Glover to continue to consult on many projects in development thru a

partnership called Cyprus Creative Partners, a company to helps advance all types of branding and development. Whether for one singer or an entire company, vision-casting and strategically planning are what we are built for.

Blanton is a member of the National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences, the Gospel Music Association, the Country Music Association, and the Americana Music Association. He serves on the board of Lipscomb’s College of Entertainment and Arts. In addition, the team of Blanton & Harrell was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2017. And then, in 2019, Blanton was named Outstanding Alumnus of the year for Abilene Christian University, his alma mater.


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The music provided for this episode is from:

Artist: Hemp and Denim

Song: Fly

Album: House of Love

Composer: Hemp Meadows