So you want to be a “star” in Nashville?

Phyllis Stark of Billboard takes a look at the A & R system in Nashville. Ms. Stark interviewed Brad Cotter, last year’s winner of “Nashville Star;” Buddy Jewell, 1st “Nashville Star;” and A & R from Universal and Capitol Records.

As executive VP of A&R at Sony Music Nashville, Mark Wright is the person who ultimately signed Wilson and Cotter. He once passed on Cotter when he held a similar position at MCA Nashville.

“It’s still a matter of timing,” he says. “It’s when you’re presented to the marketplace and what the marketplace is like.”

For example, he says, four years ago when female country acts were having hits with what Wright calls “pop fluff,” Wilson’s more hardcore sound may very well have fallen flat.

But Wright admits the A&R process may have been on “autopilot” for too many years while country was hot in the early and mid-’90s. “It’s real easy to repeat yourself when you believe it’s working,” he says. “It takes a few years for people to wake up and realize it’s not working and we have to do things differently. That’s happening now.”