Chase Rice

If the name Chase Rice is unfamiliar, don’t expect that to be the case much longer.

It’s almost as if a computer algorithm put together a country music star. Almost everything a country music exec wants, this guy has on his resume. Football? Rice played it at University of North Carolina. NASCAR? He was a member of the Hendrick Motorsports pit crew. Music? He’s a songwriter – not to be confused with the country artists who cherrypick other people’s tunes.

And he’s already got some coin in his pocket, thanks to a writing credit for Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise,” which is considered the most downloaded country music song of the digital era. His 2013 EP, Ready Set Roll, spent two weeks atop iTunes’ country albums chart.

Photo: Scott Legato /

We haven’t even gotten to his live show, which is honed from years playing to the most discerning crowd there is: college kids.

His major label debut, Ignite the Night, drops about the same time this article comes out, and his fall headlining tour has also just been announced. All of this adds up to the money quote from one of his agents, Meredith Jones of CAA: “It’s going to be a really big 2015 for him.”

A few years ago, when CAA was hosting its annual barbecue during the CMA Music Festival, Jones was talking about the college market and one of the guests eavesdropped.

“He basically tapped me on the shoulder and said, ‘I’m Chase Rice. I’ve heard you saying you work in the college market and I think that’s where my fans live. Can I send you some music?’”

Jones and CAA’s Jim Butler listened to the tunes, “flipped” over them and immediately had a power lunch with the songwriter. Soon Rice was touring with Willie Nelson and Kip Moore. CAA introduced him to markets while helping him gain bigger rooms in the college towns he was previously self-booking.

“We [told buyers], “Trust us,” and he’s delivered every single time,” Jones said.

Photo: Cody Cannon

Butler added that buyers should put Rice on the short list because the live show is getting some loyal clients.

“His show is always changing,” Butler said. “His set list is different each night. He’s very engaging. [Buyers] would probably respond to some of the ticket numbers that we’ve seen and how he’s able to sell tickets very quickly as a newer artist.”