2023 Women Of Live: Cindy Mabe
President | Universal Music Nashville
On April 1, Cindy Mabe ascends to Chairman and CEO of Universal Music Nashville.
When she was a girl, she studied album credits, kept lists of who was thanked at the country music awards and knew there was life beyond the R.J. Reynolds’ world that surrounded her North Carolina home.
A Nashville trip at 16 led to Belmont College, where the enterprising student started a ticketing service to take care of Arista’s touring artists’ promo needs. Having been a fan, she watched the impact of “live” for Alan Jackson, Brooks & Dunn and Pam Tillis.
Before graduating, she joined RCA’s sales department, pulling SoundScan at 5 a.m., studying trends and connecting artists to fans. Famous for speaking when passionate, Mabe product-managed Carrie Underwood, fresh off “American Idol,” and former classmate Brad Paisley.
Business savvy, the girl who grew up on Dolly Parton and Charlie Daniels, then Reba, George Strait, Randy Travis and Alabama knows the power of live connection. She moved to Capitol Records where Keith Urban, Eric Church, Luke Bryan and Darius Rucker were forging careers that embraced concerts to cement their place beyond radio; indeed, Church’s live impact far outshone his initial radio success.
Mabe’s passion for live music drove Capitol to sign Brothers Osborne when the rumors of Capitol’s acquisition were rampant. Whatever happened, she knew the road was one place the award-winning duo could develop an audience.
Merging with Universal, Mabe reunited with Mike Dungan, who’d hired her at Capitol. It opened new lanes of artists, including Kacey Musgraves, Vince Gill, and Little Big Town, plus Strait and Reba; ultimately reuniting her with Jackson and Underwood, Universal created opportunities for outliers Mickey Guyton, Jon Pardi and Chris Stapleton, now Parker McCollum and The War & Treaty.
Whether Underwood taking out Maddie & Tae or Guyton, Stapleton creating his rootsy touring universe or creating space for Musgraves to exist in a world beyond genres, the woman who’s been Universal Nashville’s President’s reliance on having her artists tour has developed Nashville’s most diverse roster.