Straight To The Top: How Old Dominion Scored Nine No. 1 Smash Hits (And Counting)

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Before Old Dominion was racking up nine No. 1 songs as a band, members of the group were scoring No. 1s as songwriters. A reputation for writing hits has its advantages, especially with country radio, which was eager to join the bandwagon after OD found an eager audience via SiriusXM.

“It opened doors because you could say they wrote this or they wrote that and it definitely did get radios’ attention a lot faster,” says Buffy Cooper, vice president of radio and marketing at Morris Higham Management. “But I feel like SiriusXM and John Marks [who formerly served as Sr. Director of Country Programming] were instrumental.”

As the SiriusXM audience grew in 2014 country radio took notice.

“You could go into markets – I always think about Chicago first – because you’ve got a band with no label deal that was only being played on SiriusXM, but they were packing out [Chicago nightclub] Joe’s on Weed,” Cooper explained. “And now you’ve got [country radio station] US 99 going, ‘Wow. We love these guys.’”

“Any time you have something positive to talk with radio about, the more the better, the more the merrier,” offered Steve Hodges, executive vice president of promotion and artist development at Sony Music Nashville, which signed the band in 2015. “And radio really does seem to love those guys.”

Fans across all demographics were drawn to the catchy melodies, but they saw themselves in the lyrics.

“We used to say they are a ‘grown-ass man band,’” Cooper quipped. “And we all loved that because you are dealing with adults who are smart, level-headed and were ready to do the hard work.”

After scoring eight No. 1s on Billboard, Mediabase and MusicRow, Old Dominion returned to the top of the charts in July with the sweetly nostalgic “Memory Lane” written by bandmates Matthew Ramsey, Trevor Rosen and Brad Tursi with Jessie Jo Dillon (who has penned songs for George Strait, Luke Bryan and Jon Pardi).

The single logged 9,132 spins on Mediabase the week it went No. 1. It was the most spins in a single week by a duo or group, besting Old Dominion’s previous record of 9,050 spins for “No Such Thing As A Broken Heart” in 2017. Equally impressive is that the song had to pass Luke Combs take on “Fast Car.”

“Memory Lane” was released in January and followed in June by an 8-song EP with the same title. The project has since expanded into an 18-song studio record, which will be released on Oct. 6. The timing, including the current duet with Megan Moroney, “Can’t Break Up Now,” makes the project a priority going into voting season for the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association, where they are the five-time reigning champs in the vocal group category and a serious contender for entertainer of the year.

“Our push week was a big push week because it was an important song,” Hodges explained of label support behind “Memory Lane.” “They are prolific songwriters, to say the least. We always want to be great partners and deliver hits for them at radio. So, when the time came, there was no stone left unturned. It was great to see them back at the top.”

“We didn’t want to have another No. 2,” added Cooper. “If there was a call that needed to be made, everybody picked up a phone and called whoever they needed to make sure that we were the most played song on their radio station for that week to drive those guys to No. 1.”

Old Dominion’s previous No. 1 was the four-time Platinum “One Man Band,” released in June 2019. Other chart-toppers include “Make It Sweet” (2018), “Hotel Key” (2018), “Written In The Sand” (2017), “No Such Thing As A Broken Heart” (2017), “Song For Another Time” (2016) and “Break Up With Him” (2015). “Snapback” (2016) was No. 1 on the MusicRow CountryBreakout chart and No. 1 on Billboard’s Canada Country chart.

“It always starts with the song,” Hodges explained. “And for us, we don’t have to do a lot but say, ‘Hey, there’s new Old Dominion music coming.’ Everybody gets excited because they are the reigning five-time group of the year and every album has hits. Radio needs hits and Old Dominion has delivered consistent hits.”

As a band of songwriters, Old Dominion appreciated the impact of airplay on the bottom line. Cooper says, “You didn’t have to explain the business to them. They were smart. They were good students in building relationships and they knew exactly what they needed to do and they have real friendships out there.”

Having five members – including frontman Ramsey, multi-instrumentalist Rosen, guitarist Tursi, drummer Whit Sellers and bass player Geoff Sprung – makes it easier to split duties at radio. They are accessible and dialed into a single vision.

“There’s five of them so if we have multiple asks at the same time or we have a big media day with radio, doing round tables or whatever that might be, they can divide and conquer,” Hodges says. Their success at country radio coincides with the work they have put in on the road, where they have built a growing audience opening stadium dates for Chesney and now headline their own “No Bad Vibes Tour,” which runs through Jan. 6. The tour recently sold 15,067 tickets over two nights at Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena At Harveys in Stateline, Nevada.

“It’s great that now they are the headliners coming into these arenas and doing incredibly well,” Cooper says. “That’s where all the hard work pays off.”