Every other week, Kelleigh Bannen will provide behind-the-scenes analysis, stories and insight into Music City’s No. 1 export, with help from some of Nashville’s top songwriters, artists, executives and producers. Taste of Country will debut each new episode of her This Nashville Life podcast, and Bannen herself will introduce it as a guest writer. Thoughts and opinions expressed by Bannen are hers alone and do not reflect the opinions of Taste of Country, unless she’s talking about #TomatoGate, in which case, yeah … she’s spot on.

Rusty Gaston approaches his role of Operating Partner of THiS Music with the passion of a preacher and the competitiveness of a Division 1 athlete. His energy for his business and his writers is contagious. Rusty is the publisher of some of the most successful writers in the industry: the likes of Ben Hayslip, Marv Green, Connie Harrington, Jimmy Yeary and relative new comer Emily Weisband. And he sees his role as a publisher through a very specific lens: setting up his writers to be able to create with 100% of their ability on a daily basis.

Rusty uses the word “win” a lot. But he uses the word in a way that fires me up to be competitive with myself, not in a Charlie Sheen #Winning kind of way. And as Kevin (my co-producer) admits early in this episode, as he was listening back to my interview with Rusty, he felt the need to stop and evaluate how his own career is going saying, “What am I doing right now to be moving forward?”

We talk a bit about Rusty’s own journey: how he made the jump from being a performer himself, to realizing his true passion was in the business side, not the performance side of the music industry. On moving to Nashville in his early 20s he says, “I packed up everything I had. I left a full ride scholarship to college. I left all of my family. I left all of my friends. I left everything I’d ever known, and moved here not knowing one single soul.”

You’ll hear Rusty’s take on the difference between a good songwriter and a great songwriter. As well as how he thinks great songwriters make the jump to great success. He says, “great songwriters win by perspiration, not inspiration.” He’s practical. And I think you’ll find much of what he has to say applicable to many different careers, not just to publishing and songwriting.

You’ll also hear the story behind the CMA and ACM award winning song “I Drive Your Truck,” written by Connie Harrington, Jessi Alexander, and Jimmy Yeary. The “Behind the Song” stories are always a highlight for me, and this one is particularly special. Rusty says, “all the connection through this song and this story ... the hand of God was on it from beginning to end.”

I hope you enjoy this episode of This Nashville Life, and I’ll see you next week for “Cocktail Hour.”

Listen to This Nashville Life Season 2, Ep. 2

About Kelleigh Bannen: Kelleigh Bannen’s This Nashville Life Podcast offers an authentic, vibrant look at the journey of someone trying to “make it” in country music. Bannen is admittedly still learning what that means. After a short career as an independent artist, the “Famous” singer signed a major label record deal and recorded two-and-a-half albums that were never released. She’s honest, but not bitter about the obstacles female artists face in country music, but her blog and podcast go much deeper.