Shelia Shipley Biddy is one of the most respected women in the music business. Her achievements span three decades and include a bevy of ground breaking career choices and numerous awards and recognitions.
She was one of the first women to enter the male dominated field of radio promotion. She was the first woman to sit at the helm of a major record label in Music City. She has overseen the development of two independent labels. Her expertise covers everything from promotion to marketing to sales to public relations to health care for the music industry.
The Kentucky native moved to Nashville to pursue her dream of becoming a broadcast journalist, instead an entry level job opened at Monument Records — label home to Roy Orbison, Larry Gatlin, Kris Kristofferson, and others. It was there she discovered the challenge and excitement of working in the music industry. Three years later, she made the move to RCA Records developing her niche in radio promotion.
RCA President Joe Galante took a chance and gave Biddy the opportunity to call on secondary stations as part of the radio promotion team. It was a natural fit and she excelled in this new role. After five years, Shelia moved to MCA Records where there was promise of greater advancement under the new regime leadership of Jimmy Bowen and Bruce Hinton.
Biddy joined MCA/Nashville as Director Of Sales and Marketing. She was promoted to Director Of National Promotion in January 1985 and, later named Senior Vice President of National Promotion, a position she held until the end of 1993. During her tenure with the label, MCA/Nashville increased its chart share from 11% to 28% and was named the Number One Country Label Of The Year seven times by Billboard Magazine and three times by R&R Magazine. Under her leadership, the promotion department successfully attained over 139 number one singles.
When MCA reactivated Decca Records in 1994, Biddy was named the Senior Vice President and General Manager – a first for a woman in Nashville. Under Biddy’s guidance and vision, Decca Records returned to prominence with a roster that included multi-platinum Mark Chesnutt and Lee Ann Womack, chart-topping Rhett Akins, Gary Allan, and new-comers Chris Knight, Shane Stockton, and Danni Leigh. As Sr. Vice President and General Manager, Biddy was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the label and supervision of all department functions including strategic planning for the label. Under her leadership, the label attained a top ten chart share, nine number one singles, one platinum, three gold albums, several CMA, ACM, Music City News Awards and countless nominations. The label closed on January 21, 1999 due to the world-wide merger of Polygram Records and Universal Music Group.
With a wealth of knowledge, Shelia opened Shipley Biddy Entertainment – a full-service artist management and consulting company representing Danni Leigh and Jeff Carson.
In 2003, Biddy jumped at the chance to oversee an upstart label. She was named the Executive Vice President, National Promotion & Artist Development for Vivaton Records. In this capacity, she oversaw the day-to-day operation of the promotion department, as well as, artist development for artists signed to Vivaton. The upstart label’s flagship artists were Mark Chesnutt and Chely Wright.
When the label suspended operations, longtime friend John Dorris presented her an opportunity to join Hallmark Direction Company. It was Dorris, who gave Biddy her first industry job at Monument Records. He was looking for the right person to bring in and assist him in the management of Trent Willmon and Ray Scott due to the enormous demand of his other clientele which included Montgomery Gentry, Blake Shelton, Jeff Bates, The Whites, and Dean Dillon. Biddy added the responsibility of overseeing the careers of Blake Wise, The Parks, Flynnville Train, and Crossin Dixon and served as a paid consultant to clients who utilized her expertise in label operations, marketing, artist development and radio promotion.
In July 2011, Biddy returned to her first love – radio promotion. She was hired as the Director of Regional Promotion for the Northeast and Southeastern United States for Flying Island Entertainment. Flying Island is label home to Gwen Sebastian and provides label services to outside clients in the form of radio promotion, marketing, and consulting. They also offer a Classic Country Media Service to assist classic country artists in promoting new releases and tours to over 150 country radio programmers. In January 2013, Biddy was promoted to the position of President of Flying Island taking on more of a leadership role while continuing to direct the promotion efforts of the label.
When Flying Island shuttered its operations in September 2013, Shelia joined the non-profit Music Health Alliance as Director of Operations/Certified Senior Advisor. Music Health Alliance provides free services that PROTECT, DIRECT & CONNECT music industry professionals with medical and financial resources including access to doctors, medicine, health insurance and financial assistance. With over 40 years of diverse music industry experience and a continued passion for the well-being of music and its makers, the transition to healthcare was an easy decision.
Biddy was Mirabella Magazine’s Reader’s Choice “1000 Women For The Nineties”. She was voted Gavin Magazine’s Country Promotion Vice President Of The Year on three occasions and Nashville Life Magazine voted her one of “Nashville’s Top 25 Most Influential Women”. She was selected as one of the top career women in the music industry for the Billboard’s book “Women At The Top” and included in the 1998 edition of the “Country Music Hall Of Fame’s Encyclopedia Of Country Music”.
She was presented with the CRB (Country Radio Broadcasters) President’s Award in March 2009 recognizing her significant contribution to the marketing, production, growth and development of the Country Radio Seminar and the multiple services that Country Radio Broadcasters provides to the country radio and music communities. In 2012, she was inducted into the SOURCE Hall of Fame – an organization she co-founded in 1991. SOURCE is a nonprofit organization supporting women executives and professionals who work in all facets of the Nashville music industry.