With the news that Craig Morgan has exercised an option in his contract to part ways from Broken Bow Records, I started to wonder if ‘non-traditonal’ models for getting music to fans is the best way to further a successful career. That is, after all, what Morgan stated as the reason for leaving the label that he helped turn into a Nashville ‘player.’ But more recent news has come about speculating that Morgan has left Broken Bow for the ‘greener pastures’ of a ‘bigger’ label. The rumor says it’ll be Valory Music Group (AKA the label created because of Taylor Swift’s success) but it could also very well be an actual major label. Or, maybe, he’s looking to be a flagship artist for one of the plethora of labels sweeping into town to open up Nashville branches.
Wind-Up Records is a BMG distributed ‘indie’ label that has found HUGE success in the alternative rock and Christian rock worlds with their artists like Creed, Seether, Evanesence, and Finger Eleven. Recently, the label has started to branch out in other areas and Eric Durrance, the former lead singer of Wind-Up’s Christian band Big Dismal, recently released a country music EP through I Tunes. The EP, “I Lost It All” is only 6 songs but it shows that Durrance’s southern roots aren’t lost in translation to country. While he’s certainly a promising artist, I am wondering if he’s just the first of Wind-Up artist to get a shot at country radio. Another NYC label, Robbins Entertainment,has opened up shop in Nashville with Robbins Nashville. The BMG distributed label has found success with dance music and now is hoping that Rockie Lynne can deliver some hits and sales as well. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the labels ‘going nashville’ is major label Decca Recordings re-entering the Nashville scene. A heritage label that once was home to Patsy Cline has signed One Flew South and sent him into the studio with songwriter Marcus Hummon to record their Eagles-inspired vocal country rock. The interesting tidbit about the re-emergence of Decca is that it’s not affiliated with Universal Music Nashville or even Universal Records South. It marks the third self-sustained UMG-owned label in the City, more than any other major recording company.
All of this investment into Nashville by NY/LA based labels should be seen as good for the Nashville community as a whole. With the influx of labels with true shots of marketing and promoting their artists, Nahville artists can get signed and offer their music to the music industry at large. It’s good for the business and expands the chance that an artist with ‘left-of-center’ appeal, say like Mark McGuinn, can have a good shot at getting their material out there to the masses. Whatever Craig Morgan’s true motivation for leaving Broken Bow Records was, I’m sure he was feeling at least some of what I see happening in Nashville these days.