Toby Keith will officially announce details involving his new record label on Wednesday, August 31, 2005, including the official name of the new label and its distribution partner. As reported by Billboard.com, the new company will use the slogan: “The only thing we take seriously is the music.”
For Keith, who has sold 21 million albums in the U.S., the new venture marks the end of his long association with DreamWorks Records.
In an unusual setup, the new venture will be structured as an umbrella company housing two labels, Keith’s and Borchetta’s. The latter will be known as Big Machine Records. The labels will share office space and resources in a Music Row building Borchetta owns, and will also share most of their staff, including the promotion team. Each executive will sign acts separately. Keith already has signed his bandmate and frequent songwriting partner Scott Emerick, who previously had a deal on DreamWorks. Keith also says he’s received numerous phone calls from other “major artists in play” who are interested in joining his roster. And Keith himself also will record for the label.
Meanwhile, Borchetta has signed Jack Ingram, who previously recorded for Rising Tide and Sony’s Lucky Dog label. Big Machine will release a live album from Ingram, which includes two new studio tracks, on November 1.
Also on the Big Machine roster are singer-songwriters Danielle Peck and Taylor Swift. Peck’s single goes to radio September 26. Swift, a Sony/ATV Music Publishing writer, will debut early next year. Borchetta previously had signed Peck to DreamWorks, but she was dropped from the roster during the label’s 2004 merger with Universal Music Group Nashville.
Borchetta predicts that the combined roster for the two labels will eventually top out at seven to 10 acts. And while both Borchetta and Keith say they’ll focus on being a country label, neither rules out the possibility of branching into other genres for the right act. Additionally, Keith has secured the soundtrack rights to any films he does with Paramount.
As someone who’s had a notoriously stormy relationship with UMGN, it’s fair to wonder what Keith will be like as a label head. “You can’t be hypocritical about it,” he says. “I’ve raged against the machine for a long time, so I’m not going to turn into the person I tried to get away from.”
He’s also planning to cut “fair deals” with artists, and will let his own record sales absorb the cost of working other acts who don’t sell records in the league of Keith’s own multi-platinum volume. “I don’t need other artists to sell millions of records to make sure we keep our doors open as long as I sell my (one new) album every year,” he says. “I’ve got plenty of money.”
“We’re going to be an independent,” adds Keith, “but smell, walk, talk, look and record like a major.”
Keith says he weighed his options, and decided that in starting his own label, “We could do some groundbreaking stuff in the music industry. We’re looking forward to getting it on,” he says.
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