Tim McGraw hit solid country gold this week with “Shotgun Rider,” his first chart-topper in almost four years, and his first with his relatively new label affiliation, Big Machine.
Tim has been a staple of country music since his radio debut in 1994 with “Indian Outlaw” on Curb (even though this was off his second album with Curb, the first singles didn’t make much noise) and with his first #1 “Don’t Take The Girl” on the same album. With “Shotgun Rider” he extends his run of more than 20 years as a super star – the pinnacle of country music success. This is the second album for Tim on Big Machine. With a 20-year track record of mega success, why even comment on label affiliation?
Big Machine label is by all measures, an independent label formed just under a decade ago by music mogul Scott Borchetta. As a general rule of thumb, independent labels don’t have the same pull in town as do the majors – Sony, Capitol Nashville, Mercury, etc. especially when it comes to radio airplay. But every rule has its exceptions and this is one of them.
You already know Big Machine, even if you don’t think you do – Big Machine is also home to the more famous than anyone, Taylor Swift. Many country artists move away from big-label deals in favor of the more attractive independent label deals being offered by indies, but not all independents have the same cache when it comes to radio airplay. In fact, other than artists on the Broken Bow Label Group, home to Jason Aldean, Joe Nichols, and others, Big Machine (now the titular label of Big Machine Label Group) is pretty much the only independent with any major sway in radio airplay in Nashville (the business, not just the city) these days. For example, this last week alone, 10 of the top 40 songs on the country chart were from Independents, and of those 10 there were four independent label groups represented; Big Machine Label Group has three songs, Broken Bow Label Group has six, Streamsound has one song, and Big and Rich / New Revolution (formerly with Warner Music Nashville) has one song. Source – www.countryaircheck.com, CA Weekly, December 8, 2014.
Many artists and groups make the move to independent, but they don’t often get to make the move AND keep the radio airplay that they once enjoyed. Thankfully, Tim McGraw gets to keep it all, and the winner in all of this is us, the listeners. As a huge fan of Tim McGraw, I’m absolutely thrilled every time I hear his work.
In a future article I will expound on how the label system in Nashville helps drive the star-making machine, but for now, it’s enough to just be thrilled for Tim McGraw for his 25th chart-topper “Shotgun Rider”, his first #1 on Big Machine.