That’s right. Tracy Lawrence had to fight the Nashville establishment mafia after he found success as an independent label owner.
In a recent interview with Vindy.com (Tracy Lawrence is trying a new approach) Tracy explained the situation:
“I’m real glad I did Rocky Comfort Records,” said Lawrence, calling from his Nashville home. “It was very interesting. We came out of the box, had a No. 1 record, won a CMA and ACM and then it seemed like we made a lot of enemies. We were a small label. We just slipped through the cracks, and a lot of people got egg on their face. And I’ve watched the doors close to that business model. Our philosophy was to keep the overhead down. Everything was outsourced. We had a small staff internally to keep our costs down. After that record went through, I watched radio absolutely shut down.”
When it’s pointed out his situation sounds similar to dealing with the mafia, Lawrence quipped, “Ya think?”
It’s too bad Tracy felt the pressure was too strong to continue on as the owner of his own label. Find Out Who Your Friends Are was a major accomplishment for a small label. To my knowledge it was the first ever #1 hit for an artist on their own independent label.
What made the feat even more amazing was the fact that Tracy hadn’t had a #1 hit in about seven or eight years at the time. It’s difficult for artists to come back with hits after so many years (relatively) away from the spotlight.
It’s interesting to see the majority of independent and artist-owned labels struggling. So many had popped up in recent years as the recording industry suffered and artists struggled to get the backing of major label promotion.
Artists like Toby Keith have found great success on radio and with selling records as the owner of their own labels. Other artists have found some success yet haven’t been able to make it work for more than a couple years (Neal McCoy, Tracy Lawrence).
I think the trend of selling music is going away and that’s part of the struggle for artists and labels. Getting radio play and being heard by country music fans will forever be important. The more people can hear an artist’s music the more they’ll pay to go see their live shows. That’s where the reward is for the hard working artists.
I wish Tracy the best with his new venture and can’t wait to hear his new music later this fall.