Court Says “Not So Fast” to Tim McGraw’s Curb Departure

June 28, 2012 - By Trigger  //  News  //  16 Comments

I was really surprised in November of 2011 when after a minor initial court ruling in favor of Tim McGraw against his label Curb Records, it resulted in a victory lap by the McGraw camp. All the court had ruled was that McGraw could begin recording music with another label, not that he wasn’t still under contract with Curb, or owed them reparations for violating his contract when he recorded the music for his album Emotional Traffic too early. As I said in my story on the November court ruling:

The win means McGraw is now free to record new music and pursue a new label “outside of his contract” with Curb, but in no way means he’s out of the woods. A full trial is set for July, when the decision will be made if McGraw was in breach of his contract, and if so, what the penalty is. Despite the win, McGraw may still be bound by certain elements of his Curb contract, and by court orders from the ongoing lawsuit.

However McGraw immediately began recording new music, signed with Scott Borchetta and Big Machine records, and stated plans to release a new single “Truck Yeah” on Tuesday all before the trial and penalty phase of his court battle had even began.

Now the court has ruled in favor of Curb Records to postpone the trial until it can investigate the legal relationship between Big Machine Records and Tim McGraw. But once again, some outlets are falsely reporting the story, saying that Curb won and now all the music Tim McGraw has recorded with Big Machine is now the property of Curb. This is simply what Curb records is requesting from the court because they feel Tim McGraw is still under contract with them, and so any music he records would be their property.

The actual finding by the court if in fact McGraw is still under contract with Curb Records, if he still owes them another album, or if the 20-something songs he’s recorded recently belong to Curb, will be decided in a trial set for July. You can read the full Curb Records request for the court HERE.

I don’t begin to have any idea what the court will rule, but I was really surprised at the confidence both Tim McGraw and Scott Borchetta approached their new relationship with, way before the trial with Curb had taken place, a trial whose date has been set for July 2012 since late last year. The fact that McGraw has now signed another contract without allowing the trial process to resolve, and then with Borchetta planning the unprecedented move of releasing competing singles with Curb’s material, I can only imagine the court looking unfavorable towards McGraw and Borchetta’s aggressive moves, just like they did to Mike Curb’s aggressive move of asking McGraw for a whole other album before releasing him from his contract.

What is clear is we are seeing a battle of epic proportions transpire on Music Row, whose implications and court decisions could set historic precedent and shape Music Row politics for years to come.

16 Comments to “Court Says “Not So Fast” to Tim McGraw’s Curb Departure”

  • yeah,i just ran with what American Songwriter posted. i’m with you though…i don’t get why he’s releasing new music when this shit hasnt been hashed out in court yet.


    • I think Scott Borchetta got arrogant, and like many of the news outlets, had an overly optimistic perspective on the court battle. He couldn’t wait 6 weeks to release this single? Courts work off of precedence, and releasing competing singles from the same artist is unprecedented. And why did they announce when they were releasing the single? Most of the time, they just release it. I doubt Mike Curb is going to get all 20 songs McGraw recorded, but I think there’s a good chance he will get something.

      This is what happens when people get too much power too quickly. They get arrogant and think they’re above the law. A week ago I thought Borchetta had Curb in a submission hold. Now it looks like it could be the other way around.


      • not only that but where are Borchetta’s and McGraw’s lawyers in all this? they can’t be that arrogent,can they?


        • Scott Borchetta is about 4’8 and in the music business: I can see him having double the ego and arrogance.


  • It would appear that Timmy went all “hollywood” on us. Along time ago, in my opinion.


  • who cares


  • Dude, I totally thought Mike Curb would just lay down and give up.

    I hear Kellie Pickler’s shoppin’ for a label. A nine album deal of traditional country wouldn’t be so bad. She could be the next Barbara Mandrell.


    • I can only assume you are kidding Chad. As I recall Barbara Mandrell could really play about ten instruments and sing, really sing and harmonize. She also won female vocalist of the year a couple of times, along with all the other awards, back in the day when people actually had to have talent to win awards and not just win popularity contests.


  • The court ruled he could start recording with another label and he did. How is that arrogant? He’s moving on, win or lose the contract issue, because he knows Curb will try to hold him back for years. Perhaps he has the luxury of being able to afford that more than the other artists Curb has screwed.


    • The problem is not that he’s recording music, it is that Big Machine is releasing singles to directly compete with the songs Curb is releasing on the radio, something completely unprecedented. That is two completely different things. Some artists take years to record an album. Of course Curb is trying to hold up Tim McGraw indefinitely, and they’re dreaming if they think they will take possession of the 20 songs he’s recorded so far. But if I were a judge, I’d ask the question of why not wait a few more weeks for the trial to be done before releasing the new music? Yes, Mike Curb is an evil, evil man. But the dirty little secret here is that McGraw did indeed record the Emotional Traffic music too early according to the letter of his contract, and by law, he owes Curb some penalty for that. That doesn’t mean McGraw should stay on Curb indefinitely, but it also means he’s somewhat culpable in the situation. I think McGraw and Borchetta made it worse for themselves. And I think it is “arrogant” to do something that has never been done before, which is use country ariwaves for a label war. I’ll be surprised if a judge doesn’t look unfavorably upon that.


      • Trigger, you think they were being arrogant by releasing a single to radio and that the courts will look on that unfavorably. I thought that is what the ruling last fall was allowing him to do?

        Radio doesn’t seem to be upset by it.


        I hope that Curb asking for a postponement shows the courts that Curb will indeed drag this out forever and that upholding the ruling from last fall is the right thing to do. (I say right thing to do because I have no clue about the legal side of it.)

        I won’t even try to guess what the outcome of the original trials will be, but I do know it was never going to be over “in a few weeks”. That is why the ruling last fall was so important. Bottom line, Curb wins without ever going to trial if Tim McGraw can’t record/release music while this all plays out. I can’t quite grasp your argument that he should be free to record, but shouldn’t release the music to radio. I honestly can’t wrap my head around that line of thought. You may know that Tim did the wrong thing and owes Curb for that. If you have any links you’d care to share I would like to read them. I would like to think that if it was a slam dunk Curb would have gone to trial now. It appears they are following up on more recent events, not the original suit involving the Emotional Traffic album.

        This could drag out for years and I think Curb will continue to release singles for years to come. So it seems to me the options they had were to sit back and never release anything to radio or bite the bullet and go for it. And between Tim having had enough and Scott seeming to be the type that *isn’t* business as usual the outcome doesn’t surprise me.


        • Recording music and releasing music are too completely different things. I can’t stress that enough. It’s great that radio says bring the competing singles on, but my guess is Curb has a big beef with it. Look, we’re all on the same side here. Everyone knows what Curb is doing. I just think that McGraw and Borchetta would have been smart to wait a few more weeks before releasing the single. This is my opinion. I could be completely wrong. I hope McGraw and Borchetta win in court and McGraw gets to release singles and they bury Curb’s material and Curb loses money because of it. But I have suspicions about Borchetta as well. Courts don’t like to feel like they’re being side stepped, that’s all I’m saying.


  • I think we are saying the same thing, but I don’t believe Big Machine has anything to do with the suit between McGraw and Curb and the court should not consider the release of a single by them at all. If McGraw signing the contract and recording songs changes any damages in the contact dispute, then the court will look at it, I’m sure. But, if Big Machine took something that isn’t theirs, Curb would certainly have to file a separate suit against them.


  • Why are we debating a pop singer’s label dispute?


    • Tracy Byrd and Mark Chestnutt said it best:

      There oughtta be a law against cowboy rap,
      And all that boy band crap, a little sissy in a cowboy hat in country…

      This is what Tim McGraw has become.

      Tracy Byrd may have been a hat-act, but at least he was country, and Mark Chestnutt, well, anyone who performs that many dives, bars, honky-tonks, and clubs doing the songs the fans love and writing more of them even though he doesn’t get much radio play anymore is doing it for the right reasons, the love of the fans and the music. How we went from “Good Way to Get On My Bad Side” to “Truck Yeah” in ten years is beyond me.


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