Fans of Texas country are used to witnessing their favorite artists and bands get signed to a big Nashville record label, only to come back a few years later with their tail between their legs. That’s why the announcement of a major label deal isn’t always welcome news. It often sets eyes to rolling in Texas. That’s what happened for some Cody Johnson fans when it was announced he’d partnered his own label CoJo Music with Warner Music Nashville, making him a major label artist for the first time in his career.
But Cody Johnson insists this isn’t your average Music Row deal. As a 50/50 partnership, he still gets to keep creative control of his music, and still gets to be Cody Johnson. Because unlike a lot of major label new signees, he comes to the table with a built-in fan base.
When Johnson released his first single under the new label partnership called “On My Way To You,” that was all the assurance most fans needed to know Cody Johnson wasn’t changing. Even if you didn’t love the song, it still sounded like Cody. In a recent interview with Music Row Magazine, Cody explained the new major label partnership even further for those fans who may be leery.
“When you come to this town from Texas, I guess everyone has a preconceived notion that you are going to sell out,” Cody Johnson said. “One of my main focuses with this whole deal is to prove that you can be yourself. The record was done before we got a deal. As soon as we released it, people were like ‘I can already hear the change.’ But this song is to those people and to all those people who said it wouldn’t work. My goal in this whole thing is to step politely into this town and say, ‘Hey, is there room for me here?’ A lot of things I’m doing are very normal for country in 1985 but now it’s different and it’s a new thing now to be country.”
Owning a #2 and a #7 record on the Billboard Country Albums chart, as well as a strong fan base in Texas that sold out an appearance at the vaunted Houston Rodeo, Cody Johnson doesn’t need to jump through the hoops that other developing artists are sometimes asked to, though some labels still tried as they pursued him.
“It was like a 360 deal, and I didn’t feel right about that,” Cody says about one of the deals he turned down. “I own my own company, I built it with my own hands. Every deal I had been offered required change—we don’t want your producer, or we don’t want your manager or your booking agent, or you need to take off your cowboy hat because that’s not what’s selling right now. I’m not bitter about that but I just thought those [offers] are not what’s meant to be for me.”
Cody’s new album Ain’t Nothin’ To It is expected in early 2019. His single “On My Way To You” has already hit #25 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, and #34 on the Airplay chart.