This is what you would call a “power move.”
After announcing earlier this year that she was making the unexpected move of leaving her label home of Sony Records Nashville after 20 years of service, Miranda Lambert has now announced that she is the new boss of a new label imprint called Big Loud Texas. Lambert starts the label with long-time friend, co-writer, and collaborator Jon Randall. Big Loud Texas will be a subsidiary of the surging Music Row-based label Big Loud Records.
There are many implications of this announcement beyond the preliminary details. But let’s look into the preliminary details first. Miranda and Jon Randall will not just be figureheads for this new label. Both will be directly involved in signing and developing artists on the roster, and Randall will officially be the President of A&R for the imprint while also acting as an in-house producer.
Miranda Lambert is originally from Lindale, Texas, and Randall is originally from Dallas, giving the label real cred in the Texas market. The pair has collaborated extensively over the years, most recently on the Grammy-nominated album The Marfa Tapes with fellow Texan Jack Ingram, and Randall also acted as a producer on Lambert’s last album with Sony, 2022’s Palomino. The two have been songwriting partners for many years.
Meanwhile, Big Loud is this biggest new power player in mainstream country music as the label home of Morgan Wallen, HARDY, as well as artists such as Lauren Alaina, Hailey Whitters, traditionalist Jake Worthington, and West Virginia’s Charles Wesley Godwin. The label is a mix of mainstream and independent artists, and like Big Loud Texas, it was founded by music contributors, namely songwriter Craig Wiseman and producer Joey Moi.
Though Big Loud is considered a mainstream label in country music due to the artists on the roster, from a business standpoint, it’s still an independent entity, meaning that it’s not owned by Sony, Warner, or Universal like pretty much every other major label in America.
Right after Miranda Lambert left Sony Nashville, rumors began to swirl that she might work with Big Loud next. Miranda wrote the song “Thought You Should Know” with Morgan Wallen after his attempted cancellation, and other signs pointed to Miranda getting cozy with the label.
But it’s worth pointing out that this Big Loud Texas announcement does not coincide with Miranda announcing she’s on the label’s roster herself. She might be, or she might be on the Big Loud label proper. It’s very likely one or the other is the case, but for the moment nothing is confirmed. For many years now, Miranda has operated her own imprint called Vanner Records in partnership with Sony, and Vanner is where she has continued to release singles since leaving Sony.
The other major implication of this deal is it means that you have a major mainstream label focusing an entire imprint on the Texas market. Though Music Row labels have signed Texas acts in the past, it’s always been a dodgy business since artists from Texas tend to want to call their own shots, and care about the commercial implications for their music second. That is why a lot of Texas and Red Dirt acts have ended up on Thirty Tigers where they enjoy more autonomy.
Thirty Tigers releases a lot more albums than a Music Row label imprint each year. An imprint usually carries around five or so artists at a time. That may be about what you could expect from Big Loud Texas to start. One of the reasons so many Texas artists have ended up on Music Row labels in the past is because Texas and Austin just can’t really compete when it comes to label infrastructure. Big Loud Texas is a big step in that direction.
But it’s also fair to point out that Big Loud seems to be struggling with what to do with artists outside of the mainstream. Charles Wesley Godwin is still one of the fastest-growing independent artists in country music, but his Big Loud debut Family Ties didn’t exactly make a big splash. It didn’t even chart in the Top 50 on the Billboard Country Albums chart, largely because Big Loud did not have physical product available for the album until a month after the initial release on September 22nd.
With independent artists, CDs and LPs are more important due to their loyal following. Meanwhile, we haven’t seen Big Loud make an attempt to put Godwin on mainstream country radio or bestow any other benefit to being signed to a Music Row label, though that might be coming. That said, Big Loud also seems to be a bit more wise about where marketing in country music is going. Instead of solely relying on radio and the conventional album cycle, they try to cultivate a more holistic strategy for artists.
Right now, there is a lot of money being made in music. Revenue across the board is way up, and labels are looking to cash in on the expanding menu of artists facilitated by streaming and social media that don’t need to be on mainstream radio to find success. Texas remains fertile ground for finding such artists in part because Texas has its own radio network, and Big Loud Texas feels like a smart move. Don’t be surprised if other labels make similar plays in the Texas/Red Dirt region in the future.
Meanwhile, Miranda Lambert continues to empire build behind her name. It will be interesting to see how she brings her 20 years of experience in the business to building a label imprint, and who ultimately gets signed to the label. She’s also always been about supporting up-and-coming and overlooked artists, and songwriters especially. Big Loud Texas will give Miranda an opportunity to continue this work in a big capacity.