On Miranda Lambert Leaving Sony Nashville After 20 Years
It’s the time of year in the National Football League for free agency, where some of your favorite players are signing with new teams, being let go by old ones, and the decks are being reshuffled in ways that sometimes can boggle the mind. Can you even imagine Aaron Rogers in a New York Jets uniform, or Ezekiel Elliot playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers?
Then here comes Miranda Lambert announcing that she’s leaving Sony Records Nashville—the team she’s been on for the entire 20 years of her career. She made the announcement amid a montage of the album covers that she’s released through the label. According to sources, the announcement was a complete shock to the Sony folks on Music Row.
“Together we have released albums that allowed me to share my story with the world, and we’ve reached heights I’d never even dreamed were possible,” Lambert said. “I’m so thankful for our time together and everything they made possible for me, yet I wouldn’t be true to myself if I wasn’t constantly looking for the next challenge and a new way to stretch my creativity.”
Miranda Lambert also made the announcement on March 15th. This is the same day that she released her debut album Kerosene in 2005. The title track of that album is the one about giving up, drenching everything in accelerant, and burning it all down. Miranda Lambert is now officially a free agent.
Many hypotheses are swirling about why Miranda Lambert made this move. Some think it may have to do with trying to secure more creative control. Perhaps that is the case, but Miranda launched her own imprint on Sony called Vanner Records in 2016, which preceded the release of what many consider her most critically-acclaimed work, the double album The Weight of These Wings. Miranda has regularly talked about how her career has progressed on her terms.
When you consider things like how Miranda has always been able to champion her favorite songwriters, release side projects and passion projects like her work with the Pistol Annies and her recent collaboration with Jack Ingram and Jon Randall on The Marfa Tapes, it’s hard to not conclude that Sony has given her latitude, at least for the most part. Miranda Lambert has always been her own woman. But there are always trappings working with a major label.
Similar to Dierks Bentley, Miranda Lambert has also been one of those mainstream artist that delineates herself from most mainstream contributors by following her heart, sometimes to the detriment of her commercial appeal or success, while then sliding right back into the good graces of the industry with a radio friendly single.
The problem is, radio has not always been very friendly back to Miranda. In some respects, Miranda Lambert is the most successfully unsuccessful artist in modern country, or maybe in country music history. She’s the most awarded artist in ACM Awards history, and has 13 CMA Awards on top of that, including seven for Female Artist of the Year.
But all of that comes with only three #1 songs—something many nondescript males in the genre get for rolling out of bed in the morning.
So is that lack of radio support the reason that Miranda Lambert is leaving Sony? After all, in mainstream country, label support behind radio singles is one of the most instrumental roles they play. Perhaps that’s the catalyst, but it remains inconclusive if radio and Miranda Lambert would have gotten along even on a different label. Miranda’s career came around at the wrong time as a woman to compete for radio play since it coincided with the Bro-Country era.
If it’s not Miranda Lambert’s radio woes, what is the reason? Sorry, but I don’t have a super secret source that can answer that question conclusively. If Miranda Lambert is smart (and she usually is about these things), she’ll wait to spill the beans when she’s looking to promote a new record to help create buzz around it.
This leads to the next question: Where might Miranda land? Let’s face it, it’s not like Lambert’s albums are flying off the shelves these days, or streaming like crazy. But she’s no slouch either, and having Miranda Lambert on your roster would be a big get for a label, including one who may be looking to attract younger talent, and having a proven veteran on the roster like Miranda Lambert might lure some in.
Maybe Big Loud or BBR would be willing to work with Miranda. Their rosters have done well lately working with artists that don’t exactly fit the mainstream mold, but can ultimately break out when the right strategy is put behind them. Miranda Lambert may consider someone like Thirty Tigers in the minor leagues, but if creative control and a greater chunk of the profits is what she’s after, this would be the smartest option, or perhaps the company’s more mainstream offshoot Triple Tigers, which is a partnership between Sony and Thirty Tigers.
Wherever Miranda Lambert lands, she will land on her feet, because she’s Miranda Lambert. She’s been a survivor throughout her career. But make no mistake, this is momentous, like Aaron Rogers moving on from the Green Bay Packers. It’s the end of an era, and it’s an era where Miranda Lambert has dominated as a country music female. It will be interesting to see what the new era has in store.
March 17, 2023 @ 9:39 am
I was a freshman in college and taking a music lecture course, and for extra credit we were told we could attend a lecture in town by Mark Wright, the EVP of Sony Nashville. That night he said, “I want to share with you a song from an artist who we think is going to be the next big thing.” He played “Kerosene.”
I think about that night a lot when I think about Miranda Lambert. I’m sure music executives have said the same thing several times about an artist who flamed out. But on that night, talking about that artist, he hit it out of the park.
March 17, 2023 @ 9:49 am
Bloodshot, so she can tour with the Waco Brothers?
March 17, 2023 @ 9:58 am
Love this line: But all of that comes with only three #1 songs—something many nondescript males in the genre get for rolling out of bed in the morning.
(Sadly, so true)
March 17, 2023 @ 10:11 am
The number of 1# songs now doesn’t seem to correspond with financial success. Miranda Lambert’s net worth is around 60 million. Morgan Wallen’s is around 5 million.
Also country radio is predominately targeting younger women as it’s main demographic. Sounds like a bunch of sexists to me since they aren’t listening to female artists most
March 17, 2023 @ 11:41 am
She is very talented, but deep down she is not a good person. She is a home wrecker and has done many vindictive things to people. Look it up, i am not going to list the crap she has gotten away with.
March 17, 2023 @ 8:35 pm
Bull crap, let’s blame her and not the low life men.
March 17, 2023 @ 9:14 pm
Oh please. Share your enlightenment 🙄
March 18, 2023 @ 11:59 am
Yes, she cheated on Blake, but as for the all the other crap you claim she has done, you’re full of it. She’s charitable and a huge animal rights advocate.
March 18, 2023 @ 4:29 pm
You all seem to be out of the loop on the trail of destruction she has left. I wasn’t even talking about Blake, he is only a minor victim of her destruction.
March 17, 2023 @ 10:09 am
No female country albums are flying off the shelves sadly. In a year that saw Carrie, Maren, Kelsea, Lainey and Ashley release projects… Miranda’s sold the best.
March 17, 2023 @ 2:39 pm
The problem is she sold the best from those you listed but it still wasn’t that great. The Marfa Tapes didn’t make the top 100 year end in 2021. Palomino did but wasn’t in top 20. And some songs stream well but many don’t. I don’t know how any artist can make it in the streaming world. And as always tastes among the buying audience changes. And despite the she (or any artist really)is about art doesn’t really make sense. It’s a business and it’s about money. She’s had the accolades. It’s time for others. She should do what she really wanted to do and be full time songwriter.
March 17, 2023 @ 10:17 am
She’s about to turn 40 and I think reevaluating what she wants the rest of her career to look like through the finish line. I think this will be a very positive change for her.
March 17, 2023 @ 10:35 am
I hated her radio singles. I hated her for BEING a modern country artist in an era when modern country artists were ruining country music
Also she was married to the guy who said old farts and jackasses so she must have been complicit in hating country music
But… maybe I’ll never really like her
But I’ve grown to tolerate her as … not part of the problem
If she was the worst , we’d be better off
So maybe I’m growing, maybe the industry is deteriorating
Hard to believe she’s been a part of country for two decades
It still feels like she’s only a couple years into this
March 18, 2023 @ 7:32 am
Miranda wouldn’t have half the success she’s had without being married to “ the guy” she was married to. That’s just the truth because Miranda’s talent is mediocre at best. That “ guy” is still selling out 20,000 seat large arenas on tour whereas Miranda can’t even sell out a 4,000 seat venue in Las Vegas. That “guy” is worth we’ll over 100 million and married to international music icon Gwen Stefani so he sure did something right. The “guy” can actually sing and has an amazing voice and millions of fans. If you’re going to take the “guy’s ” comments made years ago that were inaccurate and taken out of context and meaningless than be more current and discuss MW’s controversial comments.
March 18, 2023 @ 8:21 am
March 20, 2023 @ 4:22 pm
Blake Shelton promoted himself through a nationally acclaimed reality tv singing competition show, please….. there is a difference in their trajectories and career choices. To act like he gained that following and success on the output of his music alone is not even remotely accurate. If her talent is mediocre at best, than she sure did a lot with her mediocrity and other endeavors (WITHOUT a nationally syndicated show and without marrying an “icon”) at $60+ million…
March 20, 2023 @ 7:41 pm
Actually they just updated Blake’s net worth. His net worth is over 120 million. His wife Gwen’s net worth is over 160 million. So together they’re worth almost 300 million. Blake’s doing fine.
March 18, 2023 @ 12:02 pm
What are you even talking about? Nonsense about Blake too.
March 17, 2023 @ 10:54 am
My guess is she’ll do a Garth, setting up Mutt Nation Records and sign, eg, Hemby to a deal. She’s smart and she doesn’t need a label, or radio really.
March 17, 2023 @ 11:24 am
Man I believe she will end up on Big Loud. She’s not a Garth. She doesn’t have that money. And Sony had deep pockets and supported and promoted her. I recall an interview with her when she put pot WOTW. She and Kraft met with the Sony power at be and said she wanted time to write the album and they said go for it.. They gave her “creative freedom “. And it seems Sony was surprised by this announcement. I can’t imagine Kraft wouldn’t have been involved in this decision and at least had a discussion with them. But who knows. A lot of country insiders seemed surprised.
March 17, 2023 @ 11:00 am
Is it possible to take her imprint and just move it or use it independently? No clue how that works.
March 17, 2023 @ 11:48 am
That is possible. It depends on the particulars of her Vanner Records deal with Sony. But that’s one of the reasons I mentioned Thirty Tigers. If she wanted to start her own label, or basically be independent, partnering with Thirty Tigers would be one way to go. And since Thirty Tigers has a relationship with Sony through their distribution and Triple Tigers, there is a connection there. I’m just spitballing though. Maybe she starts her own label to sign the songwriters she likes.
March 17, 2023 @ 11:28 am
“In some respects, Miranda Lambert is the most successfully unsuccessful artist in modern country, or maybe in country music history.”
No truer words have ever been spoken. She seems to have more awards than appeal.
She never had a great appeal to me, but for reasons I cannot put my finger on. For me persoanlly, there is just something, but I do not know what that something is. And it is maddening.
March 17, 2023 @ 12:32 pm
“more awards than appeal” … She’s got a 2 decade career with 7 #1 country albums and another pair of #1 albums with her side project featuring 2 essentially unknown artists 😂 Her appeal has been just fine with her actual fans, which are mostly women so that probably explains your feelings. In this landscape I don’t see any new country females being able to accomplish much like Carrie and Miranda have managed to while maintaining their longevity also. It’s a different time.
March 17, 2023 @ 11:43 am
I respectfully disagree. She’s more Jay Joyce than Joey Moi; as you know Jay produced Weight of These Wings. I wonder if she just wants time away from the treadmill of the big leagues.
March 17, 2023 @ 12:45 pm
Frank Liddell produced WotW. You’re thinking of Wildcard. But Frank Liddell is also not Joey Moi. On the other hand she’s written with Morgan Wallen and Jelly Roll recently, so who knows?
March 17, 2023 @ 1:55 pm
She also had a duet with Luke Combs on his last album, yet she’s leaving Sony while he’s staying. That said, Big Loud seems a logical landing spot for her.
March 17, 2023 @ 12:08 pm
Cody Jinks started his own label and he is from Texas… Miranda seems proud of the fact she’s from Texas. I wonder…
I love her cover of The Way I Am…
March 17, 2023 @ 12:09 pm
“…momentous, like Aaron Rogers moving on from the Green Bay Packers”
I’ll call that a bit of hyperbole.
Aaron Rodgers’–or any athlete’s team–is front and center every second that he performs. And, in fact, most of an athlete’s fans are fans of the team, first, and support the athlete for what he does for the team. Most of Aaron Rodgers’ fans are Packers’ fans, first, though he’s no doubt gained some personal fans over a long career. And most will continue to root for Green Bay–not the NYJ–if he leaves.
I don’t think many–or any–of Miranda Lambert’s fans are fans of Sony Records first, or care what label issues her recordings. I’d guess that in this era of streaming and no physical recorded product, many of her fans, who listen to her music or attend her concerts, don’t even KNOW what recording “team” she’s on. And they won’t care a whit if she switches.
March 17, 2023 @ 12:24 pm
Well I doubt she is going to be flipping burgers in her hometown. I’m pretty sure her Scrooge McDuck money pit will probably only grow.
March 17, 2023 @ 12:42 pm
“I’m giving up on Sony, ’cause Sony’s given up on me.”
March 17, 2023 @ 7:33 pm
You leave home..You move on
March 17, 2023 @ 1:46 pm
Just look to Miranda who stated she wants ownership of her masters. She literally liked a comment under this post that said as such. She also liked a comment “knowing your worth”. I have a feeling that Sony either didn’t offer or agree to it. I feel she has earned the right and hope she goes the independent route.
March 17, 2023 @ 2:09 pm
I’m no expert on the business side of music, but I wonder if there’s any correlation re her Vegas residency. You look at how hard most country artists have worked, even the legends of legends, and maybe she’s just reached a rare (for a country singer) level where she can just do what she wants?
March 17, 2023 @ 4:20 pm
I don’t think Sony really cared if Miranda stayed or not. Sony has put a lot of money on promotion and marketing for her in the past and that’s just not going to happen anymore. Not to mention Sony advocating for all her cm awards. Miranda’s star is just not as big as it was 10 years ago even though I’m sure she thinks it is. Miranda has few hit songs after years in cm and her music doesn’t stream well. Sony actually has cm artists that make money for them like Luke Combs and Kane Brown. I can’t see any major labels that will be anxious to sign her as many in the cm industry haven’t had positive interactions with her. Miranda might just end up on an independent label.
March 17, 2023 @ 4:27 pm
Let’s cut to the chase. She left to go where she will get more money.
No need for the deep analysis. Forget the speculation about “artistic freedom” or any other purported “reason.” In the music industry it’s ALWAYS about the money.
March 17, 2023 @ 5:32 pm
That’s kind of silly.
Why are you a Country Fan if you think it’s ONLY about money?
There are lots of instances in music, art, like in any other avocation where artists, performers, writers et al have turned down projects and taken on others for reasons apart from, and opposite from money.
March 17, 2023 @ 5:53 pm
I’m a fan of the music Not the music business.
No one has ever signed a recording contract that was not all about the money. This discussion was about Miranda’s recording contract not her other endeavors.
March 17, 2023 @ 7:53 pm
Again, your problem is that you make absolute statements about things that you couldn’t possibly know.
The whole story about the outlaw movment is about artists who fought for and won creative control of their own music.
Yet you purport to know that that’s all lies or made-up nonsense–that it was never about anything except money.
March 18, 2023 @ 7:20 am
My comment was not about the outlaw movement or creative control. It was about a very successful, established artist leaving her long-time record label and going elsewhere. Doubtful that after 20 years Sony Nashville was stifling her creativity.
She left for a bigger payday.
March 17, 2023 @ 5:56 pm
I am not encouraged by this. Yes, Miranda deserved more radio success than she has gotten, but Sony has always made sure the critics heard her and they promoted the hell out of her
Maybe she sees Laney and Carly and their wild radio success and she wants that.
I hope I am wrong, but think she is making a mistake.
March 17, 2023 @ 5:57 pm
By the way, I saw this on MSM early this morning, but wouldn’t form an opinion until I read what Trig had to say.
March 17, 2023 @ 11:35 pm
Maybe she just realized that, in this era of diminished income from record sales across the board, she can no longer afford to give a major label its pound of flesh. She could release her next record on Bandcamp, sell a quarter the amount and make twice the money.
March 18, 2023 @ 5:46 am
I’m among those that felt The Weight of These Wings was by far her best album, yet she seemed to be upset at its lack of radio success. Her albums since have gone even more in a pop country direction minus the Marfa release. Don’t know where Miranda is headed next, but her run as one of the top country artists is likey more behind her than ahead. Would love to see her move to a more independent route and produce albums worthy of her talent instead of chasing a radio dream that hasn’t embraced her as she deserves anyway.
Either way, good luck to her.
March 18, 2023 @ 8:02 am
Who? Never heard of her.
March 19, 2023 @ 12:23 am
I love Miranda! Easily my favorite mainstream artist and one of my favorite artists period. I generally prefer the older more traditional artists. I love her style 90% of the time and always look forward to her new music. I’m sure she’ll do great doing whatever she chooses to do music wise. Not sure why so many commenters on here and Facebook seem to be negative towards her or why Blake always needs mentioned. I’ve never cared for his music overall. He does have a great voice and could put out good material if he wanted to. I’ve bought every album she’s ever released. The only way I would buy a Blake Shelton album is if he did an album of Earl Thomas Conley covers. I’d pre-order that!
March 19, 2023 @ 4:59 am
She was never that good. She only looked better because radio country from 2010 onwards became a swamp of hacks.
And don’t forget that she was a willing participant in “Boys Round Here” and sang one of the dumbest songs ever “Fastest Girl in Town.”
March 19, 2023 @ 9:23 am
I’ve always being suspicious of Sony especially in the last few years losing most of their big names and now this. Yes these older acts aren’t selling like before but most of these new acts are selling even worse. Other than their singles doing well at radio and streaming, their albums as a whole are a pile of hot mess.
I wish her well though (although at this point I won’t be surprised if she begins getting fewer nominations at CMA and ACM).
March 19, 2023 @ 4:39 pm
Thanks for the coverage, Trigg. People can say what they want, but Miranda is a giant in country music. She’s paved the way all kinds of artists. Looking forward to whatever’s next. Anyone know why she isn’t an Opry member?
March 20, 2023 @ 4:11 pm
Years ago she said she had no interest in being an Opry member. She tried to back track on that statement recently but she hasn’t performed there in years. I imagine Mother Marion will try and finagle. Seems Lambert is looking for another label with deep pockets (HDD). She’s just not bringing in the money for these labels.
Southern Man, Country Fan, and Stuck Somewhere Else
March 20, 2023 @ 9:44 am
I’m actually quite excited to hear this news! As a fan, I’ve always thought that Miranda was a quality modern country (i.e. *not* pop-country, overall, though she has definitely released poppy songs at times) artist with a “traditional country” heart, and more than a bit of her material, over the years, has clearly shown that heart, at least to my ears. In any event, for Miranda to make such a big move in leaving Sony at this point, I tend to think that she must have had fairly serious reasons, though I don’t pretend to know exactly what they are. I’ll be very interested to see where she goes, label-wise, and and to hear how her music does, or does not, change.
I am a bit surprised to see so many negative comments here about her. Admittedly, I don’t always keep up with gossip and/or feuds in the country music world, and I realize that there is a certain amount of subjectivity to these things, but for my money, Miranda has one of the great country singing voices, period. I *seriously love* her singing voice, and I’m a fan of all the historical country greats, from Hank, Sr. to Patsy Cline to George and Merle, and on and on, through the decades. Miranda has a great country voice that, to me, can stand with the other greats, both male and female. She has also, to me, just always seemed like a down-home, down-to-earth person whom I could have a beer with, and/or talk about life and have a good laugh, or a good cry. Of course, I don’t actually know her, so maybe I’m completely wrong in my perception of her as a human being, and she’s a mean person– but all I can say is, I was born and raised in Alabama, and lived there for the first twenty-seven years of my life, and Miranda reminds me of the best of the down-home, unpretentious, Southern women that I grew up around, and went to school with, and hung out with, and had great times with, and that I’ve genuinely missed so much, for many years now, living outside of the South, largely against my wishes, but life takes us where it will! Anyway, if you happen to be reading the comments here, Miranda, thanks so much for all of the great music so far, and I can’t wait to hear more!
March 26, 2023 @ 8:04 pm
Miranda is in a position where she does not need Sony Records. She has enough money, a strong fan base, respected songwriting partners and still in demand as a collaborator. I’m hoping for more music that resembles “The Marfa Tapes”.