2014 has been a year of great flux in country music, with some legendary successes by independent artists and new mainstream artists, and the shuffling out of other artists and the fumbling of what once were legendary, high flying careers. Here’s a run down of the five biggest winners and losers in the greater country music world in 2014.
Big Machine Records
Scott Borchetta’s gamble has paid off, and “Girl In A Country Song” is now #1 on country radio according to Mediabase. The distinction shatters a slew of dubious distinctions for the country format, and helps to slay the absolute dearth of female representation on country radio. It means that country radio has its very first female-led act to hit number one on country radio in over 2 years.
As first reported on Tuesday (12-3) and then confirmed Wednesday afternoon, President and CEO of the Big Machine Label Group Scott Borchetta has partnered with American Idol to become the show’s new “mentor.” All of this news comes in stark contrast to how Scott Borchetta felt about the show in 2010 in the aftermath of Taylor Swift’s now legendary off-key performance at the Grammy Awards.
That’s right, the Curb Records madness continues, and continues to reach for comical, if not maniacal heights. Apparently Curb Records is readying the release of a new Hank III album called “Take As Needed For Pain.” Meanwhile Curb has prepped the 10th compilation/Greatest Hits album from Tim McGraw, and has more greatest hits albums ahead for LeAnn Rimes and Rodney Atkins.
Big Machine Records, Curb Records, Eyehategod, Greatest Hits, Hank III, Hank Williams, Hank Williams III, Hank Williams Jr., Hank3, LeAnn Rimes, Mike Curb, Mo Pitney, Rodney Atkins, Take As Needed For Pain, Tim McGraw
Saving Country Music’s 2013 Album of the Year was not Jason Isbell’s breathtaking Southeastern, or Sturgill Simpson’s breakout High Top Mountain, but the comeback record from the Latin-inspired Raul Malo and The Mavericks called “In Time.” Now The Mavericks have announced that they’ve been in the studio again and will release the followup to In Time called “Mono.”
On Monday, Jason Aldean pulled his latest record Old Boots, New Dirt from Spotify—a big loss for the company from one of country’s biggest stars, and one who has set streaming records. Subsequently, Brantley Gilbert, whose 2014 release Just As I Am has been receiving surprising sales numbers, has also been pulled from Spotify. So has Justin Moore’s “Off The Beaten Path.”
Cumulus Media’s NASH Icon radio concept mixing older country music in with more contemporary songs continues to gain steam, while yet another radio format called NASH Classics is on its way, and some big signings to the label side of NASH Icon appear to be imminent. John Dickey gave the first indication that the media giant could be giving classic country music a bigger home on the radio.
No matter where you stand on it, the enigma that is Maddie & Tae’s “Girl In A Country Song” has made for grand country music theater in 2014, marking one of the most talked about musical offerings since Kacey Musgraves’ “Merry Go ‘Round.” So now the young duo has released a four-song EP, and all of a sudden a brand new set of parameters emerge.
Taylor Swift’s 1989 did not appear on Spotify upon release, though the lead single “Shake It Off” was available. Then the shocking news came down Monday that her entire discography was pulled from the Spotify network, singles and all. The impact of Taylor Swift removing her music from Spotify, especially after she just revealed herself as the biggest artist of the last decade-plus, cannot be overstated.
“This site’s called savingcountrymusic.com. Why are you talking about Taylor Swift? She’s not country. She never was. Now she’s even saying she isn’t.” Well guess what, tough titty. This is my damn website, and if I want to talk about Taylor Swift, I will. And guess what, you’ll probably read about it.
1989, Adele, Alan Jackson, Big Machine Records, Enya, Fun, Garth Brooks, Imogen Heap, Jack Antonoff, Lorde, Max Martin, Meghan Trainor, Motley Crue, Nathan Chapman, Nelly Furtado, OneRepublic, Review, Ryan Tedder, Shellback, Taylor Swift
Nashville’s and country music’s most influential record label is reportedly getting ready to be put up for sale according to a new report, and Taylor Swift’s 1989 album release and pending contract situation could have a big impact on it. Despite being a big label with many famous artist and significant subsidiaries, the Big Machine Label Group remains independently owned, operating through distribution deals.
1989, Big Machine Label Group, Big Machine Records, Florida Georgia Line, Justin Moore, Rascal Flatts, Reba McEntire, Red, Scott Borchetta, Sony, Taylor Swift, The Band Perry, Tim McGraw, Toby Keith, Universal Music Group
Tuesday morning, Reba McEntire appeared on Cumulus Media’s NASH-branded country music flagship broadcast America’s Morning Show to make a big announcement, and as speculated upon in the days before, Reba told the world she was the inaugural signee with Scott Borchetta’s and Cumulus Media’s joint record label NASH Icon.
Oh the hilarity country music can sometimes be a party to. Pop country super duo Florida Georgia Line is getting ready to release their second album Anything Goes next week through Country Music Antichrist Scott Borchetta’s Big Machine record label, and this occasion lands them on this week’s cover of Billboard Magazine.
I write these words knowing that many will roll up to this Tim McGraw dissertation looking for a bowl of blood as recompense for the emotional direst recent Tim McGraw singles such as “Truck Yeah” have waged on the mental state of many innocent country music fans. But the simple truth is Tim McGraw’s new album ‘Sundown Heaven Town’ deserves to be spared the most sinister strokes from the poison pen.
On Friday the duo stopped by The Late Show with David Letterman for a performance of “Girl In A Country Song,” and Letterman announced on the show that their debut EP will be released through Big Machine’s Dot imprint on November 4th. Unfortunately though, their performance did not live up to the hype this song has been receiving.
As yet another great example of how the girls of country are getting the whole “Anti Bro-Country” thing completely wrong, singer Meghan Linsey formerly of the Big Machine-signed and now defunct singing duo Steel Magnolia, has submitted her own Anti Bro offering up for the public’s listening pleasure, or displeasure as the case may be.
“What will NASH Icon be, and will it make a significant improvement to country radio?” This has been the question on the mind of many country music fans ever since NASH Icon was announced. Now that there are actually radio stations broadcasting the new NASH Icon format, we can listen in and hear just exactly what NASH Icon is.
Alabama, Alan Jackson, Big Machine Records, Chase Rice, Cole Swindell, Cumulus Media, Diamond Rio, Dierks Bentley, Doug Stone, Dwight Yoakam, Florida Georgia Line, Garth Brooks, John Dickey, Kacey Musgraves, Lee Ann Womack, Mark Chesnutt, Merle Haggard, NASH, NASH Icon, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Old Crow Medicine Show, playlist, Ricochet, Sturgill Simpson, Tracy Byrd, Vince Gill
Ever since the partnership between radio owner Cumulus Media and the Big Machine Label Group called NASH Icon was proposed, the big question has been if it will it result in the country music radio format splitting in two. It is time for country to fragment,” John Dickey said plainly on the conference call, while offering more detailed insight than ever into exactly what NASH Icon will look like.
Big Machine Records, Blake Shelton, Clear Channel, Cumulus Media, Florida Georgia Line, Garth Brooks, George Strait, John Dickey, Luke Bryan, Merle Haggard, NASH, NASH Icon, Randy Travis, Willie Nelson
Sunny Sweeney is an east Texas girl at her core, and no matter what Nashville does, it’s never possible to completely quiet those jangling spurs or smooth out that accent. She very much fits that mold of the Texas country artist that got big enough to be recognized by Music Row, but always felt just a little too authentic to do much more than experience that world from the outside looking in.
Big Machine Records, Jason Isbell, Kacey Musgraves, Lucinda Williams, Miranda Lambert, Provoked, Randy Weeks, Review, Scott Borchetta, Sturgill Simpson, Sunny Sweeney, Taylor Swift, Thirty Tigers, Will Hoge
Though Taylor Swift leaving country music could very much be seen as a victory from the Saving Country Music perspective, to the country music industry perspective, they just lost this generations biggest music star, and an money-making powerhouse. And the cultural and economic impact of this development cannot be overstated.
Cumulus Media officially launched their “NASH Icon” brand to radio on Friday (8-15), changing two Georgia radio stations over to the new format that favors country music released from a 25-year “classic” period. Atlanta’s Oldies 98.9 W255CJ has changed over to NASH Icon 98.9, and Sports Radio 102.1 in Savannah will now be known as NASH Icon 102.1.
In an August 7th article in The Chicago Tribune, Brian Kelley of Florida Georgia Line was characterized as being “unhappy” about Maddie & Tae’s debut single “Girl In A Country Song”. Now, on-air personality Broadway of Country 92.5’s Electric Barnyard Show has interviewed Maddie & Tae, and asked them directly about Brian Kelley’s comments.
One of the big stories involving the back end of country music in 2014 has been the potential formation of a brand new radio format to give a home to the older artists quickly being shuffled off of mainstream radio in the movement towards youth. The big question that remains is how the new format for older country music could take shape.
So we now know who the big winner was for the Garth sweepstakes. But who was the biggest loser? That is certainly what you could call Scott Borchetta’s Big Machine Records in the situation. Why? Because they had the biggest stake in the Garth sweepstakes, because of Big Machine’s joint venture with the radio world’s Cumulus Media called NASH Icons.