Sign up for newsletter
 

The new kids in town

Country Standard Time Editorial, May 2001

One trend that seems to be on the increase is the advent of new country music labels in Nashville.

That should come as no surprise given the continuing downturn in the record industry where artists are dropped as quick as their latest song or album fails to dent the charts (this is not only true of country) and labels fold or merge.

When the latter happens, the typical result is that new folks run the companies and decide who stays and who goes. That is the nature of the beast.

That has left artists like Loretta Lynn, Randy Travis, Merle Haggard, Radney Foster, Jim Lauderdale and a slew of others without a major label.

Some have gone to major indies, like Sugar Hill and Rounder. DreamWorks is by far the most successful new major label as other majors fell on hard times.

But now what seems to be happening is even more labels forming. In addition to Audium, which has Lynn, The Tractors and others, are brand new outfits like RMG (Eddy Raven), DualTone (Lauderdale and Foster) and perhaps the most active one, Relentless (Travis, Haggard's gospel albums, Asleep at the Wheel and more).

A non-Nashville label, Slewfoot in Missouri, has been signing edgier acts, putting out high quality music with their first release the Domino Kings.

The timing may be right for the new labels in Nashville. Many of these acts are not going to burn up the radio waves, but the labels are figuring out ways to make money without that and platinum albums.

The public has been speaking with its ears and dollars or lack thereof when it comes to country. With the right music and marketing know-how, the new kids may be the harbinger of brighter days.