In any career, change is inevitable. But, in the case of Rascal Flatts' Jay DeMarcus, it can be quite positive. The talented singer / musician / producer / writer recently inked a new worldwide publishing deal with BMG Chrysalis after a successful 13-year run with Sony-ATV.
"I loved my time over there," he told Billboard "but as BMG started to put their new team together, the place took on a new look. The team they put together was very impressive. I knew most of the people over there. Sara Johnson and I had a close working relationship for a long time working on various projects. I always loved her passion for songwriting and for her writers. She's always had such great ears."
DeMarcus started to feel an excitement he hadn't felt in years. "It just felt like it was time for a new start and an injection of some new energy."
Also important to the singer was the fact that Kos Weaver had joined the company as EVP, which made his decision even easier. For his part, Weaver says it's a two-way street. "With his high caliber of talent and numerous accomplishments, we are fortunate to welcome Jay to the BMG family. In addition to being an insanely gifted writer, musician and producer, he is also an overall great guy."
He is grateful to Sony for signing him over a decade ago, but thinks change can re-light one's fire, preventing you from getting stagnant. "I think it happens in everyone's career – if you stay at one place for too long and you kind of coast along, you have a tendency to get complacent. I feel like that on my behalf, there was some of that, being at Sony for so long. Signing with BMG and having new people that are excited about working with me has motivated me to write more and up my game a little bit."
How has the songwriting business changed since Rascal Flatts hit in 2000? "It's harder to get cuts than it's ever been," he confesses. "It hasn't changed in principle. It's still getting in a room, and carving away at something until you find that magic. There's a lot more people doing it – a lot of fresh, young writers coming to town every day. The competition is extremely heavy. I'm loving getting to write with some of the young writers that are coming to town and learning every day. You learn something every time you get in a room with somebody."
He says that having name recognition doesn't automatically stamp your hit passport as a songwriter or a performer. "You're not guaranteed a hit because you've had one. I am very grateful that they are excited to have me. I know I'm excited to be there. I can't wait to see what the future holds. I'm looking forward to making writing a bigger emphasis over the next few years of my life. I love to write, and that's one of the thing I love about this business. I'm thrilled to be around a bunch of people that respect the art and have great love and passion for their writers."
Speaking of Rascal Flatts, Billboard asked him about the possibility of new music. "We're getting close," he says. "We're finishing up some music right now. We hope to have a new single out by the end of the month, and a new album out in the first quarter. We're getting some of the first mixes back that we've done with Howard Benson, and it's really exciting stuff. I'm thrilled with the new music that we're making. I'm finishing vocals up with Gary in the next few weeks or so on the stuff that I've been able to produce for us. I'm very thrilled about that opportunity as well."
It's not the first time DeMarcus has sat behind the producers' chair. He has worked on projects by artists such as Chicago, Michael English, Jason Crabb, and Jo Dee Messina.