A new independent label, SEA Records, has opened its doors in Nashville. A division of Sterling Entertainment Group, SEA has inked a distribution deal with Sony Music's RED Distribution and has hired

A new independent label, SEA Records, has opened its doors in Nashville. A division of Sterling Entertainment Group, SEA has inked a distribution deal with Sony Music's RED Distribution and has hired a small staff of mostly industry veterans. Neal McCoy has been signed as the flagship artist.

Bob Saporiti, one of Music Row's most colorful characters, came out of retirement to head the label. He is using the title "admiral." But Saporiti has chosen not to formally join the staff. He is technically on board as an exclusive consultant.

Saporiti left Warner Bros. in 2001 after a long stint there, most recently as VP/GM of global marketing.

Longtime independent promoter Skip Stevens has shuttered his firm to head SEA's promotion team. He plans to hire two regional promoters.

Veteran publicist Stephanie Green is spearheading the label's media efforts. Renee White is the head of A&R, and Alan Phillips is the in-house legal counsel.

The label's CEO and its sole financial backer is Tina Corry. Through her Nashville-based Sterling Enterprise Group (SEG), Corry achieved success consolidating and managing corporate travel budgets for major companies. SEG also operates travel industry and customer service call centers.

"We have the staff and financial backing to be very competitive with the majors," Corry says.

Unlike the majors, 20% of all profits from SEA Records will go to the Hope for Tomorrow Foundation, a charity Corry founded to help children. On Music Row, only Curb Records is known to have a similar tithing policy.

Corry says, "My vision for this company is to be a major label. I want to be a huge entertainment organization with a lot of arms. But I want to be fiscally minded and smart and sensible about how we do it.

"Right now we're taking our time and trying to be very focused and savvy and strategic, but we will have a publishing arm, possibly a studio and maybe something in concert promotion down the line."

McCoy is the label's only artist at the moment, although Corry has budgeted for two or three others in the first year. McCoy, who had a long string of hits on Atlantic Records, heads into the studio May 10 to start recording his first project for SEA. Matt Rollins will produce. The label expects to release a single this summer and the full album early next year.