Big Machine Label Group
POWER MOVE: Reaching a direct royalty deal with Clear Channel could change the U.S. label/radio landscape forever.
THE RUNDOWN: It’s been another groundbreaking year for Scott Borchetta and his country music company, which moved to swanky new offices in Nashville recently. Thanks in part to Big Machine’s efforts, Taylor Swift’s Red became the year’s second-biggest-selling album, with more than 3.1 million units moved in 2012, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The carefully coordinated, multimillion-dollar marketing campaign, with retail partners ranging from Target to Walgreens, was almost a perfect case study on how to pitch a blockbuster album in the 21st century.
It hasn’t just been all about Swift. Borchetta highlights another potentially big year in 2013 for label acts the Band Perry, Brantley Gilbert and Florida Georgia Line, as well as for Tim McGraw, the veteran superstar who was signed in 2012 after a two-decade run at Curb Records.
Even so, Borchetta, who founded Big Machine Label Group just eight years ago, doesn’t cite having the top-selling country album as his finest achievement last year. Instead, he’s beaming over becoming the first company to sign a direct performance royalty deal with the United States’ biggest radio group, Clear Channel. “It’s something we’re proud about, because people have been trying for decades to get it done. It creates new revenue to invest in new artists.” That deal was followed by an arrangement with fellow radio giant Entercom.
As a small, albeit successful, indie label, it could be risky for Big Machine to be the face for upheaval, challenging the entrenched ways that labels and radio have always worked together. But Borchetta believes those kinds of moves are exactly what the music industry needs: more risk-taking.
Scott Borchetta photo by Robby Klein