Veteran Nashville music executive John Grady has been named the president of I.R.S. Nashville, a new label based on the imprint started 34 years ago and revived by EMI two years ago. Grady will continue serving as partner at Crush Management.
I.R.S. Nashville was formed by Caroline, a division of Capital Music Group, and will provide its artists with A&R and marketing support. Caroline will primarily provide commercial support, radio promotion and licensing resources.
Grady tells Billboard I.R.S. Nashville won't be a typical Nashville label.
"As it evolves it will be a traditional record company in 2014,” he says. “It may not have all the accoutrements of a Nashville country label or a major pop label, but it will be built on the model that exists in 2014."
That model is based on there no longer being a rulebook for record labels. "You have to create your own rulebook to exist," Grady says.
I.R.S. Nashville does not yet have a staff or an office, and Grady doesn't have a goal for number of releases each year ("as many as we can do well," he notes.). The initial artist signed to I.R.S. Nashville is Crush Management client Striking Matches, a pair of former Vanderbilt University students who Grady says "may be as talented as anybody I've ever signed."
The label will also release a posthumous album by Cowboy Jack Clement, who died in August. Grady calls Clement "the epitome of an I.R.S. artist." The yet-to-be-named album was produced by Dave Ferguson and executive produced by T Bone Burnett, and features Vince Gill, John Prine and Emmylou Harris.
I.R.S. Records was revived in 2009 as a joint venture between EMI Music North America and Crush Management. The label -- originally launched in 1979 by Miles Copeland III, Jay Boberg and Carl Grasso -- has released records by R.E.M., the Go-Gos, the English Beat and Concrete Blonde, among others. The revived I.R.S. released music by Chiddy Bang and Foxy Shazam but had been dismantled as Universal Music Group acquired EMI Music, Grady says.
Grady opened the Crush Management office in Nashville in 2011. He became president of Sony Music Nashville in 2003. After leaving Sony in 2006 he became a partner in Red Light Management in 2007 and was briefly president of Borman Entertainment's Nashville operations from 2009 to 2010. He is a past president of the Academy of Country Music and is currently a Trustee of the Country Music Hall of Fame.