(Photo: Danny Clinch)
There are a lot of places in Music City to come together on a deal. It could be a boardroom, an attorney’s office, or even the posh Palm Restaurant downtown. For Tim McGraw and Scott Borchetta, who announced Tim’s signing to the Big Machine label Monday morning, the agreement happened at an unlikely place — Nashville’s Greyhound Bus station. He told reporters that he had been there before.
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“I came to Nashville 23 years ago on a Greyhound Bus,” he recalls, adding that it was a momentous day in Music City history. “I remember that day because it was the day that Keith Whitley died,” he recalled. So, when it came time to seal the deal on the Big Machine deal, he could think of no better place.
“So, on May 9 of this year, I met with Scott at the Greyhound Bus Station in Nashville. Once again, I felt that excitement of not knowing what was in the future. ”
The singer has already cut about 20 sides for his debut for the label (which Curb Records, McGraw’s label throughout his career, asserts that it owns as part of its ongoing legal dispute with the singer), and he says the excitement is very much there. “It feels like we are riding a wave right now. We can’t wait for you to hear the new music,” he said, quipping that, “You can still get a record deal and be over thirty years old in Nashville.”
Of his new label head, McGraw had deep words of praise. “Scott is one of the best music guys in this business. I’ve watched him for a while. He’s got passion, creativity. He loves music. He loves his artists. He’s the kind of guy I want to be in business with.”
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The signing with Big Machine reunites McGraw with the Borchetta family. It was Scott’s father, Mike, who inked Tim to a deal with Curb over two decades ago. Starting with 1994’s “Indian Outlaw,” McGraw has scanned over 40 million in U.S. Sales, and has placed 43 singles into the top ten on the Billboard singles chart, including “Better Than I Used To Be,” which is No. 7 this week on the charts. The track appears on his final Curb disc, “Emotional Traffic,” released in January.
The move might have come as a surprise to some, as many thought Tim would open his own label after his deal with Curb came to an end. He admitted that it did cross his mind, but the chance to work with one of Nashville’s most dynamic executives was too much to pass up. “I think the thing about talking with Scott and putting this deal together was having the freedom and the ability to all sorts of thing — not only as an artist, but also for the fans. They will benefit from this because they are going to get a lot of different music in a lot of different ways.”
For his part, Borchetta can’t wait to start promoting the new music. “It’s going to be sooner than later. He’s twenty songs in to some of the most amazing music I’ve ever heard. It’s going to take a nation of millions to hold us back. It’s awesome to add Tim to the crew. He’s so excited and energized about what’s going on. It’s going to be an extraordinary partnership. We can’t wait to get started.”
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Borchetta promises that McGraw’s success — and happiness will be a priority at Big Machine. “Tim McGraw is front and center here. With our artists, it’s about them – not about us. It’s about his vision and his partnership. He’s going to have a very defined say in how his music is presented, which he didn’t have at the end of his last deal.”
The day at the Greyhound station will forever be one that stands out in Borchetta’s memory. “It wasn’t a per-meditated event,” he told Billboard. “They had come back from vacation, and he called and said ‘This is what I want to do.’ So, Faith and the kids pop out, and everybody is wearing t-shirts and jeans. It was just one of those magical moments. That’s the kind of creativity he’s bringing to us, and that’s the kind of creativity I encourage. He’s got a wild ass of a partner now, so he better be careful what he wishes for, because we’ll just do it.”
For McGraw, it seems like a new beginning. “We’re just getting started. There’s a lot more ahead me than behind me. I look forward to doing this for another twenty years.”