Scott Borchetta, left, of Big Machine Label Group announces the signing of Tim McGraw at a press conference Monday at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville. / STEVEN S. HARMAN / THE TENNESSEAN
- THE TENNESSEAN
What began as a bitter legal dispute between two of Nashville's music industry heavyweights - singer Tim McGraw and music mogul Mike Curb - has widened to encompass one more power player.
Big Machine Label Group, the company that launched Taylor Swift's career, has been pulled into the legal fray between McGraw and Curb Records.
Curb Records signed McGraw as an unknown 20 years ago. In May, in the middle of his contract dispute with Curb, the now superstar McGraw jumped over to Big Machine. It's a company that has made a name for itself in recent years as an innovator in the music world, with CEO Scott Borchetta as its oversized personality, much the same way that Mike Curb was regarded 50 years ago when he launched the highly successful Curb Records in Nashville.
And now, neither company is pulling any punches in what has become a high- stakes battle over one of Nashville's biggest musical properties - Tim McGraw's musical future. Potentially millions of dollars in McGraw's future music revenues are at stake.
"The stakes are huge primarily for Tim McGraw," said Paul Allen, associate professor of music business at Middle Tennessee State University. "Scott Borchetta has a reputation for taking artists who have a lot of light left in their careers and he is likely to make a lot of money for everyone. That's key for McGraw. But Curb doesn't want to leave any money on the table."
The legal saga first got under way in May 2011, when Curb Records sued Tim McGraw for breach of contract. McGraw had chafed publicly at his contract with Curb for years, at one point comparing it to "indentured servitude."
McGraw claimed that every time he tried to fulfill the terms of his contract by turning in a required album, Curb would release a greatest hits compilation and invoke a contract provision requiring a waiting period between albums, artificially keeping McGraw on contract for many extra years.