November 11, 2008
Country superstar Reba McEntire has ended her 25-year association with MCA Nashville and signed with the Valory Music Co. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The move reunites 2007 Billboard Woman of the Year McEntire with Scott Borchetta, now president & CEO of Big Machine Records and the Valory Music Co. Borchetta was senior VP of promotion at MCA Nashville during most of the ’90s.
“I am thrilled to be joining the Valory team,” McEntire says. “Scott and I worked together on some of the biggest singles of my career, and I am excited to renew our partnership.”
“It is as if a day hasn’t even passed,” Borchetta adds. “The toughest thing about leaving MCA Nashville again was leaving behind this relationship that I value so much.”
The announcement comes roughly a year after the launch of Valory. The label is home to Jewel, Emerson Drive and Jimmy Wayne, among others. Sister label Big Machine is home to Taylor Swift, Trisha Yearwood and Jack Ingram, among others. Both labels are distributed by Universal Music Distribution.
McEntire’s debut single on Valory will ship to country radio in early spring 2009, with her new studio album to follow later that summer. The artist crowned her MCA tenure with a three-disc boxed set, “50 Greatest Hits,” released late last month.
Perhaps what’s most surprising about this is that Reba’s coming off of her most successful album in years, the all-genre #1 Reba Duets. This isn’t quite on the scale of Madonna’s Live Nation deal, which also encompassed touring revenues, or Garth Brooks’ ‘take the masters with you’ approach, or even the start-your-own-label path of Toby Keith. But it’s certainly huge news that one of the biggest country stars of all-time is choosing to leave her label home of 25 years, all while still at the top of her game.
And what to say of MCA, the label that was once king of kings on Music Row? Trisha Yearwood already left, and now Reba McEntire has followed her out the door. Will George Strait and Vince Gill be far behind? Can Universal’s majors get by on Sugarland alone? What if Shania Twain crunches the numbers and realizes the label group needs her far more than she needs them, especially given their spotty record at getting her on the radio?
Perhaps the entire Music Row structure truly is the Titanic, and Sony BMG has all the first-class seats.