News: Equity Music Group Calls It Quits

clint_blackFrom CMT:

Equity Music, the label co-founded by Clint Black, suspended operations on Tuesday (Dec. 16). In addition to Black, the label’s roster also includes Laura Bryna, Carolina Rain, Kevin Fowler and new artist Blake Wise. “Our investors tried to find a way to keep the doors open at Equity, but with a struggling industry, an overall decline in discretionary spending by consumers and a total freeze on credit markets, the Board of Directors has been forced to make this difficult decision. … We want to wish our wonderful staff and artists all the best in all their future endeavors,” said label president Tim Wipperman, who will remain with the company.

Equity Music Group was founded in 2003 by industry veteran Mike Kraski, and Clint Black served as its flagship artist. In 2005, the label signed Little Big Town, who had endured a cool reception to their lackluster debut album with Sony. They quickly became one of the most critically acclaimed acts operating in mainstream country music, with their platinum-selling set The Road to Here garnering two Grammy nominations and multiple nods from both the ACM and CMA. Their departure in April 2008, along with the resignation of Kraski the previous fall, signaled trouble for the indie startup.

The wretchedly gloomy outlook of the economy played a part in the decision, with CD sales down almost 20% from last year. Little Big Town, along with the rest of Equity’s roster, owned all recorded material in exchange for the label maintaining a “vested interest” in their careers. Management issues also contributed to the downfall; Wipperman replaced Kraski in November 2007 and aligned the company with two outside investors that fall. In November 2008, Black sued his manager/accountant Charles Sussman and his Music Row firm, Gudvi, Sussman & Oppenheim for negligence in handling the artist’s finances.


  1. I just saw this news and I would imagine that Clint Black will end up with a co-deal using the “equity” name at Stroudavarious given their history. As for the rest of the label only Carolina Rain stands a chance at getting some sort of deal, most likely at Tenacity.

    I actually saw this one coming as Clint sued Sussman and Kraski started Tenacity.

  2. As you’d mentioned somewhere else, Laura Bryna was lucky to have a record deal. Kevin Fowler’s material never impressed me, and Carolina Rain is just average, but I’d agree that they have the best shot at securing another contract.

    The writing was on the wall once LBT left the fold, and Broken Bow faces a similar problem: only one star act (Jason Aldean) is currently on the roster (two if you count Randy Owen). Their future hinges on Aldean’s satisfaction with the label. A lot will ride on his album due in early ’09.

  3. Carson,

    She was horrible. That album was a steaming pile of poo.

    As for Broken Bow, Their GM just left so if Dean Brody doesn’t break (it looks like he will) and like you said, Aldean gets pissed off then they’re in trouble. Randy Owen’s album wasn’t all that good either.

  4. What’s up with the October ’07 date? Didn’t LBT leave earlier this year? Although I’m not a fan of Kevin Fowler, I think y’all are underestimating his popularity and would figure he’d have just as much of a chance as anyone at Equity of getting another deal.

  5. Brady,

    I know he’ll get another deal somewhere or just go back to making his own records. He’ll be fine, I actually had forgotten about Kevin when I made my initial comments.

  6. Lets be honest..Laura Bryna was the downfall….and should never of had a deal. Kevin Fowler will make it. Carolina Rain will land another deal easily.

  7. blake wise ; his dad has long dirty history in nashville clint black should have done his home work before he signed blake waste of money. his dad had no talent and neither does the son

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