From Taylor Swift to Tim McGraw, independent label Big Machine revs Nashville music scene

Country music star Tim McGraw, left, shakes hands with Scott Borchetta, right, president of Big Machine Records, after a news conference at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum on Monday, May 21, 2012, in Nashville, Tenn. McGraw and Borchetta announced McGraw has signed a multi-album deal with Big Machine Records, officially ending his rocky relationship with his only previous label, Curb Records. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Country music star Tim McGraw, left, shakes hands with Scott Borchetta, right, president of Big Machine Records, after a news conference at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum on Monday, May 21, 2012, in Nashville, Tenn. McGraw and Borchetta announced McGraw has signed a multi-album deal with Big Machine Records, officially ending his rocky relationship with his only previous label, Curb Records. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

In this Nov. 20, 2012 photo, Taylor Swift arrives at the 39th Annual American Music Awards in Los Angeles. Swift is donating $4 million to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum to fund the 7,500 square foot-plus Taylor Swift Education Center in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

In this Nov. 20, 2012 photo, Taylor Swift arrives at the 39th Annual American Music Awards in Los Angeles. Swift is donating $4 million to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum to fund the 7,500 square foot-plus Taylor Swift Education Center in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Country superstar Tim McGraw’s manager was on a mission. He called it: “Find a future home for Tim.”

The mission took manager Coran Capshaw into meetings with chief executives at the world’s biggest media corporations — companies such as Sony, Warner Music, Capitol Records, Universal Music. He was on a quest to negotiate a deal for one of country music’s biggest commodities, a 40 million record seller and a movie star who had just parted bitterly with his former company, Curb Records.

In the end, however, McGraw chose a small, independent label, Big Machine Label Group, started seven years ago by former radio promoter and NASCAR driver Scott Borchetta. The label has fewer than 50 employees and remains a relative newcomer to Nashville’s country music business, which has long been dominated by establishment record companies with corporate headquarters elsewhere.

“When I knew that I was going to be looking for another record label deal, I knew there would be lots of different scenarios and lots of different ways to put a deal together,” McGraw said at the formal announcement of the deal last week at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. “Ultimately, I wanted someone who was passionate about what they did and believed in their artists, and that’s what led me to Scott Borchetta.”

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