Brooks announced that he had signed with RCA and Sony Nashville amid much fanfare in July of 2014, when he came out of retirement for his first full studio album since 2001. The resulting album, Man Against Machine, was generally considered a commercial disappointment, earning a fraction of the sales of past projects and scoring no real radio hits, even while Brooks’ return to touring raked in some of the largest box office numbers in recent country music history.
Sony head Gary Overton resigned in March of 2015, and in May of that year Brooks admitted he was uncertain about his future at the label as it went through a major transition. Now the Tennessean reports that the country superstar has departed his deal there. Pearl Records — which he has used for years to partner with larger labels to release his work — will release his upcoming Christmas album with his wife, Trisha Yearwood, as well as his next studio album, which he is currently recording. Both projects are due in the fall.
“I’ve always enjoyed being part of a team,” the country icon says. “I think you can always be part of something bigger with a team than you can be by yourself. Would I love to be part of a label group? Sure I would. But with the new streaming income now, I can’t make them money.”
Brooks resisted offering his music digitally for many years, and when he finally did, he formed his own service, GhostTunes, rather than partnering with an established service. As part of his new business model, the Tennessean reports that may change; GhostTunes may be absorbed into a larger service, and for the first time he is negotiating with a streaming partner that is “neither of the two partners you think it’s going to be, but it’s one of the biggest partners in the world,” according to Brooks.
He will also announce a project in conjunction with television sports, as well as a retail partnership for his new solo album. He has hired a veteran radio promotion person to help him assemble a radio team and is actively looking for team members to help him bring all of the pieces together.
“There’s a lot of different ways to promote now and a lot of options that are open, and I feel very, very lucky about that,” Brooks says. “The word the management group is using is collision or connectivity — how do you put all of those things together and make them work toward the music? They’re not just individual things out there going — they all tie together.”
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