2012 CMA Fest: Scott Borchetta speaks at Big Machine’s Fan Fair Hall booth

Hello Taylor Nation!

Here at the Swift Agency, one guy who’s going to make it really evident he’s not a professional journalist in a moment, we managed to catch most of Scott Borchetta’s Q&A at the Big Machine Label Group’s booth at the Fan Fair Hall for the 2012 CMA Musical Festival.

(Credit: TheSwiftAgency)

The first impression I got from Scott Borchetta is that he looks more like he belongs behind the wheel of a race car than a boss behind a desk. That’s not a coincidence – he’s an enthusiast of that sport. The idea of Big Machine itself, which as revealed by Scott was a bit of a joke as to how small they started, features a car in its logo which is usually followed by the roar of an engine in their earlier videos. He seems very soft spoken, but as you talk to him you realize that he’s got a bit of that Eastwood-like voice that makes you pay really close attention to what he’s saying. I can’t think of anybody who’d dare speak over him when he talks.

After hearing the questions coming in, it’s obvious that we can split move of them up in three major subjects: the Sparkly Dressed, Big Machine and the ubiquitous How-Do-I-Become-Successful question. Here’s where I’m about to pull a fast one on you. I don’t have all his answers committed to writing – so I’m going to have to resort to paraphrasing for when I don’t have the exact words. Whenever possible, I’ll try to quote.

Early on, he got asked what his accomplishment was. One of the most remarkable thing that I noticed about him is that he never seems tired or impatient. Even when he got the same question twice, he took the time to answer it. He never uttered a sigh. Upon this question, Scott just went “Ok. Where is she?” and turned his gaze up towards the posters searching for the Enchantress herself. Scott named her one of the greatest joys in his life besides his wife and family.

It was interesting hear what he looks at in a new act. His first words were: “Don’t look at Taylor. She’s the anomaly.” You can’t help but agree. The Blonde With The Sparkly Guitar paved her own road, and as much as many other acts wished they’d get the chance to start with their careers with their own songwriting that is highly uncommon. Scott also stated that it might sound like he’s being arrogant but you don’t want to meet him until you’re ready. That means you want to fine tune your skills and do as much social media as you can. Gain a following through YouTube, put your own music up for grabs on MySpace (personally I think ReverbNation is the place nowadays) and become better at your craft. However, he didn’t believe you need to set up studio time to jazz up your demo. Acoustic, he said, is fine and preferable.

He also got asked which artist he would like to sign up if he got the chance. “Carrie Underwood,” said Scott. “I don’t know if there’s a bigger singer in rock music.” Yes, he said rock music – that’s not a typo.

What his favorite Taylor Swift performance from the Speak Now Tour? Scott replied he loved the entire setup and arrangement for Haunted.

Why did he start his own label? He got sick of how big labels work. In his own words, he was smart to hire smarter people than himself. He doesn’t like compartmentalization – meaning he doesn’t like it when the guy in finances gets this big idea but he’s not heard unless he works in marketing – when that idea is potentially a multi-million one. Someone asked later what if there’s an idea that someone think it’s brilliant but Scott thinks it blows. “Then it blows,” replied Scott. But he reconsidered it a bit. “If I trusted that person and that person trusted the idea, I’d probably let them run with it.”

When asked about what things has the Queen of Sparks ever done for him he replied that she doesn’t gives him gifts. “She gives me music,” said Scott. “Moments.” He illustrated this with two examples. First, when T-Swizzle was supposed to choose a cover song to perform, she ended picking up one from Luna Halo – a rock group that Scott loved – and their hit “Untouchable” changing it from a rock song to a powerful ballad. His second example was Long Live, which she introduced it by saying “I wrote this for you.” Scott was not ashamed to say he did got teary-eyed when she first performed it for him.

So what does Mr. Borchetta look for in an upcoming artist? He pointed to the new artists that we meet at CMA Fest: “Watch the smaller acts. Do they engage you? If they don’t, I assure you they don’t engage me either.”

The new album from Taylor Swift will have a release date of October this year. From what Scott can tell us, the Outspoken One has been writing a ton of material and will not be attending CMA Fest. “She has to finish her album,” where his words. She’s doing more collaborations. From what Scott has heard and is willing to reveal, she’s going to blow it out of the water. They are planning to do something for the 2013 CMA Fest. They’re also looking at the next tour, but there are no specifics yet.

Would he ever consider a rock division? “We expand driven by music,” replied Scott. “I might do a rock division.” Incidentally, when he was thinking Big Machine might be getting too big, and wanting to make sure a label would not end up with too many artists, he decided to created another label. That’s how he ended up creating Valory Music with Big Machine Label Group as an umbrella label.

He was asked if there was Taylor stories he could share. Scott told the story of Taylor playing Tim McGraw. Scott loved it was a much a musical achievement as well as a marketing cutthroat. It was initially titled When You Think Tim McGraw, then shortened. He knew that when Taylor would play it, people might not remember who played it but they’d remember “that girl with the Tim McGraw song.” When Scott heard it, he told Taylor: “That’s the first single.”

(Credit: TheSwiftAgency)

The Q&A section ended, and they proceeded to the autograph line. I went in as part of the hopefuls, but managed to get there. Once we were face to face again (I had met him the day before) I couldn’t come up with anything smart to say. “So let’s say one day Taylor decides to go Lady Gaga and says she wants to arrive to an award show inside an egg,” I asked nervously, my poor idea of a joke. Scott however, made it worthwhile.

“Listen, you can’t worry about things like that,” he told me. “Taylor is who she is and I don’t believe she would ever do that.” Then he reconsidered for a moment. “However, if she ever came to me with such an idea, I wouldn’t try to stop her… because you know she’d have a reason for it.”

Like. A. Boss!

Coming up in the Calendar!

(Source: TheSwiftAgency.com)

2012 CMA Fest: Fan Fair Hall with Mallary Hope, Miss Willie Brown and Lauren Briant

(Credit: TheSwiftAgency.com)

Hello Country Music fans!

Meets and Greets are a big part of what makes CMA Fest great. Country music artists are, in general, or at least in my very limited experience, very nice to meet. Despite the new lottery system, the old hopeful lines still exist – and given that that’s all that most people had access to, they were healthy and busy all throughout CMA Fest.

So who did we meet? Well, to start us off the very talented and beautiful Mallary Hope!

I want to make it clear I am not really a certified music critic, but Mallary’s voice is an absolute powerhouse. In my humble opinion, she surpasses almost everyone in the genre. I’d be tempted to say she’s only second to Martina McBride who I consider the top vocalist I’ve ever heard. You can find more about Mallary at MallaryHope.com.

(Credit: TheSwiftAgency.com)

I also had a chance to meet Miss Willie Brown. The duo comprised by Kasey Buckley from Plano, Texas and Amanda Watkins from Huntington, West Virginia were a joy to meet… eventually.

I’m going to make a bit of a clumsy apology because I actually skipped on meeting them the first time as I didn’t realize the line for Mallary Hope also gave me the chance to meet the duo. I had to do the line twice (Mallary was like whaaat?) just so I could talk to Kasey and Amanda.

You can find their latest single, All That Matters To Me, on iTunes. You can read more on the duo at MissWillieBrown.com.

(Credit: TheSwiftAgency.com)

The one on my only two winnings from the Fan Fair Hall lottery, was Lauren Briant. I’ll be honest and say it was my first time hearing about her. Lauren is from Dallas, TX. She has been signed to Average Joe’s Entertainment (Montgomery Gentry, Josh Gracin, Colt Ford).

She has played in Alabama, Tennessee, North and South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and her home state of Texas. Her debut album Lauren Briant was released to iTunes in November 2011. Her latests single is Who I Am With You.

Coming up in the Calendar!

(Source: TheSwiftAgency.com)

Nashville Diaries: Amos J. Heller rocks it out with Old Dominion

(Credit: TheSwiftAgency.com)

Hello Taylor Nation,

It’s not the first time that The Agency crosses musical paths with Old Dominion. Their regular members are Matt Ramsey, Geoff Sprung, Trevor Rosen, Whit Sellers, Devin Malone and John Henry Trinko. Going back to the epic Saturday night of June 9, 2012 they played 12th and Porter with none other than The Agency’s bass player extraordinaire: Amos J. Heller.

You might remember that previously, back on April 27, they borrowed The Agency’s guitarist, Grant Mickelson, to play Joe’s Bar in Chicago. That was a little last minute and unfortunately I couldn’t make that one. This time however, it was right during CMA Fest week. Remember when I apologized for leaving LP Field’s nightly concert after Eric Church’s performance? Here at the Swift Agency, one guy that is not well known for being athletic, ran through downtown Nashville to get to 12th and Porter just in time to see Old Dominion take the stage.

(Credit: TheSwiftAgency.com)

The performance was excellent.  The band’s music could be described as country with honky tonk and a generous amount of rock and roll. Shake well and drink often. It was such a joy to see Amos cut loose. Taylor wise, I’ve seen him enjoy immensely when he gets to rock out during Better Than Revenge and his moments during Haunted but this was him letting his hair down and just blasting. It makes me wish he’d get more chances like this one. He’s not leaving The Agency, but it’s cool to see him doing side gigs.

I was happy to see there are some ties between the Sparkly Dressed and Old Dominion from their official bio from ReverbNation:

Old Dominion is made up of four Virginians, one Michigander, and one bearded keyboard player who’s place of origin remains a mystery. The chemistry that occurs when Old Dominion takes the stage can only be achieved through years of cheap hotels, dirty clubs, and long van rides across the country forming a bond that somehow adds up to great music. Based in Nashville, they have managed to carve out their own territory as well as play music and write songs for some of todays top country recording artists, including Steve Holy, Chris Young, Taylor Swift, and Randy Houser just to name a few. Although they have been together for many years, Old Dominion is putting the finishing touches on their debut release full of heartbreaking rock and summertime party music.

– ReverbNation

Here’s a little clip of Old Dominion performing with Amos:

Watch on YouTube

You can learn more about Old Dominion on ReverbNation and more about Amos on his Agency Profile: Amos Heller.

(Credit: TheSwiftAgency.com)

Coming up in the Calendar!

(Sources: TheSwiftAgency.com, ReverbNationOld Dominion)

2012 CMA Fest Nightly Concerts: Dierks Bentley and Rascal Flatts

(Credit: TheSwiftAgency.com)

Hello Country Music fans!

The 2012 CMA Fest was a blast, but unfortunately all good things come to an end. Funny thing is, I’m not even close to done regarding blog material. There’s just too much stuff to write about. The fourth night at LP Field for instance, was a bit of a mix and I had to cut this one short as well. For starters, I manage to do the photo line twice. Once for Sarah Darling and second for Diersk Bentley.

Photo lines are cool but require commitment. In my case, I took the first photo line which was short to see Sarah Darling sing the US national anthem. She did a terrific job.

(Credit: TheSwiftAgency.com)

The Mavericks were the first opening number, but I didn’t hang around. Instead I went back to get in the line for Dierks Bentley, which meant I didn’t get to see Scottie McCreery on stage. To give you an idea how that works, if the artist is big – say Carrie Underwood or Brad Paisley – you’re stuck in the line and miss everyone else.

Dierks Bentley takes the Act To Watch, while Rascal Flatts I’ll say was last night’s Best Act Hands Down. I’m going to apologize for not counting Alan Jackson and the hugely talented Martina McBride.

Here at the Swift Agency, one guy that’s more tired than ever, we had to go back to the hotel to pack for an early flight. So, is this it? Are we wrapping it up? Not even close. The 2012 CMA Music Festival may be over but I’ve still got a lot to cover from the past week. I hope you keep reading 🙂

(Credit: TheSwiftAgency.com)

Coming up in the Calendar!

(Source: TheSwiftAgency.com)