Toby Keith (Associated Press file photo)
Oklahoma country music star and businessman Toby Keith says he is happy with how his recently merged record label Show Dog-Universal Music is performing.
In December, Keith’s Show Dog Nashville label announced it had merged with Universal South Records to form a new partnership. Keith serves as principle of the new label, overseeing the creative side, and longtime producer Mark Wright, whom Keith calls an old friend, serves as president.
“It’s going good. We’ve got some young acts that everyone’s excited about. We’re as strong as anyone over there,” Keith said. “Everything’s rockin’ along.”
He added: “Show Dog was always looked upon as an independent even though we had a lot of success over there. Joining Universal just puts us right in the mix of everybody.”
Show Dog-Universal recently scored its first No. 1 hit with Joe Nichols’ “Gimmie That Girl,” which topped the country charts for three weeks.
Back in January, Keith’s platinum-selling superstar pal Trace Adkins became the label’s first new artist. Adkins, who left Capitol Nashville for Keith’s label, is releasing his new album, “Cowboy’s Back in Town,” in August. The first single, “This Ain’t No Love Song,” came out this week.
Adkins will join Keith when the Oklahoma native kicks off his “America’s Toughest Tour” June 18 in Holmdel, N.J. It will be the second straight summer for the country stars to tour together.
Although he lost practically all his touring gear and stage equipment in the floods that devastated Nashville, Tenn., earlier this month, Keith isn’t delaying the tour.
“We don’t go out for another month, so we’ve got time to replace it all and it’s all insured. We lost all the trucks and trailers and all the equipment’s gone. But that’s not my home or anything. It can be replaced,” said the Norman resident. “You can’t do anything about the will of God or whatever. Mother Nature’s a beast. … You just have to prepare for that the best you can.”
Keith started his Show Dog label in 2005.
“I don’t have to answer to anyone. I don’t take orders very well. I wouldn’t be successful at all today if I hadn’t just fought for everything I’ve got. A lot of those record label execs have big egos and they want everyone to do things their way. And their way doesn’t work for everybody. It works for some people, but it didn’t work for me. So I went out on my own,” he said.
He said the merger lets him to share his business model with more artists, including Adkins, Nichols, Carter’s Chord, Trailer Choir and Randy Houser. He believes in letting artists succeed or fail on their own terms.
“It gives my artists freedom because I’m an artist, too. … It allows them to fail on their own instead of them failing doing what I want them to do. And that’s all an artist ever asks for is say, ‘Hey, give me a shot to make my music and do my thing; I know what my crowd wants.’ And then if they fail, if they need help, they’ll come to you. But telling ‘em what to do and forcing ‘em to do something is a bad deal,” he said.