Spirit Music Group has picked up the master recordings of three Tim McGraw albums, the publishing company announced Wednesday. The albums being acquired all date back to McGraw’s first stint on the Big Machine label in the mid-2010s, and include the No. 1 country hits “Humble and Kind,” “Highway Don’t Care” and “Shotgun Rider.”
Spirit, a global powerhouse in music publishing, acknowledged in its announcement that “partnerships encompassing master recordings are rare for a music publisher,” but noted that it had also done the same with portions of the catalogs of classic rocker T. Rex and contemporary singer/songwriter Ingrid Michaelson.
The masters bought by Spirit are for the albums “Two Lanes of Freedom” (2013), “Sundown Heaven Town” (2014) and “Damn Country Music” (2015), the three collections McGraw released with Big Machine Records after he got out of a decades-long, increasingly contentious deal with Curb Records. As part of his newfound freedom, obviously, McGraw was able to negotiate a new deal in which he would be able to own his master recordings, eventually allowing this new deal with Spirit.
After “Damn Country Music,” McGraw moved on to a contract with Sony Music, as did his wife, Faith Hill, but they released just one joint album of duets there before McGraw announced in February of this year that he was rejoining Big Machine. In August, he released his first solo album in five years, “Here on Earth,” which is not part of the Spirit deal.
“There are few artists in any genre of music who have had the level of success and impact that Tim McGraw has,” said Jon Singer, chairman of Spirit Music Group, in a statement. “We’re delighted to welcome Tim McGraw to the Spirit family and to represent his recording interests in some of country music’s most beloved songs.”
“Humble and Kind” is almost inarguably the jewel of the catalog being acquired by Spirit, having emerged at the height of the bro-country movement to reestablish a foothold for a more humanitarian strain of country, and serving as an anthem for parental hopes and dreams as well as general benevolence in troubled times. It was recently certified triple-platinum, capping a run of accolades that included a Grammy for best country song and a CMA Award for song of the year as well as CMT’s video of the year award. The song was written by Lori McKenna. The deal does include some of McGraw’s rowdier songs, too, including the platinum-certified “Truck Yeah.”
Said Scott Siman, McGraw’s longtime manager at EM.Co Entertainment Management Company: “Jon, Ross (Cameron, partner in the Lyric Capital Group), Frank (Rogers, CEO of Spirit Music Nashville) and Spirit’s team have shown great dedication to protecting Tim’s body of work, and that laid the foundation for this deal. They understand the special place that Tim has in music and it’s great to be in business with them. Tim and I are looking forward to working with them to find ways to continue to share the music with the fans.”
In 2019, Spirit execs Singer and Cameron founded Lyric Capital Group to take ownership of Spirit Music Group and secured $350 million in recapitalization. Founded in 2005, Spirit represents a wide-ranging group of writers including Pete Townshend, Graham Nash, Doc Pomus, Henry Mancini, James Bay, T Bone Burnett, Johnny McDaid, Zach Crowell, David Garcia and Alan and Marilyn Bergman.