Now that the Country Music Association has wrapped up its annual nominations process, the organization is looking forward to tonight’s broadcast of an ABC special, “CMA Music Festival: Country’s Night To Rock.”
The three-hour show is packed with heavy hitters, including Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift, Jason Aldean, Lady Antebellum, Reba McEntire, Rascal Flatts and Darius Rucker, and it’s hosted for the first time by Tim McGraw, who’s making it just one of several firsts on his agenda.
For starters, he’s set to play Australia for the first time this month, beginning Sept. 16, and he’s already got some extra-curricular plans. Tim and Faith Hill are making a family vacation out of the trip — he’s earned a pilot’s license and plans to fly out over the outback. In addition, one of his daughters has been working at getting certified to take a scuba expedition in a shark cage and see some great white sharks.
Also on Tim’s agenda is making a new start in his recording career. October will mark 20 years since he first signed a recording contract with Curb Records, and Tim’s said publicly that his next studio album will be his last for the label. He hasn’t announced what his next plans are, though he did start a label of his own, StyleSonic Records, in 2006. Whether he puts out his music on his own label or another one — or even a combination of releases on several labels — Tim’s adamant about getting more creative control over his career.
“I like the idea of not havin’ any restraints about what you can do musically where you really own your music,” he says. “It’s always been sort of frustrating to me as an artist that we don’t own our music. We pay for it. I mean, everybody thinks a label pays for the music. They don’t.”
Record companies do, in most cases, pay the cash up front for recordings, but they recoup those costs later.
“It comes out of the artist’s royalties,” Tim says. “The artist pays for their music, they pay for the recording process, and at the end of the day we don’t own our music. So it’s always been very frustrating to me that we can’t do what we want. So for me, it’s sort of a wild blue yonder for me to be able to own my music, be able to do any kind of music I want at any time and release it any way I wanna release it, and I plan on doin’ that. I plan on doing projects where we’re hangin’ out at the barn rehearsing and recording that live, where we’re doin’ ‘70s rock covers or we’re doin’ a club one night and we’ll record that, put that out — along with sort of a flagship album, too.”
In the meantime, look for Tim on tonight’s “CMA Music Festival” special. A few highlights you can expect to see: Blake Shelton and Trace Adkins doing their CMA-nominated “Hillbilly Bone,” Dierks Bentley and Jamey Johnson performing the CMA-nominated “Bad Angel,” and Keith Urban covering the Beatles’ classic “With A Little Help From My Friends” using a support cast that includes Sarah Buxton and two members of Little Big Town. It all kicks off at 8 p.m. ET.
Here’s a sneak peek at the show and some fun behind the scenes clips: