As first reported by the always great Trigger at Saving Country Music, Sturgill Simpson has signed with Atlantic Records and is now a major label artist. Sturgill confirmed the news on his Facebook page with the cryptic photo above. According to Trigger, Simpson will be part of the Warner Music Group and that he was courted by several major labels before deciding to sign with Atlantic Records. And don’t worry Simpson fans: Trigger says that Simpson chose Atlantic because they’re allowing him to retain creative control. In fact Simpson is in the studio now making his third album with his producer Dave Cobb and it will be released through Atlantic Records.
So this is pretty exciting news. I nearly fell out of my chair when I saw it. My first thought on the news is I’m very happy for Simpson and his family. This couldn’t happen to a better guy and he deserves to be heard by as many people as possible. Just look at the names up on that picture above. Simpson is now with the same label that gave Willie Nelson his big start in country music. He’s on the same label so many legendary artists across several genres made their name and forever made their mark in the history books. And if you’re wondering why Skrillex is included, Simpson is on record as a big fan of his work. I can imagine that he’s a big fan of all these artists that are listed on the photo.
What does this mean for Simpson’s music career moving forward? This means he now has a lot more push behind his music. He now has a much greater chance of getting on the radio, if the right song gets popular enough. Simpson released his first two records under the independent label Thirty Tigers and he is still above several mainstream artists in the country albums iTunes chart. He’s currently ahead of the most recent albums released by Cole Swindell, Miranda Lambert, Blake Shelton, Little Big Town, Lady Antebellum and Kenny Chesney. If he can do this as an independent artist, imagine now what he can do as a major label artist. The sky is truly the limit, but remember the further he climbs up the ladder the harder it is to continue to move up.
Simpson won’t be getting any Florida Georgia Line-sized push anytime soon I can imagine. He’s not that popular (yet). According to Windmills Country, he will be under the same branch at Atlantic as Ashley Monroe, Brandy Clark and Dwight Yoakam. That’s pretty good company, huh?
I know I would pay money to see any of these artists in concert and as Windmills points out this is Atlantic’s four most country acts all under the same branch. Brandy Clark of course was nominated for the CMA’s New Artist of the Year award and is also nominated for multiple Grammy’s this year (Best New Artist and Best Country Album). So could we see Sturgill being nominated for these awards soon? It’s definitely possible now. Simpson is up for a Grammy this year too for Best Americana Album, but many were disappointed he wasn’t correctly put under country. I mean the word country is right in the album title! With a major label backing him, I think there’s a good possibility that he could be up for Grammys under the country umbrella and the CMA will have to take notice too.
Don’t be surprised if we see a new album from Sturgill within the next six months. He’s slated to play at several huge festivals across the country, which include Bonnaroo, Coachella, Stagecoach and the Governor’s Ball. It would make perfect sense to release an album right when playing at these huge events because he could gain a ton of new fans. Simpson said it himself that he has several people tell him that they hate country music, but they love his music. Those are the type of people who will be at these major music festivals, except for Stagecoach which is like a country version of Coachella.
Some fans out there are already worrying that Simpson is going to go “Hollywood” or the label is going to mess his music up. I’ll reiterate what Trigger reported again: Simpson still has creative control over his music. He would not sign with a major label if this wasn’t the case. Simpson was perfectly content to stay independent if no major label would give him control. This is the best of both worlds for Simpson, as he will continue to make the music he loves and will be compensated much more financially. Don’t be a selfish hipster and decry this move. Be happy your favorite artist is starting to get the recognition he deserves.
Many people across country music have already been talking about the genre turning the tides and making improvements before this news even dropped. Now it’s looking even better. With the return of Jamey Johnson, Zac Brown Band covering Jason Isbell on national television, Mickey Guyton getting a ton of attention and Simpson signing with a major label, traditional country fans have a lot to be thankful for already in 2015. We could all look back on this as a historical moment in time not just in 2015, but in all of country music history. This could be the beginning of a big change across the genre. Bro country is fading into obscurity and traditional country is on the rise. They say it’s always darkest before the dawn. Well the dawn might finally be here.