A judge in Davidson County Wednesday afternoon denied a temporary injunction request from Tim McGraw's record company, Curb Records, allowing the country superstar to record with another label.
The independent record label run by industry giant Mike Curb filed a lawsuit in May alleging McGraw breached his 1997 contract by recording his latest album, “Emotional Traffic”, too soon after releasing his previous album, making it not topical or new enough. The album has yet to be released.
McGraw believes he has fulfilled his contract and is countersuing, claiming the deal he signed 20 years ago for five original albums has kept him in a state of “involuntarily servitude” by stretching out the time between releases of records of fresh material by years.
Under the terms of his contract, McGraw was required to wait at least 18 months after an album's release before releasing another, regardless of whether the album was made up of old or new work.
In chancery court on Wednesday, Bill Ramsey, McGraw's attorney, argued that the label was trying to put his career on hold and McGraw should be free to record while the lawsuit continues.
Both McGraw and wife Faith Hill attended the hearing.
Wearing a business suit, glasses and without his signature black hat, McGraw looked very different from his country music star persona and often shook his head as Jay Bowen, attorney for Curb Records, detailed the terms of his contract.
Bowen argued the label lost two years of recordings that should have been on his fifth album with Curb.
Following the hearing, McGraw told Nashville's News 2 he was happy with the judge's ruling. When asked if he would be in a recording studio later on Wednesday, McGraw instead replied, “I'm going to lunch.”
A jury trial on the lawsuit is slated for July.
McGraw not first to leave Curb Records
According to Ken Tucker, managing editor of Country Weekly Magazine, McGraw is not the first artist to try to get off of Curb Records.
He told Nashville's News 2 Tuesday, “LeAnn Rimes did it at one time. I think Hank Jr. did at one time. It never ends up being very pretty.”
“It's usually a long and painful process for both sides and in Tim's case, this is something he's been talking about for a long time now,” Tucker continued. “You hear artists all the time complaining about their deal, but they signed it and wanted everything at the very beginning and they got it and unfortunately they have to serve out the term of the contract, or fortunately.”
McGraw has been quoted in Billboard Magazine saying, “I've had a great career. It's time for a change. I think I've earned that.”