Tim McGraw, Rascal Flatts and a dozen or so other country artists are reaching new fans through "sound cards" designed, licensed and distributed by the Hallmark greeting card company.
Each card carries a 30-second snippet from one of the participating artist's hit records, along with a Hallmark-composed greeting that matches the song's theme. The names of the song's writers and publishers are listed on the backs of the cards.
The "Use Tim McGraw" and "Use Rascal Flatts" lines are racked in displays that hold six different cards and envelopes. A photo of the artist tops each display but does not appear on the cards.
Under the McGraw banner are four cards for birthdays that contain sound clips from "Down on the Farm" (two designs), "Live Like You Were Dying" and "My Next Thirty Years." The remaining two are categorized as "Love" cards and feature clips from "Just to See You Smile" and "I Like It, I Love It."
For Rascal Flatts, "Mayberry," "Fast Cars and Freedom" and "Here's to You" are the birthday clips, while "Love You Out Loud," "Thanks for Being You" and "Shine On" constitute the "Love" messages.
"We have hundreds of songs, television shows and movie clips licensed," according to Deidre Parkes, a spokesperson for Hallmark, who added that other country artists with sound cards already in stores or on the way include Alan Jackson, Faith Hill, Willie Nelson, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Martina McBride, Billy Ray Cyrus, George Strait and Vince Gill. The cards are available in Hallmark outlets and drugstores nationwide, she said.
Because a single card requires separate licenses for the recorded sound, each of the music publishers and, in some cases, the artist's image, Parkes said Hallmark delegates the complex task of licensing to Corbis, a Seattle-based company specializing in this service.
Parkes declined to specify how well the country music cards are selling, noting that Hallmark is a privately-held company. "But our cards with sound overall have been a tremendous success, and we continue to work to add to the line," she said.
The McGraw and Flatts sound cards sell for $4.95 each in the U. S. and for $6.49 in Canada.