Tim McGraw says joining the Big Machine Records roster is "my next big career move."
At Monday's (May 21) press conference at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in downtown Nashville, McGraw told the press, "I'm just getting started. That's the message I wanted to give you guys."
Big Machine Records announced the press conference last week without divulging the reason for it. McGraw and Big Machine Label Group CEO Scott Borchetta surprised reporters and tourists with the news.
"Like many musicians, I came to town with a dream. I wanted to see if people outside of my family liked my music. I wanted to see if maybe I'd fall in love one day. And I did. I fell in love with Nashville. I fell in love with music. And I fell in love with the most beautiful woman in the world," McGraw said, choking up. "And without her, I think it's safe to say that my path would have ended a long time ago. She's the reason I'm here today."
During his opening commentary, McGraw thanked his managers -- past and present -- as well as his lawyer, producer and booking agent. He also said he wants to keep making music for another 20 years. He was legally freed from his longtime contract with Curb Records in November 2011 following a lawsuit with the label about being allowed to release new music.
"When I knew that I was going to be looking for another record label deal, I knew there would be lots of different scenarios and lots of different places I could take it," McGraw said. "Ultimately, I wanted someone passionate about what they did and believed in their artists. That's what drew me to Scott Borchetta."
Although McGraw has already recorded approximately 20 songs for the project, details are vague about when new music will be available to country radio and fans. The singer did indicate he'll unveil some of the new material on the Brothers of the Sun tour with Kenny Chesney this summer.
Asked when fans can hear his first single for the label, McGraw pointed at Borchetta, who said only it would be "sooner rather than later." Later in the press conference, Borchetta joked that the upcoming album would be titled Greatest Hits 4.
McGraw explained that the new music has "a lot of energy" and "freshness" and that although he's been writing for the project, he doesn't believe that any of the songs have been good enough to make the album. Asked if an album with his wife Faith Hill is in the works, McGraw replied that it's just a matter of finding the time, but there's no way to put a time frame on it.
Noting he'd traveled to Nashville 23 years ago on a Greyhound bus, McGraw said he asked for his contract with Big Machine Records to be signed at a bus station on May 9 -- the anniversary of his arrival -- because of the symbolism. Just returning from a family vacation at the time, McGraw said his wife and daughters were with him when he signed the Big Machine paperwork.
"They were a little concerned that we were in front of the Greyhound station," he joked.
Reflecting on his initial arrival in Nashville, McGraw said, "I was a wide-eyed kid from Start, La., who didn't have a clue. In many ways, I still feel like a wide-eyed kid from Start, La., who doesn't have a clue. I'm just starting to figure myself out a little bit. It's like for my whole career, I've been chipping away at this stone, and I'm finally starting to see the form."
Asked how the new contract will affect his fans, McGraw said, "First off, they'll hear music, and they'll hear music when I want them to hear it. They'll hear music that's got my heart and soul in it. Look, I've made my career by putting everything I've got into my music. Now I'm going to put everything I've got into my music in a way that feels fresh to me and that feels good to me. And I know that people are going to hear it when I want them to hear it."
He added, "I can't sit here and say that it's a different day as far as how I approach music. I've always approached my music in one way -- and that is to make the best music I can make and to make music that moves me. But certainly the sense of enthusiasm and sense of freedom and rebirth that I have, there will be something in the music that reflects that."
McGraw is the latest veteran artist to sign with the Big Machine Label Group. The roster also includes the Mavericks, Martina McBride, Reba McEntire and Rascal Flatts, as well as The Band Perry, Edens Edge, the Eli Young Band, Brantley Gilbert, Justin Moore and Taylor Swift.