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Clint Black shakes up the Nashville music business

Clint Black Singer-songwriter Clint Black has been a major force in country music since the 1989 release of his first album, "Killin' Time," on RCA.

But with his newest business venture, Equity Music Group, a Nashville record label he founded last year with his manager Jim Morey, financial expert Charles Sussman and former Sony Music executive Mike Kraski, he's shaking up the way labels do business in general, giving artists more control over their product and sharing more fully in the revenue, while also contributing money from their touring and merchandise sales. Bankrate spoke with Black, a behind-the-scenes partner in the company, shortly before the March 2 release of his "Spend My Time," Equity's first album, which Black also produced.

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Bankrate: You had a second greatest-hits album out in 2001, but your last studio album came out four and a half years ago. In country music that's an eternity. Was it frightening for you to be out of the marketplace so long?

Clint Black: No, I've always thought as long as I do my job and do it well, time away won't matter. There will be a place for me, even if it isn't at the top. And it isn't like I haven't been doing anything.

Bankrate: Yes, you've turned into quite a producer, especially with the Buddy Jewell project, which you turned out in three weeks last year, just after Buddy won the "Nashville Star" reality TV contest.

Clint Black: Thanks. I was supposed to have six weeks, which was still fast.

[My own] "D'Lectrified" [1999] was the first album that I produced solo. And I was giving myself a lot of time, because I wasn't sure I could make an album sound electric with no electric instruments, which was the goal, and I did a lot of experimentation. But then I did a movie, so my schedule got turned upside down, and I ended up having exactly 10 weeks. I was working constantly, and it was just frightening. Ultimately, I was able to pull it off to my satisfaction.

So, when Buddy's album came up, I thought I could do it, because I knew Buddy was real clear on what kind of an album he wanted to make. Then they cut [the production schedule] in half. That's when it gets scary. On the other hand, that's what makes us feel alive, when we're not sure of ourselves, and we're out there on the limb not knowing if it's going to break. It's exciting and thrilling to be in that position of responsibility for someone else.

 
 
Next: "Your career could be over before a little check trickles in"
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