4 of the Most Infamous Spats Between Country Music Artists and Their Labels

The music industry can be tough to navigate, even if you’re a megastar in country music. There have been many instances of country singers making it big. And some of them hit legal roadblocks with their labels in their attempts to break free and earn more money. Let’s look at a few country music artists who had to fight to get released from their contracts or get paid what they believed they were owed by their labels.

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1. Kenny Rogers

Kenny Rogers had a pretty public spat with his label in 2012. Allegedly, Rogers sought $400,000 from Capitol Records that year in a lawsuit. The “Coward Of The Country” singer said that the record company owed him a substantial amount of money due to errors in their accounting department. Rogers passed away in 2020, and it’s unclear what came of the suit.

2. LeAnn Rimes

This example of a country artist-record label spat is quite sad, particularly because it involves family. Country singer LeAnn Rimes sued her father and one of her old managers in 2000 over allegedly hiding almost $8,000,000 from her over the course of five years. She also went on to sue Curb Records that year to free herself from an “unfair” contract that her family had agreed on when she was still a child. A settlement happened shortly after, though the Curb Records lawsuit didn’t end in her favor.

3. Tim McGraw

This public legal battle was a bit silly, but also nothing new in the music industry. Tim McGraw wanted out of his contract with them, so Curb decided to sue him in 2011. McGraw counter-sued over the notably unfair and oppressive contract he had with them. After two years of hearings and no end in sight, McGraw finally came out on top when a judge decided to toss Curb’s lawsuits. He moved on to Big Machine and has enjoyed a successful career since.

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4. Garth Brooks

Back in 1992, Garth Brooks was the it-boy of country. It was also time for him to renegotiate his current contract under Liberty Records. The major country star wanted more money from his efforts and fame, which many would say he definitely deserved. Unfortunately, Liberty Records’ head honcho Jimmy Bowen was not happy with his demands. They tried to screw him over, and Brooks and his attorneys weren’t having it. They eventually came to an agreement that would give Brooks an astounding 50% of royalties on each record sold.

Photo by Rick Kern

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