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Clint Black Wants To Make Country Fair For Artists

Of the Oakland Press

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Clint Black’s on a crusade — and not just to sell his latest album, 2005’s “Drinkin’ Songs & Other Logic.”

The country star’s other major endeavor is the Equity Music Group, a label he founded three years ago, after taking a five-year hiatus from the business, because Black felt that he and other artists were being cheated on everything from royalties to the packaging of their albums.

“We have a transparent system where the artists don’t have to worry,” says the New Jerseyborn Black, 44, who began his career with 1989’s “Killin’ Time” and notched 21 Top 10 country hits along with nine platinumor-better albums. “They can feel confident there’s a fair and — pun intended — equitable deal in place whereby if the label does things they don’t like and they get unhappy, they can take their record and leave.”

Black and his partners have built Equity’s roster to seven acts, including Little Big Town, Mark Wills and Carolyn Dawn Johnson.

Being a small label does have its drawbacks; “Drinkin’ Songs ...” reached only No. 36 on Billboard’s country charts, while 2004’s “Spend My Time” didn’t chart at all. But Black says that making more money per album and having creative freedom more than mitigates that.

“You dream of being in this business to make records,” he says. “You don’t dream of coming in and (record company executives) saying, ‘Not those jeans,’ and, ‘You need to wear this kind of shirt,’ or, ‘We need to wear a hat on you,’ and suddenly your heart’s breaking.

“I mean, you struggled in the clubs all those years only to be disappointed and realize they signed you not for who you are but what they think they could turn you into. We don’t work that way; we let people be themselves and who they want to be.”

Clint Black and Dwight Yoakam headline the WYCD Birthday Bash at 3 p.m. Saturday (October 7th) at DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road north of I-75, Independence Township. Bomshel, Gary Nichols, the Red Ryder Band, Redhill and the Forbes Brothers also will perform. Tickets are $42.50 pavilion, $9.95 lawn. Call (248) 377-0100 or visit

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

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