Country star Kane Brown is venturing out with his own imprint, 1021 Entertainment, which he’s starting up as a joint venture with his own label home, Sony Music Nashville. The new label’s first signing, Restless Road, releases its debut single, “Took One Look at Her Momma,” today.
Having his own imprint “wasn’t something that I always wanted to do,” Brown tells Variety, “but we just got to a point where I started finding artists online, and the only thing I could really do at the time was just refer them over to my label and hope that they get a record deal. We knew that we had a platform and I knew the people that I wanted to sign first, so I started talking to my manager and found out that we could do it as a joint venture with Sony, and we just kind of went all-in at once.”
Restless Road will not be a new commodity to Brown’s most hardcore fans, as he was taking the group out on the road with him to play arenas before the pandemic intervened, and he’d brought them onto the “Today” show with him. A previous song the band recorded with Brown as a featured artist, “Take Me Home,” has racked up 4.7 million Spotify plays.
“I’m really big on trying to use my social media and my fans to grow their fan base,” Brown says. “I’ll be bringing them out on the road with me for all the tours that we do, getting them out in front of my audience. They’ve never even toured, and their first tour is going to be in front of 12,000-plus people every night. We’ve got my manager (Martha Earls) on the team as well, helping develop and get in front of people as well.”
Brown believes Restless Road fills a niche that’s gone somewhat forgotten in country lately, as not just a band — with solo artists and duos still prevailing in the format — but a vocal-harmony band and one that can trade off frontmen.
“What I love about them is not only do they have great personalities, but they all can sing,” he says. “Bands usually have one lead singer and everybody else will be the background or the harmonies . But on their songs, one verse will be Garrett (NIchols) and the next verse will be Colton (Pack) and then the next verse will be Zach (Beeken), and they all sound completely different. But they also bring old-school harmonies back, which I love — and it’s been gone out of country music. So the sky’s the limit for them. They’ve still got a lot to do to grow, but they’re on their way.”
The numerological significance of the label name?
“It’s my and my manager’s birthday” — slash inserted to make it 10/21, that is. “And it was (the date of) my first No. 1 with ‘What Ifs,’ and the first time I ever released music was October 21, so it kind of just became a thing.”
Speaking of numbers, one won’t be the loneliest one for what Brown says will be his only signing for now, since he wants to lavish attention solely on Restless Road for the moment. “I kind of look at myself as the head, but also the A&R. I’m pretty good on finding people who I think can be different or break out, and I’ve already found a couple that I would love to sign right now,” he says. “But I don’t really want to sign anybody else until we break Restless Road,” he says, “because I know how it is for artists that get signed to a label and kind of get stuck on a shelf. I just want to put all my focus behind them, and then once we break them, go for the next one.”
Said Sony Nashville chairman-CEO Randy Goodman in a statement, “What Kane has accomplished throughout his life and career is nothing short of extraordinary. Our new relationship is the first step to something unique and exciting, and already Kane has embraced his role with open arms and is incredibly hands-on. Restless Road may be the first, but I know this is only the beginning of what will be a long and fruitful relationship. The deeper our business ties with our artists, the stronger our relationship and trust. This is an exciting new step indeed.”
“Took One Look At Her Momma,” co-written with Lindsay Rimes and Andy Albert, can be heard here.
Brown’s most recent release of his own is a duet with label mate Chris Young, “Famous Friends,” that came out via Sony last month.