Member Feature: Curb Records - Merlin

Member Feature: Curb Records

The Merlin Member Feature Series is a monthly series showcasing companies from across our global independent membership of record labels, distributors, artist management companies, and other rightsholders. This month’s piece features Curb Records as they celebrate their 60th anniversary. 

 “We are excited to celebrate our 60th anniversary and to have the opportunity to appreciate the contributions of so many people over the past 60 years. Most of all we are excited about our great team at Curb today as we continue to build our artists and songwriters for the future. Merlin has been an amazing partner to Curb since the beginning of streaming. Our company is proud to be associated with Merlin and truly appreciate the value they bring to the independent community.”

Curb Records Chairman, Mike Curb

Over the past 60 years, Curb Records has become one of the most revered brands in all of music. The iconic label possesses two unique attributes that immediately set it apart from its competitors. One, it’s been independently owned and operated by Mike Curb since 1964. And, two, it remains a multi-genre leader, representing some of the biggest names in Country, Christian, Pop and Hip-Hop.

Across six decades, Curb Records has achieved 435 No. 1 records, garnered over 1,500 Top 10 records, and charted over 4,500 total records. With more than a half century in operation, the leading independent music company has been influential in the careers of undeniable hitmakers and rising stars alike, including Tim McGraw, Hank Williams, Jr., Rodney Atkins, Lee Brice, LeAnn Rimes, The Judds, Dylan Scott, Sawyer Brown, FOR KING + COUNTRY, Wyn Starks, Wynonna, Lyle Lovett, Big Daddy Weave, Natalie Grant, Jo Dee Messina, Hannah Ellis, Mo Pitney, Hal Ketchum, and Desert Rose Band, among many others. 

Dylan Scott and the Curb Records Team

A savvy entrepreneur with a love for 45s and a passion for the recording process, Mike Curb was just 18 years old when he launched his label in Los Angeles. Unable to secure the rights to the Curb name at the time, he founded his business under the moniker of Sidewalk Records. Talented at writing, composing and producing from the start, Mike — who would go on to pursue a brief career in politics as the lieutenant governor and acting governor of California — funded Curb Records solely through his soundtrack work, scoring arrangements for more than 60 films. Alongside Don Costa, he was named Producer of the Year by Billboard magazine in 1972.

Partnering with Tower Records — a subsidiary of Capitol — for distribution, Curb’s first hit single was an instrumental selection titled “Apache ’65” recorded by Mike’s own band, Davie Allan & The Arrows. Heavily influenced by the rock and pop melodies emanating from Southern California in the ’60s, Curb’s initial roster included notable acts like The Stone Poneys, fronted by Linda Ronstadt, and The Electric Flag, featuring Buddy Miles and Michael Bloomfield. Original recordings from Lou Rawls and Gloria Gaynor were also part of Curb’s earliest repertoire. Additionally, the West Coast country scene was reflected in the company’s initial offerings, with Curb becoming the label home for Mel Tillis, Ray Stevens, Kenny Rogers and The First Edition, and Hank Williams, Jr., who maintained a relationship with the label for more than 45 years, charting in excess of 100 records, including his first No. 1, “All For the Love of Sunshine,” which was co-written by Curb’s ambitious founder.

Rock, pop and country weren’t the burgeoning label’s only interests, however. In the late ’60s, Curb opened a Christian division that included groundbreaking recordings from iconic CCM artists like Larry Norman, 2nd Chapter of Acts, The Boone Girls, DeGarmo & Key and Whiteheart. As its faith-based arm grew, Curb signed and developed major acts like Michael English, Selah, Jonathan Pierce, MIKESCHAIR, Plumb and Natalie Grant, who remains a core Curb artist today.

Hannah Ellis and the Curb Records Team

In 1969, Curb merged with MGM Records with Mike simultaneously taking over as president of MGM and respected jazz label Verve at only 24 years old. He also became chairman of Robbins, Feist and Miller, one of the largest publishing companies in the world.

Curb Records eventually relocated to Nashville in 1992 where it heavily expanded its country roster to include hitmakers like Sawyer Brown, Hal Ketchum and Boy Howdy. Across its storied tenure, the company has guided the careers of countless country artists from obscurity to superstardom — everyone from standout female voices such as LeAnn Rimes, The Judds, Wynonna and Jo Dee Messina to celebrated acts like Tim McGraw, Rodney Atkins and Lee Brice, among others. Continuing their commitment to breaking fresh talent, Curb’s current roster features some of the hottest newcomers in country music today, including Dylan Scott, Hannah Ellis, Harper Grace and Kelsey Hart. Its hard-won consistency in both chart position and artist development earned Curb the distinction of becoming the first independent label to be named Billboard’s Country Label of the Year in 2001.

At the peak of its country success, Curb made big moves on the Christian side as well when it obtained partial ownership of Word Entertainment Group alongside AOL/Time Warner in 2001. By 2016, Curb acquired 100 percent of the leading Christian label and officially changed its name to Curb | Word Entertainment.

Through the years, a who’s who list of beloved artists has been affiliated with Word, making it one of the most widely respected labels in the Christian genre. Word has been instrumental in shaping the careers of Amy Grant, The Cathedrals, Evie, The Gaither Vocal Band, The Imperials, Rich Mullins, Sandi Patty, Petra, Russ Taff, Jaci Velasquez, Point of Grace, Mark Schultz, Nicole C. Mullen, Salvador, Building 429, and many more. Curb’s current Christian roster includes GRAMMY®, Dove and K-LOVE Fan Award winning artists, including FOR KING + COUNTRY, Blanca, Meredith Andrews, Francesca Battistelli, Big Daddy Weave, Natalie Grant, Dan Bremnes and We Are Messengers, among others.


Furthermore, with a robust catalog of hits, Curb’s publishing division, Curb | Word Music Publishing, represents a host of chart-toppers that have defined popular music across the past six decades, including the only country song in history to debut at No. 1, Garth Brooks’ “More Than A Memory,” as well as Debby Boone’s “You Light Up My Life,” Sixpence None The Richer’s “Kiss Me,” Randy Travis’ “Three Wooden Crosses,” Lee Brice’s “Rumor,” Amy Grant’s “El Shaddai,” and The Judds’ “Love Can Build A Bridge,” among many others.

With a pop resumé that boasts milestones like the 4x Platinum Coyote Ugly soundtrack, featuring LeAnn Rimes’ smash, “Can’t Fight The Moonlight,” Curb’s current pop roster remains active with important names like Wyn Starks, Blanca, and Sarah Reeves. Meanwhile, in recent years, Curb has also expanded into hip-hop territory supporting respected rappers like Steven Malcolm and Jay-Way. The business has further widened its footprint by establishing a film division as well. Moreover, outside of music and entertainment, Curb Records is now in its fifth decade sponsoring race cars via Curb Motorsports.

In addition to its rich musical legacy, philanthropy remains a longstanding value of the company. Curb Records and The Mike Curb Foundation over the years have provided grants and gifts totaling more than $200 million in support of education, historic preservation and homelessness. Programs at more than a dozen colleges nationwide are funded through the generosity of Curb, shaping the next generation of musicians, songwriters, producers and music business leaders, with renowned programs at Nashville’s own Belmont University and Vanderbilt University.

Now, thanks to an unparalleled history of hits, a reputation for developing superstars and a legacy of generosity, at 60, Curb Records is poised for decades of continued impact

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