Country singer Lee Brice has teamed up with longtime co-writer Rob Hatch, producer/engineer/songwriter Elisha Hoffman and veteran industry executives Derek and Kristi Hutchins to launch Pump House Records, Billboard has learned exclusively. The artist development collective will offer A&R, promotion and other label services to its roster.
The announcement comes with the reveal of Pump House Records signing its flagship artist, singer-songwriter Nick Norman. His debut album is expected later this year.
“Nick has always been a special singer,” Brice tells Billboard of the collective’s first signing and his childhood friend. “He’s always 100 percent devoted to whatever he loves. To me, he’s one the best singers I’ve ever heard. He practices singing, playing guitar, writing, playing drums, playing basically anything with strings every day. He has never stopped growing since the day I met him, and now, he has grown into a beast.”
Hatch says plans for the label have been in the works over the past six months. Norman was the main reason he and Brice joined forces on Pump House Records, as both songwriters saw the talent he possessed. They hope the new venture will help get Norman’s career off the ground. While radio isn’t the main focus at the label currently, Hatch explains that the digital market is where they will place most of their focus when it comes to promoting Norman’s music.
“Something about Nick’s voice, passion and songwriting ability, mixed with his honesty and original point of view, really got our attention. The music felt real and organic and it came from a place that is distinctly Nick,” Hatch says. “Maybe some of the insight we’ve gained over the years can help, but we’re basically just here to help Nick create the vision he already sees.”
The label is currently negotiating distribution and doesn’t intend to only sign country acts. Plans are also in the works to team up with soul singer Rebecca Lynn Howard. “We are solely dedicated to being open-minded. Allowing artists to have their team specifically built for them and their music style. That may end up being a county act or it may not,” Hatch explains.
Adds Brice, “We love all music. But this model is all about the artist and who they are. If it’s country, then it will be country. If it’s pop, or blues or soul, or whatever else, it would be exactly that. If we love the music, that’s what we would want to bring into the family.”
While both Brice and Hatch understand the roadblocks in front of them within the music business, Brice says they have adopted an “all in” mentality. “There are roadblocks happening on a daily basis. So going into this venture is, again, exciting for us. All we can do is all we can do,” he reasons. “We feel that if we all put in all the talents of everyone involved, Nick will have an opportunity to shine.”
Brice is far from the first country artist to venture into starting a label to support acts he believes in. Last year, Florida Georgia Line launched Round Here Records with flagship artist and frequent co-writer Canaan Smith. In 2018, Smith signed to Tree Vibez Music – the duo’s publishing arm founded in 2015.
“I have every expectation for the world to hear Nick and the best music of his life. We know this isn’t an easy feat, but we hope, and are going all in on a belief in the music, the team, and the artist,” Brice adds.