In Craig Wiseman’s first five years of living in Nashville, he found himself playing drums for $25 a night in the popular, upbeat bars of downtown Nashville.
The Grammy Award-winning songwriter and Hattiesburg native never thought his record label, Big Loud Records, would become home to award-winning artists, produce more than 100 singles, multiple gold and platinum status certifications and 50 No. 1 hits.
“It’s crazy because I remember starting the record label of Big Loud five summers ago,” Wiseman said. “People go bankrupt doing this kind of stuff. I am very excited and fortunate to have talented people and to work for them.”
Saturday marks five years since Wiseman co-founded Big Loud Records with producer Joey Moi and artist manager Seth England, his two trusted business partners. With the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the nation, the Hattiesburg native won’t be in a bar celebrating with drinks.
However, Wiseman, who turns 57 in August, still has a lot to be thankful for.
“The year 2020 has been a weird year,” Wiseman said. “But even with COVID-19, the record label has still been able to put out No. 1 records and do great stuff. The label had two No. 1 songs in June and July.”
One of the top hits was a song by Morgan Wallen titled “Chasin’ You”, a song that Wiseman deemed an “100% Big Loud” production.
Craig Wiseman: Hit songwriter Wiseman draws on Mississippi roots
“I wrote that song with Morgan and one of our writers, Jamie Moore, ” Wiseman said. “We were super pumped about it and the song is still in the top 10.”
Big names on Big Loud Label
The record label consists of a head-turning roster that includes Wallen, Jake Owen, Chris Lane, HARDY, Mason Ramsey, MacKenzie Porter, Ernest Ben Burgess, Ashland Craft, Larry Fleet and Sean Stemaly. Big Loud is responsible for garnering six No. 1 hits plus more than five billion global streams.
Wiseman also works with a Mississippi-based artist named Michael Wilson Hardy — known as HARDY — who recently dropped an album that has caught the attention of the music listeners.
In July 2019, the label was first in the country as a top streaming market shareholder among true independent Country labels. With a diverse set of artist and songwriters, Wiseman prides the company on putting out the best music.
“We put out the best music,” Wiseman said. “We never really pay attention to genres because we like to mix it up.
“Being a songwriter and an artist is a lot like professional sports. You spend your whole life training for that five- or six-year period. And, you’re lucky if you get past that. I am blessed to have gotten around a lot of young artists who can stay current, forcing me to not get stuck in my generation.”
‘Trying to stay new and bold’
Before Big Loud Records was established in 2015, the label started off as Big Loud Shirt Publishing in 2003. From there, Wiseman partnered with Moi and England in 2011 to create Big Loud Mountain Publishing and Management in 2011.
In 2015, the record label division was established before the partners merged all three companies, along with venture capital fund, Big Loud Capital, in 2017.
With all of the changes, innovation and success with the music label, Wiseman said he has not lost sight of his main goal and passion to create new, fresh music.
“It’s not about putting the most money in your pocket,” Wiseman said. “We want to be the next big thing and we’re trying to stay new and bold.
“I love what I do. I was born for this. When I was in the bars playing drums and making $25 a night, I loved every minute of it. If you are not writing music that gives people that extra spark, then you’re not doing it right and you’re not going to make a living.”
‘Hottest label in Nashville’ goal
When Big Loud Records started, Wiseman was not afraid to admit that the label was at the bottom of the totem pole in Nashville.
Wiseman’s determination, along with his partners, songwriters and artists, constantly pushed him to fulfill his dream. He believes that record label has a bright future ahead.
“My passion for this is an 11 on a scale of 10,” Wiseman said. “In the next five years, I would like for us to be the hottest label in Nashville.
“We used to be at the bottom but we’re heading up that ladder. Fans don’t want safe choices when it comes to music. They want great stuff. It’s our job to keep it coming. We never settle for less.”
Wiseman’s resume includes awards such as receiving the Mississippi Governor’s Arts Award in 2015, being inducted into the Nashville Hall of Fame, the Hattiesburg Hall of Fame, a Grammy for Country Song of the Year, as well as Song of the Year by Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI), CMA and ACM for “Live Like You Were Dying.”
Contact Wilton Jackson at @[email protected] Follow him on Facebook and @wiltonreports on Twitter.