Signing Stories: Colby Acuff

Date Signed: September 2023

Label: Sony Music Nashville

Type of Music: Country

Management: Chris Kappy and Jarrod Holley / Make Wake Artists

Booking: WME

Legal: Kent Marcus - Marcus & Colvin, LLP

Publicity: Courtney Beebe - Sony Music Nashville; Asha Goodman - Sacks & Co.


A&R: Jason McColl - Sony Music Nashville

Emerging country music star Colby Acuff was comfortable building a career in his home state of Idaho. But with three standout independent albums and millions of streams to his credit, he began gaining prairie-sized attention. Perhaps it was inevitable that labels would come calling.

Sony noticed the rising singer and reached out during the first half of 2022. True to his direct nature, Acuff bluntly queried how much more he needed to grow before serious talks could begin. The label’s representatives provided an answer before putting the discussion on pause. 

Meanwhile, Acuff was hoping to connect with Make Wake Artists, the management team behind superstar Luke Combs. Says Acuff, “I’ve always enjoyed what [Chris] Kappy has done over there with Luke, but also Flatland Calvary, Brent Cobb, and all these other artists.” 

A friend recommended the artist to Jarrod Holley, one of the managers at Make Wake. The day after Holley chatted with Acuff, another major label hit him up. That triggered Holley and Kappy to formalize their relationship with the singer posthaste.

Acuff subsequently returned to Sony. Bringing on the Make Wake team was doubtless instrumental in spurring an artist-friendly offer. Plus, Combs being on Sony was like the planets aligning. Acuff will be opening for him on select summer dates.

“I didn’t want a label that was going to try to make the music they wanted,” Acuff insists. “I wanted to make music for me and, most importantly, my fans.” He got exactly that, along with ownership of his back catalog.

Acuff assured the label they’d be getting a unique artist. “The first thing I told Randy Goodman, the CEO [of Sony Music Nashville], was that I’ll be like nothing you have on your roster.” A relentless songwriter, Acuff enticed them with new material during preproduction. “I don’t do demos,” he notes. “I think it’s a waste of money. I just record on my phone, because if a song’s good enough you don’t need a lot of production.”

Acuff’s major label debut, Western White Pines, arrived on June 9th.

– Andy Kaufmann