Rod Stewart Declares: ‘I’m a Free Agent Now’

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For the first time in 40-plus years in the music business, Rod Stewart is without a record label. The legendary singer, who received the Founders Award at Wednesday night’s ASCAP Pop Awards in Hollywood, saw most of his chart-topping albums released via Warner Bros. but has spent the past decade on the J Records roster reinterpreting the Great American Songbook. Now that his contract is up, Stewart tells The Hollywood Reporter he’s enjoying the freedom.

“It’s like back in the old days, with no one telling you what to do,” says Stewart, who’s on tour with Stevie Nicks and also working on a blues album that will feature guitarist Jeff Beck. “I'm a free agent now. J has not made me an offer, so in the meantime, I’m having fun.”

And having witnessed the industry’s decline in recent years, he’s in no hurry to sign again. “I love my ex-boss Clive Davis and everyone who works at J, but these days it’s hard,” he says. “My daughter just finished her first album, and I keep trying to explain to her that record companies are only interested in the bottom line; they’re not interested in longevity or an artist’s career. You’re only as good as your last single or album.”

That’s not to say Stewart would necessarily go the DIY route and self-release his future music either. “I think it would be too much work for me to start my own label or license my albums,” he says. “I still believe in the label system, but in a nutshell, I'm pleased that I came along when I did.”

E-mail: shirley.halperin@thr.com

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