Dec
19

Justin Townes Earle Is Battling With Record Label

December 19, 2013 - By Trigger  //  News  //  28 Comments

justin-townes-earleSongwriter and performer Justin Townes Earle has been on the warpath as of late through his always-entertaining Twitter account, taking to task a record label for standing in the way of a new release.

On October 19th, Justin seemed to allude through Twitter that he was done writing the material for a new album, posting “I might have finally finished writing this bitch!!!! Freedom!!!!!!!!”

Then more recently the tone has turned quite sour, with Justin posting on December 15th, “I have now learned that you can never trust a bunch of babies that ain’t worked a day in their lives. May Shane McGowan kick their asses. The only thing I hate about business is that it’s frowned upon to pistol whip the competition. Tweets are gonna be angry for awhile. Just found out I won’t be making a record for a while due to a bunch of pussies in an office. Never working with another record label.”

Shane MacGowan is the front man for the Irish rock group The Pogues.

Then on December 18th, Earle posted, “So I am being told that I agreed to write 30 songs and let the label “help” make the record. That for sent even sound like me! Like I would ever let some little twit fucking comb through my work. And calling me a liar well them is fighting words. Anytime bitch’s!”

Justin Townes Earle released his last album Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now in March of 2012 through Bloodshot Records; a label he singed with in 2007 and subsequently released 5 albums through. The ambiguity of Earle’s tweets left some fans not certain about Earle’s contractual situation thinking Bloodshot was the target of his criticism. There was never any news of Earle signing with a new label. Co-owner of Bloodshot Nan Warshaw told Saving Country Music, “When Justin Townes Earle delivered his last album “Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now”, that successfully and amicably completed his multi-album recording contract with Bloodshot Records.  Bloodshot is honored to have his five releases in our catalog and to have helped launch his career.  We wish Justin all the best.”

justin-townes-earle-twitter-feed

The image Justin Townes Earle is currently using as his Twitter Avatar

Instead it is apparently Communion Records—a British label owned by Ben Lovett, the accordion and keyboard player of Mumford & Sons, and Kevin Jones of Bear’s Den—that is drawing Justin Townes Earle’s ire. Justin clarified this today (12-19) through Twitter, saying “My rants have to do with communion records! not bloodshot. leave the good people at bloodshot alone! Badger the fucking Brits.”

Justin told VOX Magazine in April, “I’m trying to wrap up writing my next record. It’s one that I’m paying very close attention because I’ve completed my contract with Bloodshot (Records). I’m going to be moving on to probably a little bit bigger (label). I’m just trying to do my best, to be in control of my everything — producing records and all that stuff. We actually already have offers from labels. I’ve recorded one track mainly because a couple of the bigger record labels are looking at me. We made a teaser track just to say this is what we do, this is how we do it, and this is how we’re going to do it.”

The conflict appears to be with Communion Records requesting Justin turn in 30 songs that they can then vet to eventually be parred down to his next record, but Earle doesn’t have that many songs so the album-making process can’t move forward. What this means in the long run is that it could be a while for new Justin Townes Earle material.

UPDATE: Justin Townes Earle has posted some followup comments on Twitter:

“Let me make this clear! I have not, and never will write 30 songs in a year. That isn’t art it’s vomit. I write a record. Quality matters not quantity! I deliver records in sequence and have a pretty good record so far. I don’t need the new kids giving me tips. Lady’s and gents. I will find a way to get new music out very soon. Will write and record a solo EP. Then Find some grown ups to work with.”

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New Justin Townes Earle song from a recent show at the Southland Ballroom, NC:

28 Comments to “Justin Townes Earle Is Battling With Record Label”

  • That’s what he gets for getting himself involved with Mumford & Sons guy. They don’t know real music and wouldn’t if it hit them in the face.

       11 likes

    • You know, the Mumfords DO know about real music, they just don’t know how to do it themselves, and they don’t really need any competition.

         1 likes

  • I would have bet big money at the beginning of the article that JTE was referring to Bloodshot. The last time we saw Whitey Morgan, he was complaining that he had new material ready to release but that Bloodshot was holding it up. Sounds like it might be an issue that spans record labels.

       1 likes

    • I talked to Whitey about this too the last time I saw him in Austin. He did say Bloodshot didn’t want to release his music, not sure why though.

         1 likes

  • He should give them what they want. Write another 15 songs, but make em really crappy and weird. Let them sort through that and pick what they want to put on the record.

       3 likes

    • isn’t that how we end up with terrible albums from Florida Georgia Line and their ilk?

         2 likes

      • Nah, I’m pretty sure all of their songs are like that.

           1 likes

    • Seeing some of Justin’s followup comments on Twitter, he sees this as a reduction of the craft, and I agree. Of course he could do that, but why jump through the hoops when he knows what he has? He’s made critically-acclaimed albums his entire career.

      Many artists approach the recording process with too many songs for an album, slowly weeding them out until it’s parred down to 10-15 or so as a method of vetting material. It’s actually not a bad way of doing it. But that is not the type of writer Justin is. He’s not a volume guy. He takes great care in every single song and makes short albums.

         2 likes

    • No – bad idea. Submitting sub par material still means the label can reject it. Then whether the artist thinks its acceptable would be fought in court for years. If the label did agree to put out crap, the artist alienates fans that may not know what’s going on. The next record company says, “gee, I don’t much care for your last record, I think we’ll pass”, or they see the artist as combative and won’t sign him. Therefore he’s stuck self releasing, which depending on resources may mean he only sells a meager amount of records and then disappears.

         0 likes

      • I totally agree with you and Trigger. I was really just kidding. It would be a quick way to piss off your label and you definitely don’t want to do that if you expect them to keep investing in you. Although, I’d hope if anyone did do that, the label would know which ones were the good songs. It could be a way to comply with the contract/agreement he didn’t know he was getting into while still getting what he wants … but you never know how those things can go.

           0 likes

        • Sarah, my first response was identical to yours. “You want 30 songs? Here’s a song called Farmer in the Dell. Here’s one called You Suck.” Not really a legitimate response but certainly entertaining to think about for a minute.

          I remember Prince’s epic battle with Warner Bros. The press treated it like he was just a big weirdo. Same thing with Fogerty. Vanz Kant Danz? Most people had no idea what he was talking about.

          Maybe the only way to win is not to play.

             2 likes

  • He should have kept the music on this side of the pond! Next thing you know, they’ll be billing him as a “skiffle” artist.

       3 likes

  • I’m wondering how he got himself into this mess. It does seem doubtful to me that he personally would have committed to writing 30 songs before his next album. I remember reading an interview with him where he said he pretty much writes about a dozen songs within a year and they become the songs for the next album.

       0 likes

    • I have sympathy for some new artists who get a big “break” and then end up being stuck with shitty contracts. But If he’s an already established artist who has options and chose to switch labels.

      If he only writes 12 songs a year he shouldn’t have agreed to write 30.
      If he didn’t know this was in his contract, he should have had his lawyer or agent look over it.
      If he had them do that, and didn’t tell him then his beef should be with his agent, not the label.

         2 likes

      • Agreed. And I’m not sure about these flame war tactics. Badger the fucking Brits? I hope he’s still doing alright.

           0 likes

      • Reading the interview he did with VOX in April, JTE seemed very mindful of the tricks labels can play, and seemed to be highly vigilant about who he was going to choose to work with and maintaining his creative control. Seems a little strange he would get himself into this situation by not reading the fine print.

        I don’t blame JTE for leaving Bloodshot. The label was too small for him two albums ago. No offense to Bloodshot, they are a stepping stone and a lunching pad for artists, and artists like JTE are supposed to leave. They just don’t have the support staff or the desire to grow, and there’s a lot of soul in working to develop artists and allowing them to move on. Have no idea how he got with Communion. I had never heard of them, and there was absolutely no mention of his signing or anything else. They are a very young label as well.

           2 likes

  • Hey now Shane MacGowan still fronts the Pogues when they tour and he even had some teeth implanted in his head so his skull didn’t implode. Was just listening to the “Good Life” on the way into work this AM and was thinking it was about time for something new from JTE. This report ain’t making that sound prospect sound too promising.

       0 likes

  • Just a minor correction, but Shane Macgowan is the current lead singer of The Pogues. The fired him back in the 90s but he has since reunited with the band.

       0 likes

  • Dualtone, Thirty Tigers all of which would give him national distribution and creative control plus he would own his masters.
    shame really, I hope this works out sooner than later.

       2 likes

    • Thirty Tigers would be the natural fit for Justin, but his former manager was Traci Thomas who is one of the bigger people over there. I have no idea about the specifics on Justin and Traci parting ways, but that may be behind why Justin did not go with them. And as great as Thirty Tigers is, they still offer some limitations for artists. And for an artist like Justin who may want to have nothing to do with the business side of things, it may not be an ideal fit.

         0 likes

  • Justin is a real hoot, what a personality.

    ‘Bigfoot’…have you seen one? I am still interested.

       1 likes

  • It’s really gratifying to see outstanding second generation musicians like JTE and Jakob Dylayn and quite a few others.

    I hope that JTE gets his contract dispute resolved.

    In the meantime, we can still catch his live shows on archive.org:

    http://archive.org/details/JustinTownesEarle

       0 likes

  • I fucking love this site- thanks- very high level of insightful and knowledgeable info and comments- 233299984346

       0 likes

  • I have the same problem with Justin as I do with Hank3. I can’t get into their voices. I think it could be argued that Hank3 isn’t a good singer (though I do love that he was in Superjoint Ritual), and aside from that, his music isn’t about his vocal talent. Justin, on the other hand, is an acquired taste. I can understand why someone would enjoy his voice. For me, it’s just never been there. Add in the fact that I hate hipster glasses and it’s a lose lose for this fan.

    However, I do love when artists stand up for what’s right, and I applaud JTE for doing so.

       0 likes

    • For the sake of clarification, I didn’t think this comment went through or I wouldn’t have posted a similar one the next day. My bad.

         0 likes

  • sounds to me like Communion Records found Curb Records Playbook.

       0 likes

  • I have the same problem with Justin as I do with Hank3. I can’t get into their voices, and while I think it could be argued that Hank3 isn’t a good singer, it’s beyond clear that his music isn’t about his vocals, imo (plus, gotta respect him for being in Superjoint Ritual. Talk about versatile). JTE, however, is more of an acquired taste, one I’ve never really gained (I feel like Geddy Lee’s voice growing on me should dictate that any voice could, but that theory has failed me once again).

    Am I just looking at the wrong tunes? Does anybody have any album suggestions for me on JTE or Hank3?

       0 likes

    • I had a similar problem with Justin’s voice. I’m a big Steve Earle fan and his voice is like a comfortable pair of shoes to me. When I first listened to samples of Justin’s songs, I was underwhelmed by his voice. It was certainly much different than his father’s, whereas Hank3′s voice is reminiscent of his grandfather’s voice. Thought about giving one of his albums a try for a while. At some point, I just committed and bought Midnight at the Movies and Harlem River Blues. Now, I think he’s a stronger vocalist than his Dad. I’m not saying I prefer his music to his Dad’s, but I think he’s a damn good artist.

         0 likes

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