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Brad Paisley is the latest big name country star to get in a fight with his record label, and this one involves a sum of $10 million Paisley is looking for as reparations from Sony who allegedly has been cooking Brad’s books for years, short-changing the singer and guitar player for royalties. And Paisley isn’t alone when it comes to such claims against Sony.
The lawsuit filed on March 31st and first published by Radar Online, spells out how Sony has been using fuzzy accounting to underpay Paisley. A similar lawsuit was also filed by Paisley in December of 2011, only to find out that a clause in Paisley’s contract precluded the performer from being able to see the complete accounting records for songs he had written between 2002 and 2006. The amended lawsuit submitted by Attorney Andrew Coffman to the Supreme Court of the State of New York says in part,
Throughout the course of this litigation Paisley has learned the details of the matter in which Defendant violated Paisley’s rights under the terms of the agreements of the two parties. For instance, the proposed Amended Complaint sets forth specific areas of underpayment which were previously unknown to Paisley including, but not limited to underpayments based on improper retail to wholesale price conversions, improper use of wholesale prices to calculate royalties, improper calculations of returns, improper calculations of when escalation royalties should have applied, the improper deduction of free goods from Paisley’s royalties, and failure to report all sales on Paisley’s royalty statements.
Brad Paisley signed his first contract in 1997 with EMI, which eventually became and Arista Nashville contract—a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sony. In February of 2002, Paisley’s contract was extended. In 2006, an accounting firm hired by Paisley found that the accounting for Paisley’s royalties between September 1st, 2001, and December 31st, 2005 by Sony “were not accurate.” When the accounting firm asked for additional records from Sony to complete the third-party investigation, Sony first said they would comply, but then after a prolonged, 3-year delay, refused to turn over certain records needed for the audit. Additionally the Paisley lawsuit says he objects to “each and every royalty statement issued by Sony for the royalty periods from January 1, 2010 through the present.”
Brad Paisley is not alone in suing Sony over underpayed royalties. In late February of 2014, 19 Recordings, the company behind the contracts of all of the American Idol winners, including Brad Paisley’s long-time CMA Awards co-host Carrie Underwood, also sued Sony for $10 million, claiming once again that the way the company calculated its royalties was unethical, and against the artist’s standing contracts.
Despite Paisley’s standing feud with Sony, it hasn’t put a dent in his album output. He recently released a new song “River Bank” that is the first single from a currently-untitled upcoming album.
Former American Idol contestant Kellie Pickler’s 2012 album 100 Proof shocked the country music world with its bold, traditional sound and soulful compositions, so much so that Rolling Stone and Saving Country Music both named it the Album of the Year. Well Kellie is now back in the studio and wants folks to know that 100 Proof was not an aberration. We can expect the same type of authentic country sound on her next one.
Speaking to Taste of Country, Kellie explained she has found her sound that she’s coined “Kellie country,” and it won’t be changing much on her next album. The producers of 100 Proof Frank Liddell andÂ Luke Wooten will be collaborating with Kellie once again on the new effort, as will many of the same musicians. Kellie is currently in the midst of the recording process, and eventually will release the new music through Black River Entertainment after parting ways with her previous label Sony due to disagreements on the traditional direction of 100 Proof.
While some listeners have wondered if Kellie would stick to her more traditional sound in the face of label adversity and a lack of singles and big sales numbers from 100 Proof, Kellie now seems even more steadfast. “[It] is definitely going to be my countryâ€¦[there were] too many suits and ties, trying to make the calls…This record will definitely be Kellie country, for sure.”
In July of 2012, Kellie explained how trying to put out 100 Proof through Sony was “hell.”
Well, it wasnâ€™t promoted. When my album came out, I didnâ€™t even have a song out on the radio. Nobody does that. [The label was] spread thinâ€¦Recording this album, to be honest â€” and I donâ€™t mind saying this â€” the process was hell. [Sony and I] couldnâ€™t agree on songs.Â The thing is, my life is a country song. I donâ€™t need to be manufactured, and I donâ€™t need anyone to tell me what to say or what to sing.
I told you. Once Music Row figured out there is a HUGE group of disgruntled REAL country music fans out there with money to spend, they were going to start manufacturing their own “Outlaws,” fresh faced and focused grouped, ready to maximize their profits with fashion plate country. Well ladies and gentleman, I give you Columbia Nashville/Sony recording artist Josh Thompson, Nashville’s answer to the appetite for REAL country.
This is how they do it: The first thing you need is a bunch of glamor shots, and since the target demographic is red meat “Outlaws” let’s take them in hotel rooms and construction sites. I mean really? Hell, let’s even get him out to Hank’s grave. I mean isn’t that what all those ugly, foul-mouthed, stupid rednecks like, is people who show respect to Hank, right?
But then when it boils down to the actual music, it is the same formulaic frat boy country bullshit. Give it a listen and tell me I’m wrong. Here’s Josh Thompson with his, um, partner:
Two hours with a hair stylist: $400.
Matching designer shirts: $250
8 ball from a black guy in the parking lot that was really talcum powder and baking soda: $80.
Same damn song every other pop country manufactured star plays: WORTHLESS.
But maybe you’re thinking that this is just his radio single, and his others songs might be more “Outlaw.” Think again. Here’s another with that same damn pop country cadence, and I warn you, 0:15 might be the most douche-riddled moment I have ever seen from anyone claiming to be “country,” and it might result in you trying to clean your half-digested lunch out of the hard-to-reach nooks and crannies of your computer’s keyboard.
“Ladies, this is for you especially . . .”. Did he really say that? REALLY?
But this is where this guy brought my piss to a boil, a song he calls Blame It On Waylon.
Piped over a video that shows high school-esque overindulgence of alcohol, nookie girls, and some homo-erotic ass slapping scene at 2:10, this guy is giving tribute to Waylon Jennings for his “honky tonk ways.” I will tell you straight up, this song insults me more than if someone had told me to go suck my mother’s dick.
Listen Josh Thompson–that’s right, I’m talking directly to YOU. Waylon Waymore Watashin Jennings was a true Outlaw. He wasn’t an Outlaw because he wore his baseball cap backwards when he got sloshed and hit on peroxide blond coeds, he was an Outlaw because he looked the Nashville establishment in the face and said “I’m the hoss. We do it my way or no way.”
In fact Waylon wasn’t much of a drinker. Instead he did cocaine. A lot of cocaine. Until he became dis-attached from the whole world, going from bus to stage, and back to bus, never hanging out with anyone, never granting interviews. He could only relate to the world through his music, and even his best friends felt like strangers. Luckily he broke free of all of that one day in Arizona, but he had to come to within an inch of his life to do so, and even then, his lifestyle caught up with him in an early death.
Waylon Jennings died for your sins Josh, and all of the sins of country music. And until you can understand what a TRUE Outlaw is, and especially if you’re just going to use it as some marketing term, I wish you’d keep the name Waylon Jennings out of your damn mouth.
You see Josh, I have no doubt that you’re a fan of Waylon, or Hank Williams, or whoever. But your story and their story are not the same. Josh Thompson isn’t even a person now, it is a franchise. You are more machine than man now, tooled to optimize album sales, your soul replaced by an autotuner, your spirit swapped for a tape recorder, your life path switched for a marketing strategy. Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Bobby Bare, Tompall Glaser, and David Alan Coe were Outlaws because they resisted the very thing you’re embracing, and no amount of drinking or tattoos or bawdy talk will make up for that.
Josh, if you want to become a TRUE Outlaw, and if your music is any good, then I will embrace you as an artist. Willie and Waylon started inside the system too. But until then, you are my enemy, a sworn enemy, even worse than Taylor Swift, and I’m going to be on your ass like stink on shit. Because Music Row has already stolen the word “country” from the people, and I’ll be damned if we’ll let the same thing happen to “Outlaw,” and ESPECIALLY to the sainted name of one Waylon Jennings.
I will be your shadow Josh, the voice of your conscience, at least until you change your ways, start calling yourself pop country instead of outlaw country, or until you decide to 86 the whole charade for a more honest living.
Welcome to country music.
Tis the season of ringing cash register bells and getting snowed. What is a would-be responsible consumer to do when it seems like everything you want to purchase is going to fund terrorists, polluters, or corporations that screw artists and homogenize the music? It all makes you want to get as shitfaced as a shopping mall Santa six hours after being shitcanned for diddling an elf.
Well my friends, I say give the gift of vinyl. The LP is back in a big way baby, and it only seems fitting. Modern music has de-evolved so, it makes sense that we have to go back to move forward. Domesdayers who warned about a nuclear Winter from World War III liked to say that World War 4 would be fought with sticks and stones. So why not get our music from scratching a needle across a piece of wax?
Vinyl is a win win for the consumer AND the industry. It cannot easily be copied like digital downloads, and it gives the consumer a physical item to purchase and have. Album art again can be realized, and hypothetically, the artist can be compensated by additional sales. The win for the consumer is vinyl is free of things like digital rights encryption to make sure you don’t duplicate it too many times and wind up on Santa’s naughty list.
In lieu of vinyl, you should always make sure if you buy music digitally that it is in the MP3 format, not M4A, MP4, or others that can be carrying encryption software. That is why I always buy my digital music from Amazon who gives you clean MP3′s, though admittedly I turn right around and dump it into iTunes, which I’ve discovered sometimes goes back and re-formats the music to their MP4 format. What do your really think iTunes is doing when they are “updating you to the latest version”? If you want to read more about some of the nasty things digital music makers have done with digital downloads, click here (Sony), and here (iTunes). That’s right, each download comes with a little present to make sure you don’t re-gift the music like Aunt Frannie’s high fructose fruitcake.
And with vinyl, there’s no record (no pun intended) of how many times you’ve listened to the songs to be accumulated in some Big Brother database. It can’t be traced. Vinyl is yours, and you can do whatever the hell you want with it. And while the music being churned out by Nashville and the rest of the music industry is not worth the plastic it is printed on because it is void of creativity and then digitally compressed as all get out, vinyl has an amazing clarity and a connection with the original performance that outsurpasses any worries of convenience, even with the snap crackle pop.
Oh the satisfaction of finding a cool record at a thrift store for a buck, or hearing the needle finding the groove to lead it to the first song of a spanking new album. It’s like, well, opening a new present on Christmas day. What a buzkill it is when you open a CD for the first time, and it snaps in half as you try to remove it from the death grip of the center flanges. Bah Humbug.
What, too many Xmas references? Eh, kiss my mistletoe.
Apparently I’m not alone in my love for vinyl. According to the LA Times:
“. . . vinyl sales will reach 2.8 million units in 2009, up from 1.9 million in 2008, a record since SoundScan began tracking sales data in 1991. Rock albums account for 70% of all vinyl sold, but country vinyl is enjoying a growth spurt. Year-to-date country vinyl sales are already at 15,000 copies, compared with 5,000 for the comparable period in 2008.”
So in closing, if you’re looking for that something for that cowboy that has everything, buy them a vinyl record. Or a Snuggie. Here’s some suggestions:
- Townes van Zandt: Live at the Old Quarter, Houston, Texas
- Hank III: Lovesick, Broke and Driftin [Vinyl LP with Bonus CD]
- Hank III: Straight to Hell [2 LP Vinyl]
- Hank Williams: The Unreleased Recordings (Vinyl LP)
- Johnny Cash American IV: The Man Comes Around
- Those Poor Bastards: Satan is Watching (vinyl lp)
- Spoony on Song Review – “The Trailer Song” By Kacey Musgraves
- Michael on Congress Weighs Whether to Allow Even More Media Consolidation
- markf on Congress Weighs Whether to Allow Even More Media Consolidation
- Heyday on New Hank Williams “I Saw The Light” Biopic Coming
- Al on New Hank Williams “I Saw The Light” Biopic Coming