Brad Paisley Files $10M Lawsuit Against Sony Music
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.
May 5, 2014 @ 2:49 pm
I hope Brad gets this figured out. These damn big name labels aren’t doing any favors to artists or the fans.
I hope Brad also finds his old sound too. As a longtime Paisley fan, I was really disappointed when I heard River Bank. His last few albums haven’t been the best either. He needs to get back to his sound in the Part II album. Now that was a great album.
May 5, 2014 @ 4:05 pm
I actually liked “Wheelhouse” more than its fair share. It’s tempting to dismiss the album after the poorly misguided “Accidental Racist” eclipsed everything else…………but when you stare past that and a couple of middling single releases (“Beat This Summer”, “I Can’t Change The World”)………….it’s still a pretty solid effort if not on par with his first four albums.
“Those Crazy Christians” was actually a compelling listen to me I wasn’t expecting. “Karate” sounds engaging. “Harvey Bodine” and “Runaway Train” were on point. Despite their imperfections in terms of production, both the lead single (“Southern Comfort Zone”) and “The Mona Lisa” were better than decent singles in my opinion. Even “Outstanding In Our Field”, which lyrically is not the type of song I’d generally want anything to do with, can’t help but sound loose, natural and a whole lot of fun with Dierks Bentley’s added charisma.
That said, I’m willing to agree that Paisley does sound visibly bored out of his mind and seems to be going through the motions more at this stage of his career. Where his modus operandi is essentially: *
1) Put a lot of one-letter words, intentional puns and pop culture proper nouns in a hat that you haven’t already selected as song titles in the past.
2) The piece of paper you select will be the title of the song.
3) Write a chorus around that word selected from the hat. Be sure to incorporate a pun or two in there.
4) Write a first verse that speaks more from your own intimate personal association with the word in the title.
5) Write a second verse that speaks more outside of yourself in relation to the word in the title.
6) Write a brief bridge that speaks how the word in the title universally appeals to all of us.
7) An obligatory Paisley-esque guitar solo.
8) Another obligatory Paisley-esque guitar solo in the outro, with a pop-cultural icon voiceover worked into the mix.
I mean, the tentative title for his forthcoming album is “Thoughts From A Bumpkin”. Yeah…………..very original, Brad! 😉
May 5, 2014 @ 4:26 pm
Yeah I thought Wheelhouse was a decent album. “Mona Lisa” is the underrated song of the album. His acoustic version of “Southern Comfort Zone” on the deluxe album is pretty good. Much better than the regular version. While the album was decent, it was no where near as great as he could be. That could be said about his last few albums. Decent, but nothing special. You said it best: he’s simply bored. He’s done pretty much all you can do in mainstream country music, except go full bro country (which I’m fearful he’s going to do on this next album). He’s one of the few who could do traditional country music and be popular with it. “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive” is a shining example of this. Mud on the Tires was a good country album too. I just wonder if it’s Sony not letting him do traditional country or does he not want to do traditional country? He can write great songs when he takes the writing seriously and he’s obviously quite good on the guitar. I wish he would buck this bro country trend.
May 5, 2014 @ 4:42 pm
Much like Dierks Bentley, however, it is important to acknowledge that Brad Paisley has always flirted here and there with delving into what we now call “bro-country”.
I mentioned “Outstanding In Our Field” (which I like in this case) already, but that’s only one example. You can argue, for instance, that “Mud On The Tires” was a “bro-country” song before the term bro-country existed (Trucks? Check! Dirt road? Check! Moonlight? Check! Crickets? Double check! All that’s missing is beer and daisy dukes!) A “bro-country” song that sounds great and warm and inviting, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it is later analyzed as a prototypal “bro-country” song.
Then you have “Out In The Parkin’ Lot” off of “Time Well Wasted”……….which precedes countless parking lot party songs like……….well………Lee Brice’s “Parking Lot Party”. =P
And although I actually like “Ticks” much more than I should because Paisley sounds like he’s self-aware of how ridiculous the come-on lyrically at the bar is, you can switch the self-awareness and chuckles out and “Ticks” would instantly appear a dime-a-dozen “bro-country” song like Thomas Rhett’s “Get Me Some Of That”.
As a bonus, he even co-wrote and appeared as a featured vocalist in Darius Rucker’s “I Don’t Care”: which is your most painfully mediocre “Spring Break”-edition “bro-country” song.
Paisley is smart and intuitive enough not to gravitate too heavily to the “bro-country” extreme, much like Dierks Bentley, in that they both understand it would likely result in them losing their identity and becoming interchangeable with most other B-list male country personalities in the meantime. But you can bet they’ve both influenced the sub-genre as much as anyone! 😉
May 6, 2014 @ 4:08 am
As with a lot of mainstream albums, most of the album cuts outshone a lot of he singles. I actually enjoyed “Beat This Summer” despite the fact that it was quite cliched, but my favorite track on “Wheelhouse” was “Tin Can On a String.” There were some other really great tracks on there as well that have already been mentioned, but I agree, I wish he’d stick closer to the more traditional sound of his first couple of albums and make the comical songs more an exception and less of a rule.
May 5, 2014 @ 4:31 pm
I’m in the same boat. I went from buying he’s new albums day one to not even bothering to pick up his latest. I’m still a fan, but I think he needs to take some time off.
May 5, 2014 @ 4:37 pm
Heck yeah. I’m glad I’m not the only one that loves Part II. I personally thought that album was a masterpiece and that his rendition of “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive” is one of the best modern country songs ever made. For those of you that haven’t heard it, listen here. It’s well worth your time.
Then he cut Mud on the Tires, and he’s been in the novelty song rut ever since. I personally loved This is Country Music, however transparent the theme of the album might be, but I’ll agree in saying that Wheelhouse was fairly misguided. I liken that album to Eric Church’s The Outsiders in how it tries to hard to experiment without ever having a clear goal in mind. American Saturday Night was good even if it was about as country pop as Taylor Swift, but at least there was still quite a bit of substance. “River Bank” is probably the most brain-dead song Paisley has ever put out. Say what you want about his novelty songs, but at least they’ve all been well or decently written and have a story. This new one is just Paisley’s version of FGL.
May 6, 2014 @ 9:51 am
Brad will find his old sound if the rest of the mainstream country music industry embraces the classic country sound, which will probably happen if hell freezes over.
May 6, 2014 @ 12:02 pm
Who Needs Pictures has some pretty good songs on it, I became a big fan of his when he first started but his recent albums didn’t have much on them that I liked.
May 7, 2014 @ 3:51 am
Yeah!! Part II was an excellent album, still got it in my car.
His new stuff is ok but doesn’t quite do it for me.
May 7, 2014 @ 4:09 pm
Part II is a great Album!!! I’ve had it in my car for awhile now.
May 5, 2014 @ 3:05 pm
If they pull this crap with one of their biggest stars, what chance does a less successful artist have? Further proof that the old-fashioned monolithic record company is pure evil; the sooner they go bankrupt, the better.
May 5, 2014 @ 4:05 pm
Dinosaur record labels like Sony and Curb will inevitably go the way of the horse and buggy industry.
Prediction: Brad Paisley will end up at Big Machine.
May 5, 2014 @ 4:40 pm
And then start rapping? God help us all.
Say what you will about Paisley but at least he’s a performer and loves/respects classic country even if he doesn’t channel it in his newer music. Can’t say that for most of these new interlopers in the genre.
May 5, 2014 @ 5:05 pm
‘Say what you will about Paisley but at least he’s a performer and loves/respects classic country even if he doesn’t channel it in his newer music.’
This sums up the problem I have always had with him. He seems like someone that should be making far more substantive music but he just keeps cranking out varying levels of novelty songs and it has led me to believe that he just isn’t that deep and introspective as a writer/performer or even a song picker. ‘Whiskey Lullaby’ and ‘When I Get Where I’m Going’ are so good but even his more romantic ballad attempts like ‘Little Moments’ come off as silly and too cute.
I always think this is where Alan Jackson has excelled the most in that he can record a totally silly song but yet also reach down deep for a ‘Remember When’ or ‘Monday Morning Church’. Paisley just hasn’t shown a consistent ability to do that and that leaves him a step below greatness in my opinion.
May 5, 2014 @ 8:46 pm
I don’t think that he will start rapping. The nice thing about Big Machine is that the tent of musical styles there is bigger than at any other large country music label.
May 5, 2014 @ 4:24 pm
Serves him right for selling out. Such a waste, he was a saving grace for a while, but now just an everyday doucher!
May 5, 2014 @ 5:16 pm
If Paisley is correct and he is owed $10,000,000, you think that it serves him right because you don’t like him as much as you used to? Then you are siding with a record label that ripped him off.
May 6, 2014 @ 6:30 am
Part of my comment was edited out so didn’t make as much sense Matsfan, Paisley has started into the whole truck, girl, beer thing as demonstrated by his last effort of riverbend or some crap like that, it is quite apparent that he is entering the Bro-Country market and as a Country Music fan that is a big dissapointment as that shit is not Country. I am in no way siding with the record label, I am quite simply saying that I don’t respect anybody that is a part of the Bro-Douche Genre.
May 6, 2014 @ 12:28 pm
There’s a lot of music “styles” I don’t care for.
But not one of those artists deserves getting hosed by their own label like this.
If you don’t like it, don’t buy it. And if enough people don’t like it, the label will drop the artist.
But wishing a $10 million dollar screwing from their own label just because you don’t like the artist anymore is a fairly shocking level of hatred.
May 5, 2014 @ 5:31 pm
My favorite Paisley album is “This Is Country Music” with the title song, “A Man Don’t Have To Die” and “Life’s Railway to Heaven”.
May 5, 2014 @ 5:43 pm
Minus the title track, I agree with your choices.
I’ve never really liked the title track to “This Is Country Music”. What I will give the song is that Paisley sounds emotionally invested in his performance, and the production is respectable too. It’s a shame, then, that the lyrics just strike me as a backhanded attempt at a typical laundry list song (remember when we were using that phrase in deconstructing the worst of corporate “country” before “bro-country” overshadowed it?) 😉
I often like to compare “This Is Country Music” to Easton Corbin’s debut single “A Little More Country Than That” in terms of offering a case-in-point in how to, or how to not, write and pitch a standard country song that flirts with the stereotypical formula without veering too far to the edge. I’ve never quite loved the latter either, but it works overall because the earnestness and charisma of Corbin’s performance and the personal touches in the lyrics do enough to keep it from gravitating too far toward marketable cookie-cutter territory. Songs like “This Is Country Music” and “Chicken Fried” at least try to transcend that also, but ultimately both don’t quite pull it off in my view.
I completely agree on “A Man Don’t Have To Die” and his interpretation of “Life’s Railway to Heaven” though. I also enjoyed the instrumental “Eastwood”.
May 5, 2014 @ 6:15 pm
I forgot about the instrumental. “This Is Country music” kinda reminds me of Trace Adkins “Songs about Me” to an extent (one of the few songs of his I like). I don’t see that song as a laundry list song, I think he was trying to get a message about the fundamentals of Country Music across when he talks about the things in general that Country covers more than the other Genres. Could he have gone without the name dropping at the end? probably but for a mainstream artist like Brad it was a decent attempt to do something outside of the box.
Easton Corbin’s song is more about the perceived country culture and is full of laundry list things, “This Is Country Music” is more about the music and the things it can cover and do and Brad’s celebration of that which he pulls though the rest of the album by going though the various other styles with the “This is Country Music” theme in between. The song was the introduction to the album something few mainstream artists do.
May 5, 2014 @ 6:00 pm
Those big record labels are full of crooks. I’ve liked some of Paisley’s older material. The only song I enjoyed off his last album was Tin Can On A String. I’m not even going to comment on River Bank.
May 5, 2014 @ 7:34 pm
“A man who has never gone to school may steal from a freight car; but if he has a university education, he may steal the whole railroad.” – Theodore Roosevelt
This kind of story is proof positive that there’s a line that needs to be drawn between business relationships and one’s true kinfolk. Things like money NEVER, EVER belong in the hands of people who get paid to handle whoever they are assigned, regardless.
I’m not saying that Mr. Paisley should just hire his cousin-in-law or somebody to do his books, but it IS true that he should have known that sharks circle when they smell blood.
Give some highbrow college nerd with a business degree a chance to rake in big bucks and you think they won’t take it? The people responsible for these ripoffs wouldn’t care if they were taking from a singer or a stinking vending machine. They’re going to take what they believe they are too powerful to get punished for.
I hope Mr. Paisley is able to get satisfaction, and I hope he writes a good old-fashioned suits-be-hanged, honky-tonk country record as a tribute to what he learns.
God bless country music, America’s music, and God bless America.
May 6, 2014 @ 4:43 am
Brad Paisley–bless his heart!
May 6, 2014 @ 7:10 am
He paved the way for what is now country, full of immaturity and laundry list songs. Make a list of things set it to music, hope they don’t notice. Sorry I noticed long ago, so overrated for so long.
May 6, 2014 @ 9:50 am
No, Brad didn’t pave the way to pop country. He followed in the footsteps of others. He goes along to get along. He’s more like John Boehner than Barack Obama, in my opinion.
May 6, 2014 @ 10:46 am
Brad Paisley is a pussy sellout. His last 20 singles (at least) have been nothing but gimmicky garbage.
When I heard him running down everything “southern” and everything “country” with this Southern Comfort Zone song, I couldn’t believe it. That tore it for me. This “southern comfort zone” he talks about needing to get away from is full of people who bought his albums for years and made him millions.
And Accidental Racist? That has to be in the running for worst song ever recorded. Frickin’ rapping with LL Cool J on a country record? Are you kidding me??? I know you gotta stay tight with Hollywood (and Steve Buchanan) so your starlet wifey-poo can have her tv cameos on that wonderful “Nashville” series, but please spare us your anti-southern, let’s-all-come-together, Hollywood-approved lecturing.
And don’t get me started on the process Paisley uses to write songs for his albums these days. It’s like churning out sausage. Ask any Nashville songwriter how they feel about such a factory-like writing environment and you’ll find overwhelming disgust & disapproval. No wonder the songs suck and are getting worse.
Not saying I trust Sony or any record label for that matter, but perhaps his pay is not as high as he’d like because his music isn’t doing as well as he thinks it should be. He’s been on the verge of being dropped from the label several times.
In this observer’s opinion, the only Paisley songs that will still be around 10 years from now are:
-When I Get Where I’m Going. Written by two MASTER CRAFTSMEN of songwriting, NEITHER of which is named Brad Paisley)
– I’m Gonna Miss Her (The Fishin’ Song). To his credit, Paisley wrote on this one with his producer who is also an accomplished writer.
May 7, 2014 @ 12:28 am
I understand some of your sentiments very much here.
That said, I don’t think you’re giving Paisley enough credit all the same. In addition to the two hits you mentioned, I’m pretty sure “We Danced” is going to enjoy staying power, as will “He Didn’t Have To Be”, “Waitin’ On A Woman” and (probably) “Letter To Me”.
I also think “Alcohol” and “Ticks” will have some cult appeal as novelty songs (of which I shamelessly admit both are guilty pleasures I can’t help but enjoy).
I will agree, however, that much of his discography from the past several album cycles will likely not stand the tests of time nearly as well in comparison. “Remind Me” is probably the most likely hit to stick around on playlists, but I can’t see myself hearing “Water”, “Beat This Summer” and “River Bank” in even three years time.
May 7, 2014 @ 9:10 am
Waitin’ On a Woman. I’ll give you that one. Again, another song crafted by master songwriters. NOT Paisley.
The others you mention, I gotta take exception with. When was the last time you heard We Danced anywhere?? Long forgotten. I would’ve included Who Needs Pictures in my original post, but it’s long been forgotten as well. Neither of those songs are near as strong as Waitin On a Woman or When I Get Where I’m Going by any stretch though.
As for the others you mention, IMO they’re nothing more than standard Paisley-kitsch (written by way of the process you pretty accurately described in your earlier post).
May 6, 2014 @ 12:55 pm
Sony: Accidental Capitalist
May 7, 2014 @ 9:14 am
May 6, 2014 @ 12:56 pm
Record companies seem to do this repeatedly.
Good luck to him.
If I was in the music business, I’d get the same management team as Garth Brooks.
May 6, 2014 @ 7:58 pm
Oh, Brad Paisley. Quite possibly the most disappointing mainstream country artist of the new millennium. His first two albums were really good, but he’s been in novelty-song hell ever since. (Good call on “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive,” Acca Dacca! I also liked “Too Country” and “The Old Rugged Cross” from that same album.) It strikes me that he’s been taking himself far too seriously and his music has suffered for it (see “This Is Country Music” and “Accidental Racist” for examples). Between that sort of thing and his high-minded pronouncements about the state of country music anymore, I think it’s pretty safe to say he’s letting his mouth write checks his talent can’t cash. And “River Bank” is just pure shit.
That said, if Sony screwed him out of that kind of money, I hope he takes them to the cleaners.
May 9, 2014 @ 10:52 pm
They did the same thing with The Dixie Chicks.