Unfortunately in the current music climate, if you want to put out a legit album, the first thing you have to do is call a lawyer. And then cross your fingers that you still don’t get sued. Or in the case of someone like Hank III, you have to sue your own record label just to get your music released.
A great example of this is what is happening with Ronnie Milsap and the independent label Bleve Records. The issue involves a Milsap song called “My First Ride” which includes Capitol Records Nashville recording artist Trace Adkins. Apparently Capitol isn’t happy that their artist is being featured on the Milsap song, and have taken legal action. Bleve Records has been served with a “cease and desist” order to stop selling Milsap’s “My First Ride,” and they also had to cancel a Sept. 16th single release party for the song. The Milsap/Adkins song was supposed to be the first single off of a compilation album due out November 1st.
But here is where it gets ugly. Bleve Records isn’t some renegade indie label purposely trying to wizz on Nashville’s boots, and the compilation was not just some for profit product. Bleve Records is an organization founded to benefit disaster relief funds. In other words, Capitol Records Nashville has taken action to stop the sale of a song and album whose proceeds are going to go to charity. Here is a statement from Bleve:
“Mickey Milam, a retired Metro Nashville police officer and Bleve Entertainment President and CEO, started the label to benefit the Fraternal Order of Police and the International Association of Firefighters’ disaster relief funds. These funds, which aid firefighters and police officers and their families after a disaster or in times of need due, were severely depleted by 9/11 and the devastating hurricanes. The proceeds from the sale of “My First Ride” and the compilation CD were slated to help replenish these funds. “Trace was gracious enough to sing on this single, not only as a favor to his good friend Ronnie Milsap, but also because he believes in our cause, “ says Milam. “I just don’t understand Capitol’s reaction.””
Capitol Records Nashville, of course, declined to comment.
No matter how you might feel about Ronnie Milsap, or Trace Adkins, there might be no better example of the sheer greed that has overrun corporate Nashville, and the intrusive nature of major label’s legal practices than this. Through legal means, labels have been able to restrict artist’s freedom of speech and expression, and now it is not only affecting the artists and their fans, but policeman, firefighters, and their families. That is why writing songs and speaking out against Music City’s practices is not just a “scene,” it is a serious matter.