Second Round of CMA Awards Performers Announced; Oct. 5th New Releases; Blake Shelton Preps Hits Album

Brody Vercher | October 5th, 2010

  • Hosts Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood were announced as performers for the Nov. 10th CMA Awards. Rounding out the list in this second announcement of performers were Keith Urban, Rascal Flatts, Reba McEntire, Sugarland, and George Strait.
  • After six years and four albums together, The Grascals and Rounder split ways.
  • If you watched the new Blake Shelton video for “Who Are You When I’m Not Looking” and thought to yourself, “Self, I gotta have that robe,” you’re in luck. Model not included. (via email)
  • On Nov. 9, Blake Shelton will release his first hits album, Loaded: The Best of Blake Shelton.
  • The countdown to Taylor Swift‘s new album Speak Now begins today with the release of the title track on iTunes. (iTunes)
  • Peter Cooper wonders if all the accolades for The Guitar Song foreshadow a possible Grammy for Jamey Johnson.
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  • New releases for the week of October 5, 2010 include:

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  • The thing most reviews agree on in regards to Toby Keith‘s new album, Bullets In The Gun, is that he’s toned down the machismo. If the album has a theme at all, Michael McCall says “it’s about aggressively masculine guys receiving their comeuppance, from women or from life itself.” Writing for The Boston Globe, Scott McLennan says Keith seems to have held back from letting fly:

    As is the case with most Nashville star vehicles, Keith’s 15th studio album glimmers with pop sheen, which actually dims some of the feeling lurking within these songs. “Ain’t Breakin’ Nothin’ ’’ and “Is That All You Got’’ probably have good stories behind them, but ended up thin platitudes of tough guys with aching hearts.

  • Sammy Kershaw‘s second bid to become lieutenant governor of Louisiana ended on Oct. 2 when he placed third during a special election to fill the position.
  • Country California: Quotable Country – 10/04/10 Edition
  • Eleven questions with Heidi Newfield, who turned 40 yesterday:

    Are there any singers in country music who you feel just got lucky as opposed to being talented?

    ABSOLUTELY!!! That’s my answer with a capital ‘A.’ The whole answer needs to be capitals with several exclamation points behind it. [laughs]

  • Luke Bryan is working on a campaign to raise awareness for his new artist of the year nomination at the CMA Awards and confirms that no leotards will be worn this go around.
  • Writing for Ninebullets.net, Adam Fenwick likes everything about the new album from The SteelDrivers, Reckless, but thinks the song “Where Rainbows Never Die” should have been left off.
  • Keith Anderson is engaged to his longtime girlfriend, Lauren Woodruff.
  • In a cover story for Billboard, Mikael Wood calls the new record from Sugarland “another step away from country-music orthodoxy,” and the reggae-inflected breakdown of lead single “Stuck Like Glue” only seems like the beginning. It was enough of a departure that some radio stations edited the song to remove the breakdown.

    “I feel for them artistically,” Sugarland’s manager Gail Gellman says of the radio edit. “Nobody would change Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night'; they wouldn’t even consider it. ‘Oh, I think I’ll erase these stars because it looks better without them,’ ” she says with a laugh. “I mean, touching their art — it’s so presumptuous. No one has the right to change it. That opinion will probably make me unpopular, but I’m protective of them and I feel strongly about it.”

  • Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott joined Nashville singer-songwriter Dave Barnesfor a duet on his upcoming Christmas album. The song is called “Christmas Tonight” and will appear on Very Merry Christmas.
  • In her new video for “You’re to Blame” — shot in one continuous take — Elizabeth McQueen dares viewers not to smile.

  1. Cutting the Treacle
    October 5, 2010 at 11:17 am

    “Mikael Wood calls the new record from Sugarland “another step away from country-music orthodoxy,””

    Me: All Sugarland did with this song is cover Jason Mraz (or was it Sara Bareilles? I forget). So what’s the big deal in that?

  2. Drew
    October 5, 2010 at 11:26 am

    Count me among those who edited out that ridiculous reggae crap from “Stuck Like Glue” on my .mp3 version on my computer. That was just awful, and if they keep doing that consistently on their future albums, I’ll be paying less and less attention to them.

  3. Rick
    October 5, 2010 at 11:45 am

    Thanks for the Elizabeth McQueen video link. Its nice to hear her sing outside of Asleep At The Wheel. That song definitley has a Brazilian rhumba beat style going. Sort of a Texas based version of “The Girl From Ipanema” (or maybe Galveston? Hmmm…).

    I haven’t even heard “Where Rainbows Never Die” but the song title alone makes me wish it had been left off the Steeldrivers as well! (lol)

    It would be really nice (and well deserved) if Jamey Johnson did win a Grammy for “The Guitar Song”. The fact his music is so non-commercial by AirHead Country standards gives him a lot of street cred with the Grammy voter hipsters.

  4. Dave D.
    October 5, 2010 at 11:47 am

    Thanks for the Elizabeth McQueen video!

  5. Zach
    October 5, 2010 at 11:48 am

    Take a listen to the two songs Sugarland has released on the iTunes Countdown to the Album deal (“Wide Open” and “Incredible Machine”). Brand new sound for the duo.

    Dierks Bentley “took a chance” when he released his bluegrass-infused UOTR album. Sugarland is “taking a chance” with Incredible Machine, but they’re moving in the opposite direction.

  6. Dana M
    October 5, 2010 at 11:48 am

    I’ve given up on trying to define Sugarland. I can’t help but like their music, with or without the reggae rap.

  7. Dana M
    October 5, 2010 at 11:55 am

    Also, the Heidi Newfield interview was entertaining! I remember trying to buy her debut album but was surprised I couldn’t find it (Canada!). Guess I’ll try again.

  8. Jon
    October 5, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    Nice work, Elizabeth!

    On the “Stuck Like Glue” thing, Gellman’s absolutely right on principle; it would be nice to see the Sugarland camp threaten legal action in order to put an end to the practice, but I’m guessing they won’t go down that road. Too bad.

    And I’m going to have to disagree with Ms. Newfield; I see no reason for all-caps and multiple exclamation points to adorn such a banal and pointless observation.

  9. Stormy
    October 5, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    “I feel for them artistically,” Sugarland’s manager Gail Gellman says of the radio edit. “Nobody would change Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’; they wouldn’t even consider it. ‘Oh, I think I’ll erase these stars because it looks better without them,’ ” she says with a laugh. “I mean, touching their art — it’s so presumptuous. No one has the right to change it. That opinion will probably make me unpopular, but I’m protective of them and I feel strongly about it.”

    But they cut the Reggae part out of the Gwen Steffani song Suggarland ripped it off from, so why wouldn’t they cut it out of the copy?

  10. Leeann Ward
    October 5, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    I absolutely agree with Jon and Sugarland’s manager on principle.

  11. Leeann Ward
    October 5, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    Stormy,
    You’re being flippant, but they shouldn’t have done it then either.

  12. Lewis
    October 5, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    Might as well just give Kristen Hall her money, retire the Sugarland name and just give Jennifer Nettles her own solo career and get Kristian Bush further away from the action and they will all fall into place with them all going to pop radio where they belong.

  13. livewire
    October 5, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    Im not a fan of Sugarland or the song Stuck like Glue at all but I must say that I dont think radiostations have any right in changing songs from artists or groups. I mean imo it borders on censorship, simply cause some dont agree with a reggae-like breakdown in countrymusic doesnt mean it should be practically banned from radio.

    Is that even legal? I guess Sugarland wont take legal action cause it might affect their futureprospects of gettin’ onto radio.

  14. Rick
    October 5, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    Opry Alert! Holly from East Tennessee will be overjoyed to know that James Otto will be featured on tonight’s Opry! Other artists scheduled include Josh Turner, The Quebe Sisters Band, and blowhard Lee Brice along with the Opry Legends. Grade: B
    Schedule: http://www.opry.com/shows/ThisWeek.html

  15. Lewis
    October 5, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    Livewire: Is it legal for someone to call someone like Sugarland a duo when really it’s just two solo artists with the one with the Willy Wonka hat getting further into the background while the Debbie Harry lookalike hogs it up every chance she gets trying to sing she’s someone else every time she does?

  16. Leeann Ward
    October 5, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    Radio can choose not to play the song if they don’t like the Reggae, but it’s a whole different thing to mess with a song in such a big way by editing out one of its defining features without permission of the artist.

  17. livewire
    October 5, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    Lewis: Whatever your opinions are about them being a real group or just two solo-artists posing as a group isn’t really the question here in this blog. So try to stay on topic will ya?

  18. livewire
    October 5, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    Thanks Leeann for your response that actually was on topic!

  19. Ben Foster
    October 5, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    My view is that the reggae breakdown is the kind of creative expression that should be encouraged in country music, especially considering how pathetically predictable it is these days. You’re not encouraging it by editing out the feature of a song that shows the most creativity.

    I have to agree that messing with Kristian and Jennifer’s art without their permission is definitely presumptuous. If you don’t like the reggae part, then just don’t play the song period.

    Whenever I hear the reggae-free version of “Stuck Like Glue” on the radio, I change the station in protest.

  20. grumpyoldman
    October 5, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    At our station…we did not edit the reggae breakdown out….it was offered to us that way by the label.

  21. Mike Parker
    October 5, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    Comparing the song to a Van Gogh painting is nuts. How about when an artist takes away the “country” instruments and releases a pop version. Did Van Gogh ever repaint a masterpiece to accommodate a particular group’s taste? Besides I’m sure that the manger would have a different opinion if stations started just pulling the song instead of pulling the breakdown.

    Songs are edited all the time for radio. I guess I’d have a different opinion if I thought there was anything appealing about the reggae breakdown. I get more incensed when they cut off the great harmonica intro to Clint Black’s “State of Mind” or any great solo off the end of a song.

  22. Barry Mazor
    October 5, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    There is a difference–a very important difference–between an artist and the label he/she’s contracted to offering versions, and a radio station deciding to impose one. If the artist wants to offer a 2010 style “do your own mash up” version, they’ll say so, but I haven’t heard of anybody offering that to broadcasters. So far.

  23. Lewis
    October 5, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    Livewire: Here’s something on topic. Stuck Like Glue sounds like a kid’s song fit for people like Justin Bieber to sing than it would for anyone else. I mean would any other country artist attempt to do something like this and still get away with it?

    As for the radio edit that excludes the rap and for all radio stations who do that: Good for them and that’s their business in doing so. The rap doesn’t do anything and neither the song itself does anything for anyone but for little kids to sing around the house.

  24. Billy
    October 5, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    The reggae part is stupid. It looks even more stupid in the video. I’m glad all the radio stations around here are playing the edit out version. It sounds so much better without the reggage rap. If Sugarland wants to do that, they should just go top 40.

  25. Barry Mazor
    October 5, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    I’m trying to learn here. Which part of that song (and video) would you NOT just as easily call pop? And in what way, exactly, does a reggae bridge cross a line the rest of the song does not?

  26. Jon
    October 5, 2010 at 4:33 pm

    It’s disheartening to see such thoughtlessness about what the principle is here.

  27. Ben Foster
    October 5, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    I noticed one new release that I think was left off the list – Katie Armiger’s “Confessions of a Nice Girl.”

  28. Mike Wimmer
    October 5, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    The shame of the new Toby Keith record is that “Bullets In The Gun” is one of the best singles at radio right now and one of the best songs he has written in some time. The rest of the album, upon one or two listens only granted, lack any of the same excitement or imagination.

  29. Barry Mazor
    October 5, 2010 at 6:16 pm

    I believe what Jon’s dispirited about, and thinking about is “If you say you care about your artists, (and songwriters) then care about your artists and songwriters.”

    What we listen to at home, and how, is mainly our own business-but what other businesses claim they can do to the music–well that’s an ISSUE.

  30. Jon
    October 5, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    It’s sadly close to saying that you don’t care about someone’s freedom of speech because you don’t agree with what’s being said.

  31. Leeann Ward
    October 5, 2010 at 8:03 pm

    What we listen to at home, and how, is mainly our own business-but what other businesses claim they can do to the music–well that’s an ISSUE.

    Absolutely.

  32. Kyle
    October 5, 2010 at 8:25 pm

    Agreed that this shouldn’t happen in principal, but good lord, the reggae part is so bad. I actually think it’s a really fun pop song until then, but the break ruins it enough for me that it’s just about a dealbreaker. Plus…

    “I say,
    Whatcha gonna do with that?
    Come on over here with that
    Sugar sticky sweet stuff
    Come on give me that stuff
    Everybody want some”

    Maybe the FCC just stepped in!

  33. Matt Bjorke
    October 5, 2010 at 9:05 pm

    If the label did send out a version that was edited to remove the reggae breakdown, then by all means play it, but if it wasn’t sent out that way (it was likely requested a bunch) then don’t play the song at all.

    As for this nonsense about Sugarland being a duo or not, well that’s just what it is – nonsense. Kristian Bush plays an instrument and sings on every song. So what if he doesn’t sing lead vocals. He’s as much a part of Sugarland as Jennifer Nettles is.

  34. sam (sam)
    October 5, 2010 at 10:19 pm

    I think this is interesting:“I feel for them artistically,” Sugarland’s manager Gail Gellman says of the radio edit. “Nobody would change Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’; they wouldn’t even consider it. ‘Oh, I think I’ll erase these stars because it looks better without them,’ ” she says with a laugh. “I mean, touching their art — it’s so presumptuous. No one has the right to change it.”

    I don’t know if anyone would touch Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’ but Marcel Duchamp famously drew a mustache on a reproduction of the Mona Lisa. I don’t know that what Duchamp did is somehow illegitimate; likewise, I’m not sure why “touching [Sugarland's] art” is presumptuous.

    Barry Mazor says “There is a difference–a very important difference–between an artist and the label he/she’s contracted to offering versions, and a radio station deciding to impose one.” But what is this “very important” difference and why does it justify a label doing this but not a radio station?

    I could see a problem if radio stations play an edited version that misleads consumers about the nature of the version on the album. Certainly record buyers might be upset to buy something that sounds different than what they expected. But this can’t justify Mazor’s remark because the harm to consumers would be equal regardless of whether DJs or the label made the change.

    Perhaps if a station makes an “unauthorized’ change that is harming Sugarland on the theory that Sugarland wishes to present a certain image of itself, and the station undermine’s Sugarland’s ability to do so by modifying its music. But is there a moral reason why a radio station must not undermine Sugarland’s attempt to present itself as a certain kind of artist in this way?

    Livewire says, “I dont think radiostations have any right in changing songs from artists or groups. I mean imo it borders on censorship”

    But who is the censor? If radio stations don’t have the right to make modifications as they see fit, then is there not a credible argument that it is the radio the radio stations that are being censored? If radio stations cannot do this, then it seems that the stations are being limited in their creativity, too.

    I’m not making an argument either way. I certainly don’t see this as a straightforward argument against the editing though. Certainly if there is an argument against the editing, and I think there is. But I also think it needs stronger justification than calling editing “presumptuous.”

  35. Stormy
    October 5, 2010 at 10:45 pm

    Jon: If we have to bleep out references to oral sex in Missy Elliot and Liz Phair songs, why should Sugarland get a special exemption just because theirs is really bad?

  36. Razor X
    October 5, 2010 at 11:14 pm

    But is there a moral reason why a radio station must not undermine Sugarland’s attempt to present itself as a certain kind of artist in this way?

    Yes, because Sugarland deliberately made the record sound the way it does, and it’s not anyone else’s place to alter it.

    I don’t believe I’ve ever heard of this sort of thing happening before. I imagine it must have, but it doesn’t seem to be a common practice, is it? The only remotely similar situation I can think of offhand is when radio programmers asked for a version of Patty Loveless’ “You Don’t Seem To Miss Me” without George Jones’ harmony vocals. Loveless refused and as a result a lot of radio stations didn’t play the record. And that is exactly how the situation SHOULD be handled. I don’t have a problem with radio requesting an alternate version (and I can understand why they would want one), but they shouldn’t take it upon themselves to create one.

  37. Matt Bjorke
    October 5, 2010 at 11:37 pm

    Carrie Underwood fans would say that’s the same reason she’s not the crossover success that Swift has become, because she “refuses” to alter her songs for POP play lists.

    Radio stations shouldn’t get the right to edit a song simply because they don’t like a part of it. They can ask (as they may have w/r/t Sugarland) and get parts removed or don’t play it. To me it’s that simple.

    The funny thing with editing out the ‘breakdown’ part of the song is that it likely would’ve gone unnoticed by a majority of a station’s listeners and could be viewed as proof of radio trying too hard to please everybody.

  38. sam (sam)
    October 5, 2010 at 11:42 pm

    Razor X — but WHY is “it not anyone else’s place to alter it?” It can’t be because “Sugarland deliberately made the record sound the way it does” because after all, If I chose to modify it, I am “deliberately” modifying it. If the reason is that Sugarland “wants” it to sound a certain way; well why is Sugarland’s desire to trump my desire – or the listening public’s desire, or whomever’s desire – to have it sound a different way?

    I do believe that in the early 1990s some radio stations played a version of “When You Say Nothing At All” which Alison Krauss recorded, but the stations added Whitley’s voice. The deceased Whitley couldn’t have approved, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Krauss was not happy. But if listeners enjoyed the “duet” version, well, then I don’t think its obvious that the feelings of Krauss or (the deceased Whitley) should prevent the duet, which after all is contributing something positive to the world (happiness/enjoyment of listeners) regardless of Whitley’s and Krauss’s feelings.

  39. Ollie
    October 6, 2010 at 12:59 am

    Another radio edit of a song enjoyed by the public took place in the late 1970s when a DJ edited linda Ronstadt’s version of Love Me Tender together with Elvis Presley’s original version. I always thought this was unfair to Elvis until I learned thAt he took a co-writing credit for the song even though he had nothing to do with writing it.

  40. Razor X
    October 6, 2010 at 5:18 am

    Razor X — but WHY is “it not anyone else’s place to alter it?” It can’t be because “Sugarland deliberately made the record sound the way it does” because after all, If I chose to modify it, I am “deliberately” modifying it. If the reason is that Sugarland “wants” it to sound a certain way; well why is Sugarland’s desire to trump my desire – or the listening public’s desire, or whomever’s desire – to have it sound a different way?

    Because it is Sugarland’s work, their art, and they have the right to present it in whatever way they wish. Not everyone is going to like the end result, but that doesn’t give anyone the right to alter art with someone else’s name attached to it. It’s similar to the ongoing debate about editing films or altering the aspect ratio and panning and scanning them, removing parts of the picture in the process, in order to fill a television screen.

    I do believe that in the early 1990s some radio stations played a version of “When You Say Nothing At All” which Alison Krauss recorded, but the stations added Whitley’s voice. The deceased Whitley couldn’t have approved, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Krauss was not happy.

    Whitley could not have given permission, but his widow or estate could have. How do you know they did not? And how do you know how Krauss felt about it?

  41. idlewildsouth
    October 6, 2010 at 6:49 am

    Ummmm…has anyone else noticed that Toby Keiths Deluxe Edition has “I’ve Been A Long Time Leavin'” listed, but it’s actually “Waymore’s Blues”?

  42. Leeann Ward
    October 6, 2010 at 7:16 am

    Ditto to Razor X.

    Stormy says: “k Jon: If we have to bleep out references to oral sex in Missy Elliot and Liz Phair songs, why should Sugarland get a special exemption just because theirs is really bad?”

    First of all, you think it’s bad, others do not. Niether is the point and I think you’re intelligent enough to know that.

    Secondly, many of your arguments, not just in this instance, frustratingly amount to “Mommy, she hit me first”, which is never appropriately answered with ,”Oh, well, if she hit you first, then you were certainly justified in kicking her.”

  43. Leeann Ward
    October 6, 2010 at 7:24 am

    Judging by Toby’s bonus covers, I think I’d enjoy a whole album of covers from him.

  44. Stormy
    October 6, 2010 at 7:45 am

    Leeann:
    1. If someone hits you, of course you are justified in kicking them.

    2. The horse has left the barn as far as radio editing goes. It left the barn more than a decade ago. At this point it seems like Sugarland’s fans expect them to be treated differently just because they are Sugarland.

  45. Jon
    October 6, 2010 at 9:01 am

    Razor X is exactly right; Sam (sam) seems not to understand the fundamentals of content creation and ownership in even legal, much less “moral” terms. If I create a work, it’s mine; in essence, except for certain very limited applications, you can’t change it without my permission, and you most certainly can’t do so covertly, as is the case here. Duchamp’s altered Mona Lisa was a work of Duchamp’s, billed as such; a record with lyrics “bleeped” out because of a belief that they’d open broadcasters to FCC sanctions has been unmistakably altered. The difference is pretty obvious, or should be. And BTW, on that faked Whitley-Krauss “duet,” the latter’s camp objected strenuously and publicly, and raised the possibility of legal action, which effectively killed the edit; that’s why I referred to the possibility of legal action in my first post.

  46. Charles Murphy
    October 6, 2010 at 9:10 am

    For ANYONE to compare Sugarland to Van Gogh shows just how friggin’ out of touch the country industry is. While the money and industry influence push this piece of crap act posing as country to the top of the charts, Sugarland is STILL everything that is souless and wrong with today’s county music…along with many others.

    Nashville is, and always has been, a town trying to be something it isn’t….The powers running the Row are like the kids on the outside of mainstream acceptance looking in. They are always a few years behid the mainstream trend but are desparately looking for that justification.

    How many Pop acts do you see dying to be country acts??..VERY FEW…Where most Country acts would sell their soul to be more rock or pop.

  47. Jon
    October 6, 2010 at 9:21 am

    How many Pop acts do you see dying to be country acts??

    Actually, I believe that many folks who share your disdain for “the Row” have been complaining for some time that it’s been infiltrated by pop acts trying to “go country.” Maybe you should get with them and try to get y’all’s story straight.

  48. Stephen H.
    October 6, 2010 at 9:33 am

    The “profane” material argument is the only justification I can see for altering “Stuck Like Glue” — getting rid of the reggae just to please listeners is like others have said restricting freedom of speech. But if “come on over here with that/Sugar sticky sweet stuff/Come on give me that stuff” can potentially be read as an oral sex reference, how else can the reference be removed? A simple bleep/audio cut won’t do — it’s a matter of logistics, not because the reference is “worse” than someone else’s.

    It’s sort of how when “‘Fore She Was Mama” was on the radio, some stations only played three lines of the chorus to remove the reference to marijuana. (Unless that was an option offered to radio …)

  49. Cutting the Treacle
    October 6, 2010 at 9:38 am

    There’s nothing new with what radio stations are doing to Sugarland’s song. TV networks have been doing it for decades with theatrical releases. Someone somewhere takes the original “art”, chops it up, deletes bits they don’t like, adds new dialogue at times, and then regurgitates it on air for us to watch. I assume there’s some license in place that gives the networks (or radio stations) the right to do this.

  50. Stormy
    October 6, 2010 at 9:42 am

    How many Pop acts do you see dying to be country acts??..VERY FEW…Where most Country acts would sell their soul to be more rock or pop.

    You mean other than Jewel, Sheryl Crow, Michelle Branch, Jessica Simpson…….

  51. Jon
    October 6, 2010 at 10:11 am

    QED.

  52. sam (sam)
    October 6, 2010 at 10:13 am

    Jon writes, Sam (sam) seems not to understand the fundamentals of content creation and ownership in even legal, much less “moral” terms.” I can understand why Jon might believe I do not understand the fundamentals of content creation in ‘moral’ terms; after all, I do ask a very basic question – why is it morally wrong to do what several commenters allege is morally wrong. And Jon is right – I don’t understand, and partly because I have yet to see a moral argument that makes sense to me. In this thread, I see assertion backed up with no support.

    I am confused though as to why Jon would write that I seem not to understand the fundamentals in legal terms. I do not believe I made any legal argument whatsoever.

  53. Charles Murphy
    October 6, 2010 at 10:39 am

    Stormy,

    Those acts have stuck their toes in the Nashville water only to either run back to pop or be largely ignored by country music radio.

    I will correct myself..the pop or rock acts that run to country to at least give it a try are ones that either tanked in the pop/rock world OR their draw has faded quite drastically in that genre.

  54. Mike Parker
    October 6, 2010 at 10:42 am

    I guess after reading some of the comments I can see both sides of this issue. I can understand an artist not wanting anyone to alter their vision, but then I can’t fault radio for trying to serve their customers. In the end though, I think I’d probably reverse my earlier opinion and say that radio should either play it or pull it. (preferably pull it).

    Additionally, I would hope that if the breakdown-free version is getting a favorable response, Sugarland would be smart and humble enough to endorse it.

  55. Jon
    October 6, 2010 at 11:46 am

    @Sam (sam) Your questions weren’t framed in “moral” terms (and neither were many of the comments you were responding to, BTW). Your questions were:

    WHY is “it not anyone else’s place to alter it?” ….why is Sugarland’s desire to trump my desire – or the listening public’s desire, or whomever’s desire – to have it sound a different way?

    And “moral” issues aside, the answer is because the content creators own their creations and have certain legal rights accruing from that ownership. It’s called intellectual property for a reason, you know.

  56. sam (sam)
    October 6, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    Jon -In the post you quote in support of your claim that my questions were not framed in ‘moral’ terms, I ask, “But is there a moral reason why a radio station must not undermine Sugarland’s attempt to present itself as a certain kind of artist in this way?” If I was unclear in suggesting that I am asking moral questions, then I clarify that now. I am asking a moral question, not a legal question.

    I fully admit to not “understand[ing] the fundamentals of content creation and ownership…,” in moral terms. That is why I ask the question.

    So far nobody has offered any possible answer, perhaps it is my fault because I was unclear that I was asking a moral question when I asked, “But is there a moral reason why…” But whatever the reason, my question still remains. I am not asking whether Sugarland could successfully sue the offending radio stations (I feel quite confident that I understand the legal issues potentially raised here, and that I understand them very well), but rather whether they should be able to, and if so why?

  57. Jon
    October 6, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    @Sam (sam) on -In the post you quote in support of your claim that my questions were not framed in ‘moral’ terms, I ask, “But is there a moral reason why a radio station must not undermine Sugarland’s attempt to present itself as a certain kind of artist in this way?”

    Different post, my man. Furthermore, you asked a great many questions that weren’t framed in “moral” terms – like this one, for instance; it was your very first:

    Barry Mazor says “There is a difference–a very important difference–between an artist and the label he/she’s contracted to offering versions, and a radio station deciding to impose one.” But what is this “very important” difference and why does it justify a label doing this but not a radio station?

    And the answer is, because the label is owner of the sound recording copyright and the radio station isn’t. This answer also applies to virtually all of the other questions you asked that didn’t invoke the “moral” issue at all (I already quoted several of those).

    You’re not doing very much to convince me that you do, in fact, have a handle on any aspect of the issue.

  58. sam (sam)
    October 6, 2010 at 5:55 pm

    Jon – I’m not trying to convince you of my “handle” on this, I am asking a few questions about non-legal matters. I am not asking questions about copyright law. I would not ask those questions on the 9513, anyhow.

    I obviously agree with you that copyright law is relevant. And I do certainly agree that in many of the cases discussed above there would be at least a colorable copyright claim. But that is not my concern.

    I am not asking “what is the state of copyright law and how might it apply to the Sugarland scenario (or some of the others)” but rather, I am asking questions about what “should” be?

    If I did not ask those questions clearly before, I ask them now. If the law went silent on these matters, would the modifications (by the radio station that shortens the Sugarland tune, by a would be duchamp, by the prude who bleeps out Liz Phair songs, perhaps by a DJ who talks over an entire song – in fact, who makes fun of the song when talking over it, as some morning show DJs employed by a former client of my old firm) be “wrong?” And why (the answer can’t refer to positive law, which has been hypothesized away; the answer cannot be legal).

    Or alternately, let us say that the law explicitly condoned these behaviors. Certainly some legal scholars are very likely to think the law should condone at least some of the above behaviors. But they argue on legal grounds, emphasize the tension between copyright and the first amendment’s free speech clause, and view copyright as potentially troublesome for that reason. But ignoring potential first amendment limits on copyright (as judges often seem to do if some legal scholars do not), would the law be wrong to explicitly condone the activities?

    I think the questions are quite interesting and very difficult. I don’t know and I don’t claim in any way to have a handle on that question. I certainly would be interested if anyone – especially musicians, artists, and other creative individuals – had any insight.

  59. Jon
    October 6, 2010 at 9:03 pm

    Well, Sam(sam), it seems to me that your question is, “why should intellectual property rights be protected at all?” Which I find neither especially difficult nor especially interesting.

    And to the extent that one would want to focus in more specifically, to that same extent all of the other instances you cite become irrelevant. This is not a case where lyrics are being “bleeped” (i.e., where listeners are made aware that content is being altered at the moment of alteration), nor is it a case where a work is being sampled in whole or in part in order to be incorporated into another work with a separate claim to creation (as in Duchamp’s piece, or in the kinds of electronic sampling that has been the subject of various litigations), etc.

    This is a case in which a work is being altered by a party with no legitimate ownership claim and then being presented as if it were the work created by the parties with a legitimate ownership claim. The radio stations altering content aren’t presenting it with an announcement that the content has been altered; the reasonable assumption of a listener is that this is the record that Sugarland sent to radio, when in fact it isn’t. So the stations are not only altering the content of work they had no hand in creating – while making no creative claim of their own whatsoever – but they’re doing so covertly, and therefore deceptively. I’m skeptical that even the most self-righteous legal scholar would argue a compelling First Amendment interest in protecting that particular behavior.

  60. sam (sam)
    October 6, 2010 at 11:26 pm

    Jon I absolutely agree with your last paragraph. Though it seem that to the extent your argument relies heavily on the fact that the Radio station stealthily edited the song, the station could overcome much of your objection’s force by offering listeners some kind of notice. I don’t know how you would feel about the station’s action if the work had lost copyright protection and passed into the public domain and/or the station gave the listeners notice of the change.

    I don’t know of any scholar – self righteous or not – commenting on the Sugarland situation, but I would never underestimate the ability of legal scholars to come up with dubious ideas. Anyhow, though not on the Sugarland issue explicitly, Carter, Franklin and Wright state that “The altering of copyrighted films – to make them more marketable for today’s audiences or to fit a television screen…raises difficult questions…A related issue is the ‘lexiconning’ or compressing of films to speed them up imperceptibly, thereby shortening their showing time and allowing more time for [tv ads]” (Casebook, 311). Although there are obvious differences between the Sugarland case and the cases these scholars present, I don’t think the differences significant enough that if the scholars think their cases are “difficult” that they would think the Sugarland case is an easy case in Sugarland’s favor. I think the Sugarland situation is a bit worse, (seems more likely to hurt a consumer) but not much worse.

    I think its wonderful that you do not find the question “why should intellectual property rights be protected at all?” to be difficult. I wish this were so easy for me and I wish this were so easy for legal scholars and also for thinkers such as John Locke, who struggled mightily with these questions. Sadly it isn’t easy for some because theories justifying property rights in general are extremely problematic and theories justifying intellectual property rights are even more problematic, given that so much intellectual property is nonrivalrous. And that aside, even if the theories were not problematic, it is nearly hornbook law that free speech and intellectual property are in tension. One casebook for law students by Madeleine Shachter says “there is an inherent tension between free speech and proprietary interests.” Schacter is not trying to be controversial here (390); a quick WestLaw search will reveal many scholarly articles attempting to elucidate the tension between copyright and the First Amendment. I think these matters raise difficult and interesting questions. And important ones, especially for musicians.

    And yet despite all this, it would surely seem foolish and reckless to want to gut intellectual property law. So this is interesting to me because on the one hand, I think it moronic to want to ditch intellectual property law or even curtail it substantially (we probably agree here) but on the other hand I know of no convincing justification for said rights (and this is not due to lack of searching for one). Friends of copyright should should be concerned about these matters if only because enemies – and they exist even if they aren’t terribly powerful – would be more than happy to exploit weaknesses in theories justifying IP.

    I can understand that you find the question why protect IP uninteresting (Perhaps most people do) and these posts are way off topic and far too long. I appreciate your patience if you have read this far! I did enjoy and benefit from this discussion.

    On topic: I do think Sugarland is right to be upset: The stations are misleading potential record buyers, and some of those buyers might well feel deceived if they prefer the edited version and some buyers might even blame Sugarland for the problem. I don’t necessarily think the radio stations are “wrong” to do what they did. I am up in the air about that. But I absolutely sympathize with Sugarland. FWIW My stations have played the “Reggae version,” which I enjoy quite a bit.

  61. luckyoldsun
    October 6, 2010 at 11:28 pm

    Jon–

    I think you may be taking this artistic thing too seriously here–or more seriously than Sugarland does.

    Sugarland and its record label clearly own the recording and radio stations have no right to alter it without permission. So, given that the radio stations DID alter the record and continue to play it, I’m going to guess that they HAVE Sugarland’s permission to do it. Certainly, if they didn’t get Sugarland’s permission in advance, they have it now–as the band and its label have not asked them to cease and desist.

    I think these artists/labels want to be on every chart and they allow stations to alter the records if they want to. Heck, if country radio stations would mix a steel guitar into one of Kanye West’s records and then start playing it and push it up the country chart, I doubt he or his label would object.

  62. Jon
    October 7, 2010 at 8:25 am

    @Sam(sam) I would never underestimate the ability of legal scholars to come up with dubious ideas.

    You’re probably right about that.

    @Luckyoldsun I guess your guess (that radio stations have Sugarland’s permission to air edited versions of their single) is just that: a guess. You might have made a similar guess with respect to the airing of the Whitley-Krauss fabricated “duet,” but that guess would have been wrong. The fact that in this case, the band’s management is publicly complaining about it suggests that it might not be a good guess here, either. And it is certainly not certain that the band’s and their label’s actions up to this point can be construed as granting permission; again, that their manager is speaking up about it in a prominent industry forum suggests otherwise.

    Taking, or even threatening legal action against stations airing unauthorized versions is a strong and potentially damaging step to take, for sure, and it’s quite possible that the injured parties may decide it’s not worth doing. That’s where being an essentially independent artist, as Krauss was (and continues to be) can be advantageous; with a career that wasn’t (and isn’t) dependent on mainstream radio airplay, she and her associates could afford to be more aggressive in protecting their rights. But the calculation of where the greater harm may lie is separable from the underlying issue, and its outcome doesn’t really speak to how seriously Sugarland takes that issue.

  63. luckyoldsun
    October 7, 2010 at 9:10 am

    @sam
    Your references to old works that may or may not still be under copyright–or where the owner of the copyright may be in dispute–has no relevance to Sugarland.

    The Sugarland record is clearly copyrighted and the owners of the copyright can prevent the edited/altered record from being played if they want to.

    @jon–For whatever reason–Whether it’s because they’re happy that this record is being played, or they’re happy that country radio supports their other records–Sugarland and/or its label are allowing this altered record to be played. Maybe Sugarland and its label don’t see eye-to-eye, or maybe Sugarland’s manager wants to have it both ways–complain publicly, but privately wink at it.

    As an outsider, not involved with the record company or the radio stations, I view the whole “controversy” as just another marketing tactic. It’s a smart–and innocuous–way to draw attention to the product, which is no small feat in a crowded market.

  64. Jon
    October 7, 2010 at 9:42 am

    @Luckyoldsun I’m not involved with the record company or the radio stations, either, so I reckon we’re even on that count. But without a strong sense of the time frame involved – which I’m guessing that we both, as outsiders, don’t have at this point – I think it’s foolish to assume that “Sugarland and/or its label are allowing this altered record to be played,” except in the most narrow sense of the terms. The Whitley-Krauss fabricated “duet” was played, too, and up until the moment that her folks started to press the issue, the observation that they were “allowing the altered record to be played” would have been true in the same way. Not everything happens at the speed of light, you know. And like I said, they may decide that they can’t afford to press too hard on the subject; their concerns aren’t the same as Krauss’s & Rounder’s. But there’s a considerable distance between threatening legal action over the practice and being happy with it, and a thoughtless cynicism isn’t very likely to do a good job of locating the actual reaction. Note that plenty of attention was being drawn to this particular piece of product before the first mention of radio “edits.”

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