FTC to Vote on Universal-EMI Merger; Gary Allan, Brad Paisley Plan New Albums; New Willie Nelson & Merle Haggard Video

Juli Thanki | September 21st, 2012

  • European regulators approved Universal’s $1.9 billion takeover of EMI. The FTC votes on it today.
  • This article about the Universal-EMI deal and the digital music market paints a grim picture. An excerpt: Major labels control so much of the world’s music catalog, however, that new providers have to ink deals with them before turning to independent labels or unsigned artists. The bigger the label, the bigger the cut of the service’s revenue they can demand — and the worse the eventual deal for independent artists. “For a subscription service, there is a collective pot of money that can be divided up among record companies based on their market share,” said Beggars Group’s Mills. “If Universal’s market share is 40 percent, they automatically come in and ask for 55 or 60 percent of that pie. By the time these services get around to talking to small labels, the pie’s gone. And that, I think, is harmful to artists and to the market.” Indeed, while streaming services pay out millions to major labels, independent and unsigned artists are left with just fractions of a penny per play. 
  • Check out Bobby Bare’s recording of “Farewell, Angelina” from his album Darker Than Light, due out November 13 on Plowboy Records.
  • Listen to “Border Radio,” a cut from the upcoming Bruce Robison/Kelly Willis album, Cheater’s Game.
  • Here’s the new video for “A Horse Called Music,” a recent Willie Nelson-Merle Haggard collaboration from Willie’s newest album.
  • Adam Sheets interviewed Richie Albright, who played drums for Waylon Jennings.
  • Chet Flippo’s new Nashville Skyline column is all about Gregg Allman’s autobiography.
  • The most important thing in Blake Shelton’s life right now is his momentum at radio.
  • The Advocate Weekly‘s Erik Sokolowski chatted with members of Trampled By Turtles and The Infamous Stringdusters; both bands are playing at this weekend’s sold-out Fresh Grass Festival in North Adams, Mass. The ‘Dusters are also featured in the North Adams Transcript.
  • Jewly Hight wrote about Abigail Washburn, who, along with several other roots musicians, is involved with the Half the Sky Movement, which “brings together video, websites, games, blogs and other educational tools to not only raise awareness of women’s issues, but to also provide concrete steps to fight these problems and empower women.”
  • Brad Paisley spoke with the Tennessean’s Cindy Watts about “Southern Comfort Zone,” the first single from his next album, which drops April 9. The currently untitled album will be “as raw as possible.”
  • Scientific American posted this cool video from Argonne Labs showing drops of liquid suspended between two speakers. Here’s how it works: “Two sets of soundwaves from two speakers set up a standing wave and at certain points along this standing wave, known as nodes, there is no net transfer of energy at all. Because the acoustic pressure from the sound waves is sufficient to cancel the effect of gravity, light objects are able to levitate when placed at the nodes.”
  • RollingStone.com is offering a free download of “Run, Engine, Run,” a new song from roots rockers Trapper Schoepp & The Shades.
  • The New York Times Arts Beat blog posted a feature on Mark Johnson, this year’s winner of the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass. Johnson and Martin will perform on Letterman Monday night.
  • Watch the Avett Brothers’ recent performance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.
  • Starting MondayTaylor Swift will preview songs from Red weekly on Good Morning America and debut them on iTunes.


  1. nm
    September 21, 2012 at 11:51 am

    Juli, that SA video is fascinating. Thanks for the link.

  2. luckyoldsun
    September 21, 2012 at 11:59 am

    I don’t know if that’s Haggard or a look-alike who appears for a few seconds in a black-and-white clip at around 1:45 of the video. Otherwise, it looks like they couldn’t get Merle to show up for the shoot!

    Also of note is that at 3:45, they show the painting that was used as the cover for Willie’s original “Horse Called Music” album around 20 years ago. I don’t think “Horse” was a hit back then–I don’t know if it was even a single–but I remember that album had Willie’s last (solo) #1 hit: “Nothing I Can Do About It Now.”

  3. Rick
    September 21, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    One of the cooler exhibits at San Francisco’s “Exploratorium” natural science interactive museum is a “sound wave tube” partially filled with water. There is a speaker at one end and as you change the frequency the water starts doing strange things. There is a home made video on YouTube which shows a bit of what happens:

    Opry Alert! Tonight’s Opry will feature Joe Diffie, Gwen Sebastian, The Issacs, Bucky Covington, Ralph Stanley, Diamond Rio, and best of all Chris Hillman with Herb Pedersen! Yay! Grade: A-

  4. Ron
    September 21, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    I’ve never been a big fan of Bruce Robison’s singing. It’s kind of bland in my opinion. However, I’ve never thought he did anything that was just bad until now.

    That version of the great Border Radio song is awful.

  5. luckyoldsun
    September 21, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    “I’ve never been a big fan of Bruce Robison’s singing. It’s kind of bland in my opinion.”

    Kind of bland?? I’d say he’s Audrey Williams to Kelly Willis’s Hank. I have no idea why she shares a mike with him.

  6. Barry Mazor
    September 21, 2012 at 10:58 pm

    Well, I don’t agree with Ron and Luckyol on that one; Robison was far from the world’s greatest singer years back, no argument, but he’s improved immensely, and I’ve seen him hold rowdy crowds in the palm of his hand even with ballads.. In any case, a lot of times his performances in Nashville are kind of song-plugging opportunities, it seems..and that sometimes even works,.

  7. Donald
    September 21, 2012 at 11:01 pm

    Bruce Robison bland? Huh, and there I was believing all that No Depression hype for all those years thinking the fella could sing. Thanks for helping me out, boys. I have seven or eight CDs to recycle now. I do hope that “Border Radio” isn’t the best they have to offer, tho.

  8. Jon
    September 21, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    That’s a nice, if not particularly insightful article about Mark Johnson. He’s a good dude, and it’s nice to see him get this award.

  9. luckyoldsun
    September 22, 2012 at 2:26 am

    I’ve actually bought two Bruce Robison CDs. The first was “Long Way Home”–I think I listened to it once. Then a couple of years later, I heard the song “What Would Willie Do” on a Gary Allen CD and it just jumped out at me as a brilliant work. I looked and saw that Robison wrote it, so I ordered his “Country Sunshine” disc just to hear the original. I played that one once, also, though I probably popped it out before it got to the end.

    It wasn’t that Bruce was a “bad” singer. It was more like he wasn’t a singer at all–like the record producer and engineer were testing the equipment and needed anyone to sing and Bruce was just the guy who volunteered to do it.

    If you say he’s improved immensely as a singer since then, I’ll take your word for it–I have no compelling urge to check for myself. But I will order Gary Allen’s next disc.

  10. Barry Mazor
    September 22, 2012 at 6:38 am

    CDs and live are also not the same thing..

  11. the pistolero
    September 22, 2012 at 9:19 pm

    To each his own, but I always thought Bruce Robison was a great singer, in both studio and live settings.

  12. nm
    September 22, 2012 at 9:28 pm

    I don’t know about great, but I’ve always rated him as better than good enough. And when you combine that with his songs, what’s not to enjoy?

    Horseraces, folks.

  13. TX Music Jim
    September 24, 2012 at 11:53 am

    I enjoy his singing both live and on record. His wrapped CD is his best IMO. However, his greatest strength is as a writer. Charlie is the better over all performer in the family.

  14. Ron
    September 24, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    To each their own I guess. I just don’t see much interest in Bruce Robison’s singing. As LuckyOldSun says, he isn’t bad but there just isn’t much there to me. I’d much rather listen to Charlie.

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