Texas (Charlie Robison) vs. Nashville (Florida Georgia Line) (On Texas Independence Day!)

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NOTE: this article works best if you crank Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Workin’ for MCA.”

The fighting words that drove Willie, Waylon, and the boys to carve their own trail resurfaced recently when Sony Music Nashville chairman and CEO Gary Overton dropped this hot take in an interview:

“If you’re not on country radio, you don’t exist.”

This did not sit well with Texas troubadour Charlie Robison and he let it be known.

First, that quote. The music industry can be a fickle, ego-driven monster and the product that gets sold more often than not are the actual artists.  Make no mistake – it’s an industry – and the Nashville businessmen know how to squeeze out every last nickel.

Overton is not mincing words. Country music in 2015 is not necessarily about art or quality. It is a multi-billion dollar enterprise that is adept at following a pretty straightforward recipe to success:

  1. Take song that makes mention of tractors, tailgates, etc. – you know the drill
  2. Have aforementioned song be sung by a veneer-toothed, aw-shucks sexy bro that is appealing to both teenagers girls AND their mothers.
  3. Repeat the hell out of this equation.
  4. Profit.

Charlie Robison comes from serious musical roots. His brother Bruce has penned three No. 1 hits for country radio. He was married to one of the Dixie Chicks. He packs venues throughout Texas and beyond with relentless touring and raw, real songwriting.

Overton’s quote set off Robison – to say the least. Robison took to Facebook (OUTLAW):

“I was signed by Warner bros, and Sony during the days I had the patience to smile while ignorant pencil pushing, mullet headed expense account rapists like you ran those labels,” Robison wrote. “I’m on the road right now and just finished putting on a show for the folks in Shreveport. That’s a town u call a blip on ur screen.”

Thoughts and prayers for Shreveport.

Robison wasn’t done.

“I spent so many years in Nashville watching you ignorant wastes of space sit behind your big desk and act like me and all the the Texas/Red dirt artists don’t exist,” he wrote. “Well Mr. ‘I have a job today but as soon as Florida/Georgia line goes out of style,and believe me dumbass they will, you will not exist.’”

Gotta love dragging the Florida Georgia Line broskis into this. That’s good hustle. Naturally, the duo (or female publicist) responded on Twitter.

I find this whole exchange rather amusing and refreshing. I am a longtime fan of Robison’s. His song “Loving County” is perhaps the finest murder song I’ve ever heard.

What Robison does for a living and what Florida Georgia Line do might as well be completely separate industries (in most regards– they are, the only similarity is that they are singer-songwriters). Robison plies his craft on the road, pouring his soul out in each song he writes.

Florida Georgia Line is an energetic, photogenic, likeable duo that write super marketable, catchy tunes almost better than anyone these days. It may not be artistry to some, but it’s one lucrative business– which could be the main argument for it being art or not. Most artists don’t sell their art at the rate these two do.

Keep your social media accounts refreshing to see how this one unfolds.

Image Source: BMLG, Flickr/DaveHensley