On the heels of letter sent by Sony BMG Nashville senior VP of legal and business affairs Katherine E. Woods yesterday, the label has issued an apology to radio for what it calls a "distraction and waste of your valuable time."

As previously reported, Sony BMG Nashville's first letter, delivered via e-mail to radio, demanded that stations stop playing an album cut version of Tracy Lawrence's "Find Out Who Your Friends Are" that features Sony BMG artist Kenny Chesney.

"If your station is playing the album version of the song 'Find Out Who Your Friends Are' embodying Kenny Chesney's vocal performances, SBMG demands that you immediately cease such unauthorized broadcasting," the original e-mail read.

In the new letter, Woods writes "We apologize for the strong language in yesterday's letter. The use of words such as 'cease' and 'demand' was inappropriate."

"We should not have involved radio in trying to resolve our issues with a third party that violated its agreement with us," the letter continues. "We value our relationship with radio. This was a distraction and waste of your valuable time. Again, we apologize."

Sony BMG Nashville chairman Joe Galante and executive VP Butch Waugh, as well as BNA VP of promotion Rick Moxley, were copied on both letters, which were simply addressed "Dear radio broadcaster."

Two versions of "Find Out Who Your Friends Are" appear on Lawrence's "For The Love" album, which was released on his own Rocky Comfort Records on January 30. One version, which was serviced to radio as a single last fall, includes only Lawrence's vocals. The second version includes vocals from Lawrence's longtime pals Tim McGraw and Chesney.

"SMBG did not grant 'singles' rights to Rocky Comfort with respect to the album versions of this song and has not authorized any radio station to play this recording," the original letter stated.

A spokesman for Lawrence told Billboard that the singer has no comment regarding the situation.

Radio stations contacted by Billboard.biz following their receipt of the first letter were overwhelmingly defiant. Joel Burke, program director KYGO in Denver said that he would continue to play the album version. "I'm not a legal expert, but I don't think anybody can tell us what album cut we can or cannot play. It's available out there for public consumption, and if I choose to play cut nine off an album that I think is going to work for our radio station, I'm going to play it."

Other programmers agreed, although some allowed that they would consult with their company's legal department for guidance on the matter.

The timing of the original letter was curious since the song has been on the Hot Country Songs Chart for 40 weeks. The song currently sits at No. 4 on the chart, which is based on data from Nielsen BDS.

BDS does not differentiate between the two versions when compiling the data.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboardbiz

Print