Op-Ed: Coran Gets Tim – By Bob Lefsetz


This is significant, on both sides of the equation.

1. Coran finally gets another hit act, it's no longer DMB and the wannabes at Red Light.

2. A rock manager finally gets a big country act.

You might shit upon country, but that's where the action is. They're singing songs. Can you call that crap on Top Forty songs? I'd call them RECORDS! There are few melodies and too many drum machines. Those cuts are made for bumping and grinding. Country music is made for listening.

I'm with that "Newsweek" reporter, who marveled at all the references to kids. Country used to have an edge. My buddy Pete Anderson would love to bring it back. But I'm thinking we've just got to move the needle a little bit, and suddenly we've got the rock business we used to have, the one that triumphed in the seventies.

Kenny Chesney may already be the number one American touring act. But his last album stiffed. We can argue all day long about its contents, but more interestingly, radio is no longer the country driver it used to be. Country listeners have iPods, SiriusXM, online stations. Are they really going to sit through all those fucking commercials on the terrestrial band?

I say no.

So this unshackles country music from its traditional backbone. Suddenly, all those Music Row maestros become less powerful. It was about playing ball with the majordomos, who controlled the gatekeepers. But if the gatekeepers are declining in power, concomitantly, the labels mean less. But there's still a demand for country music. Where is the audience going to go, RAP?

And with the decline of radio, there can be a broadening of the format. Not every track has to be family-based with Christian values, suddenly, the field is more wide open.

But too many of the old players are stewed in their old juices, beholden to the old names and games. But Coran Capshaw is not.

Coran knows infrastructure. Not only did he build the Dave Matthews Band, he built MusicToday. He's got ATO. He knows every aspect of the business inside and out. And the business is now playing into his hand. It's about YOUR team, not influencing intermediaries. It's a direct connection between you and your fans. The DMB does this best. To have Coran and his team supervise fan ticket sales, ticket club doings for Tim, is a great step forward. It's not only direction with Coran, Red Light gets down in the pit and moves the ball.

But Coran's never had another success. He inherited Phish, but all the other acts he's got with a name are has-beens. Can Coran leverage Tim McGraw to a wider berth?

It's all about touring. Tim's a superstar. The old boy network is gone. Suddenly, Nashville goes from backwater to mainstream (even though headquartered in Charlottesville!) If they just took off the cowboy hats and lost the banjos they'd be closer to Lynyrd Skynyrd than Dolly Parton or George Jones. When are the country acts going to go after their rightful audience, boomers who lived through the seventies and younger people who want melody!

Miranda Lambert's "Gunpowder & Lead" is a better rock track than anything by the Hold Steady or TV On The Radio.

Keith Urban can play the guitar better than anybody in Nickelback.

Taylor Swift may be young, but she's a better singer-songwriter than all those twentysomething waifs north of the Mason-Dixon Line.

The future is in country, or something quite like it.

It's not the final resting place for has-beens like Bon Jovi or wannabes like Jessica Simpson, but a phoenix ready to rise if it's taken seriously, adds a bit of true cred, emphasizes electric guitars and is willing to have an edge.

Kid Rock figured it all out.

And now Coran's got skin in the game.

It'll be fun to watch!