None of this might happen now if Bloodshot Records didn't exist. And when I say "that", if you read this website, I mean many of the artists featured here, aka the independent country music movement that has had so many of your favorite artists, bands and artists over the past two years. has produced albums -plus decades, regardless of whether they were signed with Bloodshot Records or not.
Of course, let's not overdo it. Country and roots music was due, and a breakaway record label that could rise to support artists who didn't want to sell their souls just to make music. Nowadays there are Thirty Tigers, New West, and nearly a dozen other labels operate on that charge. But Bloodshot Records, founded in 1993, was the first to try as a professional record label to make a home for artists who didn't fit anywhere else, and it worked.
Bloodshot helped grow the careers of such artists as Ryan Adams, Neko Case, The Old 97 & # 39; s, Justin Townes Earle, Th & # 39; Legendary Shack Shakers, and was the label of Sarah Shook and the Disarmers, Wayne "The Train" Hancock, Ruby Boots, Robbie Fulks, Jason Hawk Harris, Laura Jane Grace, The Vandoliers, Scott H. Biram, The Yawpers, The Banditos, Murder By Death, The Mekons and many more.
But the past two and a half years have been like a slow, painful death for this important land insurgent institution – not one of those sad but humane deaths where someone lies soundly asleep. It was like a loved one being taken away by a smoldering cancer and you have no choice but to sit and watch life slowly leave you with no cure or recourse.
Problems with the label started on February 16, 2019 when alt-country singer and songwriter Lydia Loveless released a statement claiming Bloodshot Records had the behavior of co-owner Nan Warshaw's partner, Mark, who is a regular sexually harassed and groped for label functions over several years. After a public outcry, Nan Warshaw announced on March 9, 2019 that she would resign resigned from her position in the company and sold her 50% stake in the label to co-owner Rob Miller.
But that was only where the difficulties began. On July 20, 2020, a letter from Bloodshot Records staff published by Bloodshot artist Jason Hawk Harris conveyed that private negotiations between co-owners Nan Warshaw and Rob Miller had not been finalized and Miller may not have been able to pay the market price for the other half of the company. Instead of taking full ownership of Miller, the catalog was then bought from other labels.
Worrying for the artists, songwriters, and their fans of Bloodshot Records, the staff letter also states that they believe the creators are not being adequately compensated because Nan Warshaw fails to fulfill her ongoing role as 50% owner of the label.
Well, for well over a year, the fate of Bloodshot Records has been in a strange limbo, not completely closed, but not carried on as normal. Apparently no new acts have been signed to the label and apart from a few compilations, no new tracks have been released.
On Monday evening, October 19th, the remaining label owner Rob Miller announced that he would no longer work for Bloodshot Records.
"Unfortunately, it is time for this phase of Bloodshot Records to end," said Rob Miller. “I will no longer be part of the label that I founded over 25 years ago as an incredibly thoughtless hobby. It's not what I, the staff or the artists wanted, but only a few can write their final chapter. That we endured it for so long – an indie roots label, too rock for country and too country for punk in Chicago – was just a miracle. "
Rob Miller didn't exactly say the label was completely done. Hypothetically, the Bloodshot Records catalog will eventually end up somewhere and the name could be revived by someone else. Saving Country Music did a little digging to determine the current status of the label and no one seems to know. Maybe Rob Miller doesn't even know right now. What we do know, however, is that it is no longer legally competent in its previous form. Some of Bloodshot's bands have moved on, including Sarah Shook and the Disarmers who signed to Thirty Tigers.
"I'm sad that there wasn't a chance for a proper goodbye and that we couldn't have a wake, celebration, or one last party," continues Rob Miller. “I seem to remember a few good ones over the years. I've probably forgotten a few of them. Hope we have brought some fun into your life over the years and have been pleasant members of the community. "
Bloodshot Records was much more than just a record label. It was a battle cry, a cultural movement, and a home for fans as well as artists. Their SXSW showcases over the years have been legendary. Her talent development was pretty much unprecedented. And their reputation as good people (at least Rob Miller and all of the staff) was a key factor in the label's popularity. When other labels got online, Bloodshot stopped being the biggest hotshot in the business. But no other label had as much street credibility as Bloodshot.
And it all seems to be in the rear view now. It really is the end of an era that has, however, resulted in a lot of excellent music, some critically important and incredible careers, and a rebirth of country and roots music that has emerged from an independent spirit that will go on no matter where it is The Bloodshot Records catalog eventually lands.
RIP Bloodshot Records. For now.
Full farewell letter from Rob Miller:
A few words of thanks.
Unfortunately, it is time for this phase of Bloodshot Records to come to an end. I will no longer be part of the label that I founded over 25 years ago as an unimaginable hobby. It's not what I, the staff or the artists wanted, but only a few can write their final chapter. That we lasted so long – an indie roots label, too rock for country and too country for punk, in Chicago – was just a miracle. It was a humiliating privilege to be able to intuitively assemble a record collection that I really loved and that so many are participating in. You trusted us and that always meant the world to me. Personally, I never took that for granted. Thank you for all your support and courage, for making this strange venture possible, for making us a part of your life and communities, and for being courteous – as a friend and former bartender of the hideout made Bloodshot fans say , sloppy and good drinkers.
Little did I know that a journey that began with my brain rewired at a DEVO show in Detroit in 1980 would lead to such a wonderful and challenging life in the independent music world. I am only filled with gratitude for the artists I have worked for. I've helped release truly remarkable music over the years. The fact that artists trust me with their creations was a responsibility that I took very seriously. I've made friends with some hugely talented people along the way, too numerous to mention, and some were even my heroes long before Bloodshot was even a drunken bunch of neurons in my head: Dex Romweber! Alejandro Escovedo! Rosie Flores! Graham Parker! Mekons! Barrence Whitfield and the Savages! It confuses my already confused mind when I think about it. And that so many of you have turned to me and the staff with tearful words of support in recent years – you know who you are – I still owe you this.
From the beginnings of the Old 97’s, Lounge Ax and Delilah’s to the aspiring rookie, a new generation of cool locations like Sleeping Village and Delilah’s, it was never boring. Boring? Secure. A huge pain in the ass? Frequently. A quixotic and sisyphus exercise? You can bet on it. But what a kick! What an absolute improbability! Often I would stand at a show and watch the crowd connect with the music – that special and exciting two-way relationship between band and audience – and marvel at the whole thing and that I was allowed to help a little. I was a record-breaking geek version of Charlie at the chocolate factory.
Well, we had a little fun right? I am sad that there was no chance of a proper farewell and that we couldn't organize a wake, a celebration or one last party. I seem to remember some good ones over the years. I've probably forgotten a few of them. Hope we have brought some fun into your life over the years and have been pleasant members of the community.
I would be profoundly remiss if I failed to praise and eternal thanks to the former Bloodshot employees who have endured a lot of undeserved and relentless darkness over the past two and a half years. They stayed true to the core purpose of the label and shared my principles of integrity in supporting music and artists we care about. Hannah Douglas, Mike Smith, Nina Stiener and Josh Zanger (and even Lisa C and Little Billie): They were rarely in the spotlight, but they were just as in the fiber of what Bloodshot was as any music. Every label – or every company – is fortunate to have them on its staff; every artist is lucky to have her on his team; and I am so proud of the work you have done under very difficult circumstances. I will always carry with me their kindness and passionate loyalty to the ideals I thought Bloodshot should be. I learned so much from them, which is really important during this time. When you see them thank them, buy them a delicious cocktail – or, in Mike's case, a Malört. They have the hearts of lions. I miss seeing them in the trenches every day; I miss watching them accomplish creative feats with the same dedication and zeal that made me even consider starting a label. There will always be a big hole where what we could have done in the next few years should be.
Whatever happens to the development of the Bloodshot name, whatever shape the company takes and wherever the artists go, it is, as always, the music that matters. Support the musicians you discovered or enjoyed on Bloodshot in any way you can, as directly as possible. Also, continue to support all independent labels, artists, and businesses (be they record stores, bookstores, print shops, breweries, bars, restaurants, clothing stores, bakeries, and more). They make life interesting. They make our communities vibrant and unique. Through them we can keep the forces of bezosization and kardashianing in check. Without them we would all be poorer.
Take care of yourself and each other, believe the women, stand up for justice and accountability in your neighborhood and, to paraphrase the always relevant Joe Strummer, find the good stuff, go underground and buy not what is presented to you.
Thank you again for everything.
Maybe someday I'll see you again at a show.