Please tell me someone is getting rich on the O Brother soundtrack

… I mean, someone besides the record company.

I’ve heard that this album has just blown away people’s expectations in terms of sales, and has proven that people do have the taste for music outside their regular genre.

So please tell me, because I want this to be true, that some (up until now) moderately-successful bluegrass musicians are now rolling in big fat piles of dough.

Do they get $$ from each soundtrack sold? Or will the primary benefit be from the higher exposure and bigger draw for their own concerts and albums?

I saw a story on TV a while back about a guy who had sung some of the songs. He had a really common name, and the recordings had been done years and years ago, so no one really knew who or where he was. When the soundtrack went big, however, the record company tracked him down and gave him a check for a couple hundred thousand dollars, out of the blue.

Does that give you the warm fuzzies?

Cranky, I don’t know the specifics in this case, but from my experience in a similar music ghetto (blues), the main financial bonus to musicians is in an escalated booking revenue, outside the normal, smaller, venues. It lasts about 5 years, but that’s a whole lot better than the norm. I’m a longtime bluegrass fan, and the upsurge of interest since Oh Brother is amazing!

I do know that the Coen bros. made a good effort in finding Mississippi musicians to fill their needs. I lived down there when they filmed it, and my ex was one of their consultants. The actor in the “Robert Johnson” role, the blues musician, is Chris Thomas, son of blues great Tabby Thomas. I’ve known Chris for years, he’s immensely talented, and this has been a great boon to his career. The Coen Bros. could have chosen plenty of others, Keb Mo’ being the main choice, but they chose an unknown actor.

For that, and sticking with their vision, and not giving a damn whether it was popular or not, and then making it popular, they have my best gratitude.