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Lyle Lovett sells millions, earns nothing

Singer Lyle Lovett says he has "never made a dime" from two decades of album sales, claiming the cash he's earned comes from concert tours.
/ Source: Reuters

Lyle Lovett says he has “never made a dime” from album sales during his two-decade career, and hopes to rectify that situation when his contract expires.

The eclectic country singer has two more albums on his deal with Curb/Universal, his home since 1985, and figures the horizons are wide open.

“The possibilities are very exciting, I think,” Lovett told “I’ve never made a dime from a record sale in the history of my record deal. I’ve been very happy with my sales, and certainly my audience has been very supportive. I make a living going out and playing shows.”

Lovett, 50, has sold 4.6 million albums in the United States since 1991, the year when SoundScan sales data were introduced. His most recent release, “It’s Not Big It’s Large,” has sold about 145,000 copies since debuting at a career-best No. 18 on the Billboard 200 last September, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

“Records are very powerful promotional tools to go out and be able to play on the road, but you do have to think about it as a way of sustaining itself at some point. I’m very excited about being able to do some of that on my own, maybe,” Lovett said.

He did not, however, rule out another label deal.

“Certainly if a major label is interested in working with me after these next two records and is able to come up with a strategy that does engage some of the new technology in a way that can benefit everybody, I’d be very interested in that.”

Lovett said he hopes to start work on his next album in time for a 2009 release. He has a direction in mind but says, ”I don’t know if I want to talk about it yet.”

He is currently touring North America with his Large Band through mid-August, and has also financed an album recorded at some of the singer/songwriter shows he does with John Hiatt, Guy Clark and Joe Ely but is having trouble getting his label interested in putting it out.

Lovett, who has graced the big screen in such films as “The Player” and “The Opposite of Sex,” recently added to his acting resume with “a very small contribution” to Michael Meredith’s film “The Open Road,” which stars Justin Timberlake and Jeff Bridges, and is expected to open later this year.

“I got to do a scene with Justin, which was fun. I enjoyed meeting him,” said Lovett, who also performed a song for the soundtrack with Charlie Sexton, who’s scoring the film.