Country music star Jason Aldean has been stirring up controversy over the past week due to his controversial video for his equally controversial song “Try That in a Small Town.” This week, the video got a little shorter when his production company was forced to remove news clips (including six seconds that were apparently recorded during the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests) due to copyright claims from the videos’ owners.
A representative for BBR Music Group, which represents Aldean, confirmed to ABC News that the music video had been edited due to third party copyright clearance issues. Aldean’s production company allegedly reached out to FOX 5 Atlanta back in May, requesting permission to use a 6 second clip that showed violence at a BLM rally. Representatives for FOX 5 requested the lyrics in writing and instead they sent a link to the song, but failed to send it in writing (the FOX 5 Atlanta banner can be seen in the original video). In the original video, the video clip was broadcast on the courthouse behind Aldean as he sang. The new video shows Aldean singing up close. Another short news clip of a person speaking about farmers helping a neighbor was also pulled from the video, but it is unclear who the original copyright owner was for that clip.
The song originally stirred up controversy as many critics interpreted his lyrics to be problematic towards “outsiders” of a small town. The video, however, created even more controversy when it became known that a large part of it was filmed in the town square in front of the Maury County Courthouse in Columbia, Tennessee. In 1946, the area was the origin of the Columbia Race Riot, which occurred following a struggle between a Black World War II veteran and a white shopkeeper. (Aldean is not from the area himself, he is from Macon, which added to speculation that the site may have been chosen for less-than-honorable reasons.)
Country Music Television (CMT) pulled the video from its music video rotation, but the song’s controversy has caused it to rise to the top of many country and pop charts.