Blog Rodeo March 2013: How the Mainstream Realized Country Music Sells and Why I Fell In Love with It.
I moved away from my home state of Texas almost 15 years ago, and moved on to good ole Memphis, TN, arguably one of the most important cities in the U.S. as far as music is concerned (hello, mo-town, Elvis and the blues…). That being said, I have been exposed to whole lot of different music, at a whole lot of different phases in my life and I am better off for it. Interestingly, despite my state of origin, it wasn’t until I arrived on the scene in Northwest Arkansas that my true love for country music began to blossom. Yes, I knew who the big players were, and when in Memphis I listened to our local country station Kix 106 on a regular basis. Still, I knew about 1% of what I know now, which is considerably more. I’m telling you all this because I feel my back story places me in particularly interesting perspective when answering the March Country Music Blog Rodeo topic; “Why is the mainstream media loving so much on country music these days?”
Country Music Sells.
I’ve studied communications and the media for a few years now, and the easy answer to this question is far less romantic that most folks might want to admit. When surveying the media landscape as it exists today, it is impossible to deny that country music is everywhere. ABC plays host to the CMA Awards and the CMA Country Christmas annually, and debuted their prime time soapy drama, Nashville and Reba’s new sitcom Malibu Country in the fall. NBC has experienced major success with reality competition series, The Voice in large part due to Blake Shelton‘s ability to draw a crowd and create a buzz. FOX continually churns out the next big country star via American Idol while CBS continues to air the ACM Awards every year. Meanwhile, country artists are getting cameos on shows like Hart of Dixie and The Bachelor, and more and more, for better or worse, country stars pop up in the mainstream gossip rags, and also on the covers of more legitimate news sources, like InStyle. Everyone is looking to get a piece of the country pie, and it’s for one simple reason, country music sells.
Country Sells Because of the Fans
Marketers, network execs and anyone who is paying even the smallest bit of attention have realized that country music offers a fan base that is loyal and willing to spend their hard earned dollars on their favorite artists. This conclusion is in no way a major revelation, and not really the point I want to make. What interests me is not that savvy business people have finally figured out country is a niche they can target but that this niche even exists and that it’s so strong. Plainly put, I’m interested in that fact that country fans are so loyal. As I said before, I’m one of the “mainstream” people singled out in our topic question. I didn’t always listen to the country genre, but now that I’ve spent a good two years essentially taking a crash course on it and have genuinely really come to appreciate and love this music, I finally understand what there is to love.
The Fans Exist Because of the Music
Country music is centered around two things that I have always appreciated, quality writing and talented musicians. As Rose Falcon explained to me in a recent interview, Nashville is home to the best songwriters around, if there is one genre where its difficult, if not impossible, to get away with nonsensical lyrics, auto-tuning vocals and artists who can’t play their own instruments, this would be it.
Country is about being real and being honest. I’ve heard so many times from people who just don’t get it, something in the vein of “Oh its all about beer and break ups and losing your dog or your truck.” Yeah, okay, that exists, but what that sort of critique misses is that those themes are about heartbreak, and heartbreak is a very real part of life. What I really, really love about country is that every time I listen to my favorite artist (s) even if I’ve heard their songs a million times, I hear something new, a chord or a phrasing. There is always something there that grabs my attention and makes me want to keep listening. There is always something deeply rooted in a real, personal experience that’s just waiting to grab you.
The Music Exists Because of the Artists
If I could name every artist I admire and listen to, it would take up more space than this post can contain or you probably have the patience for, but for example artists like Zac Brown Band, Miranda Lambert, Eric Church, Sunny Sweeney, Gary Allan, JT Hodges, Kristen Kelly, Eli Young Band, Dixie Chicks, Tyler Farr, and Kacey Musgraves (that’s my short list!) have written and performed such beautiful songs that have woven themselves into the fabric of my life. I listen to them, and I connect with their music. They put into words emotions and experiences that I can relate to, that other country fans can relate to, and that is the power of their music. That is why it’s so easy to fall for country.
Blog Rodeo Roundup: See What Everyone Else Is Saying!
- CMchatLive: “Insight from Country Stars like Scotty McCreery, Sunny Sweeney, Tracy Lawrence and more!“
- Urban Country News : “Why Country Music Is Like the Zombie Apocalypse“, “A Love Affair For The Ages“
- For The Country Record: “TV and Nashille: It’s Merits and Implications for Country Music“
- UKCountryMusic: “Is Country Music About To Be Mainstream In The UK?“
- Country Music Tattle Tale: “For The Love of Country Music“
- Country Music Pride: “Country Music Has A Little Something For Everyone, Traditional, Pop, Americana and More“
- Keepin’ It Country Blog: “Everyone Loves Country Music“
- Focus On The 615: “The Mainstream Hasn’t Fallen In Love with Country, Just The Opposite,” “Remember When Country Wasn’t So Cool?“
- Country Music News Blog: “Mainstream Media Adopts Country Music,” “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool“