Just in time for throngs of Americana fans to flock to the city for the annual AmericanaFest the third week of September, a new radio station has launched just south of the city in Murfreesboro, and the signal and talent is strong enough that it may ultimately become the flagship for the still small, but quickly-rising Americana format.
Why are we all so mad at each other all of a sudden? Why does every decision seem to be split down society 50/50, from the United States Presidential election, to the Brexit vote in Britain? Why are we more distrusting of each other than any other time in the last nearly 50 years?
What once was one of the Internet’s most promising up-and-coming properties has announced they will be ceasing operations on or around July 10th. Examiner.com, which consisted of numerous locally-oriented sub-domains and relied on citizen journalists for content has decided to shutter due to low revenue and a tainted brand.
Written solely by female songwriter Lori McKenna, “Humble and Kind” becomes the first #1 country song written by one person in more than four years. In this era when everything is written by a committee of three or more, and the expressions of female artists are generally stifled, this is quite the feat.
Americana may not have a definitive, universally-recognized definition. But it now has it’s own classification on Billboard’s weekly album’s chart, which is a new layer of legitimacy for the genre if nothing else. Overall, it appears that the Billboard staff got it just about right.
Usually it’s only once or twice a year that music media is faced with the dilemma of how to adequately and respectfully cover the passing of a high profile music celebrity. In 2016, it has been more like once or twice a month. In fact the frequency of seismic music deaths has been a story unto itself.
“Country Weekly” started in 1994 as a country music lifestyle magazine that ran interviews with stars and covered news from around the genre. In 2014, Cumulus purchased 50% of the magazine in a partnership with it’s owners American Media and eventually relaunched as “NASH Country Weekly.” And in typical corporate takeover fashion, Cumulus is now gutting the publication.
This is not another article about Chris Stapleton. This is an article about mainstream American country music radio. Yes, Chris Stapleton won big, again. But Chris Stapleton’s impact still remains paltry on mainstream country radio. The question is, will country radio listen? Or will country radio be left with anybody listening to it?
The two largest radio station owners in the United States—iHeartMedia (formerly Clear Channel) and Cumulus Media—both have billions in debt, are both looking to restructure that debt to avoid bankruptcy or default, and are both dealing with dwindling profitability. Even when the companies are able to post strong quarterly earnings, the interest on the debt they owe makes it impossible to see a way forward.
The changes to Instagram could adversely affect the music world significantly more than it will the rest of social media culture. Why? Because despite Instagram being an image-based format with no direct tie to music, music fans favor and use the social network in much greater numbers compared to the general population, and use it specifically to help support the music they love.
No, I’m not going soft, and I’m certainly not endorsing CMT or any of its programs or online properties. I can list dozens of other better alternatives to CMT for your country music and lifestyle needs, and the Viacom-owned entity would probably come near the bottom of the list of recommend media sources. If boiled down to one word, the way to describe CMT would be “filth.”
When Saving Country Music started nearly nine years ago, the media rarely talked about country legends. They were relics forgotten in time that weren’t worth wasting website space on because few people cared, and the ones who did weren’t online. Now that your mother and grandmother all have Facebook pages and smartphones, country legends and their regular health ailments are the stuff of clickbait dreams for viral farms.
“It is difficult for me to write this, partly because it seems like everything I write these days ends up as some tragic news story about my wife and her â€˜last days’ and the â€˜shocking’ new development that has just been shared,” Rory said in his post. “I want to apologize for any sensational headlines that this or any post has created. That has not been my intention.”
How people listen to music is clearly changing, but much of the country music industry isn’t following suit. In a town that employs scores of people just to push songs to radio, Nashville doesn’t know how to behave any differently than they did 60 years ago. Entire companies are based around trying to sell songs to country radio. The difference now is radio is no longer the only game in town.
Now Bobby Bones, over a year after its initial release, has gone crazy over “Whiskey On My Breath,” and spent Tuesday (1-26) chronicling its rise to #2 on the iTunes charts as he commanded his many listeners to purchase it. Remember, it was a similar effort that propelled Chris Janson’s song “Buy Me a Boat” to the top of the iTunes charts, and eventually landed him a major label deal with Columbia Nashville.
2015 has been back loaded with big events and even bigger releases that have caused renewed interest in the charts used to measure the popularity and impact of music. The problem is, in this here-and-now world, the model for how music is measured is still based around walking to a newsstand on Monday, and picking up the latest Billboard, or waiting for Tuesday when the album charts are updated online.
You may not be able to find a more insular, inbred, and ass backwards institution in the entirety of the North American economy than country radio. Run by good ol’ boys in the pockets of big labels, and mid level corporate bureaucratic bean counters who bark orders from on high to hundreds of stations, the idea of country radio either serving the communities they broadcast to or artists died decades ago.
Losing music blogs and websites for more economically-viable or technologically savvy replacements is one thing. Replacing them with nothing, and having the music industry itself fill in the void through bias, paid content could result in much bigger issues than no good place to read about your favorite bands.
That was the big question coming off of Stapleton’s big CMA wins: would radio respond? And now that we have the new numbers from Mediabase, the answer is “Yes.” There’s still a long way to go before Chris Stapleton’s success translates fully to the radio format, but he’s off to a running start.
Granger’s incredibly generic and pandering new single “Backroad Song” has just been sent to mainstream country radio proper. And with a big Nashville label behind it now, the single has become the 2nd most added song to country radio stations in the last two consecutive weeks, and is about to get yet another power boost of infinite proportions.