In January of 2016, Saving Country Music published an article explaining how 2016 Could Be 1975 All Over Again in country music—how an upsurge in more traditional and substantive talent and music could really take hold in country, from the independent realm to the mainstream. And that is exactly what we’ve seen as 2016 has progressed.
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?
But what’s the fun of getting to the top when you’ve compromised everything to get there? Despite some declaring the #1 for “Backroad Song” as a victory for Texas country, it is anything but. It was Granger’s abandonment of Texas country and the values of that scene, and walking away from the decent songwriting evidenced earlier in his career that finally got him the commercial success he has clearly craved.
Forget all the sappy relationship stuff, and how it happened and where it might lead. Miranda Lambert ditching Blake Shelton and ending up with Anderson East might be the perfect illustration of the drastic role reversal 2015 has ushered in throughout the greater country music realm, and how 2016 could be poised to completely turn everything upside down.
Aaron Watson, Adam Hood, Anderson East, Ashley Monroe, Blackberry Smoke, Brandy Clark, Chris Stapleton, Dave Cobb, David Rawlings, Fred Eaglesmith, Gillian Welch, Holly Williams, Jason Isbell, John Prine, Miranda Lambert, Patty Griffin, Steve Earle, Sturgill Simpson, Zac Brown
It was a busy year in country music, with lots of controversy, lots of legal issues, and even death surrounding country music artists. It was a tumultuous 2015 to say the least. Here are the top news stories of the year taking into consideration 1) Their importance to country music overall 2) The interest, or accumulated interest in the story if covered in multiple articles, based on traffic registered at Saving Country Music.
Aaron Watson, Blackberry Smoke, Chris Ferrell, Chris Stapleton, Garth Brooks, Gary Overton, Jason Aldean, Jason Isbell, Joey + Rory, Joey Feek, Keith Hill, Little Jimmy Dickens, Luke Bryan, Merle Haggard, Randy Howard, Stoney LaRue, Tim McGraw, Wayne Mills, Willie Nelson
“Awards shows don’t matter.” This is the bill of goods fans of true country music, and fans of independent music have been forced to sell themselves for years as a consolation prize for continuously being overlooked, losing in bulk, and being generally embarrassed during the moments when America and the world crowds around the boob tube for the spectacle of a televised award show like the CMA’s or the Grammys.
Aaron Watson, Americiana, Ashley Monroe, Blackberry Smoke, Brandy Clark, Cam, Chris Stapleton, Grammy Awards, Jason Isbell, Kacey Musgraves, Lee Ann Womack, Leon Bridges, O Brother Where Art Thou, Ralph Stanley, Willie Nelson
Over the last couple of weeks, Saving Country Music headquarters has received a fresh new onslaught of emails on the subject of pop country über DJ Bobby Bones—the morning show personality for iHeartMedia’s syndicated network and the single-most name at the forefront of homogenizing American mainstream country music radio. Let’s tackle some of these subjects . . .
“18,700”: This is the number of albums Toby Keith sold upon the debut of his new record 35 MPH Town, and it got me to thinking, which artists and bands have beat that number in a year of unprecedented ascent in independent country music? 2015 is the year it became common to see one of your favorite independent acts and aging legends compete at the top of the album charts.
Some independent country fans love to harp on whose name is in the biggest font in the headliner positions, but the names Stagecoach invites each year to fill out the roster gives you great hope for the future of country, and tells you who to look out for in the coming months and years, this year especially.
Aaron Watson, Amanda Shires, Billy Joe Shaver, Chris Stapleton, Cody Jinks, Dale Watson, Emi Sunshine, Emmylou Harris, Jamestown Revival, Jason Boland and the Stragglers, Langhorne Slim and the Law, Luke Bell, Marty Stuart, Mo Pitney, Robert Earl Keen, Sam Outlaw, Stagecoach, Stagecoach 2015, The Deslodes, The Malpass Brothers, The Turnpike Troubadours, Whitey Morgan, William Elliot Whitmore
The idea that Jason Isbell saved country music when his latest release Something More Than Free inched out Alan Jackson for the #1 spot on Billboard’s Country Albums chart has been offered as a discussion topic by cosmic songwriter and east Nashville sage Todd Snider. Above all else, how awesome is it to have the old version of Todd Snider back in our midst?
In one corner you have the wily veteran who’s sold more than 80 million records worldwide and racked up untold awards and accolades during his quarter century career. In the other corner you have the scrappy young upstart who after years of paying dues on the club circuit can now sell out three consecutive nights at The Ryman Auditorium in 30 minutes and is on the tip of everyone’s tongue as the name of one of the best songwriters around.
Dear Luke Bryan, Thanks for taking the time to read my letter, if in fact you do so. I can only imagine the time constraints a man of your success has, and you’ve already been taking of your time over the last few days to help clear up a mess that I guess I had some part in creating.
Aaron Watson, Blackberry Smoke, Blake Shelton, Dallas Davidson, Florida Georgia Line, Gary Overton, George Strait, Kacey Musgraves, Keith Hill, Luke Bryan, Merle Haggard, Sam Hunt, Sturgill Simpson, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson
Forget that Bobby Bones has only been a national radio personality for a measly two years, apparently that’s plenty of tenure to demand the release of a full blown memoir about his life for the gullible masses to lap up just like they do his laughable excuse for a nationally-syndicated radio show that rapes earholes from coast to coast every morning.
Nothing is more important for an independent music artist or band than the day they release an album. Despite all the adversities independent artists face in their effort to get the attention of the listening public, the release of an album can act like a great equalizer, if the band does their job, has a good track record with their fans, and gets the word out.
Well the saga of Sony Nashville CEO Gary Overton’s comments to The Tennessean of “If you’re not on country radio, you don’t exist” uttered in late February just took another interesting turn. Gary Overton is out at one of Music Row’s very top executive spots. Announced Tuesday morning (3-17), Gary Overton is stepping down from his position as Sony Nashville’s top executive at the end of March.
During a phone interview Thursday afternoon (3-12) ahead of Scott Borchetta’s appearance on American Idol, he was asked to comment on the quotes from Sony Nashville CEO Gary Overton who said a couple of weeks ago, “If you’re not on country radio, you don’t exist.” Not only did Borchetta somewhat disagree with Overton’s assessment as being “very broad,” he cited Sturgill Simpson…
Once you thought the drama over Sony Records Nashville CEO Gary Overton’s quote about country radio was starting to wind down, it has now hit overdrive. on Sunday night (3-1), Florida Georgia Line decided they wanted a piece of the action, publicly rebuking Charlie Robison on Twitter. But as per usual, Florida Georgia Line would have probably been better served by keeping their mouth shut.
Last night via Facebook, Kevin Fowler posted a link to the Bobby Bones/Aaron Watson story on Saving Country Music, and gave his opinion. Then shortly thereafter, Charlie Robison entered his opinion into the public forum in a missive that was as messy as it was epic, punctuated by a “sweetheart” chide of Bobby Bones.
You know, I didn’t want to broach this subject, because even arguing whether there’s a problem with country radio is such a reduction to the systemic and and bigoted way the institution is run, and it’s better to focus on solutions to these problems, like splitting the country format so conflicts like the ones I’m about to explain are less likely to happen.
“My name is Aaron Watson. I’m not played on country radio. And I have the #1 record in country music this week. I do exist.” This was Aaron Watson’s reaction to the comments of Sony Records Nashville CEO Gary Overton, who said earlier this week, “If you’re not on country radio, you don’t exist.” But overall the Texas country star took a much more humble, appreciative, and inclusive tone.