George Strait Remains One of the Most Popular Artists in Country

It’s pretty common in country music each week for someone to receive a new Certified Gold or Platinum record from the RIAA for something. It’s pretty rare that an artist receives ten of them at a time though, but that’s what’s happened for both George Strait and Chris Stapleton recently, speaking to the continued longevity and popularity of their music.

Universal Music Group Nashville recently played catch up with multiple artists who had RIAA Certifications coming to them. The new certifications were officially announced on July 15th. Kacey Musgraves and her breakout song “Merry Go ‘Round” was officially Certified Double Platinum. Dierks Bentley also received a Double Platinum Cert for “Different For Girls.” Eric Church also received multiple new certifications, as did Jon Pardi.

But George Strait came out tied with the biggest haul. Despite not being able to hear him on the radio anymore, George Strait remains one of the most popular artists is country music. As has been verified by recent market research, older songs continue to rise in popularity and market share compared to newer ones, and that gulf is continuing to grow as today’s consumers continue to show preference in older music. Older songs now make up 72% of music consumption, and rising.

Look at this haul of new RIAA Certifications for George Strait:

1. “Give It Away – Certified Platinum
2. “Every Little Honky Tonk Bar” – Certified Gold
3. “It Just Comes Natural” – Certified Gold
4. “I Can Still Make Cheyenne” – Certified Platinum
5. “I Got a Car” – Certified Platinum
6. “How ‘Bout The Cowgirls” – Certified Gold
7. “Carried Away” – Certified Gold
8. “Easy Come, Easy God” – Certified Gold
9. “Write This Down – Certified Platinum
10. “Love Without End, Amen” – Certified Platinum

Gold = 500,000 in sales, downloads, and streaming equivalents. Platinum = 1 million in sales, downloads, and streaming equivalents.

Interesting that the new certifications include George Strait’s song “Every Little Honky Tonk Bar” from his most recent album Honky Tonk Time Machine released in 2019. That means ol’ King George is still minting hits. The song actually did surprisingly well on radio, peaking at #17. It was written by Strait himself, with son Bubba, and long-time collaborator Dean Dillon.

Further evidence of Strait’s continued popularity can be found on the albums charts. This week, Strait’s 50 Number Ones is #13 on the Billboard Country Albums chart, beating out many new titles from mainstream country’s current top stars. Last week 50 Number Ones was at #15, and it has been generally hovering within that same range for months now. Whenever someone streams a George Strait song, it often gets counted via the 50 Number Ones album, and people are streaming songs from George Strait a lot.

As times goes on and today’s consumers continue to grow increasingly frustrated with the lack of creativity, roots, and soul in today’s music, expect to see the back catalogs of guys like George Strait and other older country acts continue to remain popular, and perhaps even grow in popularity, with Gold and Platinum Certifications following.

Radio may no longer play these songs, but fans still do. Meanwhile, the #1 song on country radio this week was a track called “Damn Strait” by Scotty McCreery, written by Jim Collins and Trent Tomlinson. It’s a tribute song to King George. So even when George Strait isn’t on the radio, he still is, and his name is being shared all across the country radio format. Though nostalgia is a strong force in all of music, it’s an especially important component to country music, making older country artists even more poised for retrospective listening.

This also presents a different way of thinking about the effort to “save country music.” As opposed to just focusing on new artists coming up to challenge the mainstream, the back catalogs of country legends coming up from behind could be another, with artists, songs, and albums forgotten by mainstream country radio rising from the dead as new listeners discover these older artists, and older listeners continue to show favor with country legends as opposed to the new crop of popular country performers.

Country radio may have put George Strait out to pasture some years ago. But he remains one of the most popular artists in country music as his songs withstand the test of time.

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For those curious of Chris Stapleton’s new RIAA Certifications since he tied George Strait:

1. “Cold” – Certified Gold
2. “Second One To Know – Certified Gold
3. “Was It 26” – Certified Gold
4. “Millionaire” – Certified Double Platinum
5. “Fire Away” – Certified Triple Platinum
6. “You Should Probably Leave – Certified Platinum
7. “The Devil Named Music” – Certified Gold
8. “Daddy Doesn’t Pray Anymore” – Certified Gold
9. “Last Thing I Needed, First Thing This Morning” – Certified Gold
10. “Starting Over” – Certified Double Platinum

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