The Gatekeepers of Country Music are Going Away
Speaking with Barbara Beam at 93.7 JR FM in Vancouver, Canada, Zac Brown called “That’s My Kind of Night” the worst song he had ever heard.
“I see it being commercially successful, in what is called country music these days, but I also feel like that the people deserve something better than that,” Zac Brown said. “What we do is not necessarily traditional country, but we play all of our own instruments, we write the best songs that we can, and we put harmony on the songs, we have a real band.”
Those were Zac Brown’s own words speaking less than two years ago. Maybe Zac though his words wouldn’t migrate south since they were spoken in Canada. Or maybe he wanted them too. Either way, it turned into a pretty legendary spat, especially when Jason Aldean came to Luke Bryan’s defense and said, “Nobody gives a shit what you think” to Zac Brown. Zac never really apologized for his words, though he did give Luke Bryan a very public hug at the CMA Awards a few months later.
Zac Brown wasn’t taking out a personal beef with Luke Bryan. He wasn’t jealous of Luke’s success so he decided to flame throw “That’s My Kind of Night.” Zac Brown was showing his love and concern for country music by questioning the long-term viability of a genre that would launch a song like “That’s My Kind of Night” to #1. Zac Brown was participating in gatekeeping, or making sure the boundaries of country were respected, and didn’t become so stretched that it lost its identity.
“There’s songs out there on the radio right now that make me be ashamed to be even in the same format as some other artists,” Zac said. “You can look and see some of the same songwriters on every one of the songs. There’s been like 10 number one songs in the last two or three years that were written by the same people and it’s the exact same words, just arranged different ways.”
Nothing that Zac Brown said was anything different than what was being said by concerned country music fans all across country, but it meant something different because it was coming from another artist, and one who was on the top tier, and on the same level of Luke Bryan at the time.
The examples of gatekeeping in country music go all the way back to the commercial beginnings of the genre. Many of the early managers and stars of the Grand Ole Opry insisted on keeping the traditions of the music alive by not allowing electric instruments or drums on the Opry stage for many years. Of course over time these traditions slowly melted away, but by keeping a close watch on how country music progressed, it was never allowed to get out of hand too quickly, lest country music lose its identity.
Charlie Rich lighting the envelope on fire announcing John Denver as the CMA Entertainer of the Year in 1975 is another example (though some dispute that as Charlie’s intentions, and say he was just ‘lit’). The formation of ACE—the Academy of Country Entertainers started by George Jones and Tammy Wynette after the 1975 CMA awards had many traditional artists concerned that pop stars were infiltrating the genre—is an example of gatekeeping. And of course The Outlaws, Waylon’s song “Are You Sure Hank Doe It This Way?” Alan Jackson and George Strait’s duet of “Murder on Music Row” that became the CMA Song of the Year in 2001, are more examples.
But in the last couple of years, as the country genre has arguably gone more out-of-control than ever, the guns have gone silent, at least with mainstream, top-tier stars showing concern about where things are headed in country. There’s been no high-profile criticism of Florida Georgia Line or Sam Hunt, and these are names who are new to the genre, not seasoned performers with skins on the wall like Luke Bryan was when Zac Brown called his song out.
And what is Zac Brown up to these days? As Big Machine Records CEO Scott Borchetta explained last week, he is releasing his controversial EDM song “Beautiful Drug” as his next single.
“. . . we play all of our own instruments, we write the best songs that we can, and we put harmony on the songs, we have a real band,” Zac Brown said in response to Luke Bryan’s “That’s My Kind of Night” not two years ago. And now the exact criticisms he leveled at Luke Bryan could be leveled at him.
But they won’t be. At least not by any other mainstream-level artists. The gatekeepers are gone. And in Zac Brown’s case, they’ve turned coat. You almost can’t blame him. If you want to continue as a mainstream-level country artist these days, you’re almost obligated to acquiesce to the EDM influences infiltrating country.
“We’re not really an album band,” Zac Brown Band’s steel player Clay Cook said recently to The Boston Globe about the new record Jekyll + Hyde. “The album is basically a business card to get people to see us play live.”
Pop has always been a part of the country music genre, and so has pushing the boundaries sonically. But so has artists and managers and label heads being willing to swipe artists on the nose, especially younger ones, whether directly or in songs, when things get out-of-hand and grave consequences for country in the long-term could result.
Maybe it’s the social network environment these days that has some scared to start a feud. Maybe there’s nobody left willing to fight in the mainstream. Or maybe it’s perceived there’s nothing left to fight for. But unless some scene control is enacted, the slip in ratings for country could continue, and there could be serious consequences for the music moving forward.
August 10, 2015 @ 9:22 am
I thought Jekyll & Hyde was a really well done album. I liked how it was a little bit of everything. It was country, rock, pop all wrapped into one album.
I don’t have a problem with an artist doing songs that aren’t really their genre. Willie doing raggae, Zac doing a rock/pop album, etc. The problem I have is when it doesn’t come across as real. Luke Bryan makes shit, and he knows it, but he still tries to play it off as being real. If Luke came out tomorrow and said he was doing a duet album with Iggy Azalea and was honest with the consumers that it was going to be a bit of everything, I think there’d be a lot less hate spewed his way.
Gatekeeping is a difficult job to do these days. From the radio side, I’ve been fighting for 12 years now for better music, better quality, and after a while I start to wonder is it really worth it? I can tell people all day long about Isbell, William Clark Green, Sunny Sweeney, but at the end of the day my voice only goes so far. When there are 3 companies making all the musical decisions for radio stations throughout the country, and they don’t care to take responsibility, it’s easy to understand why people perceive there”™s nothing left to fight for in country music.
August 10, 2015 @ 12:01 pm
There’s nothing wrong with artists dabbling in other genres. The problem is when they dabble in other genres, but call it country and release it to country radio. That is why Taylor Swift stopped calling her stuff pop and stopped releasing singles to country radio.
It becomes an even bigger problem when less than two years ago, the person releasing pop songs was calling other artists out for releasing pop songs.
August 10, 2015 @ 2:02 pm
At least Cook is being honest. The unfortunate truth in today’s music world is these artist have to rely on concert ticket revenue to really make a good living. ZBB essentially just said “Fuck it, if we can’t beat these guys let’s join them.”
It just doesn’t bother me. If these bro guys can figure out a way to make millions and millions of dollars a year and go around the world singing on stage why should I care? I’m still going to buy the music I like and go to shows to support the artist I like. ZBB is no longer one of those.
August 10, 2015 @ 3:23 pm
I think the long-term viability of the country genre affects every country fan, and the fabric of the American culture. Read the quote t the top of every page on this site. I do understand though, directly, it probably doesn’t affect the average consumer much . . . if they’re dialed into the fact that they have better choices.
August 11, 2015 @ 4:41 am
Trig as you know I love the site and think you do an incredible job. However my personal opinion is, while I know you have to cover the ‘fun stuff’ too, concentrate as much as possible on the positives.
The glass half full tells me we have better music available to us right now than ever before. Who cares if some jack ass wearing a beenie and a top hat sells out on country music. You are dead on, the reality is today’s issues are more with what’s labeled into the ‘country’ genre than the lack of good music available to those of us willing to seek it out. I encourage you to use this powerful site to give those artist the most coverage possible and open new musical doors to all your readers. That’s how you can help save country music.
August 11, 2015 @ 9:44 am
Hey Big Cat,
Thanks for the concern. Having run Saving Country Music for 8 1/2 years now, I have seen this concern often. First I’d like to point out that while many of the negative articles become the most high-profile and tend to stimulate the most conversation, I always make sure to post more positive than negative. THough it may seem strange, the simple fact is negative articles do more to promote the cause of Saving Country Music, and the specific artists I am hoping to highlight, more than positive coverage does. Long story short, barely anybody reads positive coverage, though I still remain committed to it. People read the negative stuff sometimes 10 to 1, or greater. So the negative stuff helps promote the positive.
Also, though I agree there’s a lot of great music out there, traditional country, Americana, and independent music in general is facing its own challenges and quality issues, so sometimes it’s difficult to always have a new band or artist or song or album to shine a spotlight on every day.
Your concern is an important one though, and highlighting the positive will always be the priority.
August 10, 2015 @ 9:23 am
I was having a conversation with a producer/artist about such things recently. He asked me who there was in country music today (younger artists) that had the clout, and was capable and willing to carry the torch of traditional music forward. I thought of a few that are up and coming. Of current stars there are only 1-2 that might be able to turn the tide, but they haven’t yet and it doesn’t seem to be high on their radar. Looks like the growth/rebirth of country music will have to be grassroots up…. just like it was once upon a time.
August 10, 2015 @ 1:11 pm
You know, from time to time I see people mention Dierks Bentley as a mainstream artist who maybe cant be subjected to all the same current criticisms. I have long been a big fan, and until recently would have agreed with the sentiment that he’s “one of the good ones.” But I caught a dierks Bentley concert this summer (the third I’ve been to,) and I have to say, I feel like he’s really sold out. I was so discouraged leaving that show.
I wish that damn Drunk on a Plane garbage had never been recorded.
August 23, 2015 @ 4:47 pm
Yes I feel the same way. Dierks for awhile was not a bad listen but then he got bit by the Pop Country bug and started to go that way.
August 10, 2015 @ 9:49 am
Great article, I had the misfortune of listening to country radio on a trip home yesterday, and literally none of the songs I heard for an hour stretch had any resemblance to what I consider country music at all. The songs aren’t even close to country. They are pure pop songs that sometimes have a southern accent on them-thats it. It disgusts me so much to see not only that no one in the artist world is doing any gatekeeping-its almost as infuriating that the so called fans of this genre continue to to not only accept it-they are encouraging it and pushing it even further. Obviously this doesn’t apply to anyone on sites like these, but it blows my mind that the mainstream country fan can put up with this crap.
August 10, 2015 @ 1:15 pm
I have gathered from talking to a lot of fans that that’s because a LARGE portion of them aren’t really country music fans. They have no knowledge of what country music sounded like before they started listening to country radio 2 or 3 years ago, or less. So they call themselves country fans, and like what they hear on country radio, but they’ve never really listened to what most would actually consider country music.
If I had a dollar for every guy who told me he loved country music but then proceeded to talk to me about Luke Bryan and FGL while not having a single clue about Country music made before 2010, I could get some super sweet boots!
August 10, 2015 @ 1:58 pm
Stephanie you are right on. As we’ve discussed on this forum several times, a majority of fans that drive mainstream country radio listening grew up having only been exposed to the last 15-20 years of country radio. So they actually think that’s what country music is and has always been about and therefore proclaim themselves big country fans but have no real idea how deep the roots of the genre go back and what traditional country actually sounds like.
It’s not even their fault really, as they are just naive and/or ignorant to traditional country formats.
August 11, 2015 @ 2:30 am
If I may…
Some of that “responsibility” falls on the folks of these new listeners for not exposing ’em to the old stuff in the first place.
True they have to stick with it once they’ve heard ’60s Jones and Cash and Haggard and Price and original Outlaw music from the 70’s and the Class of (+/-) ’89- most I have in my vinyl collection (not that I’m bragging really…)
So I count myself lucky that it “stuck” with my son, who’s iPod is full of those old songs and who is grounded enough in them to see and hear the true rootedness and not just lip-service nods of artists like Simpson Johnson and BSofJC, Steep Canyon Rangers, etc. – and who introduces his graying padre to these new old sounds from Nash-Vegas, Texas, Kentucky and wherever else the true Muse hangs her Stetson.
August 11, 2015 @ 11:47 am
So, by the last 15-20 years I assume you mean circa 1995 at the earliest? Having grown up on the Class of ’89 among others, I can’t say that I feel that my perspective is all THAT clouded. Sure, if we were to rewind to 10 years ago, you’d see me singing along to the radio. But times have changed and so have I; the sheer amount of perspective about country music I’ve gleaned in the last several years has completely changed my outlook on my favorite musical template. Even then, I don’t think country had fully succumbed to the pop virus until just about 2008, when Taylor Swift got huge, and then in 2011 with “Dirt Road Anthem.” At the time I’d been hanging on to the last vestiges of fandom for what was on the radio but I had all but declared my absent-mindedness. I promptly jumped ship with Aldean’s single and haven’t looked back. I still listen to country radio each morning in the shower to hear what’s going on, but it’s mostly just depressing and/or annoying.
The point here is thus: us younger fans aren’t necessarily “ignorant” of what country music is. I can’t say whether I’d still like the music I did 10 years ago if it were on the radio now, but I would certainly be able to appreciate what it was more than I can with the music that’s out now. I’m not a traditionalist, obviously, but my mantra is that if I hear fiddles, banjos and steel in a song, even if the chorus is polished up, I consider it country. I’m speaking in general terms, of course; you can rap over those instruments or shred some metallic guitar and then I’d have to consider my stance a bit more. However, concerning the music propagated to country radio, I consider that my standard (which nothing in the mainstream has met recently). I’d say around 50% of the stuff on the radio 10 years ago could still be objectively described as country music, modern flourishes or not.
August 10, 2015 @ 9:51 am
As long as we have Trigger and Saving Country Music, there’ll always be gatekeepers of some sort.
I’m honestly shocked at ZBB’s move, though. Zac openly says “Beautiful Drug” is a club song, so why not just release it to pop radio and avoid having his foot in his mouth?
August 11, 2015 @ 11:15 am
That’s what I thought might happen. Heavy is the head was only released to rock stations. Maybe this is just going to pop stations
August 11, 2015 @ 11:44 am
Scott Borchetta said he hopes that the song will cross over “from country”, heavily implying that it will start on country radio. I think it would do just fine commercially if it was released exclusively to pop radio. Someone relatively new like Sam Cunt (Sorry, Hunt) would naturally have trouble, but ZBB is an established act with several #1s and a Grammy under their belts.
August 10, 2015 @ 10:03 am
Texas country will take over Nashville in next few years in terms of popularity.
August 10, 2015 @ 11:32 am
From your lips to God’s ears!
August 10, 2015 @ 12:03 pm
August 10, 2015 @ 12:19 pm
Texas “Country” can be just as bad as Nashville sometimes.
August 10, 2015 @ 12:24 pm
I somewhat agree, I think the difference is for every poor Texas band (see Rich O’Toole, Casey Donahew, Granger Smith) there is Wade Bowen, Reckless Kelly, Randy Rogers, Jason Boland, Turnpike Troubadours, Whiskey Myers, etc.
August 10, 2015 @ 1:13 pm
Plus, I’d much rather hear the garbage from the Texas / red dirt genre over the garbage from Nashville any day of the week.
August 13, 2015 @ 9:28 pm
This guys singing good country around Texas, catchy song.
August 10, 2015 @ 10:10 am
There is a major difference between Beautiful Drug and My kind of night. Beautiful drug is actually a good song. Is it country? heck no. Should it be on country radio? Heck No. But it is a good pop song.
I don’t think that Zac wanted to make a country record this time around. They are such good musicians that they like to play all different types of music.
August 10, 2015 @ 12:04 pm
I would respectfully disagree that “Beautiful Drug” is a good song. To me it is incredible cliche, and one of the reasons it was released to country is because if it had to go toe to toe with other songs in the EDM world, it would fall flat on its face. Country artists don’t make good EDM. It’s not their discipline.
“They are such good musicians…
I agree, so why replace them with computers? That’s not the mark of good musicianship.
August 10, 2015 @ 3:23 pm
Technically speaking, they didn’t replace musicians with computers. According to the booklet, every memeber of the band throws something into the mix. If you want true computer made music, turn on pop radio.
Speaking of which, that reminds me of a recent Loudwire interview with Corey Taylor from Slipknot/Stone Sour. I think he was spot on: http://loudwire.com/slipknot-corey-taylor-pop-music-insulting/
August 10, 2015 @ 10:14 am
I think Clay Cook’s comments make sense. While ZBB’s first few albums were definitely country/southern rock, the live shows have always had a bit of everything, from Metallica to reggae to even some rap (rare cases). So I don’t mind an album that’s designed to enhance their live show.
Also, I think the mixing of instrumentation of Tomorrow Never Comes was really enjoyable. Even ZBB at their “worst” is significantly better than some of their peers.
August 10, 2015 @ 10:28 am
All right, I’m about to become very unpopular on this site…I actually like Jekyll + Hyde and even “Beautiful Drug.” The problem I have is not that they recorded it, or that it started their album. Maybe they haven’t always done EDM songs, but they have always experimented with their sound. You can’t call “Overnight” country by any stretch of the word, and many of their songs lean more to reggae than country. I don’t even care that they are releasing it to radio. It is that they are releasing it to country radio. It’s an EDM song and Zac Brown even said that. So release it to top 40 radio and move on. They released “Heavy is the Head” to rock radio and got a #1. People aren’t complaining about that because that stayed on rock radio where it belonged.
August 10, 2015 @ 10:58 am
I think that with a band as established as ZBB, it doesn’t MATTER if they release it to Country or not, it’ll get played. They’re an iHeartMedia band. That means iHeart will pick it up and play it all over the syndicated world. TSwift’s shitfest “Shake it off” was played on Country Radio for a short stint (at least here in LA it was only short-lived…maybe y’all had to put up with it longer elsewhere) even though she had proudly proclaimed her exit from the format. Radio didn’t want to let her go. Country Radio won’t want to let Zac and the guys release a single outside of Country Radio either.
We need mo’ Mo.
August 10, 2015 @ 5:29 pm
Detroit’s “Nash FM” outlet still has “Shake It Off” in rotation. And their competitor station played “Wildest Dreams” (which Taylor has announced will be the next official radio single from “1989”) for a couple of weeks (although they never played “Shake It Off”).
Cool Lester Smooth
August 10, 2015 @ 10:59 am
I love Overnight.
Trombone Shorty is the man.
August 10, 2015 @ 4:35 pm
I am also gonna be unpopular because surprisingly, I actually agree.
August 10, 2015 @ 10:29 am
I think now that music is so easy to find via the internet and everything else that gatekeepers are less necessary than they were even a few years ago. Consider this: The only reason that the identity of country music mattered was for its fans who needed the genre, because it provided them with music they liked. Music fans don’t need Country Music anymore to provide for them, because The Hip Cool and Smooth internet can do that for them better. Country Radio is an out of touch old man, with no place in the world because his skills are irrelevant now and nobody needs him. He needs to just retire and let the new kids with the relevant skills (The internet, streaming) take over his job, because he’s just in everybody’s way. Music fans find the music they like through different means now, and Americana is what Country was, just like Letterman was what Jack Benny used to be.
August 10, 2015 @ 12:07 pm
People have been saying this for years, but all the research shows that radio is still the #1 media for artists to connect with consumers. Why do you think major labels are focusing so much on it? Country radio is country music in the mainstream.
August 10, 2015 @ 9:15 pm
That’s true, but it’s an obsolete format in a world that no longer has need for it.
August 11, 2015 @ 6:51 pm
I respectfully disagree. While there are plenty of other outlets to find good music, it takes a fair amount of effort to find it, as opposed to the days when one could simply turn on the radio, tune to a country station and be reasonably assured that most what was played would be at least tolerable.
August 12, 2015 @ 6:54 am
It doesn’t take very much effort at all. Practically every website has a database of what people who watched/listened to something ALSO watched/listened to and it suggests it. Subsequently all it takes is typing in one think the listener likes to be rewarded with a whole host of options, some of them never before experienced.
August 10, 2015 @ 10:30 am
One of the more overlooked factors in ” gatekeeping ” in these times is that there are just too many gates to keep . Time was you played country music the way it was accepted – traditional, tried and true , ain’t-broke-don’t fix -it straight-up country music . You got it on a country station by hand-delivering your record to a DJ …or maybe you got to play your song on one of two or three national TV shows which might feature country . It had to sound like , sing like and be recorded by a COUNTRY singer . But today in the ” 500 channel universe ” ( more like 5,000 , of course ) anything and everything gets thrown at the wall day in and day out ( can you spell “G-L-U-T” ) and the ” country music pie ” has been cut up in , seemingly , every one of those 500 ways . Each sub genre finds its pocket , its much smaller and more discerning ‘fan base’ ,and the artist crosses her fingers and hopes her take sticks long enough to give her a shot at a second , or third outing …maybe even a ‘ career ‘ .
You can’t hire enough gatekeepers to repel/ filter all comers storming the bastions . As we’ve seen in stats available everywhere , even the #1 selling country records are selling only 40,000 and the bands more than ever have to take it to the streets to generate enough revenue to keep all the balls in the air .
Everybody has access to not only cheaper recording facilities and technologies …but more gates to unleash music to the masses …from traditional label-backed access , to independent promotion , personal You Tube videos, Facebook , Twitter , Tinder, artist websites, lyric pages , Reverbnation , iTunes , CD Baby , merchandise tables at shows ….and on and on . Marketing becomes a bigger factor than ever with so many players in the game and so many ways to reach potential buyers . Gatekeeping becomes near impossible which is the only reason artists like Sturgill , Lindi , Kacey , Brandi , Jason and so many others even have a HOPE of being heard now . The big boys with the big deep pockets , big egos and little concern for the music aren’t concerned so much with gatekeeping anymore as they are with gate receipts . They can’t afford to be . The upside to the downslide in gatekeepers is that there is so much more great music getting through to listeners who have moved on to the new gates .
August 12, 2015 @ 7:26 am
Point taken, but it still requires the listener to take a more active role, as opposed to listening to the radio, which is a passive experience. You get busy with other things, don’t always have time to look for something new, and things slip through the cracks. And then there are the songs that take a while to grow on the listener. Sometimes the listener would not initially be impressed with a particular song but grow to like it after repeatedly hearing it on the radio (not in the current climate, though). Nowadays, how likely is one to replay a song one was initially lukewarm to?
August 12, 2015 @ 8:31 am
“Nowadays, how likely is one to replay a song one was initially lukewarm to? ”
I’ve always felt that if was a well written , well crafted commercial song with something to say – even in a clever or humourous write -and an experience most people could relate to ,….or perhaps just infectious instrumentally and made people want to dance , it shouldn’t take 5 or 6 listens until you decide whether or not you like it .I don’t have to read a book or watch a movie 5 or 6 times before I DECIDE to like it or not . Unfortunately that seems to be the case with so much radio music . It is forced upon us even though most of us cannot relate to the narrative , the weak hook and , in most cases with contemporary country music ,has a rhythm that defies listeners to dance to it . People USED to love to go dancing to commercial country music …great two step rhythms ,shuffles, watzes , polkas, 6/8’s ( Girl Crush ) and even some straight four on the floor country-rock ( Waylon ). In a club , you didn’t have to wait until the song was played 5 times before you knew that you could dance to it . That aspect of the music has all but evaporated along with the narratives that grabbed our attention ( Lucille , Lyin’ Eyes,Three Wooden Crosses, ). A good write should do ALL of that work and not demand that the listener, as you say , invest 5 or 6 listens before she determines what its about and whether she likes the groove and/or can dance to it . Almost anything becomes ingrained after 5 or 6 listens ( advertisements, jingles )and radio relies on that fact to keep pumping out the nonsense it currently does. We’re force fed a diet we don’t necessarily like or want but have become passive about . We have TONS of options once we understand that .
” If you don’t know where you’re going , any road will take you there “.
July 15, 2018 @ 8:40 pm
There is a lot of music I love at 35 that I had zero appreciation for at 15. An example from another genre, alternative rock, is the album The Queen Is Dead by The Smiths. When I was 15 and thought I knew everything, I got nothing from song about feeling ashamed at putting your foot in mouth (Bigmouth Strikes Again). I still hadn’t experienced what it’s like to work a job you hate with all your heart and soul, so a song like Frankly, Mr. Shankly held no emotional spell over me. I had no appreciation for the wit in the lyrics and thought Morrissey was just a pretentious twat.
Now I’m older, and I love that album. Various life experiences led me to appreciate the album in a way I packed a frame of reference for as a kid. I still think Morrissey is kind of a wanker, but now I think he’s a wanker that could write a damned good song in his prime.
August 10, 2015 @ 10:38 am
It seems like having a pop version of the genre is what drives the bad decision-making. Jazz, blues, and bluegrass don’t seem to have as much trouble keeping their genres pure since there is no huge profit-driven machine pushing for the next big hit or artist. Not sure there is much that can be done about it at this point. Unfortunately, I think we’ve reached a point where the purer forms of country much will be delegated to the sidelines without much influence on the pop country culture. I’ve never why country music seems to have a contempt for it’s roots, but that’s a topic for another day.
Cool Lester Smooth
August 10, 2015 @ 10:57 am
I hate Beautiful Drug, but…an important part of Brown’s takedown of Bryan was that ZBB don’t claim, and never have claimed, to be country. They’re a Southern jam band, always have been, and have never pretended to be anything else.
Brown’s problem with Bryan was as much that he calls his terrible music “country” as it was that his music was terrible.
August 10, 2015 @ 11:14 am
The gate was torn down from the inside.
August 10, 2015 @ 11:28 am
To take the gate analogy further . . .
Having gates assumes having fences. Clear Channel/iHeart, Cumulus, etc have bypassed those fencelines with the equivalent of 4-lane superhighways. No need for any fences or gates any more. Just new toll booths–at all the streaming services, one supposes.
Picture the ghosts of George and Tammy forlornly sitting in front of a dilapidated Route 66-style gas station on some run-down desert back road. There’s your gatekeepers.
August 10, 2015 @ 11:49 am
The best hope we have.
August 11, 2015 @ 6:23 am
Yeah, he’s certainly someone to watch but I seem to remember the same things were said about Easton Corbin a few years back and look at his most recent album. I say, give the lad a few years first!
August 10, 2015 @ 12:06 pm
All of this is the work of the Country Music Illuminatii consisting of Scott Borchetta, Dallas Davidson, Taylor Swift’s Dad, Kanye West, Justin Beiber, and Osama Bin Laden.
August 10, 2015 @ 12:23 pm
Why the attack on Taylor Swift? You can’t blame her for bro-country or its successors. Heck, she was already out of the genre by the time bro-country reached peak popularity.
August 10, 2015 @ 12:27 pm
Well, while Swift isnt to blame for this, there is no doubt that the main reason someone like Kelsie Ballerina or whatever her name is, has a number 1 single and a record deal is because of the labels chasing the next Swift. Fairly or unfairly, chances are Ballerina never gets a record deal if Swift didnt break out the way she did.
August 10, 2015 @ 5:04 pm
It’s like Michael Jordan and Nike. All of the shoe companies have spent 30 years infiltrating youth basketball looking for the next MJ while all they’ve done is destroyed the heart and soul of the game in the progress.
August 10, 2015 @ 12:41 pm
It is not Taylor’s fault. This the Illuminatii’s evil plan. She WOULD be on there to help keep them under control somewhat, but she’s a “tomatoe.” They won’t let a woman be in the Country Music Illuminatii, so they went with her dad instead. She fled to pop as a way to rebel against them. Since then, Mr. Swift has been replaced by Kid Rock. I forgot to add that.
August 10, 2015 @ 2:19 pm
Taylor Swift helped chase out the female veterans of country music. I think Trigger mentioned once that the pop princess was the reason Reba started dancing around in a tank top. Bro-country enthralled the college aged crowd and Swift/Rascal Flatts scooped the impressionable, teenage girls segment with their non-offensive music.
August 10, 2015 @ 2:25 pm
You will have to show me the data regarding Taylor Swift chasing out the female veterans, since nothing I have heard or read about indicated any such phenomenon.
Also, neither Taylor Swift nor Rascal Flatts has anything to do with bro-country. Country music was far more melodic, lyrically substantive, and connected with its roots back in the pre-bro era when Taylor and RF were at the helm.
August 10, 2015 @ 2:47 pm
It is pretty simple. Taylor Swift appealed to flighty teenage girls and their trying-to-be-hip, or well-meaning, over protective mothers. Your average teenage girl is not going to interested in “Concrete Angel”, but “White Horse” appeals to their fantasies. A sentiment, which as a massive Disney fan, I can appreciate and sympathize with. The exodus wasn’t sudden like the Israelites, but it gradually happened. Carrie Underwood assisted.
My original comment didn’t say Swift/RF were with bro-country. Bro-country was used to capture the college aged crowd and Swift/RF were needed for the younger demographic. As Country music divorced itself from the soccer mom segment of society, it still needed a semi-connection before the separation was finalized. Swift and the Flatts kept up a camouflaged lifeline to the past.
I enjoy Rascal Flatts and Taylor Swift can occasionally sing an average story song, but they helped transition country music from its roots to the present by loosing the floodgates for mediocre music and a younger fan base. (Yes, I know that young people can appreciate good music, I don’t need the obligatory poster mentioning that) Besides, Taylor Swift’s singles were never great storytelling. “Mean” was a hypocritical mess, “Love Story” belonged on an ABC Family movie soundtrack, “Ours” was beyond any reasonable boundary of sanctimonious, and “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” was putrid.
I will say that “Mine” expressed a sweet story and “Back to December” did show much needed maturity on her part. Unfortunately, she threw that away with WANEGBT and “Shake It Off.”
August 10, 2015 @ 3:12 pm
You bring up some interesting points. Taylor Swift and especially Rascal Flatts significantly predated bro-country, though. Their key contribution was in expanding the country fan base to include younger women, thereby resulting in a period from about 2006-2011 when country’s fan base was dominated by females of all ages, younger and older.
This left a disillusioned male fan base who complained about the “wussification” of country, and in the early 2010s rock-rap country was gaining grassroots popularity fast among younger males, as evidenced by the rise of hick-hop as well as the flocking of the Nickelback fan base to performers like Jason Aldean. The industry decided to ditch middle-aged and older females in order to appeal to these younger males. This is what led to the rise of bro-country.
To recap, the fan base of country music in the late 00s and up to 2011 was primarily young females and their mothers. Post-2011, the fan base has primarily been young females and their boyfriends.
Cool Lester Smooth
August 10, 2015 @ 8:42 pm
Yeah, the only way to blame Swift for bro-country is that it was created to appeal to all the assholes bitching about how she wasn’t really country, because she was a durl who sang about durl stuff.
(and probably had cooties)
August 12, 2015 @ 7:16 am
Don’t Danny Chesney, Tom MaGrew, and even Justin Aldean and Luke Brandt, etc. exist for the sole purpose of making 40 year old women fantasize about what their husbands can’t do to them? I think these silly, anorexic, under-sexed old bags, wearing their daughter’s Hollister jeans, still buy enough crap country to make Scott Borchetta rich…
August 11, 2015 @ 7:32 am
I thought Bin Laden was dead.
August 11, 2015 @ 8:49 am
Yes, but he was a huge country music fan.
August 12, 2015 @ 7:09 am
He died 20 years ago, if he ever existed at all….
August 10, 2015 @ 12:28 pm
I am actually wondering if we are basically seeing the exodus of ZBB from country music. I just really get the vibe that they are steadily making a move to a more mainstream Top 40 band and not a southern rock/country band. I guess the next album will tell us that answer for sure.
August 10, 2015 @ 12:34 pm
If they really think they can pull that off, they are crazy.
I’m sorry, but ZBB may want to pull away from Country radio, but they sure as hell are not getting played next to Mumford and Sons or Taylor Swift.
August 10, 2015 @ 12:48 pm
If that is what they are trying for then they are most likely going to fail because what they are playing isn’t going to fly in Top 40 right now.
Just look at Sam Hunt’s ‘Take Your Time’ which was pushed to Top 40 radio and has found very little traction. That is the main reason all these people flock to country because they will play anything right now.
Cool Lester Smooth
August 10, 2015 @ 8:41 pm
Their first 9 singles actually made the Top 40 of the Hot 100.
August 10, 2015 @ 8:46 pm
Based entirely on sales and country airplay which is part of the Hot 100. Would bet that the number of Top 40 spins for those 9 songs got was under 100 total.
Cool Lester Smooth
August 10, 2015 @ 8:49 pm
I know for a fact that Colder Weather cracked pop radio in the Northeast.
August 10, 2015 @ 8:57 pm
May have got some play but the vast, vast majority of chart points they (and most all country acts) get for the Hot 100 come from sales, country airplay and now streams.
It’s why there was such a kerfuffle a couple of years ago when Billboard changed there chart rules (it was a big topic on this site with a post with tons of comments) and allowed pop airplay to affect the Country Songs chart. It gave a couple of acts a massive advantage over the rest because they were receiving crossover airplay. Hence Swift’s ‘We Are blah blah blah’ and FGL’s ‘Cruise’ dominating the country charts for months.
ZBB got very little of that crossover airplay.
Derek E. Sullivan
August 10, 2015 @ 12:31 pm
We are all living in an era (hell maybe it’s has always been this way) where there are traditional country singers, pop country singers and country rockers. My biggest issue with bro-country acts is that they are county pop singers who think tattoos and motorcycles make them country rockers, which they are not. I also hate that for someone reasons only country pop singers win all of the industry awards. Why would anyone sing traditional country music when country pop sells the most singles and wins all of the awards?
August 10, 2015 @ 12:36 pm
Factually speaking, bro-country singers are country rockers, since they pretty much only use rock instruments (with a few rap instruments, and virtually nothing from country itself).
Bro-country uses so much electric guitar that it has made me increasingly dislike that instrument entirely…
August 10, 2015 @ 12:45 pm
All of the electric guitar intros are so generic that I honestly can’t tell what song it is until they start singing. Maybe not even then…
Cool Lester Smooth
August 10, 2015 @ 8:43 pm
Nah. They use so much post-production crap that they can’t be considered rock.
Electric guitars=/=rock and roll.
August 11, 2015 @ 5:07 am
Hey, at least they haven’t started using double bass drumming…
August 10, 2015 @ 12:32 pm
I think the social media aspect that you bring up Trigger is a key point that doesnt get addressed as much as it should. While ZBB may have gotten props by a majority of people here and even perhaps within the industry when he called out Luke Bryan, I’m sure the 14 year old girls that have Gomer Pyle/Luke Bryan avatars on twitter probably raised hell.
Social media has created an environment where artists are basically discouraged from saying anything remotely negative about other artists or genres. Much less taking a stand against something they believe in, popular idea or not.
Sadly a large portion of our society cannot stand the idea that their favorite artist may not like another artists work or have views that may contradict our own. It sucks…..
August 10, 2015 @ 12:44 pm
The social media part of this can’t be overstated as it would take a someone very secure in their situation to really call out some of these people because the hate storm that comes their way will be immense.
August 10, 2015 @ 4:24 pm
Can you imagine the storm that would blow if someone like Jamey Johnson or Chris Stapleton (not saying they would do this) were to pull a Charlie Rich/John Denver on someone like Aldean, Shelton or Luke Bryan? The backlash against them would be insane, especially on social media and our 24/7 ADHD media environment. Sure fans with taste like the vast majority of people who peruse this site would cheer them, but hell that no fury like a teenage girls storm. Especially when the teenager has an iPhone and a twitter account.
Cool Lester Smooth
August 10, 2015 @ 8:49 pm
Stapleton would probably be burning a song he had written.
August 11, 2015 @ 8:20 am
Oh, well done, Cool Lester Smooth! Well done, indeed! 😀
August 10, 2015 @ 1:00 pm
Why do the electric guitars drown out everything else? I know they only throw in like 1 second of steel guitar or something just so people can say “Look, it’s country!” but what’s the point of having it if you have to strain your ears to hear it over the blaring guitars? Electric guitars are the instrument that should stand out the LEAST. It is the most common, and therefore the least interesting. It sounds like every other genre, so why make that the defining instrument of “country” when every other genre does the same thing? Fiddles and steel guitars should be louder than electric guitars, because those are the instruments that are supposed to be the country sound, and you can go anywhere else to hear guitars. These people desperately want to be anything except country.
August 10, 2015 @ 1:08 pm
‘These people desperately want to be anything except country’
Yep, but they will never find success in other genres so they flock to country who will take anybody.
August 10, 2015 @ 4:36 pm
I find it sooooo ironic that the traditional country instrument that gets the most ( albeit often jokingly ) flack from even the traditionalists has weathered the onslaught of over-driven rock guitars , louder than cannon-fire drum kits , banshee-like lead vocalists ( I’m looking at you Mr. Urban ) and mixes compressed so intensely your ears bleed would be – Tah-dah ( big loud over-compressed drum roll please )…. -The BANJO !!! Yes , ladies and gentlemen , that five stringed monster is the second- biggest selling acoustic instrument at present following only the acoustical plectrum style guitar . Its a survivor of every chameleon-like incarnation country music has converted its crazy self into for decades and it STILL has a home with everyone from the Kruise Kids to Urban to Dolly to ( your fav bluegrass band here ). WHODATHUNKIT ? A close runner-up as a musical survivor is , of course ,the small but might tambourine ….a veteran of genre wars the likes of which no other instrument can imagine .
August 10, 2015 @ 4:48 pm
I think the reason for that is that the banjo fits in well with the upbeat party atmosphere. Steel guitar, on the other hand, is perhaps the least suited to that mood, which is why it has pretty much disappeared from mainstream country.
Cool Lester Smooth
August 10, 2015 @ 8:45 pm
It’s just because country audiences missed the hair metal/arena rock backlash from 20 years ago.
It’s the same music, just sung with a hint of a twang.
August 11, 2015 @ 2:41 am
Hair metal power ballads could sometimes be great. I doubt that any bro-country singer has the vocal chops to sing something like Poison’s “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” or Bon Jovi’s “I’ll Be There for You”.
August 11, 2015 @ 10:25 am
Which explains why nobody mistook Johnny Cash for a country artist – the absence of fiddle and pedal steel in his music gave it away.
August 11, 2015 @ 12:23 pm
Johnny Cash started out in rockabilly and rock’n’roll, but that sound changed and Johnny didn’t and country claimed him as its own.
August 11, 2015 @ 12:56 pm
When Johnny Cash started out, rockabilly and rock’n’roll were part of country music. And there were decades’ worth of country music made before a pedal was first put on a steel guitar.
August 10, 2015 @ 1:49 pm
Electric guitars are fine. It’s the distortion pedals that need toned down.
August 10, 2015 @ 4:48 pm
Wasn’t Charlie Rich making the same sweeping coutrypolitan that he accursed John Denver of. Say what you will but John Denver could and for me at least tried to have some messages in his music.
I think gatekeepers realized the gate had been moved to hell and quit. LOL!
August 10, 2015 @ 5:02 pm
The total honest truth is that as long as Nashville targets the 16-22 frat boy/fangirl market then it’s just going on keep getting worse. Country is not supposed to be a music for young people, and it’s only going to be saved when it becomes uncool. And labels me as an old ass curmudgeon I’m a 21 year old college student, but I’ve got an old soul just like almost everyone on SCM.
August 10, 2015 @ 5:17 pm
Matt …my son is 27 . He’s into EVERYTHING musically , but in particular loves the jazz-tinged music of the 70’s . He’s also into the heaviest of heavy rock stuff you can find and writes a lot of it with bandmates. He has no time for contemporary radio country but absolutely melts , like most REAL country fans , when he hears George Jones’ voice . To me , this says that he recognizes the sincerity present in all music -when he hears it . I think many more people would be surprised at how they’d respond to the passion and sincerity in a more traditional-style country if it were given the same exposure today’s radio stuff is given .
August 10, 2015 @ 5:09 pm
Oh, I can predict how Zac Brown would respond to an interviewer question surrounding his remarks on “That’s My Kind of Night” and his intentions now:
(Mind you this is NOT an actual quotation; just an exchange I can only imagine Brown saying, defensively, in response to his earlier accusation):
Zac Brown: (scratches beard) “…..you know, looking back, I’ve learned something from that incident. We all have opinions, you know………..and there’s nothing wrong with that. At the time that song was released, it surprised me and caught me off-guard as to how…………….different and out there it was. It wasn’t at all what you’d expect in country…”
Interviewer: “Do you still think ‘That’s My Kind of Night’ is the worst song you’ve ever heard?”
Zac Brown: “What I’m saying is that, I have my opinion, you have your opinion, everyone has their opinions, and that’s all fine. But, y’know………..I’ve also realized that life is too short to argue opinions over and over. I get now that if you don’t like what you hear, you can just change the station, y’know! If you don’t like what you hear on the radio, there’s a lot of stations online you can tune to instead! You can make your own playlists!”
Interviewer: “But is it really that simple? When you look at culture at large, it seems commerce has an immense upper hand in determining what passes as art: and it permeates everything from what we hear in commercials, to where we shop, to the malls, to movie soundtracks, even youthful summer memories…”
Zac Brown: “If you don’t like the music you hear over the intercom at your grocery store, just shop at another grocery store! It ain’t all rocket science, you know! That Bryan song………….I mean, it’s not really my cup of tea, but y’know……………I can respect him for doing what he loves to do and helping to evolve the genre! We’re still about instrumentation and harmonies and writing our own songs, but……….you know, I don’t pay much mind to all those politics about what country is and what country isn’t! I’ve learned to keep opinions to myself, and I think it’s best we all try and do the same!”
August 10, 2015 @ 7:04 pm
Interviewer: What would you say to the listener who has always relied on country radio to discover new music, but now cannot find any traditional country options?
Zac Brown: Well, that’s tough. Evolution leaves some people behind, y’know.
August 10, 2015 @ 8:19 pm
Interviewer: “You’ve regularly covered Charlie Daniels’ ‘The Devil Went Down to Georgia’ in live setlists. For fans of his brand of country who have also warmed up to your music over the years, what would you recommend they do?”
Zac Brown: (shrugs shoulders) “We just love what we love! We’ve said from day one we’re not a country band! We’re Ã Southern band! Before, country music has traditionally been a heavily Southern genre for thÃ© most part, but more recently is heard all across the country! It’s even exploding in thÃ© UK now! You know…………..you have to wonder that somewhere along the way, it got lost as a genre and is trying to find its way back home…”
Interviewer: “Does that not contradict your earlier point that country music should keep evolving?”
Zac Brown: (sits with deer staring into the headlights of an oncoming train bewilderment: speechless for fifteen seconds) “…………..oh, no, not at all!”
Cool Lester Smooth
August 10, 2015 @ 8:48 pm
I think it would be something closer to:
“Why the fuck are you asking me? I’m not country, and have never pretended to be. The fact that country audiences like my shit doesn’t obligate me to become some sort of gate keeper for a genre that I’ve never considered myself a part of, and it’s ridiculous that people think otherwise.”
August 10, 2015 @ 9:34 pm
Interviewer: If you do not consider yourself to be a part of country music, then why do you release songs to country radio?
Zac Brown: Why wouldn’t I take advantage of the fact that country audiences accept anything sung by a male with a Southern accent?
Cool Lester Smooth
August 10, 2015 @ 10:52 pm
Pretty much, haha.
They’ve really never pretended to be anything other than a Southern Dave Matthews Band, and they draw the same crowd as DMB in the Northeast.
August 10, 2015 @ 5:20 pm
“I don”™t pay much mind to all those politics about what country is and what country isn”™t! I”™ve learned to keep opinions to myself, and I think it”™s best we all try and do the same!””
Well hell ……what fun is there in THAT Zac ?
August 10, 2015 @ 6:40 pm
“EVOLUTION! IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT, DON’T LISTEN TO IT! WE’RE NOT WAYLON! GO AWAY HATERS!”
Did I forget any anti-intellectual boilerplate, knee-jerk excuse?
Oh, right……………….BE OPEN-MINDED! 😉
Cool Lester Smooth
August 10, 2015 @ 11:00 pm
Zac would never argue that he’s trying to evolve country music…because he’s always maintained that ZBB are not country.
That’s why I don’t get the backlash. At all. I’m bummed by the fact that the latest album turned out to be *ahem* such a Jekyll and Hyde affair, and is full of stuff that I really don’t like, but I’m baffled by the reactions I’m seeing to people feeling betrayed by his lack of loyalty to a genre he’s always adamantly denied being a part of.
August 11, 2015 @ 12:05 am
I actually agree with you there.
The title “JEKYLL + HYDE” implies that this is a left-of-field effort that probably won’t be indicative of their overall artistic direction as a whole. I’m not sure if you saw my review of the album in the comments to Trigger’s review earlier this year, but I regarded it more favorably than he did (though still a significant step down from its two predecessors). It would rate as a Decent To Strong 6 out of 10 approximately to my ears because, despite being their least cohesive album yet as well as having some egregious duds like “Beautiful Drug”, “Wildfire” and “One Day”……………..it still makes for an interesting listening experience and is compensated by stellar tracks like “Bittersweet”, “Heavy Is The Head”, “Junkyard” and, of course, their cover of “Dress Blues”.
I was mostly joshing at Brown’s hypocrisy in light of his bashing of Bryan’s song, only to record the terrible “Beautiful Drug” and now entertain the mere idea of releasing it to country radio.
Cool Lester Smooth
August 11, 2015 @ 4:58 am
Yeah. I feel like this album is exactly why they have always denied being country.
Honestly, I think they wanted to expand their range of genres for concerts (which is what they actually care about…because they are DMB), without having to cover artists they don’t like.
Which is why the album doesn’t really work on its own.
August 11, 2015 @ 8:24 am
“People don’t just listen to one kind of music anymore!”
Well, of course, but does anyone really and truly think Luke Bryan has any Conway Twitty on that stupid mix tape?
August 11, 2015 @ 12:24 pm
Luke Bryan probably wouldn’t know what Conway Twitty looks like if he went to a Conway Twitty lookalike contest.
August 10, 2015 @ 6:40 pm
I do miss old country music on radio. I really miss the 80’s and 90’s country on radio that I was heavy into country music during those times. Today’s country is not really country at all only 20% of it is country and the rest is pop/rock/rap all in one. very disgusting but I can tolerate it little bit of it.
August 10, 2015 @ 7:07 pm
Late 80s and early 90s country was the best. Beautiful melodies that were both soothing and intense, lush and authentically country instrumentation, voices that sounded like they were drifting in from somewhere far away, and true emotional depth.
August 11, 2015 @ 12:56 am
I grew up on 80’s country too , listening to stuff like Ronnie Milsap , Eddy Raven , Earl Thomas Conley etc.
There were strong pop elements in these songs some of these tunes were straight pop (remember ”Stranger in my house”?) But all these great artists sang from the heart with real emotion and that’s the difference. Can’t imagine FGL or Hunt covering Milsap’s ”Inside” for example. Even the great Vern Gosdin recorded garbage hit singles ( ”I can tell by the way you dance, a No1 from 1984) but no one accuses him not being country. Of course he was ”The Voice” and no auto-tune needed.
August 10, 2015 @ 7:16 pm
Didn’t we all bitch when the dude from My Morning Jacket called out the current state of country?
August 10, 2015 @ 7:35 pm
Well, there is a legitimate and accurate way to criticize the state of country, and then there is the illegitimate and inaccurate approach. The guy from Morning Jacket chose the second option when he labeled modern country as “racist”.
August 11, 2015 @ 9:52 am
I was never a big fan of Zac Brown’s music but I always respected him. Even after he attacked Luke because I understood he was only trying to guard the gates. But now I can say personally don’t lile him and lost my respect for anything post Greatest Hits Zac Brown because he became the biggest hypocrite in country history and sold out in the biggest way. He sold his soul for the buck.
August 11, 2015 @ 10:25 am
All I can say is look at Marshall Tucker Band pop,rock,country ,blues,jazz etc. that is who I compare ZBB too. no real genere just real musicans. who can play even gospel…
August 11, 2015 @ 10:29 am
…except they’re not “playing” on “Beautiful Drug,” at least not the majority of the time. It was done with computers. That’s the difference.
August 11, 2015 @ 10:36 am
true,, just sayin almost all MTB songs are different that’s just like Zac and clay, Love Chris Hicks lead for MTB now great musician not original but good songwriter…love the website though it keeps me update with most of my favorite artists.(including Dale W.) I am also a old vinyl collecter if you want to hear Appalachia music I have it speaking of old classic country LOL…(78 RPMs)
August 11, 2015 @ 2:27 pm
I think would-be-gatekeepers are better off directing efforts towards making and praising what they like rather than trying to prevent other people from doing what they want to do. I’m blessed to be in listening range of KOKE FM, but radio isn’t nearly as important as it used to be. This is really the age of the MP3 and also “the Long Tail.” Nashville isn’t going anywhere, and there are just way too many ways around gates in the Internet age.
I guess what I’m saying is this: make more podcasts, please!
August 11, 2015 @ 3:55 pm
I was disappointed with Zac Brown Band’s “Jekyll + Hyde” cd. I wouldn’t consider him as a sell out he had some few bad songs on it. I had mixed opinions about this cd as well as Eric Church “Outsiders” cd
August 13, 2015 @ 11:19 pm
Trigger, as a newbie to your site I have to first commend you on your stance regarding country music and your articles. Please keep up the great work. I’d also like to commend all who take the time to express their opinions. Everybody seems to respect each other’s posts while not always agreeing with them. That says a lot regarding the common cause: Saving Country Music. Some of the themes that have jumped out at me while reading this particular article are the lack of knowledge this young generation of country music fans has. Is it too much of a risk for the country music stations to devote, say, an hour each night to the pioneers of country music? I’m not saying to go back to the 60’s and 70’s necessarily, but I’m sure there are decades worth of artists that these program directors can find to introduce to the younger masses. Is the younger generation just not interested in hearing who’s influenced the artists/ groups they listen to? I don’t know, but it sure wouldn’t hurt to try. Great to be a part of your site and, again, please keep doing what you’re doing!
August 13, 2015 @ 11:41 pm
Glad you found the site Lone Wolf.
Many big time commercially-oriented country stations kept a one-hour weekly show, usually on Sunday mornings or some other weekend slot for many years. Now those slots are all but gone unfortunately.
August 14, 2015 @ 1:43 am
Thanks, Trigger. Happy to be here! That’s too bad that the bigger stations don’t devote much time to the older generation of country music. Perhaps online stations like Pandora and iHeart are a reason, too. Hard to say. I would hope one day they would follow the route of packaged Summer tours and give the young’ins a chance to see and hear who Mom and Dad grew up with. Off topic, I caught your article regarding the ratings plunge of CMT’ s live country show a couple of weeks back. I’ve been telling people for a good 2 or 3 years between the award shows, the live concerts and the radio play lists that seem to be on auto pilot that people may begin to just start rolling their eyes and throwing up their hands at the state of country music. Your article proves it. Maybe it’s time they wake up and invest in some other artists for a change.
August 14, 2015 @ 7:44 am
I’m hoping the CMA broadcast numbers were such a precipitous drop that it sends out a warning signal to the industry. Unfortunately though, we don’t know how they will take that warning. They could take as meaning they need to be more pop to stop the bleeding. We’ll see.
August 23, 2015 @ 4:46 am
It’s just a shame all over – I didn’t think it could get much worse 10-15 years ago… but it has.
I jumped in a vehicle the other day without my tunes and I was buzzing around the local radio stations and found the local so called country station and I was immediately ranting to myself : what is this nonsense!?
I have been keeping off the airwaves in case what they are playing is contagious.
August 23, 2015 @ 4:58 pm
There’s no gate keeping anymore cause artist from the past are afraid of the criticism they’ll face for speaking out against the new artists and they also feel if they try to embrace them younger fans might like their music to. Was just at a Alabama concert and Randy Owens name dropped Luke Bryan’s name for a cheap cheer. When the fuck does Randy Owens need to name drop some pussy ass just to get a few cheap cheers?