CMA Research: Country Fans And The Economy

cma-logoCountry consumers are feeling the effects of the economic downturn and have reduced spending in the last year, according to a new survey commissioned by the Country Music Association, called the CMA Prime Prospect Study.

Data indicates that the most devoted fans, called CountryPhiles and MusicPhiles, are less likely to monetize their support for the genre than they would have been a year ago. As a result, they are interested in free activities, such as no-cost downloads of Country Music.

Not surprisingly, the findings show a significant reduction of discretionary income spending on luxury items, travel, dining out, and electronics. Meanwhile, expenditures stayed steady on cell phones, gas, Internet access, and other areas considered essential.

On the upside, most surveyed said they expect their situations to improve, or at least not grow worse, over the next 12 months
. And the size of the total Country fan base (adults 18-54) grew slightly from 39.7 in 2008 to 40.9 million in 2009.

The 2008 Country Music Consumer Segmentation Study lists four groups of “Prime Prospects”: CountryPhiles—passionate fans of Country Music
MusicPhiles—dedicated fans of Country as well as other genres
Today’s Traditional—prospective CountryPhiles who haven’t yet monetized their commitment significantly
Pop Country—prospective MusicPhiles whose Country tastes lean toward the pop side

Internet Use By Country Fans: Most Country fans go online occasionally, though not always at home, making YouTube, iTunes, and radio station sites important mass-marketing networks. About two out of five Prime Prospects with online access search for Country Music-related content each month; usually for Country news, song lyrics and product purchases. One in five go online weekly, usually looking for videos, streaming radio, and music samples.

There are still opportunities to generate revenue in changing and challenging times. Album compilations can be created for CountryPhiles, Pop Country fans, and other groups. Simple downloads can stimulate novice fans to purchase more easily and frequently online.

After the CMA Awards take place on Nov. 11, the CMA will begin another round of research. The new study will track any changes from the original 2008 Consumer Segmentation Study. The results will be presented at CRS 41, on Thurs., Feb. 25 (11:00 AM/CT).

Much more in-depth survey information is available for members on the Web site,


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Sarah Skates has worked in the music business for more than a decade and is a longtime contributor to MusicRow.

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