Charlie Cook On Air: The Power of Country, Pt. 1

The CMA has really taken the lead in fan research. The organization’s financial and manpower commitment is unmatched and this week there is new information that is valuable for anyone involved on any level with the Country Music consumer.

The survey was conducted online with over 1100 respondents over the age of 18. Usually the panel is made up of 18-64 year olds but in this study 4% of the people were over the age of 65. The average age was 43 years. A majority (56%) fell between 18-49 and 59% were 25-54.

The respondents come from the CMA Insider Fan Panel that the CMA has spent the last few years building. These are active Country Music fans but the results here are from a random sample of the Fans who agreed to participate in this specific study.

The overall panel skews female but this study was overwhelmingly female at 78%. The CMA likes to include education in their studies and I am sure that stations appreciate this answer because the question is asked, if only silently.

I am always surprised by the results though. In this study 71% of the people had some college, up to completing some post graduate work. (This is a more learned group than I usually hang out with, but that says more about me than them).

Okay, the table is set and I think you’re going to really like the meal. Particularly if you’re in Country Radio. The first course has 87% of the respondents saying that they are listening the same or more to their local Country Radio Station. The really tasty bite here is that 18-24 years olds are twice as likely to say that they are listening to a local Country Radio station.

The average Time Spent listening to Country Radio per day is 4 and one half hours. And the average time spent listening to Country Music from OTHER sources is 3 hours a day. (When do these folks have the time to do their post graduate studies? I am just asking).

The study found that 35% of the respondents do their listening to Country Music over the Internet. This includes streaming AM/FM radio.

There are many things that Country Radio can learn from this study, which by the way is available on line at You need to be a member of the CMA to access the entire study but if you are in Country Radio you ARE a member as they deputized everyone this year as a way of saying, “Hey, 2012 is the Year of Country Radio.”  (Thank yous go to Brandi Simms).

This comes up in every study and most stations ignore it, but again 80% of the listeners say that it is extremely important that stations identify the artist and song title. Most PDs “just say no” to this and I am one of those. I do think that stations should be required by law to do 4 minute reports on a performer every time they play a song by a new artist. (Just kidding).

Good news for disc jockeys, both of you. Forty-nine percent of the respondents identify the DJ as an important part of choosing a station. Note to Clear Channel executives: this does not mean that 51% think that voice-tracking DJs is acceptable.

I know that I struggle each month, here at West Virginia Radio Corp, with the streaming costs associated with music stations, but 28% of Country Music fans think that having their favorite Country Radio station available on-line is extremely important. Can we all agree that this number is going to go up? As are the streaming costs.

Arbitron has announced that it can begin to combine terrestrial and online numbers for ratings but there are still some things to work out before you can begin to sell this to advertisers.

We all know that loyalty is job No. 1 at radio. In fact, that is the bane and the boon for many programmers, depending on which side you’re on. Fully 75% of the listeners say their habits are influenced by listening to the same station for years.

Only 15% said that they were inclined to listen because they met a DJ in person. This is one case where we know why the other 85% don’t listen. They met a DJ in person.

Broadcast radio in the car is far and away the number one device for listening to music at 93% of the respondents pegging this as their choice. You know that Oprah said, “Don’t listen to your cell phone and drive.“ Or something like that.

Listening online in the car came in at only 4% despite the carmakers’ attempts to convince us that those pretty 20-somethings in their TV commercials are all too hip for the room (or regular radio).

Next week I will look at other ways to listen to Country Music like Pandora, Spotify and others.

Have a great week and enjoy Country Music…on the radio.

(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of MusicRow.)


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