Charlie Cook On Air: The Hottest Music Genre

CCook-onair-sm11The shifts in musical tastes are interesting to watch as a radio person. I am involved with all radio formats in my jobs as a programmer and consultant. That said, country music radio is what I watch most closely.

Country music is hotter than any other music genre today. The recently aired Academy of Country Music Awards show was more proof of this popularity. The broadcast was up 39 percent in audience appeal from last year and everyone I have spoken to agrees that it was the best ever ACM show.

First, congratulations to Bob Romeo and his hard-working staff, the Board of the ACM and Rac Clark, who has directed and produced this show for years now. The beginning of the show is always so important for locking the viewer into the program. Watch for the beginning of the shows every year on both the ACM and the Country Music Association shows. The opening in Las Vegas last week was exciting, energizing and enticing. The opening chat bit was funny; a little blue for my 11-year-old daughter who was my date to the show, but played right into the relationship that Blake has with the viewers of The Voice and with Luke Bryan, who is a star in his own right, playing the role of Adam Levine.

It was 45 minutes into the program before the first award was handed out. These shows are really all-star concerts with a few awards sprinkled in. The viewers are very happy with this format and 10-12 performers get to add a trophy to their resumes.

No other single musical format could pull this off. NARAS draws a good audience each year as long as the music from that year is balanced for the mainstream consumer. No other format can pull off ACM week in Las Vegas, the CMA Music Fest/Fan Fair and the CMA Awards show in the fall. This is not just because those of us involved with the format play well together for the health of the format (think Country Radio Seminar) but because the fans love and support the music and the artists to the highest levels.

The shift towards country music and country music radio are documented in CD sales and increased ratings with the younger demos. Overall Country Radio is at its highest 12+ national share ever scoring 14.1 percent of the listening. (Arbitron Fall 2011). Even in PPM markets (the top 48 markets in America) the format is the fourth most popular. This is before Cumulus put a Country station in New York City, so we expect that number to increase.

This increased interest in Country music was also reflected in CD sales this week, a consequence of the tune in of the ACM show. The much talked about Wheelhouse by Brad Paisley sold over 100,000 copies. Also in the Top 20 of sales were Eric Church (with two different titles), Blake Shelton, The Band Perry, Florida Georgia Line and Luke Bryan (also with two different titles). Little Big Town, Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert also all saw increases from the preceding week.

If you doubt the increased visibility of Country music, think about this. An album cut from a Country artist, even a superstar like Brad Paisley, stopped the media in its tracks for almost a week.

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

 

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