MusicRow Magazine established its CountryBreakout Radio Chart in 2002 as a chart that would represent country radio in secondary markets throughout the United States.
In an article in its 2003 March issue, MusicRow laid the foundation of why the CountryBreakout chart was started and what it had accomplished in a year.
“What really motivated us was a desire to bring a new group of passionate programmers to the decision-making process. Playlists at the monitored stations have been shrinking, making it more difficult than ever for new and developing artists to build momentum.
“We asked ourselves, ‘Can we help level the playing field? How do we offer something different than the monitored charts?’ The answer was calling to us from small and mid-sized cities around the country and the thousands of country stations that were not being monitored.”
Because MusicRow was working with program directors at smaller stations who generally had more freedom to make programming decisions, the CountryBreakout Chart started its reputation of being a breaker-chart.
This reputation has followed MusicRow into 2022, as hit songs commonly are No. 1 on the MusicRow CountryBreakout Chart before any other major country chart. As MusicRow wrote in 2003, “Our chart predicts success on the monitored chart and, because of our panel’s forward-thinking programming, it helps new artists build a story.”
Now, the weekly CountryBreakout Chart ranks the top 80 songs playing on the secondary-market radio stations across the country that report to the chart.
Because of its inclusivity, successes on the chart range from major label artists to independents. DIY artists booking their own radio tours and country hitmakers promoting their latest single are both able to exist on MusicRow’s radio chart. Because of this, the CountryBreakout Chart has established itself as a dynamic picture of the music being played across the nation from week to week.
“Many of us who work in the Nashville music industry received our very first taste of country music listening to radio in a secondary market,” says MusicRow Owner/Publisher Sherod Robertson. “So it’s especially exciting that we are celebrating a chart that began 20 years ago to embrace and spotlight the radio stations and reporters in the secondary market that represent the heart and soul of our country.”
MusicRow started the CountryBreakout Awards to celebrate the most spun artists on the chart throughout the year.
Winners in eight categories are determined by spins on the secondary market stations that report to the CountryBreakout Chart panel each week. These awards serve as a way to honor the artists and industry professionals who wrote, recorded, and promoted the music that occupied the radio dials throughout the prior year.
In 2014, MusicRow introduced the No. 1 Challenge Coin to signify the herculean feat of reaching the top of the CountryBreakout Radio Chart. Sources vary, but most accounts agree that Challenge Coins originated during World War I as a way to prove, if “challenged,” that you were a member of an exclusive group. So it’s very fitting that MusicRow uses that same method to honor our industry’s immensely talented artists and songwriters who have achieved such a milestone as a No. 1 song.
Over the years, challenge coins have marked significant occasions and commemorated outstanding individuals. Continuing this tradition, MusicRow distributes its No. 1 Challenge Coin to the artists and songwriters who have achieved a No. 1 hit on the CountryBreakout Chart. A chronological history of all coins and their awarded recipients resides on the MusicRow website.
Since 2014, MusicRow has distributed more than 1,500 No. 1 Challenge Coins.
Ultimately, the CountryBreakout Chart is a picture of country music’s significance throughout the country. It recognizes the artistry and hard work of artists, songwriters, industry professionals, and radio personnel alike. MusicRow is proud to celebrate the last 20 years of the chart’s history and carry its spirit onward.
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