Episode 4: Country Is Now A Niche Genre…We’re Living In A Pop World

August 2, 2016

Country music has become a niche genre in the Nashville music machine and consequently at country radio. The disposable pop and hip hop sounds that the now coveted millennial audience enjoys have relegated it to niche status. We’re living in a pop world. Of course, some bonafide country songs do make it onto the all-powerful music charts and radio playlists, but by no means enough to maintain a majority ownership of the format’s sound. To some, I must sound like that old man chasing kids off of his lawn….but I don’t care. I love good country music. I don’t like disposable pop music or the backward baseball cap brigade’s penchant for hip hop. I don’t even recognize hip hop as music. I’ll go as far as calling it street poetry (and not the streets of Brentwood) akin to the beat poetry of the 50’s….but not music. I’ve always seen it as a way for people that can’t sing to get onstage.

I used to believe in the 10 year cycle theory of shifts in influences on the music that you hear on country radio….but I no longer do. The young millennial has no appreciation for, nor knowledge of country music and their kids will have less. There was a time when an unhappy listener would simply drift down the dial for awhile but be back because it was their only chance of hearing the country music they love. That is no longer the case. That adult listener that is being pushed to the back of the line now has options. There is a good chance that they won’t be back. The millennials are also fickle listeners that lack the loyal listening habits of the adult audience that is being chased off …so shortsighted terrestrial country radios that to look forward to.

Since the digital explosion has reached even the oldest music fan, I can find a satisfying amount of good country music to listen to. I just have to work at it a little bit. A positive is that I’ve discovered a few great acts via streaming, Facebook, YouTube, etc. that I probably would never have heard on the radio because they don’t have a major label behind them. I also must say that Nashville’s business success, radio playlists, and my music standards do sometimes intersect…just not often enough to get me listening to the radio regularly.

It’s all good. Radio is happy with what Nashville directs them to play because their new target audience likes it. Nashville is happy because they make money from it…and I can find what I like elsewhere because there still is great country music being made in Nashville.

The losers are the adult country listeners that haven’t yet discovered streaming or satellite radio, along with those good country artists, singers, and songwriters that aren’t being heard enough (if at all) to make a decent living…the living that many marginally talented chart toppers enjoy.

Life is still good….just sometimes unfair.

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