The Long And The Short Of It
August 22, 2013
After Brett Eldredge’s “Don’t Ya” finally reached #1 on the Mediabase Country chart this week at the ripe old age of 45 weeks, WMN VP/Promotion Kevin Herring told me, “I think it is the most rewarding No.1 I’ve worked in 25 years.”
The single is reminiscent of Lee Brice’s “Love Like Crazy,” which took a whopping 56 weeks to peak at #3 in September 2010.
While these songs had happy endings, others like them that spend multiple weeks on the chart pose a conundrum for programmers playing and testing them. Often, research isn’t good enough to convert the song, nor bad enough to justify dropping it. What new, unfamiliar song do you replace it with?
Lincoln Financial KSON/San Diego MD Brooks O’Brian says these tunes can go either way. “Some are fine that maybe end up as top 15, but not when they just never develop.” She says the Eldredge is a good example of a song that continued to gain research momentum and cites Craig Campbell’s “Outta My Head” (now at 43 weeks) as another. “We had a live show with Brett and once listeners saw him perform, the test scores kept growing,” adds O’Brian.
Herring admits there were frustrating weeks during the 46-week Eldredge run, “but the discussion of cutting bait was never broached. Once the album date of August 6th was established, it seemed getting a top 10 by album launch was a possibility.”
Like the Brice record, Herring says Eldredge had a combination of early believers â€“ and naysayers. “We had certain markets who were telling us unequivocally that we had a real big hit record. I remember [KEEY/Minneapolis PD] Gregg Swedberg saying, ‘No matter what anyone tells you, this record is real.’ Byron Kennedy [at KNCI/Sacramento] has almost 2,000 spins on ‘Don’t Ya.’ I think he had 800 spins on it before we were top 30.”
Curb Dir./National Promotion Mike Rogers worked the Brice record and remembers, “The early believers and the label could see clear signs that we had something special. As that set of stations started to reach their peak with it, we would have another set of stations just discovering it. We were able to ride that balance for 56 weeks.”
Here’s another positive Eldredge had going for him, similar to Brice, as Herring explains: “By the time we got to a #1 run, it seemed like the entire panel was rooting for Brett. That’s a true testament to how hard he’s worked and the relationships he’s developed over the last couple years.”
I’ve had a theory that examples like Brice and Eldredge are great for the format because after a long life as currents and then recurrents, they perform strong in auditorium tests and last into gold catalogs. And I’ve also felt that Brice’s long, 56-week presence on Country radio set the table for his subsequent success, because programmers and listeners became comfortable with his voice and his music on their radio stations. Since “Love Like Crazy,” Brice has logged three #1 singles and “Parking Lot Party” sits at #12 this week.
O’Brian seemed to agree with that first part, saying, “Long-term, testing is helped by songs with longer shelf lives versus other #1s that we only play for less than 20 weeks. One year later [in a CMT] they don’t make it.” And the ones that sometimes don’t make it are by superstar artists. That begs the question of how good for this format, long term, are songs that zoom in, up and out in 15 weeks. Do they end up as disposable songs because they can’t build familiarity? Country is a current-based format â€“ no more ever than now â€“ but we’ve always relied on a solid core of gold and new gold titles to bolster us when the music cycle inevitably dips a little. That sounds like another column for another week too ... Hmnnn, note to self.
“Crash My Party?” How ‘Bout Life Of The Party?
As if we needed any further, incontrovertible evidence that Luke Bryan is a superstar, what with his recent #1 singles, sold-out concert tour and ACM Entertainer of the Year Award, his first-week album sales for “Crash My Party” offer complete validation.
Bryan moved nearly 528,000 units in his debut week, the most for a male Country singer since 2004 when Tim McGraw’s “Live Like You Were Dying” sold 766,000. But that was nine years ago and a completely different time for album sales, the Country format and frankly, the entire music industry. In recent years, we celebrate when albums top 100,000 and seem euphoric at 200,000, no matter the genre.
The only other Country artist to sell more than 500,000 first-week albums since 2008 is Taylor Swift and while Bryan’s appeal spreads wider than your basic Country P1, he is not the mass-appeal, worldwide artist Swift is. Maybe he will be, but not quite yet.
While Swift’s mass appeal depends on teen females, what Bryan has going for him â€“ and what makes his current run seem very sustainable â€“ is his allure to both adult males and females. Women find him sexy, especially onstage â€¦ especially his backside ... especially when it’s gyrating. (Not that there’s anything wrong with thatâ€¦) Men seem okay with that because many of the themes in his music are geared to them. You know â€¦ partying, drinking and romancing (as in picking up) women. What red-blooded American male can’t appreciate that?Â “Crash My Party” is absolutely loaded with hits -- go ahead, Capitol, pick any one of ‘em for the next single -- and for the time being, will be seen as Bryan’s signature, statement album securing his mega-stardom.Â
Probably until his next big album.