CRS In Action: 'State Of The Music' Is Discussed
February 26, 2015 at 1:17 PM (PT)
While many pundits believe the “Bro-Country” music trend is fading, figures shown in TODAY’s (2/26) “State Of The Music: When A Style Becomes A Trend” panel at CRS show that so far in 2015, the perceived poster artists for this movement – LUKE BRYAN and FLORIDA GEORGIA LINE – continue to be the most streamed artists in the format.
WARNER MUSIC NASHVILLE Sr. Dir./Research TORI NUGENT told attendees, “This sub-genre is what people are buying music and concert tickets for right now.”
JON MILLER of NIELSEN AUDIO shared slides demonstrating that 2014 was “Another great year for this format,” with a 15.2 share overall, the #1 format in diary markets and second best in PPM-Measure cities.
MILLER says 35-44 listening levels grew again last year, while 45-54 levels were flat. And, in the much talked about 18-34 demo, after JULY of ’14 emerged as the highest ever for the format, the next six-months declined. “18-34 shares are back to where they were two years ago, before all the growth,” said MILLER.
Programmers on the panel offered their take on the state of Country, with ALBRIGHT & O'MALLEY & BRENNER’s BECKY BRENNER sensing, “A return to story songs, an era of variety and diversity, albeit with passion levels down a bit.”
KRTY/SAN JOSE’s NATE DEATON says that in recent years, summer hs been the strongest season for Country as opposed to years ago, And WXTU/PHILADELPHIA’s SHELLY EASTON believes, “Country went from niche to mass appeal” in the past three years, adding, “Nobody can touch what we’ve done; we should feel great about our format.”
But should the format be concerned with differing tastes for 18-34 and older, core fans?
“It depends on the market,” said EASTON. “Our competition is from other formats in this market,” pointing out that – for now – WXTU is format exclusive in PHILLY.
BRENNER says it’s always about finding balance between different audience segment taste levels. “Give listeners a variety of songs that test well and always look for the polarizing ones.”
DEATON says music discovery is not limited to 18-34-year-old listeners, asserting that finding new songs and artists is just as important to 25-54-year-olds.
With an emphasis on new songs and artists, how much music can convert to gold in the next few years?
“There are gold songs and gold artists,” believes DEATON. EASTON expressed concern with too many spins on Country songs, particularly in markets with multiple stations, saying Country is still a TSL format and fatigue may be setting in.
BRENNER added that in recent years, as pop and Top 40 PDs took on Country outlets, they did not have the historical perspective of longtime Country fans, and may not be – at the end of the day – huge Country fans to begin with.
All panelists from the radio side seemed to agree that in recent years, the music feels over-produced and too compressed, perhaps as a result of pop and rock producers finding their way to Country as well.