The Country Kerfuffle

It’s a ROCK format!

So, are those heirloom or cherry tomatoes?

Today it even made the L.A. “Times,” the statement by country music consultant Keith Hill that he advises stations not to play two women in a row, that males are the lettuce and women are the tomatoes in the salad.

And the women are up in arms.

And on the surface I get it, artificial rules are anathema. You play what’s good. And good reacts. But the truth is country radio is not your dad’s format, it’s something totally new, it’s the AOR of the twenty first century, it’s all about ROCK!

And how often do you hear Joni Mitchell on KLOS?

Now I’m not saying Joni doesn’t deserve to be heard. In almost all cases, she’s better than the rockers being played on KLOS. But KLOS is appealing to a certain demo, which wants to rock out. Do you want to rock out?

If you want to hear new music you do it on the COUNTRY station!

That’s right, Active Rock drove itself right off the cliff. If you’re not deep into that scene you don’t want to go there, it’s too hard-edged and atonal.

As for Adult Alternative and Americana… Those are NICHE formats. If that’s what people wanted, if the masses wanted to tune in, they would. But they never have, not in prodigious numbers. AAA got a good chance in major markets, but ratings were bad and the stations flipped format.

And now everybody’s listening to country. Where there may be big hats, even trucker caps, but there are even bigger guitars. And you don’t put a Loretta Lynn track in the mix, or if you do you do it sparingly.

Which means if you want to get on country radio you’re better off sounding like Pat Benatar than Patsy Cline. You want to belt.

Even worse, the data says that women want the harder-edged rock country acts, they would rather hear Jason Aldean. And one thing we know about radio, it never goes against the data.

So that’s the world we live in. For fifteen years musicians rail against “American Idol,” not knowing it’s a television show and except for a few instances it affected music not a whit.

Now they’re bitching that women aren’t getting a fair shake on country radio.

All I’m saying is everything you read in the press is wrong. We don’t live in a hip-hop nation, we live in a COUNTRY ROCK NATION!

I ain’t gonna defend what the format plays. Tom Petty says it’s the rock of the seventies, which to a great degree it is, good call Tom. But it’s also influenced by everything that’s happened outside country for the last fifteen years, like pop and electronica.

That’s right, we thought EDM was gonna take over the country. But COUNTRY took the country.

If you want to break big, if you want to have a sustained career, forgo your turntable and pick up a guitar. Write songs with hooks and changes. Sure, pop has a huge radio presence, but country is even bigger, and country trumps pop live every day of the week. That’s the story of this summer, the inroads country festivals have made in the marketplace.

Because everywhere we go, the kids wanna rock.

As do their older siblings and oftentimes their parents.

If you were addicted to classic rock and want new music you can get into tune in to the country station, go to the country festival. You’ll feel right at home.

That’s right, it’s the country artists who have tattoos and wear jeans, who reflect the America we live in. There’s more honesty in the average country record than there is in the deepest inner city hip-hop track. But those in the media don’t like the narrative. They even get sidetracked into this non-story about women being kept down.

Women run this world, you should never forget it. It’s they who want to rock down hard. And if you wanna get laid…you know where to go, what station to play.

P.S. Don’t read the reports, go straight to the source, read Keith Hill’s comments in “Country Aircheck” by going to:

Country Aircheck and clicking on “Click here to download” on the left-hand side, under “Country Aircheck Weekly (5/26)”.

Keith Hill is a blowhard who takes his business way too seriously, but give the guy credit for saying what no one else will and sticking to his guns, and for having an opinion. Isn’t it strange that those with sharp edges rule in this world, every tech titan is prickly, but in entertainment we think it’s B2B and we put on a suit and go all nice as if not offending anybody is the key to success. Wanna know the truth? If you’re not offending people, you’re not saying anything worthwhile. Maybe country radio isn’t for soft female music, maybe country radio isn’t for you, but country radio is America’s number one radio format, it’s where the bucks are, and when money’s involved risk is reduced. Which means you can combat those who play it safe by risking, but you’ve got to be great, you just can’t be a crybaby, and if you’re making music it had better be ROCK!

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