The Hodgepodge: Country Radio’s 15 Minutes of Fame Strategy

This week’s opening will be short. I just started a new job this week so I haven’t had a ton of time to thoroughly think through this topic, but it’s something I want to dive into and would love to see readers’ thoughts on this.

Mainstream country labels seems to aim more and more for just one hit single. For all the radio hype Chris Lane got for “Fix,” his album sales tell a different story. Girl Problems hasn’t sold well out of the gate, debuting at #8 on Billboard last week and falling off the charts this week. Outselling Lane last week was Texas Country star Cody Johnson, who still remains on the charts this week. And Cody Jinks, who debuted at #4 this week with I’m Not the Devil sold more than Girl Problems did.

It’s not really breaking news that independent country stars have strong album sales, as we saw last year with Aaron Watson, Jason Isbell, Blackberry Smoke, and Turnpike Troubadours all reaching number one on the album charts. A main reason for this could be the fact that independent fan bases seem more willing to purchase an album to support their favorite artist. But being able to sell an album well, especially at the heels of a hit radio song, could signify the longevity for an artist. Yes, Cody Johnson and Cody Jinks have established careers and released multiple albums prior to Gotta Be Me and I’m Not the Devil, but strong album sales only cement their place with their fans and in the music industry.

However, with Chris Lane selling poorly after “Fix” hit number one just screams one-hit wonder. So many times, we see artists, particularly trend-chasing B/C-level artists, only perform well at radio with a song or two. Most albums seem to get delayed, or they simply just sell like crap. How do Chris Lane or Big Loud Records expect to see any follow-up success? Not that I want to hear another full-fledged pop song from Lane, but why wasn’t Girl Problems given the same type of promotion as “Fix”? I just don’t understand why they chose to play the short game for 15 minutes of fame. Chris Lane isn’t the first, and he won’t be the last. This is just one of many, many problems with mainstream country radio.

Country radio is in the pits, and these hot, one-hit wonder type songs is a short-sighted attempt to gain listeners and revenue. Labels and radio execs aren’t thinking of the long game to improve and crawl out of its self-dug hole. I don’t claim to be a programming expert, but this type of strategy screams short-term thinking. It’s treading on water without looking for a boat to help stay afloat. And as long as radio continues this thought process, we’ll be continually treated to trendy singles followed by poor albums. Artists and labels who think solely about the one single and not the album are not building a sustainable music career.

Upcoming/Recent Country and Americana Releases

  • Jack Ingram‘s Midnight Motel will be released tomorrow.
  • Whiskey Myers’ newest album, Mud will be released September 9.
  • Also coming out on the 9th is St. Paul & The Broken Bones‘ Sea of Noise.
  • Amanda Shires will release her new album My Piece of Land on September 16.
  • Erik Dylan‘s Heart of a Flatland Boy will be released on October 21.
  • Mack McKenzie is releasing his sophomore album A Million Miles on October 22.

Throwback Thursday Song

Merle Haggard’s “My Favorite Memory” This single from Haggard was released on this day in 1981, and would go on to become Merle’s 25th number one single.

Non-Country Suggestion of the Week

Frank Ocean Blonde In an act of defiance against the major labels and streaming, Frank Ocean left his label and self-released his highly anticipated sophomore album exclusively through Apple. With labels/streaming services/artists all at odds, this kind of move is big and could lead to more artists acting in the same fashion.

Tweet of the Week

It’s been a big week for Erik Dylan, who performed at this Guy Clark tribute with the likes of Steve Earle, Emmylou Harris, Vince Gill, and others. Dylan’s upcoming album was also made available for pre-order.

iTunes Review for Florida Georgia Line

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This was left under Florida Georgia Line’s Dig Your Roots, which is due out tomorrow. I’ve only heard “H.O.L.Y.” and “God, Your Mama, and Me,” but I haven’t been crazy about either song. This review says it all!

The Hodgepodge: Blake Shelton, He Doesn’t Have a Way With Words

Creepy Blake

This past weekend social media was abuzz over Blake Shelton. It wasn’t the tabloids talking about his relationship with Gwen Stefani and whether if it’s on the rocks. That’s just a standard weekend. No, this was something else entirely. Apparently some tabloids and vindictive fans decided to dig through Blake Shelton’s old tweets. The results turned up some pretty damning words from the country superstar. Here’s some screenshots of a couple of them:

Stupid Blake Tweet #1

Stupid Blake Tweet #2

The first one is obviously homophobic and the second one is racist and islamophobic. There’s actually more offensive tweets, but I think these two get the point across enough. There’s no need to be spreading anymore ignorance. Yesterday Shelton issued a statement apologizing for the tweets, which you can read by clicking here. Ironically also issued on Twitter, I can imagine Shelton got quite the talk from his label for this incident. These are obviously the not the type of “jokes” anyone should be making, let alone a major country artist who is regularly on national television. For fans outside country music, Blake is one of the first people they will think of when they think of country music. Yes, this sounds ridiculous to us that Shelton is one of the first you think of when you think of country music. But it’s the (sad and frustrating) truth. One thing many will point out is the date of the tweets, which are 2010 and 2011. Two things in regards to this point. One, it shouldn’t be dismissed because they’re old. Two, I understand that at this time the culture was different and the greater public might have been more receptive to these attempts at jokes. If any of you watch South Park, they regularly made these offensive-based jokes at this time (granted they were much more clever and actually funny).

Now I could spend an entire post talking about how dumb these tweets are and how Blake Shelton continues to taint the reputation of country music in different ways. I could talk about how this reinforces negative stereotypes of the genre. But it feels like I’m beating a dead horse. I think we can all pretty much agree at this point that it’s well established that Blake Shelton is a certified moron with a loud mouth and little regard for decency (in music and society). There’s a reason we did not review his album: it would have been a waste of time and energy when there’s so much more music out there worth reviewing. Talking about Blake Shelton is pointless because he’s going to do what he’s going to do and nothing we say will affect it. So while Blake Shelton’s management team deletes thousands of his tweets (they’ve already deleted about 10,000 of them) and tell the judge of The Voice to mind his manners so he can get his corporate paydays, I decided to do something constructive. I wrote a little song about the ex-husband of Miranda Lambert. It’s called “He Doesn’t Have a Way With Words” (A Parody of “She’s Got a Way With Words”). Enjoy…

He Doesn’t Have a Way With Words

 

When you put it all together

You figure out dumb has four letters

I should have known that when I heard “Boys ‘Round Here”

But he tweeted it out for me

After little second guessing

It was a pretty easy lesson

Hell it’s clearly spelled out in front of me

And now I understand perfectly

 

He put the sell in sellout

He put the foot in his mouth

He put the pop in country

He put the red-red-red-red-red in redneck (redneck)

He put the ache in headache

He put the ass in classless

He put the creep factor in album covers

Yeah he doesn’t have a way

He doesn’t have a way with words

Yeah he doesn’t have a way with words

 

Little words like bad and fads

Pompous, egotistical, rude

Yeah all the words that represent Blake

They got a whole new meaning now

 

He put the sell in sellout

He put the foot in his mouth

He put the pop in country

He put the red-red-red-red-red in redneck (redneck)

He put the ache in headache

He put the ass in classless

He put the creep factor in album covers

Yeah he doesn’t have a way

He doesn’t have a way with words

(insert stupid oh-oh-ohs here)

Yeah he doesn’t have a way with words

(insert even more stupid oh-oh-ohs here)

 

[Add the chorus and more oh-oh-ohs here until your label tells you that hits their song length quota]

 

[End the song with generic, mediocre guitar riff]

Upcoming/Recent Country & Americana Releases

  • Tomorrow is a big day for releases! The following albums are out tomorrow:
    • Dolly PartonPure & Simple (I’ll have a review of this one really soon)
    • BJ Barham – Rockingham 
    • John Paul WhiteBeulah 
    • Lydia LovelessReal
    • Drake WhiteSpark
  • Next week Jack Ingram will release his first new album in seven years, titled Midnight Motel
  • Matt Woods will be releasing a new album on October 7 titled How To Survive 
  • The Mavericks are set to release a live album this fall and will be releasing a new album in April 2017. These are the first releases through their self-created label and first since leaving Valory Music (Big Machine)
  • This past weekend I saw The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band perform at a concert. It was an entertaining and fun show (go check them out). During it they passed along the news they will be releasing a new album “this winter.” We’ll keep an eye out for an official release date

Throwback Thursday Song

Darrell Scott – “It’s a Great Day To Be Alive” – Everyone associates this song with Travis Tritt, who made it famous and gave it a big platform. But it’s a Scott song and I’ve always liked his more restrained performance of the song (ditto “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive”). You can never go wrong listening to Scott.

Non-Country Suggestion of the Week

The Traveling Wilburys – “End of the Line” – Next to The Highwaymen, this was the most star-powered supergroup of all-time. Made up of Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne, this group only put out one album with the five of them and another with only four (Orbison passed way after the first one). But that one album is pretty terrific and it’s amazing that this much talent was in one group.

Tweet of the Week

I make the same face, Margo.

iTunes Reviews from Pissed off Justin Moore Fans

Angry Justin Moore fans

I’m going to be honest. I’ve never been a fan of Moore’s music and thought it was disingenuous attempts at being outlaw country at best and annoying bro country at worst. But he did stick to sounding country. On his new album his sound takes a turn and his fans aren’t happy as you can see. Just another mainstream country fan base swindled by their favorite artist.

The Hodgepodge: Updates and Changes with Songwriting Royalties

Doug Morris, Sony CEO

There’s been a few updates over the past week with respect to songwriting royalties. I haven’t really dug into them yet to offer much commentary on the updates, but I do offer my initial thoughts at the end of the post. I’m sure there will be a follow-up post to these changes as I better understand them.

100 Percent Licensing

Last month, I somewhat broke down the new proposal at the Department of Justice called 100 Percent Licensing. Essentially, 100 Percent Licensing was proposed to give each songwriter or publisher who worked on a song 100% licensing control for the song. Before, if two people worked on a song, Person A essentially had licensing power over the part of the song he or she contributed (a verse, chorus, or melody), and Person B had licensing power over his or her own contribution. And together, Person A and B would have to come into an agreement for the whole song to be included on a service like Pandora. However, what 100 Percent Licensing proposes is that Person A or Person B can have full control over the song and be able to deal the song with Pandora without the other person’s permission.

The DOJ ruled last week in favor of what they call “Full Works Licensing.” The DOJ wrote in a statement:

“We discovered that there was significant disagreement in the industry about what rights must be conveyed by the blanket licenses (as well as other categories of licenses) that the consent decrees require ASCAP and BMI to offer,” the DoJ writes. “Some argued that, in order to effectuate the purpose of the consent decrees, the blanket license must grant licensees (also called ‘users’) the right to publicly perform all songs in the ASCAP and BMI repertories. Others believe that the blanket licenses offered by ASCAP and BMI instead confer only rights to the fractional interests in songs owned by ASCAP’s and BMI’s members and that music users must obtain separate licenses to the remaining fractional interests before playing the songs.”

The DOJ ultimately came to the conclusion, “We think the evidence favors the full-work side.” Performance Rights Organizations like BMI and ASCAP and others like David Israelite, president and CEO of the National Music Publishers’ Association have spoken out against the ruling. Israelite calls the ruling “a massive blow to America’s songwriters.”

“The interpretation that the consent decrees demand that all works must be licensed on a 100% basis is both unprecedented and disastrous to the songwriting community,” he said. “The decision represents a misunderstanding of copyright law and directly violates the legal guidance given by the Register of Copyright. The defiance displayed by these career antitrust lawyers in ignoring the legal opinion of the Register of Copyright is shocking.”

BMI and ASCAP issued a joint statement proclaiming that the ruling “will cause unnecessary chaos in the marketplace and place unfair financial burdens and creative constraints on songwriters and composers.”

It appears that the new ruling won’t go into effect for another year, giving the organizations and stakeholders time to figure out how to conduct business within the scope of the new full works licensing. The full statement from the Department of Justice can be found here.

NSAI Calls Out Sony

Another big movement within songwriting and streaming is Sony blocking and contesting songwriters during the recent proceedings with Copyright Royalty Board. As songwriters and publishers fight for larger payouts from streaming, Sony has been contesting them, siding with digital streaming services. In fact, Sony is the only major label stepping in and opposing the publishers and songwriters on the matter.

In an open letter to Sony CEO Doug Morris, Nashville Songwriters’ Association International (NSAI) Executive Director Bart Herbison asks Morris and Sony to step out of the proceedings.

It is embarrassingly disingenuous that Sony would attempt to hide behind its claim to “increase the headline rate” when in fact its proposal to the CRB would actually lower the rates songwriters currently receive from digital interactive streaming services. Warner Brothers, Universal and other record labels have chosen not to attempt to suppress the rates digital interactive services pay to songwriters.

The big argument is that labels like Sony and Universal can benefit financially from an artists’ tour and merchandise sales while a songwriter only receives royalty payments from his or her song. David Israelite has also been vocal about Sony’s involvement.

With one major change from Full Works Licensing and a possible change in the works with CRB, we could in fact see a shift in the way the music industry conducts itself. If songwriting royalties are diminished through streaming, then chances are that we’ll be subjected to far more committee songs written for popular appeal. That’s essentially what we see on country radio today as it is, but moves like this could further marginalize the solo or independent songwriter, and could detract potential songwriters.

While a service like Spotify or Apple Music have playlists for “Americana” or “Independent Folk” for music fans to explore away from the mainstream, these are still playlists that need to be sought out and aren’t necessarily advertised. And if a label like Sony is getting in bed with streaming services to favor the labels, then they could easily “encourage” Spotify to advertise a playlist of Sony artists on Spotify’s main page or within Apple Music’s suggested playlists. The labels have money and that money allows them to wield their power for personal gain. And working to have streaming services give the labels more money, not the songwriters, only intensifies that power cycle.

Upcoming/Recent Country and American Releases

  • Tomorrow’s a big day for releases in country music:
    • Cody Jinks‘ I’m Not the Devil
    • Kelsey Waldon‘s I’ve Got a Way
    • Justin Moore‘s Kinda Don’t Care
  • BJ Barham of American Aquarium will release a solo album called Rockingham next week on August 19.
  • John Paul White will release Beulah on the 19th.
  • Lydia Loveless will release a new album on the 19th called Real.
  • And Dolly Parton will also release her new album on the 19th called Pure & Simple.

Throwback Thursday Song

“Diggin Up Bones” by Randy Travis 30 years ago this week, Randy Travis’ debut album Storms of Life hit Number 1 on Billboard’s Country Albums chart. So this week’s throwback song is a number one hit for Travis from that album.

Non Country Suggestion of the Week

Gov’t Mule The Tel-Star Sessions Rock band Gov’t Mule recently released an archival album called The Tel-Star Sessions, which include early and never-before-heard recordings from the band. Gov’t Mule is set to go on tour with Blackberry Smoke with the first show tonight in Portland, ME.

Tweet of the Week

When I saw that “Fix” was number 1 on the Airplay charts, I went to Twitter seeking out tweets complaining about the song. When my search for “Chris Lane Fix Sucks” had no results, I complained on Twitter, and our friend Cobra from Hope For Country Music fixed the search problem.

Two iTunes Review for Chris Lane

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Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 6.15.03 PM

Both of these reviews were left under Chris Lane’s new album Girl Problems. Whether it’s the whole album or simply “Fix,” both reviews apply.

The Hodgepodge: Pop Duets Ignore Country’s Rich Talent Pool of Female Artists

Dierks Bentley feat. Elle King – “Different for Girls”

Brad Paisley feat. Demi Lovato – “Without a Fight”

Kenny Chesney feat. P!nk – “Setting the World on Fire”

One of the most recent musical trends out of Nashville, as you can tell by the above pairings, is partnering a male country singer with a female non-country singer to record a non-country song, probably in hopes for a crossover hit. Three big, veteran names in country music are using the big names from female pop acts to gain even more exposure and revenue.

This isn’t a terrible trend, and Paisley and Chesney’s songs aren’t terrible. “Different for Girls” has some backwards lyrics, but Dierks and Elle sing the song well, and I like the production to the tune. My only gripe with this trend is that it blatantly ignores a large, talented pool of female singers in country music. Females who already struggle to get songs on the radio by themselves. To be fair, Dierks Bentley also recorded “I’ll Be The Moon” on Black with newcomer Maren Morris, a song which received quite a bit of album promotional play and press before the album’s release. However, the label decided to move forward with the Elle King duet as the single, not the Morris duet.

I know the answer to this question is money and marketability, but why not record these same songs with country newcomers? Mickey Guyton has a vocal power similar to Demi Lovato, and could easily fit into “Without a Fight.” In Fact, on several occasions while on tour with Paisley, Mickey Guyton sang Allison Krauss’ role in “Whiskey Lullaby.” I think Mickey Guyton could have sung Lovato’s parts and “Without a Fight” could still be just as good.

Like I said, I know that there’s a certain marketability that comes with having Demi Lovato’s or P!nk’s name attached to a song as opposed to Mickey Guyton or Cam. Outside of the obvious pop demographic (which the songs are clearly catered toward), those two names are just simply more well-known. But even some singers like Kellie Pickler and Lauren Alaina are good singers themselves and have the American Idol notoriety surrounding their name.

Obviously the larger purpose of songs like the ones mentioned above is the fact that these females attract a non-country audience to song and probably double the listening potential. But coming off a year in which the problem of females on country radio, or lack thereof, was headlining everywhere, it’s odd to me that producers would gloss over that potential talent pool.

Chris Young recently had a number one song on the Airplay Charts that he recorded with Cassadee Pope. “Think of You” is just as Adult Contemporary sounding as the three aforementioned songs. So don’t try to argue that “country females won’t sell” because clearly a duet between male and female COUNTRY singers sold and succeeded.

I’m probably just beating a dead horse and screaming at a brick wall because complaint’s like this haven’t helped. Even with Tomato Gate on everyone’s mind last year, Carrie Underwood and Kelsea Ballerini are still the only females getting consistent radio airplay. Yet women like Lori McKenna, Brandy Clark, Aubrie Sellers, and Margo Price have all released great albums this year. Why don’t we hear them on the charts? Why aren’t labels pursuing duets with these talented singers? Yes, Aubrie Sellers has recently signed a deal with Warner, and Lori McKenna has seen excellent success as a songwriter from “Girl Crush” and “Humble and Kind.” However, it’s still a shame that several of country’s talented female singers are overlooked for a cash-grab pop duet.

Upcoming/Recent Country and Americana Releases

  • Mo Pitney has announced his debut LP through Curb Records. Behind This Guitar will be released October 7.
  • William Michael Morgan announced his debut album, Vinyl, will be released on September 30.
  • Reckless Kelly will release Sunset Motel on September 23.
  • Also on September 23 Dwight Yoakam is releasing a bluegrass album titled Swimmin’ Pools, Movie Stars…
  • Jack Ingram will release Midnight Motel on August 26. Hear the new single, “I’m Drinking Through It.”
  • The Cadillac Three will release Bury Me in Boots tomorrow.
  • Cody Johnson will release Gotta Be Me tomorrow.
  • Next Friday, both Cody Jinks (I’m Not The Devil) and Kelsey Waldon (I’ve Got a Way) will release albums. A day which is sure to be a good day for new country music.

Throwback Thursday Song

“Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man” by Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn With all the talk of country duets today, what could be better than a duet from two of country’s best singers? Sit back and enjoy this 1973 hit from their duet album of the same name.

Non-Country Suggestion of the Week

Foo Fighters “Everlong” The only non-country music I’ve listened to this week is the Foo Fighters Greatest Hits album, so I recommend what is probably my favorite Foo Fighters song.

Tweet of the Week

I told myself not to mention a certain country group that I wrote about in last week’s Hodgepodge, but this tweet pretty much sums up my opinions on “Comeback Kid.”

iTunes Review for Big Smo

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This guy hates the fact that country fans call Big Smo not country. Especially when later on in this review, he clearly states how Big Smo raps. Sure we don’t technically own the word “country” but we know which music is actually country music and which is actually rap or hick hop.

The Hodgepodge: Five Thoughts on Country & Americana Music Right Now

Thumbs Down

Derek is busy dealing with some stuff this week (don’t worry there’s nothing wrong, he’s just a little too busy to write), so I’m stepping in this week to write the Hodgepodge. It was good timing too, as I have multiple things on my mind I would like to discuss at the moment regarding the current states of country and Americana music. There was no way I could pick just one topic, so I’ve decided to do a little state of the genre type address on some topics I feel are pressing and need addressed. So enough pleasantries and let’s get to the talking points, starting with the most prevalent on my mind…

1. Country & Americana Music are Down in Quality in 2016

This seems to be the consensus amongst not only you the readers, but the industry as a whole. I agree with this sentiment, to an extent. There hasn’t been as much quality music being churned out this year compared to recent years. This is true not only for mainstream/popular country, but in the independent and Americana scenes too. But I see people talking like there’s a complete lack of quality and this just isn’t true. I think the issue people are getting mixed up here is genre qualifications and quality standards. No two albums exemplify this more than Sturgill Simpsons’s A Sailor’s Guide to Earth and Robert Ellis’ self-titled album. Here you have two artists that have been consistently identified as country artists by the fans and are pretty popular too. They then both release albums that are sonically different from all of their previous releases. It’s a departure from their usual sound and as you know music fans don’t always react well to change. People are calling these albums bad because they’re not fitting their standards of genre qualifications. It’s not evaluating the actual quality of the music for what it is, but rather arbitrarily dismissing them for not meeting their sonic standards. This is flat-out lazy on the part of listeners and reviewers employing this train of thought. I will never dismiss quality music just because it doesn’t fit what I wanted. If its quality, it’s quality. I don’t give a shit if it doesn’t fit the genre I wanted it to fit. Of course I’ve already laid out this thought process on my review of Keith Urban’s Ripcord.

With this point aside, I think the better way to describe country and Americana music in 2016 is that there hasn’t been enough quality music that reflects the roots and sounds of the genre. There’s a lot of different sounds and influences being experimented with right now. I think mainly it’s a lot of artists trying to find a way to stand out while also trying to satisfy their own creative itches. I also stand by my point that a lot of artists are tired of being put in genre boxes. As Robert Ellis sings on “Elephant,” how can you call it art when you’re sticking to a dotted line? I have faith that things are about to improve, especially in the month of August where there are several potential album releases that could be album of the year contenders.

I think there’s a bigger problem though facing artists that is rearing its head in 2016. Both in mainstream and independent scenes the competition for eye balls has never been greater, which makes these problems so concerning…

2. Too Many Independent Country & Americana Acts are Failing to Stand Out/Get Their Name Out There

Many up and coming acts love to look at the likes of Sturgill Simpson and Chris Stapleton as inspirations for their own path to success in music. They love to think they too can replicate the paths they took and be household names just like them. I get a lot of pitches every single week of starry-eyed, hungry and ambitious artists looking to have their music featured here right on the blog in the hopes that they can get enough promotion to stand out and be “discovered.” But here’s the problem I see: they don’t do enough to stand out. It’ll be good music, but it does absolutely nothing to stand out and be different from the crowd. Keep in mind I get pitches from all over the world, not just in the United States. As an independent artist you have to remember you’re going against thousands of other acts in the same position as you. If you want to be recognized and featured on blogs like mine, you have to do everything you can to be unique while also producing genuinely great music. It’s easier said than done. I may be coming off sounding like a pompous ass, but that’s not my point. If I featured and reviewed everything pitched to me, I would never get any sleep. Readers would be driven away by the lack of quality standout music. It’s my job to feature the very best not only to keep my sanity and keep readers’ attentions, but because somebody has to be a gatekeeper for quality. This means I have to turn down upwards of 90% of what is pitched to me.

Then of course there are artists out there who do make great enough music to standout and get featured on my blog, but they simply don’t do enough to grow their fan base and stand out even more. This could be due to lack of a web presence, social media presence and/or touring presence. It’s maddening to watch talented artists who have a chance to really break out squander opportunities before their very eyes and be stuck in the same position for years. Just being featured and getting critical acclaim on blogs like mine isn’t the end all be all to get your name out there. It’s 1% of the things you need to do to grow.

Of course on the flip-side…

3. Major Labels Have Become Too Reliant on Radio to Break Out New Artists

This comes after I had a lengthy and constructive conversation with Christopher Baggs the other day on Twitter. For those unaware, Baggs is a country music chart tracker and industry insider who is very knowledgeable when it comes to these subjects. I highly recommend following him if you don’t already. Anyway our conversation begins after he pointed out how this week on the aircheck chart that 30 of the top 70 songs did not move up or lower in position from the week before with their bullet along with no recurrent. On top of that there’s a very crowded release schedule. This is obviously a big problem. To see the full conversation between us, start at this tweet (click on the date to see the full conversation):

We both agree that right now the labels are on a very dangerous path that could potentially hurt all parties involved. Anyone who follows the Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music knows that there are a lot of songs being pushed way too long on the chart and overstaying their welcome. Chase Rice’s “Gonna Wanna Tonight” spent over a year on the chart! Major labels are taking a boom or bust approach to breaking new and lower level acts via radio and this in turn is delaying new albums from these artists. The Cadillac Three have spent several years on Big Machine and are just now releasing their first album under the label in August. This is all because labels are hell-bent on making singles work and this is just short-sighted. With all of the technology and resources at their disposal there’s no reason why they can’t find other ways to break these artists out and get their names out. I don’t understand why these labels just can’t accept that sometimes a song is not a hit and move on. If a song spends 20 weeks in the 30s to 40s on the chart without hitting the top 30, that should be a sign that this song is just not going to work. But every label has seemed to adopt this boom or bust attitude, so now we’re about to find out what happens when you try to put 100 gallons of water into a 20 gallon bucket (it’s not going to be pretty),

4. Female Artists Still Aren’t Given a Fair Shake 

I’ll keep this one short and simple. It’s over one year after Tomato Gate and not a damn thing has changed in regards to female artists at radio. The only female acts that can get consistently played at radio are Carrie Underwood (an established star) and Kelsea Ballerini (a pop artist that has a label behind her willing to throw obscene amounts of money into marketing because her boyfriend’s dad runs it). Jennifer Nettles will be gone from the chart soon. Miranda Lambert will get a nice initial run with “Vice,” but I highly doubt this song reaches the top of the chart. Maddie & Tae have appeared to be Musgrave’d by programmers. All the while labels continue to pigeonhole their new female acts into two categories: straight pop or throwback country. Of course things aren’t exactly great for female artists in independent scene either. Just like in popular country, male artists get far and away more attention than female artists at festivals. It doesn’t help also when critics like myself stick our feet in our mouth and call them great female artist when we should just say great artist like we do for male artists (I saw an artist point this out and it made me realize I’m guilty of this on occasion). Just overall we could do better on giving female artists a fairer shake and opportunities.

5. Despite all of these issues, I think fans are becoming more informed than ever.

I think slowly but surely more and more country fans are realizing they can’t rely on mainstream media and radio to get their country music fix. They’re taking to the Internet and discovering great artists on their own and through blogs like this one. It may not be that noticeable, but I can truly sense that people are no longer accepting the status quo that has been presented to them. If enough fans become informed and call the bullshit out, that’s when real change and progress gets made. Support your favorite artists and tell your friends too.

Upcoming/Recent Country & Americana Releases

  • As far as I’m aware there are no major releases on our radar this week. But next week the following albums will be released
    • Lori McKennaThe Bird & The Rifle
    • Hillary Scott – Love Remains
  • In two weeks Alan Jackson will release the box-set Genuine: The Alan Jackson Story digitally. It was released last year exclusively in a physical format at Walmart. As someone who owns it, I highly recommend it if you’re an Alan Jackson fan.
  • Also on August 5 Cody Johnson will release his new album Gotta Be Me.
  • Dolly Parton will be releasing a new album on August 19 titled Pure & Simple.
  • Amanda Shires announced she will be releasing a new album titled My Piece of Land on September 16.
  • On September 30 the legendary John Prine will be releasing a new duets album called For Better, or Worse. The female talent featured on the album will be staggering and expansive, including the likes of Miranda Lambert and Kacey Musgraves.

Throwback Thursday Song

“Help Me Make It Through The Night” by The Highwaymen – Country’s greatest supergroup performs the classic Kris Kristofferson tune together. Just hit play and enjoy.

Non-Country Suggestion of the Week

“Let The Storm Descend Upon You” by Avantasia – I’m not usually a big metal listener, but I instantly loved symphonic metal group Avantasia upon first listen. Their entire new album Ghostlights is highly recommended from yours truly, but my favorite on it is hands down this song. It’s a whopping 12 minute epic! But I assure it’s fantastic. This is probably one of my favorite songs of 2016.

Tweet of the Week

This is in reference to a recent interview Granger Smith had with The Boot, calling Texas the minor leagues. And this tweet is pretty damn funny (funnier than anything Earl Dibbles Jr. has ever done).

The Perfect Steven Tyler Album Review

Steven Tyler Sucks

There’s no chance in hell we’re reviewing the new Steven Tyler album because it is all kinds of awful. This iTunes review here sums it up pretty well (although I’m not sure if I agree on the Run DMC version of “Walk This Way” being bad). Tyler is nothing but a trend chaser desperately trying to cling to the spotlight.