Tennessee Songwriters Assoc., Int.
“Why Does It Have To Be Either Or?”
TSAI prides itself in having many writers, writing many styles of music. We just had our yearly Awards Show in April, in which we Awarded a Song Of The Year in 4 Categories. (1 )being Traditional Country, Americana, Bluegrass, and Folk. (2) for Contemporary Country. (3) in Christian, Gospel, and Inspirational. (4) representing Rock, Pop,and Rap. It was exciting to see them all win Awards, as all of these genres are important.
But unless you've been asleep for the last 10 years or so, you're aware of the current dust-up between the fans of different types of Country Music. And it's helpful to remember that we're usually talking about different fans. Many folks like and enjoy the current hip-hop based Country Music being played on organized Country Radio. And many do not. It may all be called Country Music, but it largely doesn't appeal to the same crowd. Further complicating this conversation is that many people confuse “Traditional” Country with “Oldies” Country. Simply not aware of the tremendous amount of NEW Traditional Country Music being created by NEW Artists as well as veterans. Current Country Radio calls most of this “Americana” so that they can hold onto the word “Country” for themselves. And that's at the heart of the battle.
I have been proposing, for some time, a solution that I believe benefits everyone. 2 separate, and equal, Country Music charts. From Labels, to Radio stations, to Billboard, completely separate genres. As writers, we would have twice as much opportunity for cuts. As Artists, twice as much opportunity for airplay. As Labels, twice as much room for marketing and income, and the ability to better target their audience.
If current Contemporary Country Radio could stay marketing to the more pop-based fans, they wouldn't need to draw the line at some songs that push too hard that way, and potentially lose fans. A Traditional Country Radio genre wouldn't need to try to play everything, and could cycle in some “Oldies”, along with the best of Americana, Bluegrass, and Folk. After all, that concept was the basis behind Billboard's original TOP 40 in 1958.
Taylor Swift was honest, and correct, when she said her music wasn't “Country” at the time, and she should be played on Pop stations. But Country Radio didn't want to lose those fans, so Country music changed to keep those fans. This isn't a “right now” situation though, just listen to George Strait and Alan Jackson's “Murder On Music Row”. But it has become an important factor in the Music business. With the sale of Big Machine Music, to the increasingly harsh dialog on FACEBOOK, Twitter, and other social media, it's clear now is the time. “Why Does It Have To Be Either Or?” There is plenty of music, and plenty of fans and artists, to fill up 24 hours a day of great entertainment. Profitable, commercial, entertainment.
Thank you, see you next time.
Paul Castoe, President TSAI