“Hillbilly Music” No Longer – Country Music’s Rise

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cowboyhat+bootOnce relegated to static-filled AM radios or denigrated as “hillbilly music”, country music is flexing its muscle – in recordings and live concerts – across the United States, as evidenced by the following:

Up and Down the Dial. At broadcast radio stations across the U.S., country music is the top-ranked music format. InsideRadio.com tracks country as the most popular format the past ten years, exceeding its closest, chatty rival (News/Talk) by 40 percent in 2013. Devoted country fans slice and dice the genre into various categories, evidenced by the streaming audio service AOL Radio and its 17 country channels ranging from seedy (Outlaw Country) to saintly (Christian Country).

Swift Success. According to Billboard magazine, Taylor Swift ranked #1 on the list of highest-paid musicians in 2013 – when considering revenue from concerts, recorded music, royalties and music/video streaming. (Each of Swift’s concert fans, on average, spends $88 for their ticket and $17 on merchandise.) To her credit, Swift was also named the most charitable celebrity of 2013 by the nonprofit DoSomething.org. Her philanthropy is literally on display in a growing museum located in country music’s cradle – Nashville.

Expanding Museum. Last week the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum completed the last phase of its 210,000-square-foot expansion, which more than doubled its Nashville footprint. According to its website, the Museum’s core mission is “to preserve, interpret and teach the history of country music.” The expansion encompasses additional 10,000 square feet of exhibit space, an 800-seat theatre and the Taylor Swift Education Center, which “offers a fun space for unique hands-on experiences connected to the museum’s content.”

banjo b-w clipartThunder Rolls. Local and regional country music festivals continue to grow, attracting larger numbers of fans. One example is Country Thunder, a weekend event held annually in Arizona and Wisconsin. The Arizona festival took place earlier this month, featuring 20 artists and attracting a record 200,000 fans. We’re especially pleased to know that Wenger staging helped support this event’s success. Watch for more about that in a future article!

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