"The Cold Hard Truth"

The Real Deal About Country Music Delivered In A Shot Glass Not A Mixed Drink


Written By: Dennis Lee Pitmon

 Just who ARE Country Music fans? I think the answer is certainly different than when I first began playing country songs for a living about 33 years ago. I'm fortunate in that I've had a chance to witness so much change in Country Music over the years. I don't necessarily mean the music itself, sure that's changed, and not always for the better, but more like the change in the typical Country Music fan. Even the most EXTREME yuppie would be surprised at the latest numbers.
Waylon J.

                   When I began my radio career, I was amazed to learn that there was actually data collected that determined who listened to our radio station. That we could actually target a certain group of people, either by age, or occupation, or even income. I remember our sales staff telling us who was listening to our station, and patronizing our clients, the business' that would buy airtime to peddle their goods and services. I also remember thinking  "I'm only 16 years old...I just want to play the music, and talk on the radio!" It became quite a chore to learn who your audience was and then try to talk about subjects they were interested in. Again...."HELLO, I'm 16...I don't even know what osteoporosis IS!". OK, that's a bit extreme, but the average age of a Country Music fan has dropped about 15 years over the last 30. In 1980, the average age of a Country Music fan was about 54 years old, mostly female, and considered lower-middle class. The new data suggests a major change in those demographics.

                      Country Music fans today are generally faring well financially, most own their own homes, and are active with social networking. Here's what the CMA found in their latest survey, released last month:


* There are 96 million Country Music fans that comprise 42% of the U.S. population.

* 48% are male

* 52% are female

* 57% are married

* 40% fall into the 18-39 age group

* 37 million Country Music fans or 42% of the total have an average income over $75,000 per year. The average income in the U.S. as a whole is just under $50,000.

* 96% of all Country fans own a cell phone.

* 17% own a tablet computer, and 70% of those own an Ipad.

and social media is definitely something we do.

* 89% of all Country fans are on FACEBOOK, although 49% never comment.

* 58% are on TWITTER, but 28% never tweet.

* 48% of Country Music fans have children under 18 years of age.

* 74% of all Country fans own their own home

* 29% attended college


                     So why the drastic change over the last 30 years? The social networking is obvious. the closest thing we had to social networking WAS the radio. I think fans are getting younger for a variety of reasons. Country Music has been "modernized". By that I mean songwriters are writing about a diverse range of subjects. Sure, we still have the good ole drinkin', cheatin', and pick-up truck songs, but we also have songs with a positive spin on love, parents, children, God, and Country. Not so different than before, but sung by artists who are younger, and very accessible via the internet and video. I also think that younger people are experiencing the subjects in Country songs at an earlier age. It WAS and IS the music of life. Music you can relate to is easier to digest, and believe. The fact that other genres of music are mostly horrible doesn't hurt either.

                    It's strange that when I started in this business, the average age of a Country fan is about the same age I am now. I'll add that today's Country fan is also a fan of yesterday's Country as well. The younger fans I play music for in clubs know the old songs as well. A testament to having grown up with the genre, and obviously having very smart parents and grand-parents! With that said, I believe the biggest reason mainstream radio is garnering younger fans is this....the older fans who used to dominate the ratings aren't hearing what they WANT to hear on mainstream radio! Radio stations that aren't playing classics from the 60's, 70's, and 80's are losing listeners in bunches, and those listeners are old enough and stable enough to BUY the products the advertisers on those stations are trying to sell. The solution is almost too simple. It's widely known that older people are the consumers who buy the big ticket items...cars, homes, appliances, trips, etc. To add just a couple of classics per hour and raising the age of a stations demographic would certainly attract advertisers who sell those goods and services. The younger fans won't care because chances are good that they know those songs anyway. It seems like a perfect win-win situation except for...programmers who are young and have no experience in Country Music, and who place personal taste over the good of the station. It's happening in markets all across the country, Young, inexperienced programmers who are a bargain for GM's making the decisions that affect everyone's livlihood. In the meantime, station revenues are suffering, and GM's are blaming the economy.

                   Are you the Country Music fan described in this article? Or, are you the neglected Country fan described in this article? I'd love to hear your feedback. E-Mail us at

sccradiorequest@hotmail.com , and thanks for supporting REAL Country Music.

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