Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Will we kill country music?

Before you go totally insane let me explain. I really don’t want to kill country music but there is many reasons in the future music industry that tells me that it might actually go under.
Let’s start with the version of country music in Sweden, called Dansband (Ballroom dance music could it closest to be described). Here is a typical song ( yes they look like that)

This genre in Sweden was huge. Probably much bigger then country if you compare the majority of listeners in Sweden compare to the population. During the 80:s this really was the thing if you wanted to make huge amount of money.

First you got the money from touring, yes Sweden is small but still it was so many places that over 500 of these band actually could make over 4 to 5 gigs a week. So much that even the Swedish government put a special tax on to them. If you danced you got extra tax (weird yes I know).
Right now just 20 years later this style is dead. On the Swedish Grammy award it was just two companies left to compete about the prize. Their gig places are shut down. Why?

They didn’t follow along with the new listeners. They made so much money on CD:s that they kept going on that. Also their audience was older and still bought that. That worked for a while (90:s) but when even the older stopped using CD:s and they technical companies stopped put in the equipment. I mean right now Appel goes so far to take out the headphone jack. I can’t remember when I last saw an apple computer with a CD player. Since that was happening their audience got smaller and smaller and now they are almost not existing.

With that they didn’t attract they younger audience and the growth of fans did stop. Second they also kept on going to radio, especially the P4 format (it’s a government radio station that broadcast locally). Radio really died also in the beginning of 2000. What we see in Sweden today is really a pale shadow of the old system. People find music on other channels.

I told this to some of my American record industry people. But no it couldn’t grasp their mind that this could happen. Okey, this is the same people that told me 2011 that they would get into the hard drive business since that is where people download their stuff. I just told them that we will stream from Spotify and they couldn’t grasp their mind then. I guess this is even harder to understand.

The signs are there. Sure USA is a bigger country and it will take longer time. But radio is already dead, USA still have it since they spend a lot of time in the car. But digital radio already provides me with channels that I can only listen to The Greatful Dead or Metallica station. No need to find new music. And more and more technical devises will get me more playlists from other sources.
Gig places, yes this one is also stronger in USA. Still it looks what happen in Sweden for the moment. It’s a huge change of the live market and this will hit USA as well.

And radio and live shows are the bread and butter for country. My guess is that is there we will see the first changes. This effects all music industry. But yes country will be first, they have a older audience, harder to adapt. My eyes will be on this one to try to evaluate the market.
It won’t happen tomorrow. It would be fun to bring this post back 2025. See where country is then? Just saying Talyor Swift made a good move on genre there.

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