Sunday, December 10, 2006

Is What Happened To The Dixie Chicks Unique To Country Music? Or, To America?

Katherine Yung's Dallas Morning News story yesterday, prompted by empty seats at their recent Dallas show updates the saga and includes an interesting theory from Tom Taylor, editor-in-chief of Inside Radio:
"Country fans are very much about loyalty. This wouldn't happen in any other genre."

"Program Directors are afraid to play music by the Chicks," said Mike McVay, president of McVay Media. "They are hired and fired based on how high their ratings are." If research showed listeners clamoring for the Chicks' songs, they would be getting plenty of airplay, he said.

Radio companies and industry experts insist the stations aren't picking on the Chicks. Instead, in an industry driven by research, they're making hard business decisions. The surveys keep coming to one conclusion: Country music fans, among the most patriotic of listeners, still haven't forgiven the Chicks.

"I love the Dixie Chicks' music, but you have to know your audience and know your marketing model," said Gerry McCracken, country format coordinator for Cox Radio Inc., which owns 10 country radio stations. McCracken cited research conducted earlier this year that revealed half of country music listeners either did not want to hear any Chicks music now or never wanted to hear their songs again. "Those numbers are off the charts," Mr. McCracken said. "With those kinds of numbers, we wouldn't even play George Strait."

Meanwhile, a check of BDS and Mediabase shows the single "Taking The Long Way Around" on all 23 of the monitored Canadian country stations, ranking in the Canadian top ten today (12/10/06) on both of the charts tracking country airplay north of the 49th parallel.

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