Thursday, January 11, 2007

Se Habla? Verstehen Sie? Est-ce que vous comprenez ce que je veux dire?

When it comes to country music, the answer is often "NO." While it's nice to see the dialog begin on why country music has to be so narrow, as if we all lived within 250 miles of Nashville, I see it this way: it's a tribute to the open attitudes of the rest of the world and the quality and talent of the writers, singers, musicians and producers in Music City that it does as well as it does internationally. In order to do what it would take to do even better outside the red states, will country change so much that today's core won't like it as much due to their provincialism? It's always been a sad statement to me that Paul Brandt can record a great song about "Small Towns, Big Dreams" in Alberta and it gets no attention outside Canada. Why? In order for Canadians like Terri Clark, Emerson Drive and Carolyn Dawn Johnson to be successful in America's heartland, they have had to adopt southern-sounding accents and sing about driving across Georgia, rather than Manitoba. Hopefully the Edison/CRB research project at this year's CRS will find a way to communicate to the very conservative base while broadening it .. for the future good of all of us!

Nashville's Tennessean documents it in today's paper:
"The United States wasn't the only place where Rascal Flatts sold lots of albums in 2006. The trio also made a respectable showing in Japan after simultaneously releasing four albums there last year, throwing some sales competition into a region whose fledgling country music tastes have long favored bluegrass.In China meanwhile, a growing pocket of country music fans tend to prefer Alison Krauss over Alan Jackson, according to the host of a country music TV show in Shanghai. Elsewhere in the country, some audiences enjoy the Nashville sound simply because it gives them an excuse to throw on a pair of chaps and a cowboy hat — like characters in Brokeback Mountain, which became a hit film in many parts of China. Unfortunately for Music Row, these kinds of anecdotes appear to be just that, and they don't necessarily point to a larger sales trend. While country music captured nearly 13 percent of the U.S. market in 2006 — the largest share of total domestic album sales the category has seen in nearly a decade — that success has failed to translate in foreign markets."
-- Reporter Ryan Underwood

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