Monday, August 04, 2014

A Good Rule? Not For Country

"Now don’t get me wrong – at most, crossovers should be used like spice and when aggressively employed, they should be accompanied by credible DJ commentary setting the stage so the listener knows there’s a reason for its being played.  Often the crossover moves on to become a hit in its own right in the new genre and needs no further explanation or justification.  In a number of cases, this process actually expands the scope and vitality of the station format genre – the result being forward motion and growth for both radio and music."   -- Duane Doobie in RadioInfo

Consultants try hard to learn from every situation, which is why it's so smart to make use of one.  We're exposed to more owners, formats, tactics, strategies and competitive situations in a month than the average radio person has in many years.

So, I've figured out over my five decades in this biz that there's almost nothing that will work everywhere and it's also a mistake to say "that won't work."

Jaye's axiom:  a great manager/programmer can take a weak strategy that they fully believe in and make it do things with great people and lots of creativity that competitors predicted would fail.  Likewise, a poor manager/programmer can torpedo an awesome plan.

For that reason, I don't very often pronounce any idea when it's pushed by someone I respect a bad one.  Unless they want to add crossovers to a "new country" station playlist.

Some amazing and very experienced people who have won in multiple formats have come to country - it seems to happen at least once or twice a decade - and attempted to add "crossover spice" and have even done music testing to select the songs.

Invariably, the cume goes up a bit but the core time spent listening drops even more so that the losses outpace any hoped-for gains.

Many of today's hottest country superstars add an aggressive southern rock set to their live show and the crowds embrace it, so why not play some of that music on their radio? 

It's about expectations.  Country radio heavy users chronically complain about too much repetition and ask for more variety, but for some reason when they hear even their favorite oldie, adult contemporary or classic rock hit along with the tunes they want on a country station, they seem to  conclude that the station doesn't love country music as much as they do. 

At the same time, several hundred of today's country music hits from the last few years strongly appeal to a very wide demographic - from teens to their grandparents - and I defy you to find more than a handful of crossover hits that draw that wide a swath of both males and females in all of those same five+ narrow demographic cells.

The goal might have been to broaden the appeal, but when it comes to country music radio it actually achieves the very opposite!

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