Thursday, July 05, 2007

Country Heats Up: Today's USA Today gives an illustration of how well Country is doing on radio. A good read. Note to Country PD's: Stop complaining about A/C playing our music. Every time A/C plays Carrie Underwood it's a great "ad" for Country radio.

By Ken Barnes, USA TODAY
So far, 2007 is a great year for country music … on the radio. In this year's first six months, country songs accounted for nearly one-fourth of radio's top 100 songs, as measured in all formats by Nielsen BDS, Arbitron and Radio & Records. Country's 24% share is nearly double the 13% it claimed at the end of 2006.
R&B/hip-hop dominates music heard on the radio, as it has since the all-format chart began in 2002, but its share is declining from previous highs above 50%. Last year, it commanded 49% of the top 100; so far this year, it represents 44%. Country is just ahead of pop, with rock trailing.

The impact of American Idol finalists, who have often met a chilly reception at radio, is notable this year: Both the top country song (Carrie Underwood's Before He Cheats, which also crossed over to pop formats) and rock song (Daughtry's It's Not Over) are from the Idol stable.

The bright picture for country fades somewhat on the sales lists. Pop artists lead the genre pack on the top 100 best-selling albums of the year, with 33%, trailed by R&B/hip-hop with 29%, rock with 20% and country with 15%. (Three multi-genre anthologies make up the remaining share.)

And pop artists own an even bigger share of the top 100 digital songs chart, with 40%, followed by R&B/hip-hop with 32%, rock with 20% and country with just 8%.

Radio airplay and track downloads continue their tight symbiotic relationship: Of the top 20 radio songs (see chart), half are also among the top 20 downloads. Reversing the perspective, virtually all the top download tracks were radio hits as well, though such million-download songs as Cupid's Chokehold by Gym Class Heroes (No. 2 download, No. 25 radio), Maroon 5's Makes Me Wonder (No. 3 and 44, respectively) and Fall Out Boy's This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race (No. 4 and 102) had less appeal for radio audiences than to paying customers.

Those purchases allowed the top download tracks to outpace the top albums by a considerable margin. Just six albums sold more than 1 million in the first half of 2007, compared with 15 tracks (when different versions of songs are combined). Gwen Stefani's Sweet Escape sold 1.78 million downloads, edging the year's top album, Daughtry's self-titled debut, which sold 1.73 million copies.

Other million-selling tracks included T-Pain's Buy U a Drank, Daughtry's It's Not Over, Nelly Furtado's Say It Right, Avril Lavigne's Girlfriend, Fergie's Glamorous, Carrie Underwood's Before He Cheats, Akon's Don't Matter, Timbaland's Give It to Me, Shop Boyz's Party Like a Rockstar, Mims' This Is Why I'm Hot and Rihanna's Umbrella.

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