Monthly Archives: April 2015

Garth NOT on iTunes

Young Garth BrooksGarth Brooks is a well-known country music artist. It is very hard to find a person that has never heard of him or one of his songs, which is one of the reasons my group decided to choose a song of his for our music video project. He was an artist we all were familiar with. With that said, we all were very shocked to find Garth Brooks was nowhere to be found on iTunes. We searched and searched, but found nothing. We had to result in using a live recording from YouTube for our music in the video. This made me wonder how his fans would be able to listen to his work, surely no one was buying CD’s anymore. The answer I found was: Ghost Tunes.

Ghost Tunes is an online music store established by Garth Brooks himself. It launched in September 2014, and features singles and albums from a variety of artists, including Brooks.Garth Brooks Ghost Tunes The name “Ghost Tunes” is said to have derived from founder Brooks’ first name, Garth, and his “hosting” of the site (“G-host”). Ghost Tunes varies from other online music stores, such as iTunes, by allowing the individual labels to choose their selling format and prices. This was a result of Brooks’ resentment to digital music industries, such as iTunes, YouTube, and Spotify. Brooks said himself: “People get millions and millions and millions and millions of views, and they don’t get squat. Trust me. Songwriters are hurting.

However, as of 2013 Brooks’ recordings were continually selling very well. According to Nielsen Soundscan, his albums sales up to May 2013 were 68,630,000. Which makes him the best-selling albums artist in the United States in the SoundScan era, a title held since 1991, well over of his nearest rival, The Beatles. According to RIAA, Brooks is the second best-selling solo albums artist in the United States of all time, ahead of Elvis Presley. Which makes it hard for me to believe that money was his true issue with the industry. He is loaded with money and still was not satisfied with the portion he received from sales.

Garth PlayingThankfully, Brooks had an answer for my puzzlement. Music is what all of this was about for him. “Music wins,” Brooks had said. “This is my gift to music. That’s all I want.” That’s when Randy Bernard, CEO of Ghost Tunes, knew “it wasn’t about making a profit for Garth,” he told Billboard. It was about putting out a great product and working with artists and fans. “We want[ed] to make sure we unlocked the music and gave it to the consumer, not to the device,” said Chris Webb, COO of Ghost Tunes. “Ghost Tunes is about freedom.”

Do you think Garth’s decision was smart? Have you ever heard of Ghost Tunes? Would you be willing to buy your music from anything other than iTunes?

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Filed under New Country

A Rising Star in Multiple Genres: Sam Hunt

Country music has recently seen the rising of a new star whose history differs from most other artists. This artist did not grow up thinking that they would top the country music charts, but instead aspired to play college football (which he accomplished, by the way). This artist is Sam Hunt, and he is taking country music by storm.

Hunt’s first album came out in October of last year, but the singles from that album are still topping the charts. Hunt’s song “Take Your Time” is currently number one on the US Country charts.

Although he defines himself as a country artist, listeners of country music are criticizing Hunt for not being country enough. His sound has some rap and hip-hop influences with the way that he talks throughout parts of the song, but he is fusing those elements with country music, expanding his, as well as country music’s, ever-growing fan base.  His “look” does not necessarily fit in with the country music mold, either. Instead of the cowboy hat and boots, Hunt usually dons a baseball cap and t-shirts, aligning him even more so with the hip-hop genre. To learn more about the blending of country music and hip-hop, visit the Country Music Project’s Hick Hop page.

Hunt appearance looking more like a Hip Hop artist's.

Hunt appearance looking more like a Hip Hop artist’s.

However, many times change is a good thing. The blending of the genres here is great for country music because it transitions listeners to explore the genre.  With the added exposure of country music, the genre will by all accounts grow in popularity.  While I think Hunt is pushing those boundaries a bit too far for the traditional genre’s taste, his doing so will be positive for country music as a whole. Being a steady stream of artistry while maintaining a balance of traditional and modern sounds is important when taking on the country music scene. Sam Hunt may be a bit blunt in his attempts to mash up the genres to create great music, but he is in fact creating great music.

Hunt is not new on the scene to making hit songs, though. He helped write hits for country music icons like Kenny Chesney with his song “Come Over,” and Keith Urban with “Cop Car.” He also assisted in writing Billy Currington’s “We Are Tonight.” With Hunt’s vast talent in songwriting, his ability to connect with audiences, and of course his voice, it is no surprise he is an all-star on the charts.

sam-hunt-2014-promo-650x400Sam Hunt has made a name for himself in the country music world. Whether he will continue to follow along that fine line between country and hip-hop, or veer in one direction or the other will be interesting to see. I would like to see him experiment in all directions, in the hopes of finding a comfortable place for him to create music, no matter what genre that may be under. I’m looking forward to seeing what else he has stashed in his pockets and ball cap, but am also thrilled at the way he made waves in the country music scene.  Everything needs to be shaken up from time to time, and Sam Hunt did that by showing his talent, all the while bringing people together to listen to good music.

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Filed under Country Subgenres, Hick Hop, Reflection

When Will Country Let Go of Taylor Swift?

Country music is part of Taylor Swift’s past. In fact, she transcended the country music genre to become one of pop music’s top stars. However, country music awards continue to eagerly embrace the cultural icon, as demonstrated by her recent participation in the Academy of Country Music Awards.

At the ACMs, Swift received a Milestone Award that recognized her career achievements. To put things into perspective, Garth Brooks, George Strait, Reba McEntire, Brooks & Dunn, Miranda Lambert, and Kenny Chesney also received The Milestone Award. However, those artists sit firmly in the country music genre. Of course, the Academy of Country Music is well justified in maintaining a connection to Swift.

Taylor Swift honors her country music past. In Swift’s acceptance speech of The Milestone Award she thanked Nashville for teaching her how to write songs. Swift performed her first hit “Tim McGraw” on the ACM stage in 2007 when her career was beginning to take off. The next year Swift won the Top New Female Vocalist. After that moment her career accomplishments multiplied.

taylor-swift-acm-awards-2015-01Taylor Swift is a household name. The press follows her fashion, her relationships and her business decisions. Her album sales prove her success. Her new album “1989” spent 24 straight weeks in the top five of the Billboard 200. It was also the first album to sell one million traditional US copies in 2015.

Taylor Swift helps other artists. With the world’s fourth largest Twitter following, when she mentions an artist, her fans respond by buying the album in droves. She also gives singers with their first album a spot on her tours, helping to propel them to success.

Taylor Swift provides a huge ratings boost. Non-country fans likely watch shows just to see her. Now that she’s pop, is it too much of a stretch to see her at a country music award show? When her previous album “Red” came out and the sounds of pop music shined through, country radio still played those songs. However, 1989 is not played on country stations at all.

taylor-swift-acm-awards-20154As Swift accepted the award she said, “Somebody once told me that you truly see who a person is when you tell them something they don’t want to hear…And so to the country music community, when I told you that I had made a pop album and that I wanted to go explore other genres, you showed me who you are with the grace you accepted that with. I will never forget it.”

With these words, it seemed as if Swift said her final farewell to country music. She gave the country audience a bit of closure, but can country music award shows afford to let her go?

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Filed under Awards, Country Pop, Movies and TV, Women

Follow Your Arrow

Country music has always featured controversial topics, but the most popular seems to be about alcohol and drugs. While other genres like rap talk about it literally, country music seems to put a comical twist on these bad habits. The artist that I believe to do the best job of tackling this subject is female country artist Kacey Musgraves. Some of my favorite songs of hers include “Follow Your Arrow,” “Blowing Smoke,” and “Merry Go ‘Round. “ Rolling Stones states “25-year-old Kacey Musgraves has become one of the loudest symbols of young country musicians embracing progressive values.”

Kacey is not only a wonderful singer, but also an incredible songwriter. She has co-written “Mama’s Broken Heart” for Miranda Lambert and “Undermine” for the ABC series Nashville. The Guardian explains that Kacey “has a way of making people feel special not by telling them that they’re special, but by reminding them that no one really is.” This is easily seen in her new songs “Biscuits” and “Cup of Tea.”

My coworker is friends with Kacey’s sister Kelly and tells me that Kacey is a little crazy, but she is as real as her songs. She loves to smoke and do drugs and doesn’t care what people think. She isn’t being fake, or trying to portray herself as someone she isn’t. I am proud that she comes from Texas and I love that her songs aren’t written for everyone. Her songs are written for the people who want to listen and can relate. She hasn’t commercialized herself in the way Nashville does to so many female country artists. Kacey is probably my favorite country female out right now and I really can’t wait to see her in concert again.

The first time I saw Kacey Musgraves in concert was when she was opening for another act. I unfortunately don’t remember who she opened for, I only remember sitting there with my mother when we heard “Follow Your Arrow” for the first time. We both looked at each other and said that she is going to be big some day. My mother still listens to Kacey today and has stated to me on several occasions that she want to see her in concert again

I have posted some of the songs I have mentioned in this post below. I really hope you enjoy them and I am curious to hear what you all think about this newer female country artist.

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Filed under Politics, Texas, Women

Daniella’s Experiences

Coming into this course I really had no idea what to expect except for the fact that we would be covering country music in one way or another. As a part of this course I was able to experience and discover things that I probably would not have done on my own.

Coming into this course I really had no idea what to expect except for the fact that we would be covering country music in one way or another. As a part of this course I was able to experience and discover things that I probably would not have done on my own.

Coming into this course I really had no idea what to expect except for the fact that we would be covering country music in one way or another. As a part of this course I was able to experience and discover things that I probably would not have done on my own.

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Filed under Austin, Class work, Storify