Country Radio Needs to Change

Gary Overton, Sony CEO

Gary Overton, Sony CEO

As I worked on my album analysis for Aaron Watson’s album The Underdog, which grabbed the No. 1 spot on the US Country Billboard Chart, I came across an interesting article, “Sony Nashville CEO talks importance of country radio.” Gary Overton, Sony CEO, said in the interview that he can be quoted several times a day saying, “If you’re not on country radio, you don’t exist.” This statement angered many people including independent country fans and artists. Many independent artists have much support from fans, but find themselves ignored by mainstream country radio.

Country radio is not capable of embracing individual country artists. Individual country artists are unique and have an authenticity that cannot be found with the current mainstream artists. I can tell that country fans want something different and country radio should adapt – playing both mainstream and independent artists.

the underdog

Aaron Watson’s No. 1 Album, “The Underdog”

Aaron Watson is an independent Texas Country artist who has been in the industry for 15 years, has produced 12 albums and performed over 2,000 shows. However, he has been rejected by mainstream radio despite having the No. 1 US Billboard Country album. His response to Overton’s comment was, “My name is Aaron Watson. I am not played on country radio. And I have the #1 record in country music this week. I do exist.”

Charlie Robinson, a Nashville artist turned independent, also offered his opinion on the matter, stating “I have a job today but as soon as Florida Georgia Line goes out of style, and believe me they will, you [Gary Overton] will not exist.” Of course, Florida Georgia Line felt compelled to comment on Twitter that they have lost all respect for Charlie Robinson.

Many factors contribute to the success of artists, but radio play is not the most important. In fact, Overton’s own artist Garth Brooks had to deal with the issue of mainstream radio when they rejected his comeback single “People Loving People” and its follow up “Mom.” However, due to his loyal fan base, Garth Brooks has experienced no difficulty in selling out shows. Dedication and perseverance are two important qualities that country fans look for in artists. Independent artists certainly contain those characteristics.

There is no denying that radio play contributes to the commercial success of an artist, but it doesn’t determine whether they exist or their level of talent. I’m sure that many independent artists would benefit greatly if the mainstream radio stations accepted them. However, I don’t base an artist’s success or talent on how much airplay they get. I base it on the music and what I think about their songs after they end.


Filed under News, Reflection, Texas

3 Responses to Country Radio Needs to Change

  1. Samantha Godfrey

    I have to admit that after reading just your title I was ready to comment, thinking automatically that I would be disagreeing with your opinion. However, after reading your blog and understanding what you’re trying to get across to us, I have to say I agree with you. Not being played on the radio has nothing to do with an artist’s career existing. “Texas country” bands are rarely ever played on the radio, and yet their popularity only keeps rising. In my opinion, that is what makes them so popular. Not being overplayed on the radio keeps their sound from getting tired. You enjoy and relish their sound when you hear them at a concert. As much as I would love to hear less commercialized artists on the radio, I think that is the uniqueness they bring to the country music table. Plus, I would love to see these artists stick it to Gary Overton and prove him wrong.

  2. Katie O'Neil

    I agree with Sam, when I first read your title I was a little skeptical. But after reading what you wrote I agree with you. I do believe that country music has a hard time embracing individual country music artists. In the past couple of years the country music radio has become extremely mainstream and focus more on commercialization. It is also interesting that even in Texas “Texas country” artist are rarely played on the radio. One would think that because of the popularity of “Texas country” in Texas, those artists’ songs would be played a lot more often. I agree that radio play is due to commercial success but I also believe that “Texas country” has commercial success in Texas.

  3. Taylor Campbell

    First off, I want to say I really enjoyed this post. Secondly, I am in complete agreement with you. Although I do love my commercialized country, some of my favorite country songs have never been played on the radio. I think it’s absolutely ridiculous that someone would say you don’t exist if you don’t get radio play, especially in country music. In my mind, country music is supposed to be the genre that doesn’t care about stardom, fame, and fortune; especially seeing as that’s what all the artists promote and sing about. If this is the mind set going on behind the scenes of country music, it is definitely time for a change.

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