Country Music’s Digital Evolution
By Dave Brewer
I think social media has changed the face of country music more than any other genre. Traditionally, bands played in bars, wrote demos, and chased recording contracts. Then along came indie and alternative. Bands paid for and recorded their own music. A band would come to town for a concert, be interviewed by the college or community radio station and give the music some air time. Still a slow process. Then along came Facebook and especially YouTube. Suddenly, a band’s music was available to millions of fans. Facebook allowed fans and bands to have a dynamic, one to one relationship. YouTube gave the music a platform to be heard anytime, anywhere, by anyone.
Country music was a little slow to embrace this concept, however. The 90’s saw an explosion of popularity. Super stars, stadium tours, big productions, and huge crowds. Country had caught up with rock. Nashville was still the hub, the mecca where every aspiring young singer songwriter went to be discovered. The only thing that had changed was the fan base for country was much much larger than it had been previously. The music scene in Nashville is still pretty much the same as before. Musicians play in a bar for tips and the hope that someone likes the music and wants to record it. The “style” of the music was still somewhat “traditional”.
Some of the new generation of performers embraced social media, especially YouTube. The face of country music began to change. New sub genres of music began to emerge. (Yes Virginia, there is rap in country). Other sub genres got rebranded. Texas country became red dirt country, for instance. According to Wikipedia there are 23 sub genres of country. These young performers could have a fan base all over the world. This connection with social media allowed bands to build their fan base faster and cheaper than ever.
A prime example of this “new” trend is Granger Smith. He taught himself to play guitar at age 14 because he thought George Strait was cool and to impress girls. He has self- promoted and toured. He had a YouTube video go viral and received a recording contract because of it.
He will be at Warehouse 2565 on Sunday August 4th and ticket sales have been crazy. The show is almost sold out. Earl Dibbles Jr. will be there as well. He brings a slightly rap style of country where he conveys pick- ups, parties, mudding, shooting, and fun in his lyrics. This promises to be a great show. Get a ticket before it’s too late and come check it out.