Harry Enton over at the Guardian's Comment Is Free blog tries to figure out why the South has so many American Idol winners by statistical analysis. His theory?
It will come as no shock to anyone living on the coasts that there are many record labels in California and New York. California has about 2,500 record labels or 1 record label for every 15,000 residents, while New York has about 1,500 record labels or about 1 record label for every 13,000 residents. It's fairly easy for a talented musician to get noticed fairly quickly in these regions.
Southerners just don't have as many opportunities. The southern hub of Georgia has only 293 record labels or about 1 record label for every 33,500 residents, while Texas has only 559 record labels or about 1 record label for every 46,000 residents.
I'm not sure where he gets his numbers. A quick search on yp.com reveals listings for 386 record labels in California, not 2,500. Plus, he doesn't include Nashville in his analysis. Southerners have untapped talent? Southerners have their own indigenous recording industries (country and Christian) Enton just ignores!
According to a 2010 Gallup poll, nine of the 10 most church-attending states were in the South. The bigger the pool of kids who go to church, the bigger the pool of kids who end up in the church choir and the bigger the pool of kids who end up soloing in front of their congregations.
A talented young person who's used to performing in front of a crowd is going to have a leg up on a talented young person who isn't.
It's as simple as that. It's not that we have fewer recording opportunities. It's that we have more performance opportunities.