“Move Over Nashville, Country Music Is Bigger in New York,” a headline on antiMUSIC proclaimed on Thursday.
New. York. City?! That’s right (but not really). According to Nielsen SoundScan data reported last week, The City So Nice They Named It Twice leads the nation in country album sales, with Los Angeles and Dallas-Ft. Worth trailing behind in second and third place, respectively. Nashville — obviously Country Music’s artistic incubator and biz brain trust — comes in at No. 6 on the list of the genre’s top 10 markets.
“The Big Apple bested even Nashville when looking at the sheer number of albums sold,” the afore-linked "Move Over Nashville … " post boasted.
It’s easy to see why such a headline might come as surprising to some — it’s really misleading. Country music (or Top 40 pop and torch ballads clad in cowboy boots) has punctuated the shit out of the mainstream charts for some time now. Country comprises 13 percent of total album sales in the U.S. and is the music industry’s fourth highest selling genre, so says antiMusic. Furthermore, the post adds that digital album sales, year-to-date, are up 31 percent, outpacing overall digital album sales, which are up 20 percent.
Now, to think that the genre’s commercial strength is thanks solely to the shit-kickin’ spendin’ habits of landlocked consumers is, at this point, about as short-sighted as thinking the folks on the coasts are the only ones who buy swimsuits. And the success of a big box mega-seller like Taylor Swift is monolithic. Ain’t that Amerrruh-duh?
But before conceding defeat to those damn Yankees, let us in Nashville not forget the crucial sales-per-capita factor. Of the 31.8 million country units moved this year, 2,357,000 of those were sold in Nashville, while 16,977,000 were sold in NYC. Greater Nashville’s population hovers somewhere around 1.5 million, while New York City’s population hovers near 19 million. You don’t need to be Will Hunting — in fact, you don’t even really need to do to the math at all — to figure out how this adds up; that having an exponentially denser population of potential consumers does not equal winning the popularity contest on person-to-person scale.
Think about it this way: You’re probably more likely than not to be a registered Democrat if you’re at, say, a Features show than if you were at a Toby Keith concert. However, you will find a larger population of registered Democrats at a Toby Keith concert, yet if you’re at Toby Keith concert, I’m gonna bet you’re probably a Republican (even though the singer himself is not, so he says).
Seriously. Besides, like, hot chicken and Captain D’s, what good or service — in the arena of hard numbers — could Music City out-move New York City in?
The actual meaning of the numbers is not ignored by the post in question, which acknowledges that “New York owes its top spot more to population than popularity. … Nashville residents were nearly twice as likely to buy country albums as the general U.S. population.”
In related news, country music’s Tango and Cash (no, not that Cash) Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw announced today that they will embark on a summer 2012 stadium tour together. Dubbed the “Brothers of the Sun Tour,” the jaunt — which kicks off June 2 in Tampa, Fla. — will bring the pair, who are joining forces for the first time in over a decade, to LP Field on June 23. Chesney is getting top billing. According to Pollstar, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals and Jake Owen are slated to open the outing.
Will it be like a more twangy version of this? Maybe.
No word yet on when tickets for the Nashville gig go on sale, though we do know that they will go on sale here. We’ll keep you posted on that … maybe.
This will mark Chesney’s third go at headlining LP — the stadium that no rock act has ever headlined, though Red Rocker Sammy Hagar did open for Chesney at the singer’s 2008 LP stop. And that is more than enough impetus for me to re-post one my favorite Golden Nuggets of all-time: