Tuesday, September 11, 2012

CMT Launches CMT Edge Site, Courts a Hipper Audience?

Posted By on Tue, Sep 11, 2012 at 11:02 AM

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As some of you savvy Netsters may already know, Viacom's Country Music Television just launched a new site by the name of CMT Edge. According to a press release, "CMT Edge celebrates music without boundaries from artists on the fringe of country music, and serves as a digital hub for recently launched performance series, CONCRETE COUNTRY and LIVE @ CMT."

In addition to the three genre categories you'll see at the top of the page — "Americana," "Bluegrass" and "Classic Country" — you'll also see the category "Concrete Country." That's where the site files performance videos from that aforementioned series of theirs — performances from the likes of Trampled by Turtles, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Caitlin Rose and more. Edge has already premiered a new video from Sara Watkins, Dwight Yoakam's new tune "It's Never Alright" and more. There are also profiles on and interviews with acts like throwback rock 'n' roller J.D. McPherson.

So, wait a minute. Trampled by Turtles, Carolina Chocolate Drops, J.D. McPherson, Caitlin Rose? That's certainly some of the more thoughtful, interesting stuff on the modern country-slash-Americana landscape, and not exactly what I'd call CMT's usual fare. When you visit CMT's regular site, you're more likely to find tidbits from reality shows like Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders and My Big Redneck Vacation, or artist spotlights on folks like Dierks Bentley, Kix Brooks, Little Big Town and Bucky Covington. By the Edge's own definition, the artists they spotlight represent "the fringe of country music" — the "edge," you might even say. Since when, though, does CMT care all that much about fringe artists?

Well, as we've seen reported an awful lot lately, the world is catching on to the fact that Music City is "more than just country." That's of course thanks to the rock 'n' roll boom brought on by the likes of Jack White, The Black Keys, JEFF the Brotherhood, Kings of Leon, PUJOL, Those Darlins, Turbo Fruits, et cetera ad infinitum. But the Americana/roots/dusty-rusty scene is obviously thriving in Nashville as well, and the appearance of CMT Edge says to me, "Nashville! More than just country. But also still country." It's a hipper, more outsider, "fringe" approach to the sort of music that this city's infrastructure was built upon, and more appealing (at least to the Blue-State set, one would think) than shows like Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders. After all, as my boss Jack Silverman frequently puts it, "Americana is just country music for Democrats."

Anyway, CMT obviously picked the right week to launch Edge — the week of the Americana Music Fest, that is. They even have a feature on their "10 Picks for the Americana Music Conference." So we'll keep our eye on them, see what sort of impression they make and so forth. A colleague suggests that the launch of CMT Edge could even be a market test for a new TV channel. Could it be? CMT already has their sister network, Pure Country. Could it be a re-branding? Sheer conjecture on my part, but it definitely seems like new territory for CMT. Stay tuned.

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