Controversy Swirls Country Music As Artists, Radio, Labels React

As a new 'controversy' erupts after comments made by a music executive, stars from multiple fields react to the whole 'mess' in the only ways they know, circa 2015: Twitter and Facebook.

Last week, before the annual Country Radio Seminar in Nashville in which radio programmers from around the world converge on Music City, Sony Nashville President Gary Overton gave an interview to The Tennessean where he talked about the importance of terrestrial (and satellite) radio and it's involvement in making fans enjoy the music and stars found predominantly in the mainstream.

It's an interesting piece where he says things like ""If you're not on country radio, you don't exist," something he says he says "hundreds of times a day." In a way, he's right because, to the majority of fans across the country, you don't exist to them if you're not played on their local radio stations. But in other ways, he's wrong, as former (before Gary Overton) Sony Nashville artists Charlie Robison andJack Ingram (and indie country star Aaron Watson) pointed out on their Facebook pages over the weekend.


There's a healthy market inside and outside of radio but while Robison is absolutely right that country artists like himself and Aaron Watson do exist outside of mainstream country radio, these guys still receive a fair share of radio airplay on the Texas Music Charts with their brand of country music, stations that are, well, "country radio" under a basic sense, even if it's focused on the Texas-centric style.

The problem with people getting involved in this story (and the fine folks at the Saving Country Music blog certainly did) is there are no real winners in this controversy that really is. Radio programmers like Bobby Bones tweet comments (see above, a response to the linked Saving Country Music post) in defense of their livelihood, just like Charlie Robison, Jack Ingram, Florida Georgia Line and other artists and a multitude of folks who are always looking for potent quotes from which to build stories (like the Gary Overton quote to the Tennessean above).

We live in a fast-reacting world these days, a world where soundbites and one-liners are taken out of context from their original intentions. But with this seemingly split world of emotional Twitter and Facebook rants, reactions and hit pieces (on both sides of a given issue), it's easy to forget that these kinds of conversations have long been in the world, it's just that it's easier than ever to hear from anyone and everyone on a given subject.

Who is right in this whole conversation formed from the one quote about radio and country radio seminar? Probably everyone. And It's a discussion that'll rage on until another gate keeper of sorts or musical discovery device as wide-reaching as radio comes along to help get artists of varying stripes noticed.

It's all an interesting conversation, but hey, at least we didn't get into a "what exactly is country music" debate this time. Unless y'all want to star one now.

In another piece, we take defense of one of our early Album of the Year contender's creator Aaron Watson, who also responded to Mr. Overton's statement before Bobby Bones responded (the quote from Twitter above) to Saving Country Music's story. You can read that piece here.