Ultimate Pulse Takeaway: Only A Few Country Artists Embrace Streaming & They’re Dominating The Field

The Ultimate Pulse of Country Music has so far been my most favorite feature I’ve ever created. While I haven’t exactly received the same enthusiasm back from the few of you reading, I nevertheless approach this feature with passion and energy. It’s only been a few weeks and one immediate takeaway has emerged in my eyes. There’s only a handful of country artists truly embracing streaming and they’re dominating the competition on the chart as a result. The top three in the chart in particular are just putting up amazing streaming numbers with multiple songs: Florida Georgia Line, Luke Combs and Kane Brown.

Regardless of how you feel about their music, there’s no denying that these three artists have gotten their fans and listeners to embrace them in a big way on streaming platforms. These three are tightly close together in terms of streaming and have a healthy margin on the rest of the chart in this category. These three artists each sound different from the other in terms of sound. But the common thread is they’re all young and/or appeal to younger listeners with their music. Just a few years ago both Combs and Brown were independent artists largely nobody knew. Now they’re dominating all of the charts, most notably streaming. Meanwhile Florida Georgia Line have by far transitioned better out of bro country than any other act in that sub-genre. They’ve managed to hold onto a majority of the young audience they attracted from bro country and keep them as fans, while most other bro country acts have completely cratered.

While these three are the top of country streaming, there’s another group of artists in the genre that have gained solid traction in this arena too. That would be Jason Aldean, Dan + Shay and Brett Young. Chris Stapleton and Sam Hunt both have huge hits still streaming well. Thomas Rhett and Kenny Chesney are putting up decent numbers. None of these artists are below 16th on the chart. These artists comprise nine of the top ten spots on the chart. The data is loud and clear. If you want to actually gain traction and relevancy in country music, you better embrace streaming.

7 thoughts on “Ultimate Pulse Takeaway: Only A Few Country Artists Embrace Streaming & They’re Dominating The Field

  1. countryopinionblog September 7, 2018 / 2:08 pm

    As you state, “But the common thread is they’re all young and/or appeal to younger listeners with their music.” This leaves me wondering “how” an artist might embrace streaming ? Is there anything specific an older artist can do to build a streaming audience ?

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    • Josh September 7, 2018 / 4:36 pm

      Well it’s more complicated for older artists. The big issue with older artists is convincing their fanbase to stream, which so far older listeners have been more reluctant to start streaming. I know George Strait does pretty good numbers according to his label, even if they don’t show up in the chart. When he drops new music again I’ll be curious to see how well he does in streaming. The other issue is many older artists themselves don’t want to embrace streaming because they’re so used to the old way of distributing music and/or don’t see the merit in embracing it (see Garth). Older artists can embrace streaming by not only driving their audience to streaming platforms and educating them about it, but doing the same for themselves. But this will take years changing the habits of ingrained ways (if ever) and unfortunately I don’t see a lot of current older artists to be able to pull it off. It’s probably one of the reasons too why many in country can’t let go of radio like the other genres. Streaming is a wide open field that any artist can use to their advantage, but each have their own hurdles in finding success in the format. I think you’ll see in the future a lot of current artists like Chesney and Aldean will find success when they become the “old artists” in the genre because they’ve already established traction in the format. There was also a great piece in Billboard this week about how John Prine has been able to find success in streaming. According to the article, around half of his listeners on Spotify are under the age of 34, which is remarkable for his age and the fact that he isn’t the household name like a Strait or Jackson. https://www.billboard.com/articles/business/8473808/oh-boy-john-prine-startup-record-label-influence

      Liked by 1 person

      • countryopinionblog September 7, 2018 / 4:52 pm

        Thanks for the detailed response ! I was in college before we had a CD player, and we didn’t get internet until several years later, so it is interesting to watch how the people in my age bracket (40s) and older respond to streaming and other changes in technology.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Josh September 7, 2018 / 5:09 pm

          No problem! Yes, it’s definitely a fascinating issue and something I’ve been following for a couple of years. I grew up with CDs myself and remember the days of having to go to Walmart to buy a $15-20 CD to own the latest song I liked on country radio. I don’t miss those days haha.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Raymond September 9, 2018 / 4:22 pm

    I wonder what female artists are embracing streaming because all the top artists are males? Do any of Maren Morris, Kelsea Ballerini, Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, or Carly Pearce have decent streaming numbers?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Josh September 9, 2018 / 5:37 pm

      Stay tuned. I have a follow-up piece coming tomorrow that will address this. It’s going to give an even better picture.

      Liked by 1 person

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