News October 23, 2018

Why the CMAA thinks now is the right time for a nationwide country music census

Why the CMAA thinks now is the right time for a nationwide country music census
CMAA president Dobe Newton

The Country Music Association of Australia is holding its first Australian country music census in 20 years.

It expects to release comprehensive data next year on the size and economic and cultural significance of the sector.

In the last census, the domestic country music sector was valued at $300 million and with a market share of 5%–8%.

The 2019 version is going to see larger figures for two interrelated main reasons, CMAA president Dobe Newton tells TMN.

“The last time we didn’t have input from the fans,” he says.

“We’re going to find out, for instance, how and where they access the music, how much they spend at gigs and festivals, and what their demographics are.

The other major change is the phenomenon of streaming, and its impact it has on independent acts.

“We have many acts signed to major labels, of course,” says Newton.

“But essentially, the Australian country music is an ‘independent’ one, in that most of its artists operate independently and they exist under the radar.

“Through streaming, they promote and sell their products directly to fans, all out of the mainstream.

“We’re expecting to see some spectacular results.”

Working out how much of local sales are on CD and how much is digital will depend on the sort of conversation that the CMAA will have with streaming services on how to promote the genre.

It could give local acts another revenue source, work out in which cities their fans are outside Australia, and adjust their touring schedules accordingly.

The sector has certainly grown in the past 20 years, with the rise of Americana as a youth genre, the role of CMC (Country Music Channel) and free and ticketed festivals as CMC Rocks and Groundwater now drawing massive crowds of between 20,000 and 30,000.

Data from the Country Music Association in the US show that country music fans — there are over 110 million of them there – have changed in recent times.

They are affluent, early technology adopters, and 7 out of 10 non-caucasians listen to country music at least once a week.

According to the CMA, volatile financial markets, job losses and disenchantment with mainstream politics have seen Americans go back to simple values that reject the importance of success and wealth and more on the simplicity and reality of life.

Newton is interested to see to what extent that applies in Australia.

“It’s about heart, simplicity and storytelling, and country music does that better than any other.”

The figures will also help the CMAA pitch the music and its consumers to brands and sponsors.

Again, there’s relatively little activity in this sector. The data will also be used to show brands the impact of country music and the loyalty of its followers.

“The more we know the better and more-informed our decisions will be.”

The CMAA is partnering this with APRA AMCOS, Community Broadcasting Association of Australia, ARIA, AIR, AMIN, AMPAL and Choose Your Cruise.

Access the artist’s census here.

The one for fans is here.

Those who regard themselves as fans and artists can fill out both.

The survey can be done anonymously but those who put their name to it are in the running to win prizes.

Those entering the fans section can snare an oceanview balcony stateroom on Cruisin’ Country 2019 (for two – valued at $8,000) while artists can snag four tickets to the Golden Guitar awards.

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