It is not unusual to hear musicians in the Nashville/Country music universe sing the praises of radio, longer and louder than in some other genres. It turns out there is a good reason for this – a lot of their fans don’t have access to the internet. It’s not about poverty or lack of computer literacy by any stretch of the imagination. Many of these fans use computers every day at work. They just don’t have a web connection at home.
According to an article in the Washington Post, the problem is Country’s rural base. 50% of Country fans do not have home access, and the reason is because so many of them live where there is no broadband service. It’s dial-up or nothing for many, and rather than endure the slow response time and high price of dial-up, nothing is what they choose.
At a time when all musicians have websites, pages on social networking sites and blogs, it deprives Country artists of an opportunity to bond with fans the way more urban-oriented artists can.
Further, at a time when record stores are following the dinosaurs into extinction and big box stores are contracting CD display space, it deprives Country artists of a venue to market their wares.
RBR/TVBR observation: This makes radio’s value to Country artists supremely critical. The FCC is going to do its best to get broadband into every possible nook in the US, but until that happens, this is one format where the war between radio and labels is likely to be muted.