Ronnie Dunn’s Country This: The Reality of Radio Station Playlists
Ronnie Dunn is a country music legend with as many awards under his belt as road miles. Twice a month he’ll provide his thoughts on country music, the music industry, or life as he sees it in a feature called Ronnie Dunn’s Country This, exclusively on Taste of Country.
A Facebook fan asks: “Why do we have to listen to the same 15 to 20 songs on our local country stations every single day? OMG — like there are no other country songs being cranked out of Nashville, Texas or California?”
A big radio programmer told me a few years ago, “Radio is in business for the space between the songs.” That stopped me in my tracks. I’m naively thinking that I have listened to radio since I was a kid to hear music.
So everything went into big business mode a few years ago. Not just radio — everything became deregulated. Radio stations became conglomerates (which meant that they took out big loans and incurred huge overhead expenses), so they were forced to reduce their music playlists in order to try and sell more advertising, which pays the bills.
Research reports are sent out telling record labels what kinds of songs resonate better with most people (“male vocals, female-friendly, positive subject matter”). Yikes! We complain that everything sounds the same. Things start getting “paled out.”
The same principle applies to almost every business on the planet. This is all good until the tail (debt and greed) starts wagging the dog. The tail is now wagging the dog and everyone is scrambling to fix it.
How are they going to fix it?
Peace, Love and Country Music,
Ronnie Dunn was part of Brooks and Dunn for more than 20 years before embarking into a solo career in 2011. As a duo, Brooks and Dunn won more CMA and ACM Awards than any other act in country music history, including four Entertainer of the Year awards. Dunn is currently working on a new album, the follow-up to the 2011 self-titled project that featured the Grammy-nominated single ‘Cost of Livin” (buy it here). All opinions expressed here are that of Ronnie Dunn himself.