The Country Radio Seminar opened yesterday (Feb. 8) with a series of afternoon events that paid homage to collaboration. Keith Urban, accepting a humanitarian award, recalled how at age nine, the country music club that his parents belonged to in Australia came together to support the family when the Urbans’ house was destroyed in a fire.
Panelists from both radio and Nashville labels talked about how their experience in country is more friendly and less divisive than in other formats.
And Luke Bryan demonstrated that attitude, recognizing programmers by face in the crowd and even talking about fishing trips with retired honoree Mick Anselmo as he introduced this year’s Country Radio Hall of Fame inductees.
Moved for the first time to the Omni Nashville Hotel, this year’s conference comes at a time when both the radio and record businesses are figuring out how to make the digital world work. Warner Music Nashville president John Esposito noted that Warner made more than 50 percent of its revenue last year from streaming for the first time. Similarly, iHeartCountry senior vp programming Rod Phillips stressed that his company’s business model has expanded to include revenues from events and digital components in addition to traditional broadcasting.
Well-intended players from both sides of the fence will imbibe in food, alcohol and music through Feb. 10, coming together at CRS to move the format forward in this transitional period. And on the first afternoon, participants indeed made country music sound like one big, happy family.
Making those good vibes last after the party will, of course, be the challenge. When the country community disperses, all the executives will still need to implement what they can in settings that include decision-makers and representatives who aren’t quite so familial as their country cohorts.
“You come here, everybody’s still getting along,” Cox Media Group executive vp of radio Bill Hendrich observed. “But the intermediaries are really fighting.”