Country Music Association’s Marketing Pitch: We’re Authentic

With large audiences and wide musical appeal, the Country Music Association is pushing hard on the marketing angle to sell its industry—whether it's selling to brands or selling to new continents.

If you’re not into country music—the new stuff they play on the radio, not the old stuff adopted by hipsters—it can be hard to understand the appeal.

But country music is a huge business, and if you’re a marketer, you’re missing out big time. That’s the pitch the Country Music Association has increasingly made in recent years as the industry has worked to sell itself to Madison Avenue.

The association, which holds an annual marketing summit before its namesake awards show each year, has the numbers in its favor when trying to convince executives from PepsiCo and Procter & Gamble that country tunes are worth the additional marketing spend. The association itself has more than 1.8 million likes on Facebook—a level comparable to many of the artists it represents—and the award show pulls in solid ratings each year.

CMA statistics highlighted by Ad Age underline the point even more: 106.6 million people over age 12 identify as country music fans, and their average yearly household income is $76,200.

Which is why the CMA’s outreach to the marketing world is so important to both Madison Avenue, an audience looking for the kind of authentic appeal country music provides, and CMA itself, which has to prove that country is bigger than a mere niche.

“Expanding the country genre means bringing brand interest into our industry,” Damon Whiteside, the CMA’s senior vice president of marketing and partnerships, told the magazine about the marketing summit. “I consider it sort of a 101 on how to do work with the country industry.”

European Dreams

The event is one of many the association holds annually to talk marketing, and in recent years, the trade group started looking beyond American borders to make its pitch. In 2013, the association launched the CMA International Marketing Summit, holding last year’s edition in Paris and this year’s in London. The association’s goal with those summits, however, is less about pitching to advertisers and more about figuring out how to market itself.

“The model there is different there in some ways than the model here,” CMA CEO Sarah Trahern told The Tennessean about the European audience last March. “Some have a strong radio format like BBC with BBC2, but others are playing country on more format-less stations. Certainly, consumers are consuming country, not just through straight radio and sales, but also through the various digital channels.”


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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