Going Country Means Big Bucks For Pop Stars
By Jo Piazza Posted Mar 30th 2011 07:45PM
Gaga and Bieber are both dipping into the country music waters. Lady Gaga has turned 'Born This Way' into a country beat, ostensibly titled, 'The Country Road Version,' and Bieber just released his video for 'That Should Be Me,' the remix he recorded with Grammy-winning country act Rascal Flatts.
What gives? Maybe the price of meat dresses and affected haircuts is rising. One thing is for sure: The country music market can represent a cash cow for celebs who can win over the genre's consumers.
Country music accounts for approximately 12 percent of the entire music market, which makes it a lucrative pool to tap into. But beyond sales, going country offers an artist the street cred with red-blooded Americans that so often eludes the average pop star.
Done properly, there is something intriguing and sexy about a pop star who is able to win the country market. Country fans are a fiercely loyal group, and gaining their affection shows that a star has real talent outside of the bubble gum bubble.
"Crossing over is usually a smart move. It shows versatility, something both Bieber and Lady Gaga demonstrate time and again," Us Weekly music editor Ian Drew told PopEater. "It's smart because they throw it out there as a one-off, not a total switch to another entire genre."
Major corporations have hopped onto the country bandwagon in the past year. The CMA Music Festival had 60 corporate partners this year, 30 of which were new. These companies want Middle America on their side, and country is the route to reach that population; where their down-home heart beats in line with their toe-tapping on their front porch. This surge in interest from big brand names means that aligning with the genre makes both Gaga and Bieber more attractive to marketers.
It also makes them more attractive to consumers. The genre is largely driven by adult women who make the buying decisions for their households, rather than tweenagers. Gaga and Bieber want this audience's attention since these women are the decision makers who drive sales for all the ancillary products -- fragrances, consumer goods and concert tickets -- that actually make artists money these days.
But both Biebs and Gaga should tread carefully; there's a fine line between crossover sensation and poseur, warns Drew.
"One song is OK as it shows you are a virtuoso. More than that and you inch into pop poseur territory. It's fine if you're, say, Kelly Clarkson or Jewel, where the line is finer. But [for] Gaga and Bieber, doing it just a touch is just right."
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