The article, by Lars Brandle, argues that Australian country music need to find a younger audience to survive and grow.
The quality of Australian artists isn’t an issue. Australia’s current crop of country talent is arguably as strong and relevant as the market has ever produced. Caboolture’s golden boy Keith Urban opened at No. 1 on The Billboard 200 with his 2009 Capitol Nashville album, Defying Gravity. While two rising stars Adam Brand and The McClymonts are carving out their own paths to the U.S., striking deals with Arista and Executive Music Group respectively.
However, to the ordinary Facebook fixated Australian teen, Urban is best known as the other half of Hollywood star Nicole Kidman. And without such famous partners, the likes of Brand and the McClymonts are largely ignored outside country circles.
Smashing the time-worn perception of Australian country music will take some time, and some doing. It’ll require a retooling of the business. Australia’s country scene must tackle the online space and network TV, say executives, but save its biggest shakedown for the traditional Tamworth Festival and the annual Country Music Awards of Australia Awards.
Tamworth has come to epitomise the issues facing Australia’s country scene.
“If the Tamworth festival had any mind to grow the festival, it would make it appealing to young people and restock the fanbase,” argues CMC Program Director Tim Daley. Currently, more than 44% of the core audience of the festival is 55 year of age and over. According to Daley, only 14% of the CMC audience is over 55, whereas 42% is 24 and under. “It’s pretty simple,” says Daley, “you make it appeal to young people, and you restock the fanbase.”