“Country 2 Country” or the country music expansion in Europe

By Luca Balbo

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Carrie Underwood. Jo Hale/Redferns

Two days after Carrie Underwood’s live streaming show at the iTunes Festival in London, the news came. She will headline the Country 2 Country festival at The O2 Arena (London biggest venue) in 2016 . The rest of the performers will be revealed on October 6th. This is an incredible news giving the fact that Carrie Underwood has a big reservoir of fans in UK and Europe, more than the other american country singers. This is a great opportunity to promote her upcoming album “Storyteller” (To be released October 23rd) around the kingdom.

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Country 2 Country, created in 2013, has become the largest country festival in Europe. Last year 50,000 fans attended the event at the O2 Arena. This is an incredible audience comparing to the other little country events around Europe.

Uk and Ireland are the best gates to introduce country music in Europe. Indeed, besides the fact that the language is facilitating the process, there are a lot of people already involved in folk music (Irish, Scottish, Gaelic, ..) and this is making them closer and more sensible to american country music.

in 2012, Carrie Underwood’s album “Blown Away” reached the #11 position in UK charts. Last year, Brad Paisley’s “Moonshine in the Trunk” reached the #34 position. And finally, Luke Bryan’s last album “Kill the Lights” got to the 47th position this year. We can see that country superstars can find their way in the very competitive UK music market despite poor and insufficient local appearances and promotion.

It’s important to mention that Norway and Sweden are also attractive markets for country singers. Country Music is relatively successful in those areas. Country 2 Country festival was exported to Oslo and Stockholm this year featuring Luke Bryan and Lady Antebellum and Brad Paisley did a proper tour in those cities two years ago.

We cannot talk about country music invasion but we can’t deny that its european presence is improving thanks to internet and streaming platforms. Country remains a very particular style associated to deep american roots and therefore it cannot be easily successful among the other genres in Europe but there are more people than we think that could be superfans and involved in that expanding style. There is an opportunity for the country music industry to generate income in selling records and touring if they think properly of a new way to promote it by analyzing the european’s sociology and behavior. It’s a matter of making the marketing and A&R choices. There is potential.

C2C website

Carrie Underwood’s news 

Artist Matchup of the Week (Country Edition): Katie Perkins Vs. The Whipps

First Up…
Name: Katie Perkins
Age: 23
Label: Unsigned
Sounds Like: Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift, and Miranda Lambert
Website: http://katieperkinsmusic.tmgartist.com/

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Katie Perkins’ music is a perfect  mixture of old and new mainstream country music.  When she was It was 16 it was discovered that Katie had a hole in her heart and needed open heart surgery.  Without this surgery her life expectancy would have been 13 years.  After her surgery she want back to singing and attended Berklee College of Music in Boston. Check out her first single of her new album Breathe called Hello Heartbreak.

 

In the second video we see Katie covering a Carrie Underwood song  which  is where I think she could fit in the industry. It definitely shows she has the cross over potential and the attitude to be country cross over artist.

Lyrically and musically her content meets today’s  pop/country standards but still has a throwback feel with her instrumentation.   She definitely ticks a lot of boxes.  She  is pretty, pop cross over appeal, friendly demeanor, and a great backstory.  When thinking of the country music industry as it is today it is hard to say if I would sign her or not.  Her music is honest and you can tell it means a lot to her.  Her voice is good and fits all the songs really well, overall she’s a complete package. But her talent and ability are not the only factors at play, the state of the country music industry also plays a huge factor.

The female side of the industry is dominated by  Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift, Miranda Lambert, and most recently newcomer Kacey Musgraves.     With the latter two barely making any impact on country radio.  Let’s face it, in today’s country music it is hard for a female soloist to have careers like Reba Mcentire,  Trisha Yearwood, and Faith Hill.  For more information about this competition checkout this blogpost focusing on the potential signing of a female country artist Kree Harrison who was a ruunner up on AMerican Idol and the uphill battle she faces by clicking here.  Can Katie pull of a crossover like Carrie, Taylor, or even Shania have done? I’m not so sure.

Next…
Name: The Whipps
Age: 23
Label: Unsigned ( In talks )
Sounds Like:
Website: http://www.thewhipps.com/

the whipps

  The Whipps come from Greenup County Kentucky,  formed in 2009 with  singer Don Hanshaw, bassist Eric Daniels and guitarist Larry Collinsworth.  They self-released their debut album Ghettobillies a few months after their creation. The Whipps describe their debut album  Ghettobillies as a country crossbreed that cracks with hick hop (Country Rap)  and rock. In their sound you can hear a blending of traditional instruments like banjo, dobro and mandolin with newer hybrid elements. t.  Check them out below.

The Whipps:  Honestly 

The Whipps: Got Mudd 

  They are definitely bringing something new to the table with songs like Ghettobillies while still showing they still have some country pop appeal with songs likes Honestly.  And in an industry where most  successful country groups are mixed groups  i.e. Sugarland, Little Big Town, Lady Antebellum, and The Band Perry.  The most recent group that even remotely comes close to them is Rascall Flatts but even then The Whipps is able to be more diverse in their sound.  There is definitely a gap in the market for an all male country groups, especially for one bringing something new to the genre.

Conclusion

  So who would I go for? This is a tough one! On one hand we have a female country with crossover appeal and on the other a band working within their own niche in the market but still diverse enough to be successful (in my opinion). I think I would have to go for The Whipps on this one! They country genre is just too competitive for females now a days and to go with Katie would a huge risk, I can see her having a better shot going on a reality singing show competition and establishing a fan base that way. While The Whipps are definitely doing their own think and I like what I hear!

Till next time…