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June 14, 2010 / Julia Hughan

State Of The Blog Address: Country music, niche marketing and other observations.

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Theoretical Country was launched with the central aim of considering the country music industry in context of the emerging digital media ecology. I am intrigued with how a genre routed in such rich traditions is converging online and how its audience is shifting towards online content at a rapid pace.

In recent months, I have finally found the numbers to put a number of my questions into writing. According to the CMA, over 78% of country music listeners have access to the Internet at home. This is coupled with the fact that 61% of those fans go online on monthly basis to explore content. The main online destinations? Country radio, YouTube and CMT.com. My research this year is exploring this phenomenon in detail. However, another segment of interest has also emerged for me.

I am learning (thanks in large part to David Meerman Scott and his book The New Rules of Marketing & PR) that social media (especially this blog – Theoretical Country) is not about attracting a mass audience. I am not simply posting buzzwords eg. Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, Lady Antebellum and Free Country Music Downloads at every opportunity. I am aware that the people consistently reading this blog are unlikely to have pictures of Gloriana posted over their walls. I understand that my readers are portions of niche market that are likely to be active in the central hub of the active country music community and sites that I engage in – ranging from The 9513 to Country Universe to My Kind Of Country. These readers are interested in the wider discourse of country music, country music and new media, current trends within the industry and diverse perspectives on related subject content. I know this because my key search words are “Australian Country Music”, “communications theory”, “country music history” “social media” and “country radio”.

As a blogger, a budding communications practitioner and student of social media, understanding these factors is essential. The outcome of this knowledge is that I am able to think about what I post and have a little more insight into what my readers will engage with. I understand that writing a puff piece exploring the greatness of Sugarland would achieve very little. I also know that deploying a huge campaign to recruit new readers based on content that this blog is not concerned with is going to achieve little in the long run except a temporary increase in Google hits.

Instead, I am hopeful that this blog is providing readers with something different to ponder. I hope the way readers consider country music and its relationship with emerging media technologies is progressing. I also hope that my writing is improving.

Besides the history of country music and communications theory, I have also found that my interest in social media, niche marketing and brand development is not simply an interest but also a career.

The two key things I have learnt this year:

  • I am not catering to the masses.
  • I need to tune my brain in to thinking about my niche audience. Once I have done that, I can deliver the most effective message.
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