What music do you listen to while you're heading to work each day? If your playlist is dominated by country music songs, you might be wondering if you should play those same tunes in your small business. Why not make your workday move a little faster by playing the songs you love, right?
While there are some definite benefits to playing country music through the sound system in your business, it isn't the right music selection for everyone. Here's what you need to know.
Country Music's Past and Future
Country music is a quintessentially American form of music. According to American Heritage, country music was once associated with the working class. These were songs people brought with them from the country when they moved to the cities, and each song seemed to speak of a quiet, gentle time in American history when people lived closed to, and worked with, the land that surrounded them.
Traditional country music songs spoke about things working-class people cared about, including failed romances, difficult jobs, family, and beloved animals. If it was important enough for the working class to worry over, it was a good topic for a country song. Musicians associated with this period include:
- Hank Williams
- George Jones
- Merle Haggard
- Willie Nelson
Modern country music strays a bit from this model. There are many country-sounding songs that have nothing at all to do with farming or raising children or driving a truck. But those who steer too far away from their roots run the risk of playing music that falls under the category of folk or roots. True country music stays close to the original model. Modern country stars include:
- Brad Paisley
- Tim McGraw
- Kenny Chesney
- Lady Antebellum
- Darius Rucker
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The Pros and Cons of Country Music
Country music has been associated with independence and grit. Singers of country songs talk about how they overcame adversity through fighting, drinking, or both. As a result, the singers of country songs aren't always revered by the people who listen to the songs.
Consider this: In a study in the Journal of Music Therapy, researchers played different types of music behind a recording of a person speaking. When the background music was country, people gave the speaker significantly lower personality scores than they did when the background music was classical.
In some business models, this isn't a problem. If you're selling a product that is associated with independence and rebellion, such as hard liquor or horse tackle, you may want a soundtrack that transmits a go-it-alone vibe. But if you're selling a product associated with community, such as school supplies or yoga classes, independence might be the opposite of the feeling you want to create.
In addition, according to research published in the Journal of Ethnic and Racial Studies, country music has been associated with a feeling of nostalgia that seems particularly appealing to white people. According to this researcher, this is music that seems to "sound" white. If your audience is primarily African American or Asian American, the subtle message country music might convey could be off-putting to your customers.
Country music is also appealing, according to research by the University of Cambridge, with people in middle age. This is the time of life in which we are:
- Nurturing a relationship with a spouse.
- Moving children out of the house.
- Gathering resources, such as homes and cars.
- Achieving the apex of a career.
Time is short in middle age, and people use music to help them relax and wind down during the rare restful moments that are available to them. If your target market is made up of those who are middle-aged, country could be just what they want to hear. If you're working with a younger audience, this could send the wrong message.
Finally, country music is closely associated with specific types of products. According to Nielsen, fans of country music are 29 percent more likely to choose a pickup as their next car when compared to people who don't like country music. Country fans also spend 10 percent more on pet food than those who don't like country, and 71 percent say that sports are important to them. If your business deals with trucks, animals, or sports, country music could be an exceptional choice for you.
What Songs Should You Play?
Whether you choose a playlist dominated by old-school country stars, or you create a mix that is modern but tinged with country, you'll need to ensure that you have a license. The people who hold copyright to these songs need payment each time the tunes play.
We can help. We have connections with the major copyright holders, and we can make sure you're in compliance so you don't get sued. Contact us and we'll tell you more.
- Country. (November 1994). American Heritage.
- The Effect of Background Music on the Perception of Personality and Demographics. (2011). Journal of Music Therapy.
- Why Does Country Music Sound White? Race and the Voice of Nostalgia. (September 2008). Journal of Ethnic and Racial Studies.
- The Musical Ages of Modern Man: How Our Taste in Music Changes Over a Lifetime. (October 2013). University of Cambridge.
- Country Music Fans, the Format, and Their Stars Offer a Unique Marketing Opportunity. (October 2016). Nielson.