Country music bucks music industry pandemic bust

There are a few theories for the genre's enduring popularity over the past year, including the idea that country music is a good complement to drinking. Alcohol sales have soared during the pandemic.


Canceled concerts and slightly lower music streaming rates during the pandemic torpedoed a five-year trend of rising revenues in the music industry.

“But two genres have been spared the Covid crunch: children’s music and country. Country in particular has thrived. U.S. residents have listened to an average of 11.1 percent more country since mid-March — an increase of 127 million streams a week,” Lucas Shaw reports for Bloomberg. “And while growth in kids’ music has subsided as more people return to work, country has only accelerated. Country music streaming climbed 22.4% in the final full week of May.”

There are a few theories for country music’s enduring popularity over the past year.

“Some have argued it is comfort food at a time when people are craving any form of succor. An executive at Pandora, the online radio service, noted country music is a perfect complement to drinking, (Alcohol sales have also soared during the pandemic.)” Shaw reports. But “the simplest explanation may be the most boring: country fans are learning to stream.”

Though country music is the third-most popular genre in the U.S., in recent years country listeners have been more apt to buy CDs and less likely to use streaming services than consumers of other genres.

“But as Spotify has progressed from popularity to ubiquity, and tech giants Apple, Amazon and Google pumped streaming services through smart speakers, people of all ages and demographics have embraced streaming. Country has crept into the top 3 among people who use free streaming services,” Shaw reports.

Country music bucks music industry pandemic bust

The Rural Blog

The Rural Blog is a publication of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues based at the University of Kentucky.