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Gaining a musical foothold is even harder

Country Standard Time Editorial, December 2001

Gaining a foothold is even harder now.

Getting music by new acts played by the country radio stations is a tough task in any market. There usually are songs out there by the superstars - the Tim McGraws of the world - that are almost guaranteed to gain a considerable amount of play.

Playlists - the songs the stations play - are limited to begin with, so it becomes even harder when the stars have music out.

The bottom line is that even in the best of circumstances, radio is a tough nut to crack.

And interestingly enough the events of Sept. 11 have made it even harder. In this depressing climate, radio stations understandably enough have turned to positive, patriotic songs to soothe the public.

And among them are new songs - Randy Travis’ "America Will Always Stand," Aaron Tippin’s “Where The Stars And Stripes And The Eagle Fly." The Dixie Chicks recorded an a cappella version of “The Star Spangled Banner,” hoping to raise money for those affected. Faith Hill’s version also came to the fore again.The titles just about say it all - these are songs supportive of the country in its time of need.

And radio stations are playing them. Proceeds from any sales of the songs typically go to some sort of relief fund benefitting victims of the heinous acts. Money raised from the Tippin song, for example, will go the American Red Cross.So the artists are contributing in a way that befits them to help those in need.

From a musical standpoint, this has made it difficult for some artists who were slated to have albums and new songs out this fall. Former Boy Howdy lead singer Jeffrey Steele, for example, who also has enjoyed success as a songwriter, saw his debut pushed back from late October until early next year.

The reason is that it is hard enough in normal times to gain airplay. Now with stations veering towards the patriotic and more feel good songs, labels and artists have to judge what they consider the best time to serve up new music.

Of course, it’s no slam dunk, for example, that Steele does any better in 2002.

Maybe by then, however, the climate will be altered for the better with radio stations and the public ready to entertain new songs and artists again.