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Survey finds 40 percent are country fans

Friday, March 6, 2009 – About 40 percent of American adults are country music fans, according to a survey conducted for the Country Music Association released this week.

"They like the "free" nature of the medium. They appreciate that it is family-friendly and acceptable for all ages. They like the mood enhancing, energizing quality of the music. And, in general, DJs are a plus."

"But there are minuses, too, including radio's perceived repetitiveness and limited song list; the general lack of identifying the artists was a frustration; and the number of commercials led to channel surfing or switching to CD or iPod listening," the study said.

A total of 81 percent watch one or more TV pipelines to find country music, but spend less time doing it - 13 hours a month versus 24 for country radio. Popular choices include CMT (53 percent); the CMA Awards (48 percent); the ACM Awards (40 percent); GAC (27 percent); and "Nashville Star" (25 percent).

For those with internet access, 71 percent, "the Internet becomes the central medium. Not surprisingly, younger country music enthusiasts are much more likely to have a digital country music engagement focus and will undoubtedly carry this tendency into their future years."

Most country fans - 54 percent - still purchase CDs (54 percent). Among country consumers ages 18-54, 65 percent are "CD-dominant" and 35 percent are "digital-dominant" based on total country music acquired. And once they become "digital-dominant" country music acquirers, they contribute very little CD revenue.

The digital-based fans pay for less than half of the country music they acquire with far more unpaid acquisition via CD ripping versus illegal downloads. The percentage of country music volume paid for by digital-dominants is 38 percent, compared to 67 percent for CD-dominant users.

About one-quarter of country supporters attended a country concert in the past year, about 11 percent of the U.S. adult population ages 18-54. They see it as the "best way" to experience the music. They believe it deepens the artist/fan relationship. There is a strong interest in cross-genre concerts with country and rock. On the negative side, they felt "ripped off" by the price of merchandise and were frustrated by unknown or hidden fees that increased the cost of the concert-going experience.

The study by Leo Burnett Co. and Starcom MediaVest Group was conducted last fall, with a follow up in November to better reflect the changing economic climate. The results were culled from a first sample of nearly 7,500 individuals; a second of 1,850; and 10 focus groups from three regions of the country including Charlotte, Chicago and Phoenix.

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