Tuesday, December 29, 2009
– 2009 was the year of Taylor Swift as she emerged as the number 1 story of 2009. She did everything from win entertainer of the year at the Country Music Association awards to grabbing 8 Grammy nominations to launching her own headlining tour after opening for Keith Urban. Swift also hosted Saturday Night Live to positive reviews and gained additional prominence thanks to a Kanye West, who has not much been heard from since. The year proved to be pretty much all Taylor Swift all the time.
Other top news stories:
2. Country sales decline about two percent. While other genres suffered double digit losses in sales, country did not experience anywhere near as sharp a decline. That may be related to the number one story of the year, however.
3) The re-emergence of Garth Brooks. After being supposedly retired, Brooks made it clear he was no longer. He is playing Vegas these days on weekends for a number of years, but this once and for all sets the return of country's key player of the past few decades.
4) Brooks & Dunn calls it a day. After a long, glorious run, country's leading duo announced they would go their own way after a farewell tour in 2010. Whether that will really be their farewell, of course, remains to be seen.
5) Emerging artists - on the edgier side, the most prominent was The Avett Brothers. Sure, they received much acclaim on the indie label Ramseur Records, but this year, they were out with a new CD on Sony produced by Rick Rubin. The music did not disappoint. Dailey & Vincent already had done well with their first bluegrass CD, but they took it to a new level on their second disc, "Brothers From Different Mothers." Also on the edgier side, Justin Townes Earle showed that hard work, hard touring and a strong CD pays off. On the mainstream side, Lady Antebellum had a huge year with hit number one singles and more and more prominence for their pop country. Zac Brown Band had four hit singles and much praise as well. A few other folks may be waiting in the wings like Luke Bryan.
6) Going across the Big Ponds. Several artists did well overseas, a smart move given sales here. Among them were Toby Keith and Alan Jackson going to Scandinavia and Joe Nichols, Dierks Bentley and Taylor Swift to Australia. Hitting foreign markets enables musicians to expand their fan base and sales.
7) On the flip side of emerging artists, several labels folded. Carolwood, a Lyric Street subsidiary, closed its doors as did Country Thunder and Montage. Universal South and ShowDog Nashville announced a late December merger. The lousy economy did not stop Gretchen Wilson's Redneck Records, Republic Nashville, Stoney Creek and Treehouse Records from forming.
8) Going digital. An increasing trend by labels seems to be digital releases by artists. Among them were The Parks and Trent Tomlinson. Part of the thinking is that if an artist isn't quite worthy of releasing a full-fledged disc, labels should recoup some of their expenses through a digital release. And you never know when a song will catch fire.