Research Seminar: Amanda Marie Martinez

Research Seminar: Amanda Marie Martinez

"The Industry is Playing People Cheap": The Failure to Diversify the Country Music Audience in the 1990s


Virtual Event
September 11 2024
Time 12 PM
Registration for this event is via Eventbrite

In the mid-1990s, new evidence from Soundscan and Simmons Research revealed a surprisingly high interest in country music among Black and Latinx listeners. Anecdotal evidence had long suggested these listeners existed, but during this period new technologies and market research presented the country music industry with indisputable data for the first time. When country music was first created as a marketing category in the 1920s, it was invented as music for rural southern whites, and as the music industry evolved it continued to only view country listeners as exclusively white.

Despite the potential to reach out to new demographics within the country audience, this market went ignored by the country music business. This paper will explore the industry’s failure to adequately consider these listeners, and the subsequent mobilization of nonwhite artists, leading to the creation of the Black Country Music Association, the Minority Country Music Association, and the release of the Warner Bros. album compilation, “From Where I Stand: The Black Experience in Country Music.” It is drawn from her manuscript, Gone Country: How Nashville Transformed a Music Genre into a Lifestyle Brand, a history of the country music industry in the post-Civil Rights era.

Amanda Marie Martinez is a historian and postdoctoral fellow in the Department of American Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

David Suisman of the University of Delaware will provide an introductory comment. 

Advance registration via Eventbrite is required; everyone who is registered will receive the paper