2007 Country Music News Review

Monday, December 31, 2007

In part two of the 2007 review, lets take a look at the events of the year, briefly as possible.

Generally, in music this year...

Digital downloading was a common theme through out the 2007 year; CD sales were down almost 15% while download sales were up 45% in the year. At the same time sales were soaring, the RIAA was in the middle of a lawsuit that won them a $222,000 judgment against a downloader. Also, EMI removes DRM (copyright protection technology) from their downloaded tracks and Amazon begins to sell them, after months of rumors. Other labels also announced they are testing and considering removing the content protection technology.

Hannah Montana brings the issue of fan club ticket pre-sales and ticket brokers to the spotlight in 2007. Ticketmaster sues re-sellers for using software applications to buy tickets for shows. Online fan club members sued the fan club over the broken promise of being able to have access to pre-sale tickets. So very many country music artists these days have fan clubs of this type, and in the upcoming year, an impact could be seen intensely in country music, pending the outcome.

In October, Madonna makes a one-of-a-kind deal that could set prescience in other artist of her talent level and demand. A deal worth reportedly $120 million over 10 years, Live Nation signed her to an all inclusive deal, a first deal of this type. Studio albums, tours, television, fan club, merchandising, website, and more are all in this business deal. Time will tell if there other deals of this type in the works and what country music artists are in demand for this type of deal.

Turning to country music in 2007,

Garth Brooks takes the headlines this year with the release of the hit single "More Than a Memory" that debuted at #4, tying his own record for highest ranked debut single. The success continued with the "Ultimate Hits" 2 CD and 1 DVD set that included 4 new singles and 30 classic songs, including 33 videos on DVD. To top off the year, Brooks performed 9 history making live performances at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, MO. The final of the shows also was broadcasted via satellite to movie theaters all over the country with such demand that an encore was broadcasted the following night.

In a related story, it was another year where the independent artists had a strong hold on country music. Artists like Garth Brooks (Pearl Records,) Taylor Swift (Big Machine Records,) Jason Aldean (Broken Bow Records,) Rodney Atkins (Curb,) and Tracy Lawrence (Rocky Comfort) all had a strong year on their independent labels, giving strong competition to the major labels.

It's been 28 years since the last album from The Eagles, 2007 turned to be very successful for them including an appearance on the CMA Awards and the release of their Wal-Mart exclusive album. It led to Billboard changing the policy on their charts to allow exclusive retail sales to be included on the charts, giving the album the #1 spot on the Billboard 200.

In April, the former home of one of country music's greatest legends, Johnny Cash, burns down as country music fans watch the video and pictures from the Nashville media.

Divorce, unfortunately, this year seemed to be a common theme. Terri Clark, Wynonna Judd, Sara Evans, and Lorrie Morgan are among the names that filed for divorce this year. However, there were happier times for Joe Nichols, Phillip Sweet, JoDee Messina, Clay Walker, Darryl Worley, T.G. Sheppard, and Gary Morris all married this year.

The Grand Ole Opry celebrated its 82nd Birthday, and invited 3 new members in 2007, including Mel Tillis, Josh Turner, and Charlie Daniels. XM Radio began broadcasts of the Grand Ole Opry, bringing the Opry back to satellite radio

Not all was happy though around the Grand Ole Opry House this year.

Given permission to be pursued this past week, and filed earlier this year by Stonewall Jackson, an age discrimination lawsuit was filed against Gaylord Entertainment and Opry General Manager Pete Fisher. The first day of 2007, Del Reeves died of emphysema at age 74, even though it had been August of 2002 since he performed on the Opry stage. Reeves had been a member since 1966. The entire music community came together when music legend Porter Wagoner died on October 28, 2007 at the age of 80 from lung cancer. His rhinestone suits, 50 years of Opry performances, his television performances, and songs like "The Carroll County Accident" this Country Music Hall of Fame and Opry Member will never be forgotten. Also, among the deaths this year included honky-tonk legend Hank Thompson in November.

No year would complete without the recap of arrests, Mindy McCready was sentenced to a year in jail for probation violations, Willie Nelson started probation for 6 months and paid a fine for his remarkable first conviction of marijuana possession, Troy Gentry has learned about probation and paying fines (a $15,000 lesson, Nelson's was only just over $1,000) over his bear trapping incident from 2004, and finally Jonny Rodriguez was arrested for drug possession.

From the awards, The Dixie Chicks win 5 Grammy's; Kenny Chesney is awarded the CMA and ACM Entertainer of the Year, and Vince Gill, Ralph Emery, and Mel Tillis become Country Music Inductees this past year.

When stopping to think about it, it has been quiet a busy 2007 for country music.