This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
Stocks Under $10 with 50-100% upside potential - 14 days FREE!

Mainstream and Country Join Hands, Sing 'God Bless America'

To that end, it's made him a huge deal in mainstream circles. As the 10th largest touring act of 2013, Chesney and company took in $90 million, drew nearly 1.2 million fans and sold out 31 of 44 shows. Granted, Beyonce and Rihanna did better -- as did long-dormant Depeche Mode -- but he outdrew One Direction, Justin Bieber and Fleetwood Mac in fewer gigs.

Since any good thing is worth repeating, country acts like Jason Aldean (No. 21 with $47.8 million in box office receipts last year) and Luke Bryan (No. 24, $45.5 million) have followed in Chesney's footsteps and found success with what's become known as "bro country." In fact, Bryan's album Crash My Party was the No. 8 best-selling album of any kind in 2013, according to Nielsen, with only fellow bro-country act Florida Georgia Line selling more country albums by taking Here's To The Good Times to No. 6 on the year.

Sensing a theme here? It's not exactly new ground -- Toby Keith settled any Bush-era backlash with party anthems like Red Solo Cup and I Love This Bar while Alan Jackson brought in Buffett himself for It's 5 O'Clock Somewhere -- but it's made country palatable to a broader audience. It's also received a huge hand from rock music, which seems to be doing its best to alienate that same crowd.

As we noted earlier, country isn't taking over just yet. It's growing at the same rate as electronic dance music and with only 15% of the radio listening audience, according to Nielsen, it isn't quite at pop or rock levels. However, we'll note that Chesney (48), Bryan (37) and Aldean (37) are significantly younger than rockers including Bruce Springsteen (64), Mick Jagger (70), Keith Richards (70), Jon Bon Jovi (52), Roger Waters (70), Madonna (55) and Fleetwood Mac (with an entire lineup 64 and older).

Playing to the Middle

Rock made the decision to abandon the mainstream and go diving into its niches sometime around Napster, effectively abdicating its long-held pop music throne. As a result, it's seen its share of digital music sales dwindle 12.2% to 22.6% of all music sold in 2013. Even pop saw sales drop more than 15% and its share of digital sales drop to about 20% of the total. Country's share, meanwhile, is at 12.6%, but rising.

You know who that probably surprises least? Last year's top-grossing touring act: Bon Jovi. That Jersey-based rock band hadn't had an album go to No. 1 in U.S. sales since New Jersey was released in 1988, but has had its last three albums accomplish that feat after releasing the country-flavored song Who Says You Can't Go Home featuring Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles in 2005. That spawned the 2007 country-rock album Lost Highway, a collaboration between Island Records and Mercury Nashville that featured guest spots from country stars LeeAnn Rimes and Big and Rich.

What both country and older rock and pop musicians have learned is that it's incredibly foolish to close off avenues and turn off fans when everyone can get in on the party. It's why folks who were into Hootie and The Blowfish in the '90s made a seamless transition to Darius Rucker's country career and to country festivals with him on the bill. It's why Brad Paisley could even attempt his ill-fated Accidental Racist collaboration with LL Cool J. It's why Lionel Richie's 2012 album Tuskeegee featuring his hit songs performed as duets with Chesney, Nettles, Aldean, McGraw, Rucker, Buffett, Blake Shelton, Rascal Flatts, Billy Currington, Little Big Town, Shania Twain, Kenny Rogers and Willie Nelson was his first No. 1 since 1986's Dancing On The Ceiling.

2 of 3

Select the service that is right for you!

Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
DOW 16,563.30 -317.06 -1.88%
S&P 500 1,930.67 -39.40 -2.00%
NASDAQ 4,369.7730 -93.1290 -2.09%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs