No matter where you are in America, you can flip through the radio and stumble upon at least one country radio station. There are over 1,200 country stations currently on the airwaves, which is more than any other genre. But what do you do when you'd rather hear artists like Chris Stapleton rather than Thomas Rhett? Is there a way you can change what hits the top of the charts? Yes.
A few rare acts like Stapleton have recently managed to push through the pop-country sound that dominates the airwaves. Still, it can be hard to discover new music just by listening to the radio. And that's especially true for fans who like the more traditional side of country. But there is a way that any country fan can find new favorite artists without having to wait for country radio to change.
Streaming platforms like Spotify and Amazon music have been gaining thousands of users each year, and for good reason. Along with giving users access to thousands of hit songs by country legends, it gives you the ability to search for something different.
The beauty of streaming is its simplicity. One of the best places for country fans to feel out streaming is with Amazon Music. Aside from being the exclusive online home of Garth Brooks' entire catalog, it features a sleek and easy-to-use interface. Once you sign up, you don't have to deal with any ads or popups. After you listen to some of your favorite tunes, Amazon will play you other tracks that you're likely to enjoy. It's an easy way of discovering new music on your own terms. You can find out more about how to start an account here.
Another great option is Spotify. You can either download a free version, which includes periodic ads, or spend $9.99 a month on the premium ad-free platform. A great way to discover music through Spotify is through playlists. They curate their own mixes (many of which change weekly) with themes like Country Classics or Rainy Day Acoustic. Their "Discover Weekly" playlist shifts with what you listen to each day and gives suggestions on what you might not have heard. You can learn more about Spotify here.
You may be wondering how streaming songs can change country radio. A number of streams individual songs or albums get is now factored into their positions on Billboard's charts. With streaming growing at such a rapid pace, music industry execs and music programmers are paying attention to new artists who are earning a lot of plays. That directly influences what ends up getting spins on the radio. So if you're tired of hearing the same old thing when you turn the FM dial, you'll be happy to know that what you listen to online really does matter.
I'm not saying streaming services are perfect. A lot needs to be resolved when it comes to fair pay for songwriters and artists' royalties (you can find out more about this here). But it is giving country music fans more control than ever when it comes to what they hear.