New York City, NY – Quick. What’s the country music capital of the US? Did you say Nashville, Tennessee? Well, you’re wrong. That honor now falls to New York City, where more country CD’s are sold than in any other part of the nation.
Though New York Daily News notes that there isn’t a country music station to be had in the Big Apple, country music is far more popular there than anywhere else in the US. Country music icons like Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw, and Taylor Swift owe the majority of their success to the residents of New York City, not Nashville. According to figures from Nielsen/SoundScan, New York City soundly beat the competition in the sales of twangy country music. Nashville, the assumed country capital, placed sixth in sales, with 20% fewer country CD purchases than New York City.
The simplest explanation for New York’s win in this arena? There’s more people there. “New York is the biggest market for everything, ” says Nielsen/SoundScan rep David Bakula. “It’s the driver of all sales.” It’s a cultural center for everything, including country music. Still, that doesn’t account for the massive growth in the country fan-base of the Big Apple, or how they were able to pass population-rival Los Angeles without even a single country radio station in the city.
Explaining that is Wade Jessen, a Billboard correspondent. According to him, people in New York City are stressed, and country music is a relaxor. “New York City is a very demanding place to live,” he says. “Country music is a great way to put the brakes on a lot of the noise in people’s lives.”
Country stars tend to tour more than their colleagues in other genres as well. And New York City sells out a lot of seats. With such heavy physical presence in the city, a country radio station might not be that far off. “When there is a country station, it will surprise people with how well it does,” said Sean Ross, an Edison Research analyst.