Over the past few years, Canada has developed a strong roster of successful homegrown country music talent, and those artists have likely helped the genre maintain its large, loyal fan base in an era of ever-fragmenting tastes. In fact, about one in five Canadian music listeners say they often tune in to country.
Who are these twang-loving Canucks? As with in the U.S., country listenership in Canada is broad and mixed, though fans are 10% more likely to be women than men, 5% more likely to be white than any other ethnicity, and 97% more likely to be older than 55.
This older skew may help explain why country music fans are less likely to listen via online and mobile channels than fans of other music; in 2015, country accounted for just 5.6% of all Canadian music streams.
The hesitation to listen online or via mobile may also be about cost: Canadian country listeners are 7% more likely than music listeners of other genres to cite cost as a reason for not using paid streaming.
While they haven’t gone all-in yet with digital, Canadian country listeners are passionate about music and traditional radio. Notably, fans of the genre spend 13% more time with music in typical week than fans of other genres, and they’re 11% more likely to listen to music regularly on AM/FM radio in a typical week.
Canadian country fans continue to tune in to AM/FM radio in part because of the experience. Listeners are 10% more likely than fans of other music genres to say: “One of the things that I like most about listening to traditional radio is the DJs.”
Country fans’ loyalty can also be seen in their backing of local talent. Listeners are 8% more likely than fans of other genres to say: “It’s important to me to support Canadian artists.”
That support has helped build the careers of current Canadian country stars like Johnny Reid (over 1.3 million albums sold in Canada; 7.7 million Canadian streams), Dean Brody (over 140,000 albums sold; 15.3 million streams), Dallas Smith (over 520,000 digital tracks sold; 13.9 million streams) and Brett Kissel (more than 186,000 digital tracks sold; 8.7 million streams), all of whom are Fans' Choice nominees at the Canadian Country Music Association Awards on Sept. 11, 2016.
So, what should brands and marketers know about this devoted and enthusiastic audience?
When it comes to products and services, Canadian country music fans are more likely to be aware of home improvement brands and satellite radio providers than listeners of other music genres.
As for effective marketing channels, traditional media is a good place to start. Canadian country music fans spend 20% more on basic TV packages and 32% more on premium TV packages than fans of other genres. They also spend 56% more a year on print (magazine and newspaper) subscriptions.
In terms of effective messaging, nostalgia is a powerful force. Listeners are 5% more likely than fans of other genres to say: “I love how music helps me remember/relive the past.” In other words, if you want to connect with Canadian country fans, don’t forget the classics.