Justin Moore On Why The ACM Awards Keep Losing Viewers: “If They Put Country Artists On There They’d Probably Get Back Some Viewers”

Justin Moore country music
Whiskey Riff

Justin Moore spitting straight truth.

It’s ACM Awards week, which means we’ll once again be treated to performances from some of the biggest names in country music like…Ed Sheeran?

Now, it’s clear why they trot out guys like Ed Sheeran for these awards shows. The awards shows have been losing viewers for decades, and Sheeran is one of the biggest stars on the planet. So, organizers obviously think that people who wouldn’t ordinarily tune into the ACM Awards will watch this year just to see Ed Sheeran, and it’ll help boost their lackluster numbers.

The only problem is, it never works.

Over the years these awards shows have trotted out pop stars and actors and rappers and just about every other celebrity they can think of to try to fix their tanking ratings. Yet year after year, the ratings just keep getting worse and worse.

You’d think they’d learn by now that country music fans want to see country artists, but so far that hasn’t happened.

We’ve said for years that they’ll put anybody on these shows but actual country artists, and then sit there wondering why nobody’s watching and why their ratings are so bad that no networks even want to air their shows anymore.

It makes no sense. I mean, the ratings are so bad that they had to move from airing on CBS to streaming on Amazon Prime.

And everybody’s thinking the same thing: Give us actual country artists.

But not many people have the balls to actually say it – except Justin Moore.

On an episode of The Justin Moore Podcast, Justin didn’t hold back when talking about the problem with these awards shows:

“If they put country artists on there they’d probably get back some viewers.

And that’s not a knock to everybody else, but it just makes no sense why you call it a country music awards show and you don’t put all country music artists.”


“Probably about, I dunno, 10 years ago, they started going away from the country acts – and I don’t mean traditional country, I mean actual country artists, whether you’re pop country, rap country, rock country, whatever. 

And they started bringing in celebrities and people outside the genre that were artists…and letting them play. Not only present, but play, and it knocked off the guys like me, Tracy Lawrence, name anybody, any artists that’s not a superstar.”

And he’s spot on.

I mean, how many years do they have to lose viewers before they realize that nobody’s tuning into a country music awards show to see pop collabs and awards presented by Hollywood celebrities?

Justin’s co-host and tour manager JR even brought up our tweet pointing out that last year we got the actors from Yellowstone – but other than Lainey Wilson and Chris Stapleton, none of the actual artists from the soundtrack.

Give us performances from artists like Justin Moore, Tyler Childers, Ryan Bingham, Morgan Wade, Jon Pardi…hell, give us Zach Bryan, who was just named the New Male Artist of the Year.

Or give us the legends like Alan Jackson, Travis Tritt, Reba…I could name a hundred country artists that I’d rather see than another collaboration with some pop artist, or some cheesy presentation from “insert random Hollywood celebrity here.”

And Justin thinks (and we agree) that this is exactly why their ratings are tanking:

“They thought, ‘Hey, we got to get ratings and these country bumpkins can’t get us ratings.’

And what they don’t know is that’s complete bullshit.

All they did was sour peoples’ tastes. They kept going away from having country artists, having more pop artists, actors, celebrities, etc. And as they kept the balance getting out of whack more and more the ratings kept just plummeting, dropping, dropping, dropping, dropping, to the point where [CBS] is losing so much money that they just completely drop it.

They tried to get cute with it thinking ‘We know what we’re doing. People want to see this.’

No, country music fans want to see freaking country music artists. That’s what they want to see. So they shot themselves in the foot.”

He’s spot on. The industry as a whole has taken its fans for granted, and the awards shows think they can get back to their “glory days” not by going back to what worked before, but by appealing to fans outside of the genre at the expense of artists like Justin who deserve to be there.

Justin’s always been a guy who’s been noticeably absent from these awards shows – especially for a major-label artist with the kind of success that he’s had. (Remember when he was nominated for Best New Artist in 2014, five years after his debut album and when he already had FOUR #1 singles under his belt?)

Well according to Justin there’s an easy explanation for why he’s never a part of these awards shows: He’s never invited.

“People ask me all the time, why don’t I ever go to awards shows? This is why. Cause nobody ever asks me to be a part of ’em.

I’m just being completely honest with you. Ain’t trying to piss nobody off but we’ve sold 5 million albums, had 10 number ones and probably 20 total hit records on the radio and I’ve been on one of the awards shows twice and another one one time. That’s it. Period. Because they never asked to be a part of it.”

Well Justin once again won’t be at the awards shows this year, despite the fact that he has eleven #1 hits under his belt, just released an incredible new (actual country) album Stray Dog, and has a current single, “You, Me and Whiskey” with Priscilla Block, sitting inside the top 20 of the charts and still climbing.

But when I jokingly asked Justin during a recent interview whether he was excited for the ACM Awards this year, he just laughed:

“I’m excited to NOT go to the ACM Awards and go coach my kids in softball next week.

And make sure you print that. I want you to say that.”

He doesn’t shy away from his thoughts on the awards shows these days. But he also admits on his podcast that he’s got a little bit of a chip on his shoulder too:

“For anybody out there that picks this up and writes a story and goes ‘That’s just sour grapes,’ you’re damn right it’s sour grapes. We deserve to be a part of that.

And I don’t mean ‘we’ by just me. There’s a hundred other acts that deserve to be a part of it too.”

I think Justin’s absolutely right to be annoyed. They’re so focused on “expanding the genre” that they’ve forgotten the genre itself. And it shows in the ratings.

Justin summed up the entire issue with just one sentence.

“That’s why you lost all your ratings: Because you forgot the flyover states.”


Justin’s comments drew a lot of attention from other sites too, the same people who will be out there this year gushing over what these artists were wearing on the red carpet or promoting the latest pop collaboration that’s blowing up the country charts.

But Justin knows who’s been out here saying the same thing about these awards shows that he’s preaching:

“Pick it up, Whiskey Riff, go ahead. I love you boys.”

We’re right there with you Justin. And unlike a lot of these other sites, we always have been.

If you wanna hear Justin’s entire epic rant, you can check out The Justin Moore Podcast. The discussion about the ACM Awards starts at around 27 minutes.

The 2023 ACM Awards will air live on Amazon Prime from the Ford Center at The Star in Frisco Texas, on Thursday, May 11 at 7:00 PM eastern/6:00 PM central.

Dolly Parton and Garth Brooks will be hosting the 58th Annual ACM Awards.

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Zach Bryan Wins ACM For New Male Artist Of The Year

Something in the orange tells me this will be the first of many…

Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

Ahead of the awards show Zach Bryan was announced as the winner of the ACM Award for New Male Artist of the Year.

His first ever ACM Award, and his first time being nominated, Zach beat out fellow nominees Ernest, Jackson Dean, Dylan Scott, Nate Smith and Bailey Zimmerman for the trophy.

The nomination comes in the only category Zach was featured in this year, which isn’t exactly surprising given the fact that Zach has tried to distance himself from Nashville.

But given that his album American Heartbreak was one of the biggest of 2022, along with “Something In the Orange” being a massive hit, it seems like Zach probably should have been included in those categories over some of the other nominees.

Still, it’s great to see an “outsider” like Zach get recognized by a show that traditionally only pays tribute to those in their own circle. Of course it would have been a joke if he didn’t win, but these awards shows have proven that they don’t always get these things right.

In this case though, they hit a home run.

Congrats Zach – and hopefully there are many more awards to come.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock