The CMA Awards are right around the corner here in Nashville once again.
Which means that in addition to all the bachelorette parties flocking to Music City, the town will also be flooded with celebrities from just about every genre imaginable to take part in “Country Music’s Biggest Night.”
From actors and actresses to football players and models and pretty much everything in between, the CMA Awards usually bring in star power from well outside the country music world in a blatant attempt to boost their ratings.
Now, everybody knows what their motivation is for inviting folks like Luke Bryan’s co-host Peyton Manning to the CMA Awards. Organizers clearly think that they’re “expanding the genre” and will be able to get non-country music fans to tune in to the awards show.
Which is bullsh*t.
They’ve played this same game for years. And year after year, they’ve seen their ratings decline, reaching a record low during a 2021 ceremony that featured presenters and guests like Katy Perry, Kurt Warner and Susan Sarandon.
While last year’s numbers did increase slightly from the COVID-affected shows of 2020 and 2021, it was still well below the pre-pandemic era viewership.
We’ve said for years that these awards shows would stop losing viewers if they would just include actual country artists. And Justin Moore is maybe the only artist who hasn’t been afraid to call them out either.
Justin has 12 number one singles and two albums that have been certified platinum with another certified gold.
And how many times has he been invited to the CMA Awards?
During an appearance on our Whiskey Riff Raff podcast ahead of last year’s awards ceremony, Justin talked about the problem with these awards shows:
“As more people have gotten a say so in how these productions go on, and they’re further away from country music, it’s like ‘Oh, we need to get so-and-so for ratings. We need to get an actress, we need to get a model, we need to get a football player…
Country music fans want to see country music artists. They just want to see country artists. That’s why they tune into these shows. And the fact that they don’t put country acts on these shows is why their ratings are failing.”
He’s exactly right.
Hell, Zach Bryan is one of the biggest names in country music right now. He’s selling out festivals, doing absolutely insane numbers on streaming, and pumping out new songs basically every week at this point. Yet the CMA Awards thinks they’ll get more viewers by inviting Mookie Betts to the awards show than Zach Bryan? It’s completely ass backwards.
“They think it’s growing the format and it’s not. It’s holding it back.”
This isn’t the first time that Justin has gone off on these awards shows either. During an episode of his podcast, Justin tore into the ACM Awards(which had to move from CBS to streaming on Amazon Prime after ratings got so low) for forgetting their audience and chasing new viewers at the expense of their real fans:
“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…
That’s why you lost all your ratings: Because you forgot the flyover states.”
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.
So while the performers and presenters for this year’s ceremony haven’t been announced yet, I’m sure that once again we’ll get ready to watch a star-studded affair that’s billed as “Country Music’s Biggest Night,” yet instead of giving a platform to some of the biggest names in the genre, we’ll get jokes from Peyton Manning and appearances by Hollywood stars, athletes, and anyone else they can convince to help them boost their failing numbers.
And when their ratings drop once again, we’ll be right back here in a year talking about the next crop of celebrities that the organizers are trotting out in a backwards attempt to attract new viewers, not realizing that the solution to their problem isn’t in Hollywood or a football stadium, but he’s sitting at the top of the streaming charts and selling out festivals.
Check out our entire conversation with Justin Moore here: