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The Year in Country Music: Country Remained Steady in 2006

By CMA Communications
© 2007 CMA Close Up News Service

Country Music remained steady in 2006 with a modest 0.5 percent drop in album sales from 2005, according to figures released Jan. 4, 2007, by Nielsen SoundScan. Total all-genre album sales (CD, CS, LP, digital albums) for the entire music industry were down 4.9 percent from 2005, while overall music sales (albums, singles, music video and digital tracks) were up 19.4 percent.

"Last year really showcased the depth of Country Music's diversity across all areas of our business, from record sales to tours, movies to books and outstanding media coverage," said Tammy Genovese, CMA COO. Overall, the number of Country albums sold in 2006 was 74.9 million down slightly from 75.3 million in 2005.


1. Me and My Gang - Rascal Flatts - 3,479,994
2. Some Hearts - Carrie Underwood - 3,015,950
3. Taking the Long Way - Dixie Chicks - 1,856,284
4. Greatest Hits Vol. 2 - Tim McGraw - 1,595,688
5. Your Man - Josh Turner - 1,547,081
6. The Legend of Johnny Cash - Johnny Cash - 1,430,885
7. White Trash with Money - Toby Keith - 1,205,296
8. Precious Memories - Alan Jackson - 1,185,860
9. Feels Like Today - Rascal Flatts - 1,105,432
10. Be Here - Keith Urban - 1,054,016
*Source: The Top 10 Country albums of 2006, according to Nielsen SoundScan (Dec. 28, 2006 YTD)


The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certified 30 Gold, 20 Platinum and 21 multi-Platinum Country albums in 2006. Gold indicates sales of 500,000 units; Platinum, 1 million units; multi-Platinum for each successive million units sold; and Diamond indicates sales of 10 million albums. The RIAA continues to award these rankings throughout the life of the album; an album does not have to be released in the same year it achieves one or more of these rankings.

Even in retirement, Garth Brooks continues to rack up strong album sales in 2006. His 1998 album, Double Live, surpassed 20 million; Sevens (released in 1997) passed 9 million; and Scarecrow (released in 2001) surpassed 5 million. His latest album, The Lost Sessions (released in November 2005) was certified Gold, Platinum and Multi-Platinum (2 million) in early 2006. Newly inducted Country Music Hall of Fame member George Strait earned his 31st and 32nd Platinum certified albums for It Just Comes Natural and George Strait Fresh Cut Christmas. In 2006, Strait's Greatest Hits compilation reached quadruple-Platinum status and his album, 50 No.1s, released in 2004, was certified six times Platinum.

Three artists received their first multi-Platinum album certifications in 2006: Trace Adkins (Songs About Me) at 2 million albums sold; Sugarland (Twice the Speed of Life) at 2 million albums sold; and Carrie Underwood (Some Hearts) at 4 million albums sold. Country Music Hall of Fame member Ray Price (For the Good Times) received his first Platinum album certification in 2006. Keith Anderson (Three Chord Country and American Rock & Roll); Rodney Atkins (If You're Going Through Hell); Billy Currington (Doin' Somethin' Right); Little Big Town (The Road to Here); Van Zant (Get Right with the Man); and The Wreckers (Stand Still, Look Pretty) received their first Gold album certifications in 2006. RIAA Digital Gold Sales Awards were given to 34 Country singles. Single tracks are awarded Gold (100,000 downloads), Platinum (200,000) and multi-Platinum (400,000+) certifications.

In addition, the RIAA certified five Gold (50,000 units sold) and two Platinum (100,000 units sold) Country longform videos. The Platinum Country longform videos were Johnny Cash (Live at Montreux, 1994) and Gretchen Wilson (Undressed).

On June 15, 2006, the RIAA announced ringtones would be awarded for sales of Gold and Platinum. Only ringtones with the artist's actual vocals would be recognized, known as mastertones. Gold ringtones signify 500,000 downloads and Platinum marks 1 million downloads. Four Country artists were given the Gold RIAA Mastertone award in 2006: Big & Rich ("Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)"); Waylon Jennings ("Good Ol' Boys"); Carrie Underwood ("Jesus Take the Wheel"); and Gretchen Wilson ("Redneck Woman").


Listed below are the Top 10 all genre tours based on total gross dollars; the Top 10 Country tours based on total attendance; and the Top 10 Country tours based on total gross dollars, according to Billboard for shows played between Nov. 16, 2005 and Nov. 14, 2006. *

ALL GENRE TOP 10 TOURS (Total Gross)

1. The Rolling Stones - $425,072,371
2. Madonna - $194,754,447
3. Bon Jovi - $131,388,461
4. U2 - $95,880,340
5. Tim McGraw & Faith Hill - $88,808,729
6. Cirque Du Soleil's Delirium - $78,529,777
7. Barbara Streisand - $76,112,426
8. Kenny Chesney - $65,975,442
9. Dave Matthews Band - $58,042,933
10. Aerosmith - $57,941,203

COUNTRY TOP 10 TOURS (Total Gross)

1. Tim McGraw & Faith Hill - $88,808,729
2. Kenny Chesney - $65,975,442
3. Rascal Flatts - $46,214,743
4. Toby Keith - $37,738,077 *
5. Brad Paisley - $27,742,368
6. Dixie Chicks - $23,024,881
7. George Strait - $17,132,602
8. Brooks & Dunn - $16,934,805
9. Keith Urban - $10,244,031
10. Martina McBride - $9,210,228

ALL GENRE TOP 10 (Total Attendance)

1. The Rolling Stones - 3,499,405
2. Bon Jovi - 1,823,834
3. Dave Matthews Band - 1,217,951
4. Madonna - 1,209,618
5. U2 - 1,201,669
6. Kenny Chesney - 1,131,231
7. Tim McGraw & Faith Hill - 1,095,653
8. Rascal Flatts - 1,000,036
9. Cirque Du Soliel's Delirium - 892,174
10. Nickelback - 767,547

COUNTRY TOP 10 TOURS (Total Attendance)

1. Kenny Chesney - 1,131,231
2. Tim McGraw & Faith Hill - 1,095,653
3. Rascal Flatts - 1,000,036
4. Toby Keith - 741,872 *
5. Brad Paisley - 698,820
6. Brooks & Dunn - 455,798
7. Dixie Chicks - 339,565
8. George Strait - 291,751
9. Keith Urban - 264,116
10. Martina McBride - 209,363

* The Toby Keith total attendance amounts are amended with amounts that were reported after Billboard's Year-End rankings were published. This new information moved Keith from No.10 to No.4 on both charts.

Some of Country Music's biggest stars teamed up on the road to give fans every penny's worth of entertainment value. Kenny Chesney invited Dierks Bentley, Little Big Town, Sugarland and Carrie Underwood to open his "The Road and the Radio Tour." Sugarland also joined the second half of Brooks & Dunn's "The Long Haul Tour" in 2006 along with Jack Ingram. Underwood finished out the year on Brad Paisley's "Time Well Wasted Tour" after Sara Evans joined him on the first leg. It was an all-guys event when Gary Allan and Eric Church joined Rascal Flatts on the "Me and My Gang Tour" until The Wreckers joined the tour in the summer. Toby Keith's "Hookin' Up and Hangin' Out Tour" featured newcomers Lindsey Haun and Rushlow Harris. "CMT on Tour" tapped Trace Adkins, Jason Aldean and Billy Currington for its series of shows. Adkins also joined Gretchen Wilson to co-headline the "Redneck Revolution Tour." Reba McEntire continued her Las Vegas concert run at the Hilton Hotel in 2006. The unstoppable husband/wife team Tim McGraw and Faith Hill entertained millions in 2006. Their tour, "Soul2Soul ll Tour," was the fifth highest grossing tour in all genres and the top grossing tour for Country Music in 2006, bringing in $88.8 million gross dollars, according to Billboard.


The award-winning CMA Music Festival is steeped in more than three decades of Fan Fair® tradition. Since Fan Fair was established in 1972, Country Music fans have visited Nashville each June, traveling from every state and around the globe to see hundreds of their favorite artists perform, get that coveted autograph, to share the excitement and passion of Country Music and to create lifelong memories. In 2006, a record-breaking 161,000 aggregate attendance celebrated America's music at CMA Music Festival, June 8-11 in Downtown Nashville. Things got off to a rowdy start at the kick off parade and block party featuring performances by Big & Rich, Cowboy Troy, Emerson Drive, The Grascals and more. Though the final night of concerts at LP Field was cut short due to inclement weather, the spirits of the fans weren't dampened. CMA Music Festival won the International Entertainment Buyers Association "2006 iebaLIVE!" Award for Festival, Fair or Non-Tour Special Event of the Year. CMA Music Festival also won this award in 2004. The LIVE! Award is presented each year by IEBA to a Festival, Fair or Non-Special Event that utilizes artists as a major element of the event while attracting a large and diverse audience, and having displayed professional organization, management and production. Thirty-three acts appeared in the Nightly Concerts at LP Field, including Trace Adkins, Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley, Brooks & Dunn with Keith Urban, Kenny Chesney, Terri Clark, Billy Ray Cyrus, Sara Evans, Little Big Town, Los Lonely Boys with Ronnie Milsap, Martina McBride, Montgomery Gentry, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Brad Paisley, Blake Shelton, Sugarland, Josh Turner, Carrie Underwood, Hank Williams Jr., Wynonna, Trisha Yearwood and more.

The legendary Charlie Daniels Band kicked off the Festival at the Greased Lightning® Daytime Stages in front of thousands of dancing and cheering fans. The dual stages bustled with a rich array of 86 acts performing more than 32 hours of concerts. Artists included Rhett Akins, Rodney Atkins, Steve Azar, Sarah Buxton, Tracy Byrd, Eric Church, John Corbett, Neal McCoy, The Oak Ridge Boys, Jake Owen, Aaron Tippin, Tanya Tucker, Darryl Worley, Chris Young and more.

A total of 326 artists and celebrities appeared in the Wrangler® Fan Fair (Exhibit Hall) at the Nashville Convention Center for the popular autograph and photo sessions. One of the highlights was a wedding in the MuzikMafia booth. In 2005, Jo Ann Dresch and Brad Moyer of Pennsylvania got engaged while waiting in line at the booth and this year they returned to tie the knot with Big & Rich in attendance.
Nearly 700 journalists were credentialed for CMA Music Festival representing more than 200 domestic and international media outlets.

The official CMA Music Festival broadcaster, Premiere Radio Networks, brought 19 of Country radio's top-rated stations (including Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Indianapolis, Seattle, Tampa and Washington) and the nationally syndicated "After MidNite with Blair Garner" to Nashville for three days of remote broadcasts from the Nashville Convention Center. A wide variety of 75 artists, celebrities and athletes participated in the remotes reaching nearly 9 million listeners.

The Chevy Sports Zone moved to a new central location in 2006, but still featured games and friendly competitions with "The Fifth Annual Andy Griggs Celebrity Archery Tournament," "The Steve Azar Celebrity Sports Challenge," "The Craig Morgan FLW Outdoors Fishing Tournament" and "The Michael Peterson / New Holland Celebrity Tractor Race" among others. The Chevy "All Access Music Tour" Stage was set up on the plaza of the Gaylord Entertainment Center for even more musical entertainment. The Family Zone featured more fun - and food - than ever with the Crisco® Country Favorites Corner. Fans made pit stops at the Fun Zone for giveaways, product samples and to sing a little karaoke.

CMA Celebrity Close Up hosted by Lorianne Crook featured John Corbett, Cowboy Troy, members of Diamond Rio, Josh Gracin, Jamie O'Neal, Phil Vassar and members of Lonestar. The Q&A sessions were taped by GAC and aired later in the year. The NBC Daytime Stars visited CMA Music Festival for the sixth time, making appearances at various events and hosting their popular After Hours party at the Wildhorse Saloon.

ABC's "Good Morning America" sent correspondent Mike Barz to CMA Music Festival to broadcast live from Downtown Nashville. CMA Music Festival is organized and produced by CMA. Board member Tony Conway is the Executive Producer of CMA Music Festival.

CMA Music Festival promotional partners included ABC-TV, Advil, American Airlines, AmSouth, Auto Zone, Bridgestone Firestone, Camping World, Carl Black Chevrolet, Chevrolet: An American Revolution, Chick-Fil-A, CMT, Coca-Cola, Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Country Weekly, Crisco, Dave & Busters, FLW Outdoors, GEICO, Gillette Venus Vibrance, Grand Ole Opry, Great American Country, Greased Lightning, HCA, Major League Baseball, Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority, Monroe Carell Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, Mr. Coffee, Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau, Nashville Zoo, New Holland, Office Depot, On The Run and Exxon, Papa John's Pizza, Premiere Radio Networks, Prilosec OTC, Purity® Dairies, RealTree, Southwest Airlines, Sharpie, Super 8, Tennessee Education Lottery Corp., T.G.I. Fridays, The Tennessean, Ultra Pet/Zen Puppy, U.S. Navy, WellPatch Pain Relieving Pads, Wrangler and Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A.

As Country Music fans were busily making plans to head to Nashville for the CMA Music Festival, CMA brought a taste of the Festival to lucky fans in nine cities across the South and Southwest. For "Crisco Presents the Road to CMA Music Festival," Wal-Mart parking lots in Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Fayetteville, Ark., Jacksonville, Raleigh, San Antonio, Tampa and Tulsa were transformed into mini versions of CMA Music Festival, complete with live performances from some of today's hottest Country acts. Radio stations including KAJA, KKIX, KTYS, KWEN, WKHX, WQDR, WQYK, WROO, WSOC and WYAY helped promote the tour. Also sponsoring the tour were Greased Lightning Cleaning Products and Southwest Airlines. Performers included Jason Aldean, Steve Azar, Jeff Bates, Blue County, John Corbett, Emerson Drive, Jace Everett, Jamey Johnson, Little Big Town, Lila McCann, Jamie O'Neal, Danielle Peck, Julie Roberts, Ray Scott and Mark Wills. Following their performances, and in keeping with a CMA Music Festival tradition, artists greeted fans and signed autographs after every show. Event sponsors were on hand to offer free samples of their products.

The 2007 CMA Music Festival will take place Thursday through Sunday, June 7-10, in Downtown Nashville. To order tickets, call 1-800-CMA-FEST (262-3378); visit to download an order form to fax or mail; visit to buy online or charge-by-phone at (615) 255-9600. Ticket prices do not include applicable handling fees and are subject to change without notice. All sales are final and non-refundable.

CMA Music Festival was filmed for a two-hour television special that aired on the ABC Television Network in July. The concerts and the interactions were captured in the special with heart-pounding performances interspersed with heart-warming encounters between the artists and their avid admirers. Taped exclusively for the special, cameras followed the stories of several Festival attendees, who had their dreams come true when they were granted a once-in-a-lifetime meeting and personal encounter with their favorite Country stars. Robert Deaton was the Executive Producer and Gary Halvorson was the Director.

Artists donate their time at CMA Music Festival for the good of the industry and part of the receipts in the past were donated to charities through CMA's "Cause For Celebration!" campaign. In 2006, CMA launched a new charity initiative, "Keep the Music Playing," where half of the net proceeds from CMA Music Festival will be given to the Nashville Alliance for Public Education to provide equipment and services to Nashville's public school music education programs. The donation is expected to top $300,000 and CMA will reveal some exciting news about the distribution of these funds soon.


Country radio continues to stay on top as the most dominant radio genre in 2006 with 2,046 stations across the U.S., up from 2,042 stations in 2005, according to Inside Radio/M Street.
In Spring 2006, Country radio had the largest share of national listeners since 1999 with a 9.5 share, according to Arbitron's American Radio Listening Trends Format Report.

Billboard's and Radio & Records' Top 5 Country Songs
1. Rodney Atkins "If You're Going Through Hell (Before the Devil Even Knows)"
2. Brad Paisley "The World"
3. Kenny Chesney "Summertime"
4. Rascal Flatts "What Hurts the Most"
5. Carrie Underwood "Jesus, Take the Wheel"
Country Aircheck's Top 5 Country Songs
1. Rascal Flatts "What Hurts the Most"
2. Josh Turner "Your Man"
3. Rodney Atkins "If You're Going Through Hell (Before the Devil Even Knows)"
4. Carrie Underwood "Jesus, Take the Wheel"
5. Bon Jovi w/ Jennifer Nettles "Who Says You Can't Go Home"


Tim McGraw continued his love affair with acting, starring in the remake of "Flicka." Toby Keith made his acting debut in "Broken Bridges," starring alongside Willie Nelson, Kelly Preston, Burt Reynolds and newcomer and Show Dog Records labelmate Lindsey Haun. The film was directed by two-time CMA Video of the Year director Steven Goldmann. Dwight Yoakam appeared in Lions Gate's fast action thriller "Crank," "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada" and "Banditas," which played exclusively in Cinema Latino theaters. Reba McEntire was the voice of a wise-cracking cow in the big screen remake of "Charlotte's Web." The Dixie Chicks starred in the documentary "Shut Up & Sing." Kris Kristofferson appeared in "Fast Food Nation," alongside an all-star cast that included Ethan Hawke, Greg Kinnear and Bruce Willis.


Joanna Cotten, Josh Gracin, The Grascals, Raul Malo, Barbara Mandrell, Lorrie Morgan, Joe Nichols, Clay Walker, Lee Ann Womack, Trisha Yearwood and Chris Young joined Broadway performers Laura Bell Bundy, Michael Cerveris, Felicia Fields, Felicia Finley, Peter Gallagher, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Brian d'Arcy James, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Julie Murney and Ben Vereen for the second "Broadway Meets Country" benefit concert at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center in Downtown Nashville as a part of "Nashville Celebrates Country," a week of events leading up to the CMA Awards. Lari White starred in the Broadway musical "Ring of Fire," about the life of Johnny Cash.

The Year in Country Music is a partial listing and was compiled by Peter Cronin, Amanda Eckard, Ryan Noreikas, Athena Patterson, Wendy Pearl, Brandi Sanford and Scott Stem. Special thanks to all the Communications Dept. interns for gathering information throughout the year. All photos and logos used by permission. is Detroit's exclusive media outlet for this syndicated weekly column!

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