January 8, 2010

Ray Stevens: We The People...a Top-5 smash

In seven days on the Amazon Country MP3 Top-100, the Ray Stevens commercial single of "We The People" has reached the Top-5. It's nice to see that the single has risen so high on an MP3 popularity list on a major on-line music store. Ray's single ranks in the Top-5 of MP3 country songs and just outside the Top-40 in all formats. The "all-formats" list reads like a collection of pop and rock acts with just a few country artists, notably Taylor Swift, and then you get into the Top-45 and see "We The People" and a Taylor Swift MP3 single amongst a sea of rock and pop acts. I should also mention that while "We The People" has ranked in the Country Top-100 list for seven days, it's only been on the "all-formats" list twice which makes me assume that people outside the country music and country comedy format are now aware of the song's existence in commercial form where as before only a music video was thought available.

I'll of course be checking the national charts each week just to see if "We The People" will make an impact there. I am not a subscriber to Billboard magazine and so I have no way of knowing if the single will or has already charted on the Country Single Sales list. Any information that I find will be from the music charts that are published on-line. Some charts are off-line and only available to subscribers. You'd think that a single that's a Top-5 seller on Amazon would rank somewhere on Billboard...the updated Billboard charts are published a week in advance.

I do have a feeling that because the song hit on You Tube, first and foremost as a music video, radio stations won't exactly play the song because it's associated with a visual media and the fact that the song's controversial. Sometimes radio will ignore songs that find their way to the public by means other than radio. It's almost as if people in radio take it personally that an artist finds a way to get their music to the people through other means. The thing that radio is quick to forget is artist's wouldn't have to find alternative methods of promoting their music if they'd get co-operation from radio in the first place. The thing that drives artists, like Ray Stevens, into seeking alternate methods of publicity is because radio doesn't lend a helping hand. The thing that takes the cake, though, is radio people who didn't want to lend a helping hand in the first place throw a fit or ignore a song that's obtained popularity through You Tube or television exposure. However, radio sometimes does relent and play a song that's just too popular to ignore no matter the song's origin of popularity. This is rare, though.

The jury is still out on it's acceptance at radio several weeks into the song's overwhelming popularity as a music video. I find it revealing that a single that sits so high on a digital download list at the world's biggest on-line store, Amazon, is all but ignored by radio stations. Examining the Top-20 MP3 singles in country music according to Amazon I see titles that I'm familiar with as a listener/follower of country music in general. They're familiar because they're on the radio...but "We The People", which sits in the Top-5, you couldn't say the same thing about. The thing that's ironic, though, is the digital single is selling and the music video has been viewed by 1.6 million people with mostly positive remarks, give or take a few troll-like comments, and yet radio stations won't acknowledge the song's impact. This is nothing more than proof that a song can be a hit without major exposure on radio...something that Ray himself commented on several weeks ago when he made the statement that You Tube and music video's will be primarily his main focus since radio has demonstrated that it won't be supportive. Usually the most-viewed songs on You Tube are by artists who are all over the radio already...so they have an advantage. Ray, on the other hand, doesn't have that luxury of mainstream radio play coinciding with millions of video plays on You Tube. His achievement is much more phenomenal because radio had no impact...and that's why earlier I mentioned it being ironic that Ray's song sits so high on Amazon's digital download chart because it came without the benefit of radio exposure.

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