Sunday, June 26, 2011

Country Power Index (CPI)

For the fun of it I decided to assign 1 point for every million albums sold, every #1 song, every top 10 song, every CMA award, and every ACM award a country music artist achieved over their career. For example if you had sold 10 million records, had 10 #1 songs, had 30 top 10 songs, won 5 CMA’s and 5 ACM’s you would have 60 points. Artists with say 10.5 million records sold would get 10.5 points.

I used RIAA certifications to measure album sales, and Billboard Magazines country charts to measure #1 and top 10 country songs.

Of course there are possible inequities in this process as older artists from the 60’s and 70’s were not credited with selling as many albums as they did, and in the last few years record sales have flagged due to people just digitally downloading the songs they like rather than buying the whole album. On the other hand older artists had longer careers as artists who could chart songs meaning they were able to amass more top 10 and #1 singles.

Also Brooks & Dunn won a lot of CMA and ACM awards for being vocal duo of the year when really they had no competition whereas male and female solo artists had a great deal more competition for their awards.

I call my measurement the Country Power Index or CPI. Of course CPI does not measure artistic impact, so whether someone is considered a great singer or whether they have classic songs that will last beyond their lifetime is not factored in. Instead CPI shows an artist dominance of the airwaves, retail sales, and award shows.

I also want to point out that while I did my best to be accurate, there could be mistakes in these calculations.

Here now are the top 15 artists of all-time and their scores:

George Strait – 228

Garth Brooks – 207

Alan Jackson – 150.5

Alabama – 150

Reba McEntire – 139.5

Merle Haggard - 136.5

Conway Twitty - 131

Brooks & Dunn – 130

Tim McGraw – 125

Eddie Arnold – 123

Kenny Rogers – 119

Willie Nelson – 109

George Jones - 108

Dolly Parton – 105.5

Ronnie Milsap – 102

Notice only 2 female artists (Reba & Dolly) show up. This proves what has long been known – that country music has always been a male artist format. Otherwise I am not surprised who is on this list as each of these artists were dominate forces in country music for many years.

In case you are looking for country icons named Johnny, Waylon, Loretta, and Tammy. Here are their scores:

Johnny Cash – 96

Waylon Jennings – 86.5

Loretta Lynn – 84.5

Tammy Wynette - 59.5

Here are the top 5 amongst those artists who emerged in the 80’s. You could point out Strait and McEntire benefitted from having great success in the 90’s as the well 80’s while the other 3 artists on this list earned most of their points during the 80’s. I did not have the time to break out Strait and McEntire’s scores by decade. It would have be interesting to see how made points they earned in each decade.

George Strait – 228

Alabama – 150

Reba McEntire – 139.5

Hank Williams Jr. – 82.5

Randy Travis – 75.5

Here are the top 10 amongst artists who emerged in the 90’s. In case you are wondering – and I am sure someone is – Billy Ray Cyrus scored a 19.5 and LeAnn Rimes a 33.

I think this list includes most of the dominate artists of 90’s though again you could point out many of the artists (Chesney and Keith especially) earned point in the 2000’s as well as the 90’s.

Garth Brooks – 207

Alan Jackson – 150.5

Brooks & Dunn – 130

Tim McGraw – 125

Kenny Cheseny - 93

Toby Keith – 86

Shania Twain – 75

Vince Gill – 75

Dixie Chicks – 68.5

Faith Hill – 67.5

Here are the top 5 artists amongst those who emerged in the 00’s. Paisley has won a bunch of awards which is why he is so out front. Underwood and Swift have amassed their numbers with far fewer years in the industry than the others, so I expect them to eventually overtake Urban and RF.

Brad Paisley – 80

Rascal Flatts – 69

Keith Urban – 51.5

Carrie Underwood – 48

Taylor Swift - 39

Finally a look at the group of country artists who in 1989 revived country music, and set the stage for all the success country music has achieved since. They are collectively called the Class of 89. While officially the group consists of Garth, Alan, Clint, Travis, and Mary Chapin. I also added Vince and Lorrie as both really had their commercial breakthrough in 1989.

Garth Brooks – 207

Alan Jackson – 150.5

Vince Gill – 75

Clint Black – 58.5

Travis Tritt – 39

Lorrie Morgan – 24.5

Mary Chapin Carpenter – 22.5

If this was 1995 I would have told you that Black, Tritt, and Carpenter would have had higher scores. However that is not the case. It just proves you have to judge an artists career over an extended period of time, and in its own way CPI does just that.