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COUNTRY FEVER HITS THE U.K.

Tomorrow marks the first of the three-day annual country music extravaganza that is Country to Country festival at The O2 Arena, and the CMA are in London especially for the occasion, with CEO Sarah Trahern attending a music and brands forum with BBC Music Director Bon Shennan tomorrow.

So, how popular is country music in the U.K.? Glad you asked.

In 2014, the popularity of country music in Britain reached an all-time high thanks to the growth of C2C, Taylor Swift introducing a legion of young fans to the genre, Dolly Parton’s show-stopping Glastonbury performance, the success of TV series Nashville and British-bred country duo The Shires going mainstream after signing to UMG imprint Decca, with their debut album later hitting #10 in the U.K.’s Official Albums Chart.

A new deal with Sky Arts saw the CMA Awards broadcast on U.K. TV last year, when Carrie Underwood sang on the hugely popular SYCO-backed X Factor and headlined the free Apple Music Festival at London’s Roundhouse. Kacey Musgraves serenaded the Queen herself during the Royal Variety Performance and Scott Borchetta’s Big Machine opened up shop in Universal Music Group’s Kensington offices. BBC Radio 2 has been championing the likes of Thomas Rhett, Maddie and Tae, Underwood and Miranda Lambert (who are both headlining C2C alongside Eric Church, Dwight Yoakam, Little Big Town and Musgraves). Jason Iley’s Sony Music U.K. is also getting into the country business after signing a joint venture with British-born sister act Ward Thomas.

Alongside all those mentioned above, Zac Brown Band, Nathan Carter and Cam were the most popular country music acts in Blighty in 2015. Will the British A&Rs hedge their bets with some homegrown acts this year? Watch this space.

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