Country Hit Maker John Marks

Inside the music industry. The business of hits, new artists, what’s played, what’s not, with country programmer John Marks.

Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard of the band Florida Georgia Line embrace SiriusXM country music programmer John Marks, who helped propel their group to national prominence. (SiriusXM)

Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard of the band Florida Georgia Line embrace SiriusXM country music programmer John Marks, who helped propel their group to national prominence. (SiriusXM)

These are interesting times in country music.  It’s huge.  And it’s having a quiet identity crisis.  All at the same time.  So-called “bro-country” songs about party guys drinking beer and gals dancing in their daisy dukes are all over the airwaves.  Top of the charts.  And right in with them comes the song of lament — “I Don’t Hear Merle Haggard Anymore” – longing for old-time country.  And female country artists?  Hard times.  Country hit-maker John Marks sees it all.  Has helped make it.  Sometimes would like to break it.  He’s with us.  This hour On Point:  inside country music.

— Tom Ashbrook


John Marks, senior director of country programming for SiriusXM. (@sxmthehighway)

Jewly Hight, Nashville-based music critic. Author of “Right By Her Roots: Americana Women and Their Songs.” (@RightByHerRoots)

Josh Jenkins, frontman for the band Green River Ordinance. (@gro)

From Tom’s Reading List

The Wall Street Journal: Satellite Radio Shakes Up Country Star System — “Despite an audience that is minuscule compared with FM radio stations in big markets, the Highway wields disproportionate influence on sales of records and concert tickets, say label executives, particularly for new and emerging artists from outside the major-label system, a group terrestrial country stations tend to avoid.”

Billboard: Inside the Ears of SiriusXM Country Programmer John Marks — “When country record label execs tell the tales of how their songs became hits, two words are nearly always part of the story: John Marks. SiriusXM’s senior director of country programming is not only thought to have some of the best ears in the business, he’s also willing — even eager — to take chances on new music on the channel for which he handles day-today programming, The Highway. And that music doesn’t always have to come from the usual sources.”

NPR: How A Hip-Hop Remix Helped Make ‘Cruise’ The Year’s Biggest Country Hit — “If you listen, even fleetingly, to commercial country music, you’ve heard the song “Cruise.” It set a record this year for most weeks at No. 1 on the country charts — in history. “Cruise” is also the second-most-downloaded country song of all time, and it’s expected to top that list soon. It’s by Florida Georgia Line, two young men who’ve become country superstars in less than a year.”

Playlist From John Mark’s New Nashville Sound

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