Looking from a somewhat outside view there are 3 elements that stand out with Country Artists and Country Radio that other formats seem to miss:
1. The Audience - The artists show up for the audience. They hold their fans near and dear no matter how big they get. Yes it can get to a point where the huge stars can't keep up with millions of fans, but at least they shook hands, signed everything, smiled till their lips cracked, and always greeted the fans as guests in their world - happy to play their music for them and eager for their applause. They toured like a machine hitting both the big and small cities and were ready to play on time and for the most part without any big issues.
2. The Press - Everyday most of us scroll down the news of the day in All Access. All Access has plenty of space in their website and a seemingly open policy to publish nearly everything in Music and Radio/Media. It can mean a lot of stories in a day, but just look at the number of Country Artists and Country Format Stories in the mix. Most days you see 6 or 7 events covered - some of it is pretty small but no other format group of artists manages to have this kind of presence. The same 'work the room' presence you see on stage for most Country artists is evident in their work ethic for the press also. They also have some great national exposure channels with a cable network, award shows, and are ready to hit the big TV shows at the drop of a hat.
3. Work Together - Radio and Country's artists work together as if they are in the same Army. If you have never been to a CRS convention in Nashville you'd be blown away by the closeness between Country Radio and Country Artists. They all know each other as if it is one huge family reunion. Ever notice on the award shows how most artists thank radio - then look at other award shows and radio is hardly mentioned.
Part of the success has to go to the annual CRS convention and a strong association between the artists with the CMA. This is not a world of loaners - everyone is united and works together for the strength of the music and the format. Yes there are differences and debates, but the success of Country music and radio is the goal and no one forgets it. Having a national organization that organizes events, encourages collaboration, and sets some standards/examples helps this machine stay on the tracks and running at a healthy speed.
In many ways it may have become a formula. Country music does seem to follow a number of procedures in producing and promoting the product. While there are 'bands' the formula is often a singer who may lead a group of musicians. The band is often pros from the Nashville music world and the songs are often written by another group of pro songwriters. The production also can seem rather formulaic but in the end there is a pretty high quality of music being cranked out.
What would happen if Rock or AC, Rap or CHR formed into music style associations like we see in Country? Just dream about it for a minute.
If Rock music could have a union between its artists and radio/media like Country does you would have to wonder if the genre would be in a lot better shape than it is. The other real opportunity probably lies in CHR or RAP artists. While there isn't a real organization that stand out for these music styles they are working more together on the artist side. Look at how Lady GAGA treats her audience and works the stage - she clearly has learned a few Country tricks. On the RAP side look at all the duets and combo rap songs out there. It's amazing how many songs the emerging and vet rappers are showing up on. This is a group that is starting to work together and build a union. If CHR and Rap could get the radio side organized more it could even go further. But at least there are some seeds growing. Really ROCK is the one format that seems to be too cool or too hip to follow the example here. Maybe it's time for a change?