Last December, we brought John Marks, The Global Head of Country Music at Spotify, down to Texas for a few days to experience a few shows and to be a speaker at our Texas Music Seminar (72 Hours with the Head of Country Music at Spotify). On the way back to the airport , Marks was already game planning for his next trip down here, and we were able to make those plans come in to fruition last Thursday.
Much like the first time, Marks’ 3 day run through Texas was packed full of music, introductions, and scene immersion. Between Chris Colton, Shotgun Rider, and John Baumann killing it at the Granada Theater on Thursday, the shear craziness (in a good way) of the sold out Koe Wetzel show at Billy Bob’s on Friday, the display of young/emerging talent at our TMP Songwriter Competition on Saturday, and all of the fine industry folks he got to meet, I think Marks’ perception that we have something pretty cool and exciting going on down here was only reaffirmed.
What I was looking forward to the most about Marks’ visit though, was the conversation. One thing you notice really quickly is just how easy it is to talk to John. You start having a conversation and then look up and realize that it’s been an hour. Between the travel time in the car, dinner, and the events, I knew there was going to be plenty of time to chat, and as a guy who’s fascinated with the streaming era, what the future holds for Spotify, and always wants to be ahead of the curve, there are fewer brains I enjoy picking more than Marks’.
What I really dig about the country music curator is that during our hours, upon days, of discussion, never once did he seem anything less than enthusiastic to answer my questions and provide insight. While we got to have some really great discussions on how the musical landscape has evolved, and what’s new with Spotify since his last visit, the coolest parts were the conversations centered around the “Texas/Red Dirt” scene specifically.
When I wrote the article about John Mark’s visit in December, I referred to him “as the most impactful person in country music” and at that time his Top 4 playlists combined for a little over 5 million followers. Now…those top 4 playlists have a little over 8 million followers. That’s 3 million more people in just 7 months; on top of some substantial growth for other playlists like New Boots, Country Coffee House, Country Nights, Country Kind of Love and Texas Music Now (to name a few), which combine for another 2 million followers. Needless to say, not only is Mark’s still the most impactful person in country music, his impact is growing exponentially (and I think we’re only at the tip of the iceberg).
So when the most powerful person in country music at the most powerful music streaming service in the world , who’s power is only going to grow says things like he’s “excited about the potential and future of the scene” and that Spotify is looking “to be more involved” it’s hard not let your mind run wild with what cool things could lie ahead.
While we’ll have to wait to see exactly what this means, it’s undoubtedly going to be a good thing. I think we’re only at the beginning stages of the scene’s music starting to transcend geographical boundaries and with having Marks and Spotify involved how can you not be optimistic about the future?!?! Really think about what this means. We have an international, tastemaking outlet of distribution and powerful music discovery platform interested in what we’ve got going on down here, with no desire to change the music or the artists; just help spread the music and take a more active role. If that doesn’t excite you about our scene, then I don’t know what will.
And much like the last trip, on the way to the airport Marks was already game planning for his next trip down here…
Music addict, a sucker for heartbreak songs, and avid Houston sports fan! I’am also the Editor-in-Chief of Texas Music Pickers.