The station, the BIG 615, promises to feature more female artists, and musicians not backed by a major label
More and more country music seems to be bubbling over into the pop mainstream this year. “Last Night,” a single from Morgan Wallen, won’t budge from its top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 and among the positions below it are Luke Combs’ cover of Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” and Zach Bryan’s “Something in the Orange.” Down in Nashville, Garth Brooks is enacting a plan to spotlight artists who don’t have the backing of a major label — and help the genre evolve with the times — as he launches the radio station The Big 615, which can streamed around the world for free on TuneIn beginning Thursday.
“Terrestrial radio is an agenda to the labels. Works great. Worked great for me, right? But what happens on terrestrial radio is as long as the labels have you, then you’re on the radio. The second something happens and you’re not with that label, the career goes into some other stage,” Brooks said at the press conference. “Our thing is, I think there are some artists that outlive their label. One of them for me is George Strait. I want to hear the new stuff from George Strait. I want to hear [it] right next to Luke Combs. I want to hear the new stuff from The Chicks.”
He also just wants to hear more women, in general. “We are going to lean a little more traditional when it comes to music,” he added, but he’s not keen on carrying on traditional country radio’s scarcity of non-male performers. At, The Big 615, Brooks said, the “balance between guys and girls is fantastic. It is nothing to hear two females back to back on this channel. If there’s something we’re seriously missing in country music right now, it’s the number of females and those voices.”
The Big 615 is one of seven stations on Brooks’ Sevens Network for the streaming platform TuneIn, which boards more than 100,000 radio stations in 122 countries. The promotional playlist for the station on the platform’s homepage features George Strait’s “Honky Tonk Time Machine” and Maren Morris’s “Circles Around This Town,” but also Jackson Dean’s “Fearless,” Bailey Zimmerman’s “Fall in Love,” and Trisha Yearwood’s “She’s in Love with the Boy.”
“The chance we have here with a global country station is to spread love,” Brooks said, adding: “We can’t lose country music. We just can’t.”