The country music fan base is growing by leaps and bounds. The annual CMA Music Festival in Nashville in June set attendance records, with an average daily attendance of 88,500 fans, and Facebook Live broadcasts with artists at the festival generated more than 1.3 million views.
Over the past five years, country's fan base also has become increasingly diverse and younger. Since 2010, there has been a 25 percent increase in Hispanic listeners of country music, according to CMA, and attendees at the CMA Festival came from all 50 states and 25 countries.
"There are stereotypes that country is just for Middle America or it has more of a regional affinity, but it's really a global format. We see it getting younger and more diverse, and that's just going to continue," said Damon Whiteside, vp of marketing and strategic partnerships at CMA. "Brands need to understand that country is mainstream. It's not what some might expect."
Several brands are making efforts to reach this fan base: More than 50 brands sponsored the festival, including Chevrolet, HGTV and Anheuser-Busch, which has been a CMA brand partner for the past six years. At this year's festival, Budweiser sponsored an acoustic stage, as well as the three-story Budweiser Country Club, where fans could meet Bud brewmasters and receive custom leather beer koozies, and country stars Florida Georgia Line and Thomas Rhett served as celebrity bartenders.
The country music audience has been a loyal, and valuable one for the beer brand, said Ricardo Marques, vp of Budweiser. "As country music continues to grow, Budweiser wants the opportunity to grow with it. CMA has been a great partner, and they allowed us to create an experience that we knew fans would enjoy and allow the brand to be a part of their stories and memories about coming to the festival."