On Monday, record-label reaction to Bobby Bones’ weekend comments that half of No. 1 country records “aren't legitimate” and that labels “trade them out like baseball cards,” ranged from “100% correct” to “h-------t.” Speaking on condition of anonymity, promotion executives addressed the charges Bobby leveled in a TikTok video that had been viewed more than 375,000 times by Monday afternoon.
“It’s annoying on all fronts, because Bobby is correct,” one tells Country Insider. However, says another, “It’s not as cut and dried as he makes it out to be in that TikTok video.”
Bones’ video was one of a series of weekend TikTok posts in which the Premiere Networks-syndicated host answered questions from his followers. In others, he addressed why stations play the same song so frequently, how much influence he has on the music played during his show, artists who have No. 1 records in the iTunes store, and why ACM and CMA awards appear to be “rigged.”
The full transcript of the 54-second clip about No. 1 songs follows:
"Here's the truth about No. 1 songs on the radio: It's basically politics. They trade them out like baseball cards. A record label will talk to another record label and go, 'Okay I'll give you this number one on this date; you give me that number one on that date.’
"Which really, it just should be the song that's the most wanted, the most listened to, the song that people demand. That should be the only number one song. For example, Luke Combs could be No. 1 for 10 weeks. But because of politics, the label will go, 'Ah, let's let somebody else get in that spot and I'll move Luke Combs to No. 2, and he'll sit there for a few weeks.' Same thing with, like, Maren Morris.
"And so when you hear someone talk about a No. 1 song, I would say half of them aren't legitimate No. 1 songs. They have to be good to get to the Top 10. There's a lot of research done into the songs. But when it gets to being a number one song, it's just people going, 'Okay, I'll give you this; you give me that.' And it's everybody trying to create as many number ones as possible, because everything's the same. Everybody gets a participation trophy at number one. WHAT IS HAPPENING?!"
One promotion executive responded: “He’s built his brand on manipulation, yet he criticizes the labels for trying to get our artists recognized for having a No. 1 record? That’s such h-------t. It infuriates me.”
While Bones didn’t address radio’s role in the politics of No. 1 records, the executives did.
“Radio has to be part of that game,” says one label executive. “It's like, ‘Don't hate the player, hate the game.’ They don't always play it, but most of the time, they're pretty in on it, because the labels talk. You get a lot of favors from labels when you’re radio, so radio doesn't have a whole lot of choice but to play.”
One executive referred to Bones’ comments as “the pot calling the kettle black,” adding that “we promote; we try to get as many spins as we can. iHeart owns Mediabase, which sets the rules of the game, and we just play the game.”
In another clip, Bones says he uses his “Women of iHeartCountry Radio” show for chart manipulation. “I negotiated an hour of national airtime for me just to play female artists so I could somewhat manipulate the chart to maybe give them a more of a look nationally,” he says.
One promotion person said they had a behind-the-scenes question they’d like to see Bones answer: “Ask Bobby if he used his radio audience to manipulate his ‘Dancing With the Stars’ victory.”