(Breitbart) – Country music star John Rich of Big & Rich told Breitbart News this weekend that the “very liberal” majority of those in the country music industry have become “emboldened” in recent months to push woke leftist ideology publicly in contravention of the views of the majority of the country music audience. Rich said the mere “threat of cancellation” keeps conservative-leaning artists from speaking out, arguing it is actually a “step deeper than” cancel culture — ultimately creating a divide between the country music industry and the country music audience.

“The industry of country is, I would say, I can’t give you a percentage but let’s just say the majority is very liberal,” Rich said in an appearance on Breitbart News Saturday on SiriusXM 125 the Patriot Channel. “They’ve been that way for a long time. It’s interesting that the industry that puts out country music doesn’t really align with a lot of the audience. A lot of folks that listen to country, and again I can’t give you a percentage but I can tell you a majority of the audience probably leans conservative. So you’ve got this gulf, kind of, between the two. Over the years, the industry has never really come out really strongly about their liberal edge that they’ve got until recently, maybe in the past six to 12 months. They’ve started coming out more and more and the problem you get is if you’ve got artists that are conservative but their record label, their publicist, their manager, a lot of the radio stations are being overseen by liberals. We used to be able to make music and get it played and still say what we wanted to say and still get our music played but that’s not really the case now.”

“A lot of my fans will ask ‘hey John why don’t we see other country artists who we assume are probably conservative, why don’t we see them speaking out?’ The answer is they still want to get their records played and they still want to be invited to the award show and get the big tours and those kinds of things so is it cancel culture? No, because they’re not even stepping forward to be canceled. So it’s actually a step deeper than cancel–it’s the threat of cancellation that keeps them from saying anything in the first place. So I think the country music audience now, any of them that are conservative, are starting to see things in the industry and say ‘hold on a minute, that’s not how I thought it was or what they thought about our country or our culture.’ But now they’re seeing that is how they feel about it so it’s a really interesting gap between who’s promoting the music and who’s listening to the music at this point,” he said.

Asked how conservatives such as him can beat this woke leftist shift in the country music industry, the “Redneck Riviera” trademark owner pointed to Aaron Lewis’s recent patriotic anthem “Am I the Only One” as an example of the gap between the industry and audience. Despite skyrocketing on the charts and streaming platforms, the industry has completely ignored the song, which slams left-wing activists, including those who tore statutes down during the Black Lives Matter riots in 2020.

“Listen, there’s going to be people in the industry and outside it who say ‘oh, he’s just making that up’ or ‘that’s hyperbole what he’s saying, that’s not really what it is and the industry is not doing that,’” Rich said. “But let’s take the song you just talked about, Aaron Lewis’s song. Yes, it is at the top of streaming platforms and sales platforms–sales is the big one, I mean when people vote with their wallets that’s the strongest vote you’re ever going to get in any industry especially in music. They can stream it for free half the time, but if they actually go purchase it well that tells you something. So he’s out there topping all these charts yet the country music industry won’t back him up. Radio won’t play him. So what does that tell you? Does that tell you what I’m telling you right now about how where the industry sits and where a lot of the artists and audience sits are in two different places–is that a correct statement? Yes it is a correct statement. It’s where it is right now. So, people are voting with their dollars and the industry is going ‘we’re still not going to play it.’ So if you want to know why other country singers don’t come out and say what they really think about things–at least the conservative ones–it’s because of that exact scenario you’re watching play out right now with Aaron Lewis’s song.”