published Thursday, June 18th, 2009

All a-Twitter Country musicians go high-tech to connect with fans

by Brittney McKenna

If you're a country music star, it doesn't really matter how well you yodel, but you'd better be able to Twitter.

Country singers are looking for new ways to connect with their fans, and many are marketing their music and staying relevant through social networking sites such as Twitter.

"I guess I discovered Twitter about two or three months ago, and it's really fun," Martina McBride said at a news conference at the 2009 CMA Music Festival earlier this month. "I don't try to overdo it. I check in a couple of times a day. It's a cool way to keep in touch with your fans. Tweet tweet!"

Reba McEntire is also active on Twitter, recently "tweeting" that her son, Shelby, had graduated from high school.

At the CMT Music Awards on Tuesday, country starlet Taylor Swift kept her fans updated throughout the night, letting them know what she was doing backstage and encouraging them to vote for her "Love Story" for Video of the Year.

"Twittering you from backstage," Swift tweeted. "Please vote for Love Story for Video of the Year?? Love you. I'm nervous. Ok bye."

Surprise CMT Music Awards guest and hip-hop artist T-Pain gave a "shout-out to Bill O'Reilly" while presenting the Wide Open Country Video Award with Toby Keith, telling the Fox News commentator to "holler at (him) on Twitter."

Twitter isn't the only way country artists are changing their technological tune.

Country singer/guitarist Brad Paisley takes a more animated approach to embracing technology by including his self-drawn cartoons in the staging of his live show.

"Parody is the broadest of basic copyright licenses," Paisley joked. "You can parody anybody and get away with it. It's just fun."

Don't expect much more of that new technology to make its way to the stage, though. The distribution of music is always changing, but country itself still knows its roots are in the notes.

Rascal Flatts bassist Jay DeMarcus said, "I think we're gonna get so big we're gonna explode one day and go back to an acoustic and a fiddle."

Twitter addresses

Country music fans can keep up with their favorite stars on social networks.

* Taylor Swift: @taylorswift13

* Martina McBride: @martinamcbride

* Reba McEntire: @Reba

* Rascal Flatts: @rascalflatts

* Brad Paisley: @paisleyofficial

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