Q&A with Jenny Whiteway: Working with Lainey Wilson, Behind the Scenes and All Things Country

Country has been a rising genre for the past two years. It was reported by the data firm Luminate that the genre was one of the fastest growing in the U.S. in 2023. They reported Country music surpassing the lastest year by a 23.7% increase with 20 billion streams.

When looking into Country and the PR industry, Lime Tree Music PR holds some of the current successes of the genre. With big names like Grammy winner Lainey Wilson under their name, we spoke to one of their music publicists, Jenny Whiteway, to get an inside into the growth of the industry.

5678: How did it all start for you? How did your love for Country music begin?

It began through Taylor Swift as I’m sure a lot of old Country fans would say… I started listening to Taylor when I was about 10 and followed her career. I was always into music. I played guitar and piano since a very young age. I knew a little bit about country music but not a lot. I knew artists like Kelsea Ballerini and Carrie Underwood who I heard about through Taylor.

5678: How has it been working with Lainey and seeing how much she has achieved throughout the years?

I’ve been working with her for the past five years. She was the first artist I ever did a press day with. So that time she was kind of unknown and now she’s just having a moment. It’s very cool to see. I think the first time she came here, was before she even had properly signed a record deal in the States. So, just to see the growth now having won a Grammy, she’s doing crazy things. She’s so lovely and really hard-working. You do get to know artists when you’re sharing taxis from place to place and chatting before interviews. I would say she’s as humble as she was when I first started working with her.

Jenny with artist Brooke Eden, her tour manager, and others on her label.

5678: What makes working in the Country genre so special?

I’ve met so many hard-working artists. I’ve worked in this genre for basically my whole time in the music industry, so I can’t say more than Rock or Pop, but I would say that country artists are generally very hardworking, which is so nice. It makes working with them so much more rewarding.

5678: How does it feel to see the Country genre grow? Especially with legendary artists like Beyoncé releasing Country albums.

I mean I’ve been such a fan of this genre for a long time. So now, other people actually listening to it and being like this is cool. Again, it’s nice to see it’s quite a full-circle moment. And yeah, I think artists like Beyoncé are only helping the genre,  because they’re just bringing more ears to it. It’s only a good thing from my experience. It makes my job easier.

5678: What is it like to book for Country nowadays?

Pitching for Country artists is generally quite hard, to get them in the mainstream. Just because you have all these huge pop names and smaller country artists that no one’s heard of. But I feel like now, that Laney has that name to her, a story that people were interested in. So it was really cool to see Publications that hadn’t previously expressed any interest in her, being like I want to talk to her. And that was the case with the Guardian.

5678: What do you believe is still a struggle in Country music?

I think the gender inequality is still an issue. In US country radio it’s been a known thing that they prioritize male artists over female artists. That’s getting better with Kelsea Ballerini, Carly Pearce, and Nancy Wilson, those kinds of artists are now starting to go up the charts and fill it up a little bit. But in the past, it’s been very male-dominated and that’s been a big issue in the genre.

As of today, the top Country albums in the UK have women like Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, Lainey Wilson and Kacey Musgraves taking over the top 10. And we hope to continue seeing women dominating Country as the genre grows.

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Written by: Ana Goncalves