Country music reached the peak of its popularity six years ago, when it claimed 18.7% of the recorded-music audience. Since then, it has steadily declined to its present 14.1%, according to the Recording Industry Association of America
's 1998 Consumer Profile. Reasons for the decline include the increasing crossover of country stars into pop and rock styles, a phenomenon that has broadened many artists' reach and made acts like Garth Brooks and Shania Twain household names among folks who may not previously have paid much attention to country. Crossing over, unfortunately, also dilutes the support of traditional music fans. Apart from the twang in the vocals, much current "country" music sounds amazingly like the rock and pop of 10-15 years ago.