Lionel Richie Finds Some Country Comfort

The longtime R&B star crosses genres and lures music’s most lucrative fans
From left, Tim McGraw and Lionel Richie. Average sales for each performance of Richie's U.S. country tour are $787,600, the industry's sixth-highest gross this year Photograph by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

One of singer Lionel Richie’s biggest hits was his 1981 duet with Diana Ross, Endless Love. Recently the artist has taken a cue from another vintage tune: Gloria Gaynor’s 1979 hit, I Will Survive. That disco-era anthem of reinvention says a lot about the career strategy of not just Richie but of the entire music industry, which for more than a decade has grappled with the toll digitization has taken on its once-platinum business model.

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