Ralph Peer (1892-1960) is often credited with creating the country music business. Peer was a New York-based artist and repertory man for Okeh and Victor records (two of the large early recording companies) in the '20s and '30s.
Peer's singular gift was for identifying music that was outside the popular mainstream but ripe for exposure to a market. On the suggestion of a local record dealer, Peer traveled to Atlanta to record Fidddlin' John Carson in 1923. After the Carson record became a regional hit, Peer was convinced that an untapped mass audience might exist for the music of the rural South and Appalachia.
In 1927, Peer held a recording session in Bristol, Tennessee that drew musicians from the surrounding area. That session turned out to be what many regard as the most important moment in the history of country music and introduced the nation to a handful of performers that would influence the development of country music for decades.