Pay for play
March 14, 2001 7:49 AM   Subscribe

Pay for play Why does radio suck? Because most stations play only the songs the record companies pay them to. And things are going to get worse.
posted by webcowboy (12 comments total)
Seeing the measures the recording industry takes to maintain control of radio playlists just reinforces my belief that the RIAA's objections to Napster have more to do with control than with rights or profits.
posted by harmful at 8:21 AM on March 14, 2001

hey hey...cmon now. this is lifted from Salon (which ussualy gets some kind of disclaimer like [via salon ..I know I know but I just had to because blah blah blah...] ... EVEN the byline was lifted wholesale( or second line, the one after the title. whatever you call that line. its not quite as large as the title but not quite as small as the copy in the article, ya know?) you could at least post a comment of your own inside the thread. if you find it interesting enuf to link to you must have SOMETHING to say about it.

posted by darkpony at 8:40 AM on March 14, 2001

Some great comments on this subject in Aimee Mann's avclub (Onion) interview, from the artist's perspective. There's also Courtney Love's screed, but as I recall it doesn't touch on this particular issue as much.

I hope she breaks the back of this industry.
posted by dhartung at 8:47 AM on March 14, 2001

Ya know, I've been very deliberately out of touch with the radio business since I left it in 1985, so I appreciate the link to this article. I need a good slap in the face now and then. It would appear the job I used to do as a Program Director and Music Director, the only part I really loved, the main creative aspect, has been totally prostituted. It's a good thing I got out when I did. I would have gone down ugly, I'm afraid.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go buy some more CD's to play in the car.
posted by PhotoDude at 11:33 AM on March 14, 2001

Is there even a remote possibility that this utter corruptification of the radio industry is going to marginalize the power the Big Five companies hold on the ears of damn near everyone? Gawd, I hope so.

Sure, radio is the last medium that they control completely. And they're going to steer it off the nearest cliff.

And as a pop songwriter, I will cheer and dance and cheer.

[PS and OT - Why does everyone hate Salon? Sure, it's bitchy and uneven, but um, who isn't these days?]
posted by chicobangs at 3:11 PM on March 14, 2001

The "Courtney Love screed" doesn't touch on the issue much because she's a clueless goat. She ripped entirely from an article by Steve Albini that appeared in The Baffler about ten years ago. But basically, it's all still the same, so...

One of the worst things about modern rock radio is how even a decent song can be tarnished by over-production. I might actually enjoy music by Matchbox 20, except that the music barely sounds like music. Everything that hits radio is compressed to a single-digit percentage of the actual dynamic range it would occupy, were it played directly through amps and into a sound board. The levels are so hot that virtually every EQ is peaking simultaneously, throughout the entire song. Every band does this because they want their song to sound louder on the radio than the next guy's. When every song by every band on every label, regardless of genre, is treated with the same filter, you are left with indiscernible dreck. Albini, an extremely talented recording engineer, speaks to this issue quite substantially in the above article.

Sadly, even college radio operates the same way as Salon describes, with a couple instances of payola already reaching into some of the larger college stations. [Sorry no links, I looked for one.] After three years as a music director in Baltimore, I couldn't stand it. For my energy, all the more reason to support the Low Power FM Radio movement!
posted by legibility at 3:17 PM on March 14, 2001

Why does everyone hate Salon?

I always got the impression that folks hated seeing Salon posts because "everyone" reads Salon (or CNN or Yahoo or slashdot or whatever). Or so the assumption goes. There's always a few "well I don't read [common source], so I'm glad to see it" responses when it flares up.

Weblog police, arrest this man!
posted by smeat at 3:17 PM on March 14, 2001

Oh. For a minute there, I lost myself.

I don't think Courtney Love is completely clueless. Maybe slow on the uptake, sure, but at least she's pointed in a decent direction. I don't take points away from her for repeating something someone else said first. We might all do good to push in that direction in our own little ways.

And yeah, LPFM is a start. Webradio in all its forms is a start. P2P is a start. If you ignore all these other avenues to build a network of getting music out to people without using the corporate-approved channels, then, um, this (terrible, spectrally retarded music aimed at tone-deaf suburban eight-year olds) is what you get.
posted by chicobangs at 3:41 PM on March 14, 2001

The term "Entertainment Mafia" comes to mind. I'm just not sure exactly who that is. The record labels? The broadcast companies? The indies?

Either way, through this system the artist is becoming nothing more the servant who picks the fruits of the coca plant, while everyone else in the chain gets filthy rich...

Damn shame. But like anything, the more a flow is restricted, the more it desires to divert itself. We'll see if that happens with the music industry. My guess is it won't happen for a while, but when it does, it will be quick and merciless.

posted by fooljay at 3:51 PM on March 14, 2001

It could happen sooner than you expect. The Internet is already eating into radio's market share. We used to listen to the radio all the time at ISP I work for; now it's all Winamp. I wouldn't expect file sharing or mp3s to go away just because they shut down Napster.
posted by Loudmax at 8:35 PM on March 14, 2001

Two words: Satellite Radio. I plan on signing up as soon as they launch, precisely so I can ignore local radio stations forever afterwards in my car. (They're alredy long since dead in my home and at work, thanks to webcasts and cable audio channels.) They've become so bad that I believe the only way the industry can be saved is if it is forced to collapse. Then it can be rebuilt from scratch.
posted by aaron at 12:40 AM on March 15, 2001

In the meantime, support your local college/public station, in whatever way you can. If you're still wondering why 99.9 Corporate FM won't play Gastr de Sol, you have problems outstripping those of the radio business.
posted by holgate at 7:04 AM on March 15, 2001

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