I was recently asked what my thoughts are on the state of mainstream radio on my formspring. More and more, this is becoming a prominent discussion point among my peers. It was no more than a week ago that I got a call from Mr. Notes talking about his frustration with the radio and how it is all sounding the same to him. Ironically, I had just read an article by Bob Lefsetz talking about the role mainstream music is playing in today music industry. I love how he relates major labels to mass manufacturing companies, and people are interested in supporting small business because the have better quality products.
“No one has the magic keys. Top forty radio is a formula fed by a conveyor belt no different from the one at GM, but with a lot less innovation. If you’re interested in making a Cruze or a Camry, sign up. But it’s the aforementioned Prius which is sold out and unavailable, it’s what people want, what they’re willing to overpay for, even though GM killed its electric car. It takes a while for the public to catch up. The Prius was not an overnight success. Hipsters and the green signed up first, Toyota improved the product, gas prices went through the roof and voila, a mania! Manias are not manufactured, not ones that last, they’re all about being in the right place at the right time, anticipating the market, not playing it safe, but being dangerous.” – Bob Lefsetz
In the past year I have found myself listening more NPR, or podcasts such as Gordon Gartrell Radio. Notes hit the nail on the head when he said, “its all starting to sound the same to me.” Some may say mainstream radio is playing it safe, others may argue that they are just playing the artists who have the marketing dollars behind them. Its a lot of static sound, no one that is getting air play can say they are pushing the envelope musically, really. There a few acts that are, but they aren’t getting as much love as they should. People with the budgets — that are slowly dwindling — are taking less risks on acts that THEY can’t see as being immediately profitable. Instead, they are banking on revenue from these cookie cutter sounding artists that were successful during this current trend. But once that trend is over, then what?
I miss how DJ’s used to break local acts by giving them air play — and due credit should be given to those such as DJ Roial 1, Nicky Valens, and other DJ’s who still practice this. Radio used to be a balance of top 40, as well as regional artists. Now you can go from city to city across the states and just hear the same songs. That’s why so many people are hitting the internet so tough and are devouring all the music — especially the free music — from these unsigned artists.
Internet radio has its moments. Pandora or Slacker sometimes throws me for a curve ball and hits me with something or someone I’ve never heard of and is really dope — I have high hopes for spotify, once I really get it going.
Podcasts like Phonte and Zo (gordongartrellradio.com) will do mixing classic hits and new music, and it never fails, I always end up researching who just played so I can hear more from them.
But to answer the question I think people that are really looking for new music aren’t listening to mainstream radio. To have your song played on mainstream radio is more of a status marker opposed to the best music really getting to most spins.
What are your thoughts? Where do you go to find your new music?