Lack Of Indie Music On The Radio Perhaps A Matter Of Economics More Than Payola

from the thinking-this-through dept

The UK-based musicians lobbying group Featured Artists Coalition has apparently released a report noting that very little independent music gets played on the radio. I imagine this should surprise... well... none of you. The report appears to suggest that the issue is payola -- the practice of record labels paying radio stations to get certain music aired. The FCC had cracked down on payola (for the umpteenth time) in 2007, but the report says the mix of indie vs. major label music on radio stations has barely budged.

I'm sure that's true, but I'm not at all sure it has anything to do with payola. I'd bet it has a lot more to do with two things: basic economics and the rise of alternatives such as the internet and satellite radio. Based on these things, and the limited number of radio stations out there in a given region, it only makes sense that those stations would gravitate towards music and formats that bring in the largest, most mainstream audience. That's just basic economics. Playing just indie music attracts a smaller audience, and it's tough enough to survive as is.

That said, it's not clear this is really a problem. Those of us who tend to like indie music more had already moved away from terrestrial radio long ago -- and thanks to the internet, podcasts, MP3 players and other alternatives, have no problem hearing the music we like. Yes, there are still a lot of people who listen to terrestrial radio, and those stations do still have some influence on what's popular, but it's hardly the cultural juggernaut it was not so long ago.


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    Anonymous Coward, May 6th, 2009 @ 10:51pm

    What about trying new business models...

    That's a strange post from someone that pushes for industries to look into new business models. If it's so tough to survive as it is, shouldn't radio stations be looking to try out new things? Get "indie" hour or two a day somewhere to gauge the interest? Since most radio stations now have websites that their listeners often hit up for music information that they just heard, may be it would make sense to be more experimental since the feedback tools are already there.

     

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    Mattyk, May 6th, 2009 @ 11:58pm

    Commercial radio will disappear up its own anus - and good riddance!
    P.S. if you want to hear good indie radio I heartily recommend Perth's own RTRFM - live streaming via website.

     

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    YouAreWrong, May 7th, 2009 @ 12:13am

    It's Payola

    This is exactly why you get ripped EVERY time you talk about an industry you're not actually practicing in.

    If you were IN the industry you'd know that payola is alive and well. It's just changed forms and is now usually a three way in that the radio pushes venues and the venues demand artists to perform for free, or with ridiculous promotional requirements. For instance, a certain major venue told Christina Aguilera's manager that she'd have to perform for free, and when her manager literally told the venue to "fuck off," her next big single was banned entirely from affiliated/syndicated radio. When there was a hearing over it, the small radio stations testified that Aguilera's song was at the top of the charts, but the syndicators just said that "the song didn't rank well in the focus groups."

    If you even took a glance at a certain internet radio metric company's stats (and you'd know who this company was if you were in the industry), you'd know that T40 transfers over VERY well onto internet radio. Yes, there is more competition than on terrestrial radio because you can tune into whatever site you want, but the stats say independents' share is near negligible. And if you looked at any shoutcast viewers list, you'd know that in a heartbeat.

     

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    Mike (profile), May 7th, 2009 @ 12:25am

    Re: It's Payola

    This is exactly why you get ripped EVERY time you talk about an industry you're not actually practicing in.

    Actually, I rarely get ripped about anything, but thanks for playing!

    If you were IN the industry you'd know that payola is alive and well.

    I didn't say otherwise. What I said was that the lack of diversity on the radio isn't *because* of payola, but because of basic economics.

    I'm quite familiar that payola is still commonplace. I just don't think it's the reason this is an issue.

     

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    Skeptical Cynic (profile), May 7th, 2009 @ 12:38am

    Mike I do agree with you, but

    how do you hear about new music? For me it is most of the time the radio stations I listen to. So in an Indie market how do they get exposure?

     

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    ECA, May 7th, 2009 @ 12:41am

    I have an alternative.

    If that was true it wouldnt answer WHY it hadnt happened in the past.

    HOW ABOUT..WHICH corp gets paid?
    Foreign/imported music is supposed to pay BACK to the nation(corp) it came from, BUT the RIAA wants its MONEY as well.. by the time they PAY both Music Corps?? whats left?

     

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    Mike (profile), May 7th, 2009 @ 12:46am

    Re: Mike I do agree with you, but

    how do you hear about new music? For me it is most of the time the radio stations I listen to. So in an Indie market how do they get exposure?

    Honestly, I haven't listened to a commercial radio station in years. Don't even know which ones exist in this market. Personally, I find new music from certain music blogs I read and music podcasts I listen to, as well as recommendations from friends. Also, there are a couple of labels/distributors whose tastes agree with mine, so I follow them as well, and see what they release.

     

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    Skeptical Cynic (profile), May 7th, 2009 @ 1:09am

    Re: Re: Mike I do agree with you, but

    Ok, I can see that. But? Most people don't even know about music blogs. I am a Senior Systems Engineer so I am in my car all day going from client to client. What do I listen to? MP3s? My iPod. That only works if I now about you before hand.

     

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    Mike (profile), May 7th, 2009 @ 1:12am

    Re: Re: Re: Mike I do agree with you, but

    Ok, I can see that. But? Most people don't even know about music blogs. I am a Senior Systems Engineer so I am in my car all day going from client to client. What do I listen to? MP3s? My iPod. That only works if I now about you before hand.

    That's why I mostly listen to music podcasts. I actually only started doing that about 6 months ago... and went searching for a few on some artists that I liked, found about 10 and downloaded an episode of each, and after listening, narrowed them down to 3 I liked... and over time those 3 have recommended others. So now I listen to about 6 music podcasts. Not that difficult...

     

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    PaulT (profile), May 7th, 2009 @ 2:28am

    Hmmm... I totally disagree with the last paragraph. Terrestrial radio tends to play chart music, and the masses tend to get brainwashed into thinking that the good music is what gets played on radio since it's popular. It can be a kind of self-congratulatory feedback loop, especially in the US, where radio airplay is included in chart rankings. Thus, what gets played on the radio translates into being the music that gets played everywhere - commercial clubs and bars, TV music channels, etc. In other words, the places most people get exposed to new music.

    Why is this an issue? Go to the message boards on eMusic to see why. eMusic sells only independent music and has a huge selection of great stuff. Yet, barely a week goes by without the board getting trolls by new users who feel they've been ripped off because the songs they hear on the radio aren't stocked there. They equate what gets played on the radio (and thus, by extension, anywhere that plays current chart music) with "real" music.

    If these people were exposed to more independent music, this status quo would change. More exposure for independent artists would almost certainly translate into more independent music sold. This would not only expose more deserving artists than the current crop of karaoke contest winners, but also loosen the overall grip the RIAA has on the industry.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2009 @ 2:53am

    when did economic affiliation become musical genre?

     

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    JDub, May 7th, 2009 @ 3:02am

    Re: What about trying new business models...

    Exactly. The article makes it sound like there's no way to be profitable without only appealing to the biggest audience possible. Maybe if you cut down on promotional activities and all the other crap most radio stations pay out for you could have fewer commercials and play a little more variety.

     

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    Mike (profile), May 7th, 2009 @ 4:16am

    Re: What about trying new business models...

    That's a strange post from someone that pushes for industries to look into new business models.

    Huh? Why is it strange? The new business models I'm talking about are based on the fundamental economics of the internet. Radio is a different situation.

     

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    DS, May 7th, 2009 @ 5:35am

    Re: It's Payola - So what?

    Who freakin cares about Payola? Do we pitch a fit about shelf fees at the grocery store?

     

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    Lonnie E. Holder, May 7th, 2009 @ 5:47am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Mike I do agree with you, but

    Mike:

    Unfortunately, I just have little time to listen to podcasts and I do not own an MP3 player. One thing that has been a boon is that my wife's new car has satellite radio. Lots more options there. Up to that point, it was either classic rock (which I love - but I also enjoy newer, lesser known groups like Porcupine Tree and Spock's Beard, which I only heard about through a person who spends a lot of time on music sites.) or modern country & western (gag me with a spoon).

    Everyone I know still listens to good old-fashioned "commercial" radio. I doubt it is going away any time soon. However, it would be nice if they gave more exposure to lesser known groups. The only reason the late 60's and early 70's saw an explosion of groups and styles is that music at that time refused to find a niche. Today we are back to the way things were in the 1950s (amazing that after all the variety and diversity in business models we had that we are back where we started - only the most commercially succesful artists get exposure, and the groups that might be the next Cream, King Crimson, Strawberry Alarm Clock, ad infinitum, can only be found on the internet, and then only by people with time to go seek it out).

    Seems like there is a real business opportunity here. I just wish someone would find it. If there was an "indie" station in my area I would be listening to it.

     

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    Chronno S. Trigger, May 7th, 2009 @ 5:58am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Mike I do agree with you, but

    Terrestrial radio is expensive as hell. Paying for the equipment, the electricity to pump out that insanely powerful analog signal, the mandatory fees to Soundexchange (yes even if you only play indie music). It costs far to much to start a station based on music that most people consider crap (it isn't, but that's the misconception this article is about). This is why you won't see a terrestrial indie station.

    The internet, podcasts, and MP3s are much, much cheaper. And the band can do it themselves instead of depending on another company that may or (probably) may not have their best interest in mind.

    If you don't have an MP3 player and are unwilling to get one or spend the time getting the new music another way, then you're probably going to be left in the dust like the recording industry. Technology isn't going to hold itself back just because people are not willing to embrace it.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2009 @ 6:06am

    give me a break

    Lack Of Indie Music On The Radio Perhaps A ... Lack of talent.

    "Very little independent music gets played on the radio" Really? You mean they don't play music that a majority of the people DON'T LIKE? Go ahead a flame me, but radio is a business. It might not be doing so hot at the moment but apparently neither are 99.99% of these indie "artist" that I'm sure I'm going hear about being sooo great. Radio plays what it can get most of it's listeners to listen to.

    It's not about "well if they played more of this ... or that." Well if that's the case you sound like you have a genius idea and will make bazillions in every radio market in the world with your oh so original idea, why aren't you out there doing that?

    Most people listen to indie because they think it makes them "hipper" than the next guy, like they know about something he doesn't. The next guy isn't listening because it SUCKS! If the artist catches on indie people stop listening because he's too mainstream for them to sit around listening to while they smell their own farts.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2009 @ 7:31am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Mike I do agree with you, but

    If you don't have an MP3 player and are unwilling to get one or spend the time getting the new music another way, then you're probably going to be left in the dust like the recording industry. Technology isn't going to hold itself back just because people are not willing to embrace it.

    I am struggling with this statement a bit. In 2007, about 37% of U.S. consumers owned a portable MP3 player. However, what is more interesting is that the growth in MP3 penetration, which exploded by a factor of 2.5 times between 2005 and 2007, is clearly leveling off. While it is hard to predict where the totals will end up, if the growth rate continues on its current curve, market penetration for MP3 players may level off around 50%.

    What that means is that roughly 50% of the population will not have an MP3 player, for whatever reason, which leaves a huge business opportunity, rather than just being written off by narrow-minded people as those who were "left in the dust."

    I do find it interesting that surveys of people who own computers capable of handling high-speed streaming from the internet tends to be around 50%, and that number has not changed much over several years. Have those people been "left in the dust" as well, or are their needs being met by other sources?

    Innovation happens when you can meet the needs of the 50% of the population that has been written off as "left in the dust" by changes in technology. People wonder why the buggy whip industry is not only thriving, but charging ridiculous prices for whips. Even stranger is that buggies themselves, while not particularly cheap, are relatively cheap. You can purchase a new, state-of-the-art buggy with moonroof, CD player, and anti-lock brakes for less than $4,000 (okay, I was kidding bout the CD player and anti-lock brakes), and less fancy buggies can be had for less than $2,000. A buggy whip can easily blow past $100, and some fancy ones can cost several hundred dollars, approaching the price of a used buggy.

    Getting back to the point. Not everyone (about 50%, apparently) is interested in getting an MP3 player. That leaves a HUGE market potential ripe for innovation. Ignoring unmet market needs has provided openings for competitors time and again, and here is yet another situation where someone can look past "left in the dust" to see a place to make a lot of money.

     

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    Lonnie E. Holder, May 7th, 2009 @ 7:41am

    Re: give me a break

    I think you may be a bit extreme. Let me offer a contrasting viewpoint.

    Virtually everyone I know listens to what is called "classic rock." Think about that. There are about 10 or so FM stations in our area. Five of those stations play pop-country, which some people seem to think is country & western. One station plays classic rock, which also seems to be the number 1 radio station in our area. The other stations play variations on modern rock or R&B. I have heard these "modern rock" & "R&B" stations, and found them uninteresting. The music is generic and throwaway. I am reminded of Hannah Montana on one end, and regurgitated hip hop on the other end - none of which is interesting other than as elevator music or great for 10-year-olds' birthday parties.

    Does the music on mainstream radio attract listeners? Must be, or they would not be playing it. However, who are the real listeners? My daughter listened to that stuff until she got older and realized it was all throwaway music. Now she, like many others that post on this web site, goes out to find music she likes, because radio has very little of what she wants.

    Radio, in general, is appealing to a smaller and smaller audience, and driving more and more people to niche markets (like classic rock). Until radio finds a new business model that will be the wave of the future (though more and more stations are changing their format to "classic rock," which should be a clue), it will find audiences growing slowly smaller.

     

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    chris (profile), May 7th, 2009 @ 7:58am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Mike I do agree with you, but

    Unfortunately, I just have little time to listen to podcasts and I do not own an MP3 player. One thing that has been a boon is that my wife's new car has satellite radio..

    i agree. i don't like to do anything for myself and prefer to have corporations and the government do my thinking for me. i am often disappointed, but i would rather be disappointed than frightened.

    so i think you internet people need to stop because your music and ideas are scary. talk to your doctor about Xanax, it makes the scary ideas go away.

     

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    Raybone, May 7th, 2009 @ 8:03am

    Mike...you are half-right

    Mike, I completely agree with your analysis that the importance of regular radio is wanning due to the internet. However, I must disagree with your position on the reasons why non-major-label affiliated music is absent from these stations.

    Payola in the radio industry is a tool by the Majors to shut down competition on the radio by making it too expensive for anyone else to have a song played. This is perhaps why the majors and RIAA hate the internet. The alternatives you mention (internet radio, podcasts, etc.)are the death-blow to what used to be total control by the majors of not only radio airplay, but of all the billboard charts and the all the music industry awards like the Grammy.

    Payola in the radio industry works like this. The major has a single they want to chart. They budget out a huge amount of money (all recoupable from the artist) to pay for "independent record promotion" These are middle men, usually with ties to organized crime, who claim certain radio stations as their territory and get paid this money to promote (bribe) stations to play this single. The big problem is that the power of these middle men has at various times been absolute. They are powerful not because of the ability to get a song played, but of the the ability to PREVENT a song being played unless the company pays up.

    This was tested by a CBS label exec (Dick Asher)right around the time Pink Floyd's The Wall was released. It was a perfect test case since the band wasnt a "singles" based band but an "Album" oriented band. There were four major radio stations in LA at the time. Asher decides not to pay the goons to push "Another Brick in the Wall" in LA. He figured that the stations would play anyway since THE WAll was the #1 album in America and Pink Floyd was set to play 5 sold-out nights in LA in a couple of weeks. Dick got a rude awakening. In spite of the fact that Floyd was the hottest band and everyone under 30 seemed to be rocking a t-shirt, not one of the stations would play the song. Pink Floyd's management noticed the lack of airplay, got a quick lesson in independent promotion, and went ballistic on Asher who after a few weeks acquiesced and spent the money. a week later the song was in the main rotation on 3 out of 4 LA stations.

    Source: Hit Men by Frederic Dannen

    Any commenters who suggest things like "Lack of talent" or "Popular as opposed to indie" are ignorant. Especially those who compare Payola to "shelf fees". They just dont know what they are talking about.

    Mike, you should really read that book. I think you might enjoy it based on your interest in the music industry.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2009 @ 8:05am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Mike I do agree with you, but

    That almost passed for sarcasm.

    Of course, when you are unemployed and have no opportunities on the horizon, all you have is time. So you can spend all your time surfing the web, finding and downloading music, belittling people who work for a living as being people who do not think for themselves. On the other hand, while they may not be "thinking for themselves," neither are they living in their parent's basement or garage and eating out of boxes and cans.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2009 @ 8:15am

    Re: Mike...you are half-right

    Raybone:

    King Crimson had similar issues. Though King Crimson had a couple of top 40 albums ("In the Court of the Crimson King," #28, which also went gold, and "In the Wake of Poseidon," #31), and their other albums sold well, their music was completely ignored by mainstream radio. Niche FM stations played their songs often in the markets where they existed.

    Lack of airplay does not correlate with lack of interest or even lack of album sales (Elton John's album "Tumbleweed Connection," his second U.S. album, went to #5 and sold 3 million copies - without any singles released from the album and little or no airplay).

    Note that all these things happened before there was an internet, MP3 players and all the other modern gadgets and gizmos that suck up people's time. There is a huge, untapped market for this kind of music, but, as Mike has pointed out again and again, the lack of exposure hurts these bands, probably more so than the lack of sales because people may be copying.

     

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    Raybone, May 7th, 2009 @ 8:28am

    Re: Re: Mike...you are half-right

    I hear you, bro. I myself am also a Crimson fan. I always thought it was curious how they could go to Brazil and play to over 600,000 fans in one concert and come to the states and play the House of Blues. Though I admit enjoying the intimacy much more than if I was a mile away watching a screen.

    As a musician I am thankful to live in the the renaissance afforded us by the internet. My success will now be based on my own hard work instead of the whims a guy who may not think I have the right "look" , etc. Though of course I DO have the right look if all the cougars I seem to run into are right. ;)

     

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    Chronno S. Trigger, May 7th, 2009 @ 8:56am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Mike I do agree with you, but

    I'm quite sure that back in the day a lot of people didn't want to get these new fangled gizmos called horseless carriages. That didn't stop technology pushing forward and only a vary small niche market has carriages any more.

    I'm sure that a lot of people didn't want to get TVs, Radios, 8 Tracks, Cassettes, CDs, DVDs, and so on.

    The other 50% of the market that you speak of comprise of people who supposedly don't have the time like Lonnie E. Holder up there, people who don't know, but mostly people who don't want the new tech. The terrestrial indie radio station will never work because advertisers don't like niche markets. For the others, there are things like iTunes with it's auto download and sync functions, Satellite radio with more open policies to indie music, burnable CDs for those that have a few minutes, that iPhone (or other cell phone) webradio trick, My Grandpap has a car that will auto sync MP3s over a wireless network (he's one of those "don't want" people so he doesn't have MP3s or a wireless network). There probably are several others that I didn't think of.

    There are also people in your 50% market that believe that their only options are to listen to what is handed to you by terrestrial radio or spend hours or days finding music online. These people still won't go to the indie radio station and are probably unlikely to learn that the internet is much faster and easier than they think.

     

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    chris (profile), May 7th, 2009 @ 9:51am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Mike I do agree with you, but

    So you can spend all your time surfing the web, finding and downloading music, belittling people who work for a living as being people who do not think for themselves.

    Xanax dude, i'm telling you... and i don't download music, the government and the corporations tell me that is stealing, and stealing supports terrorism.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2009 @ 10:10am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Mike I do agree with you, but

    Not only that, but downloading causes zits and may lead to heart disease. Really.

     

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    Mike (profile), May 7th, 2009 @ 10:13am

    Re: Mike...you are half-right

    Mike, I completely agree with your analysis that the importance of regular radio is wanning due to the internet. However, I must disagree with your position on the reasons why non-major-label affiliated music is absent from these stations.

    Again, to clarify, I never said there was no payola. I just think you get the same end result absent payola. It just doesn't make economical sense to play music that a smaller audience would like, given the fundamental structure of radio these days.

     

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    Lonnie E. Holder, May 7th, 2009 @ 10:22am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Mike I do agree with you, but

    You are correct that much, though not all, terrestial radio does not like niche markets.

    One thing that appears to be making a comeback is low overhead FM radio that plays non-"commercial" music. Yes, these stations are extremely informal, reminding me of FM radio back in the early 70s before it replaced AM radio, with few commercials and a DJ that typically is more interested in the music than selling the music, but it is darn refreshing. Yes, the transmission power is low, so the reach is typically very small, and sometimes the music is bizarre to me, but here is a situation where someone recognizes the opportunity and the desire, finds some used FM equipment, gets the license, staffs the station with people who would like to be DJ's, or just like the music (sometimes these are volunteer positions - and even if they are paid, tough for them to be your day job), sells some advertising to people who are more likely to appeal to the non-commercial music crowd, and you have a low power FM station that gains a small, but ardent, listening audience.

    Niche markets are the wave of the future, driven by the internet. However, radio can and will likely be just as much a niche market as anything else (over 200 car models sold in the U.S., with some selling on a few per year - definition of niche market). May as well figure out how to capitalize on the opportunity.

    Incidentally, I only have two objections to MP3 players. First, I am really not thrilled with the reproduction. I bought expensive headphones (not earbuds) and plugged them into an MP3 player and the music still seems to be inadequate compared to a CD or to vinyl. Second, I do not have time to convert my CD's to MP3, much less going out on the internet and tracking down music I might find interesting. Someone gave me an MP3 player a couple of years ago. I thought that was cool and told myself that it would be neat to put all my CD's into the player. So far, not one CD has found its way into the player, and I am still listening to CDs. After all, if I was putting CD's into an MP3 player, how would I have time to enjoy your comments and respond to them?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2009 @ 11:27am

    Re: Re: What about trying new business models...

    Huh? Why is it strange? The new business models I'm talking about are based on the fundamental economics of the internet. Radio is a different situation.

    How is it different at all? Radio is in the business of delivering music/news/whatever to the audience. Figuring out the best and most efficient way to do so that attracts the most customer should be a priority for them. Many terrestrial stations also have streaming online, making them quite solidly internet businesses as well. They are competing with fundamental economics that are the same as for recording industries, so they have to be diligent in adapting as well. And since radio industry is so close with the recording industry (like payola) you just argued that sticking with old approach works just fine. If it's good for the radio companies to stick with old system in the face of new business models, why not recording industry?

     

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    Charlie Dahan, May 7th, 2009 @ 11:47am

    Indie music

    I think you are talking about the Future of Music coalition which is based in the us

     

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    Wayne Myer (profile), May 7th, 2009 @ 12:01pm

    Another Causal Factor for Airplay

    In reading the comments, it would seem that people see many correlations that may or may not be causality.

    I'll take my own Occam's razor here regarding the shallower penetration of indie music on commerical outlets: lack of distribution. I have worked in three radio stations and managed three nightclubs over the past 20 years. Radio stations and better-connected clubs receive tons (I daresay literally) of promotional packets.

    Most of the packets are utter crap. It's a huge task for a radio station to screen, comment, catalogue, and load into the station play system (or dispose of) each piece that comes in the mail. The latest Madonna just came in? We know we can throw that on without any screening, file under "pop." We got a promo packet from ChungFooWingDingSomethingOrOther? It might get a listen if someone is really bored.

    And the marketing copy is utterly worthless: "A really fresh new take on the sonic absolution wrought by inner city blend of bluegrass sins of the plagued houses of Montague and Capulet" - some other reviewer we never heard of.

    Large labels still offer large distribution networks, although their model is obviously falling apart.

     

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  33.  
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    Mike (profile), May 7th, 2009 @ 12:09pm

    Re: Re: Re: What about trying new business models...

    How is it different at all? Radio is in the business of delivering music/news/whatever to the audience. Figuring out the best and most efficient way to do so that attracts the most customer should be a priority for them.

    Yes. We agree. That's what I said in the post. I'm not sure why you think we disagree.

    And since radio industry is so close with the recording industry (like payola) you just argued that sticking with old approach works just fine.

    Whoa.... that's not what I said at all. I'm sorry if you got that impression. I didn't say "it works just fine." I think terrestrial radio is in serious trouble. But, because of that they need to focus on the cheapest way to reach the largest audience. And that means not playing indie music.

     

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  34.  
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    Raybone, May 7th, 2009 @ 12:15pm

    Re:Re: Mike...you are half-right

    Mike, sorry if I straw-manned ya there, not intentional. I don't think I was fighting for the existence of payola, but the effects which, I believe was your point. You are saying that without payola there would be no difference in in the ratio of independently produced music vs. major label backed music broadcast on these stations. Is this correct?

    If so, then historically, the opposite is true. Payola has always existed, just not so controlling until the 70s. Even in the 70s, you had a significant amount of independent music played on the radio. There were album-oriented stations that were hugely popular. In the 50s and 60s, you had top hits from independent companies. These entrepreneurs eventually cashed in and sold their companies to the majors. The entry point into the business kept getting more expensive, so no NEW Motowns or Staxx Records popped up to challenge the dominance of the majors on the charts and on radio. Who could afford all the bribes to get the music played let alone the distribution infrastructure?(meaning you had to contract through the majors who insisted on a pound of flesh) These days Clear Channel is king around here.

    Now, thank you Jebus, we have the internet to fill in these needs for those of us able to work a computer. Now I will leave it to those of you who are smarter than I to figure out if the internet has yet to match the exposure-level and fame -making ability of terrestrial radio, but as a musician I would certainly jump at the opportunity to have my music played on the radio if the playing field were evened up and
    my art was judged on its' own merits vs having a big bribe handy. Perhaps I might even be chosen by the majority, if I only had the chance.

    To me, having no radio exposure doesn't stop me from creating and performing music and pursuing some of the alternative models discussed here, I just think radio would sound a lot different without payola's influence on the playlist.

     

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  35.  
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    twowords, May 7th, 2009 @ 1:59pm

    Re: Mike I do agree with you, but

    when ilived in charlotte nc the radio station at that time was 106.5 and they had a show every weekend that did nothing but promote indie and underground and it was agreat way to find new stuff.Siruis did the same thing except they had a station that played it 24 hrs.

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2009 @ 2:39pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: What about trying new business models...

    "I think terrestrial radio is in serious trouble. But, because of that they need to focus on the cheapest way to reach the largest audience. And that means not playing indie music.

    Really? What happened to the long tail and integration of new technologies? I think your stance here does not mesh with the overall spirit of what you usually advocate as far as business model.

     

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  37.  
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    nasch, May 8th, 2009 @ 6:48am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: What about trying new business models...

    There is a long tail only when supply is (nearly) infinite. With a finite number of radio stations in a market, and a finite number of hours in a day during which each one can play music, there is no long tail in broadcast radio.

    Besides which, playing indie music wouldn't be a new business model anyway. The business model is "play music and advertisements", and the ads are the revenue source. Whether the music is major label or not doesn't mean the business model is different.

     

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  38.  
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    nasch, May 8th, 2009 @ 7:32am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Mike I do agree with you, but

    I do find it interesting that surveys of people who own computers capable of handling high-speed streaming from the internet tends to be around 50%, and that number has not changed much over several years.

    I find that very difficult to believe. Where are you getting that number?

     

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  39.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 8th, 2009 @ 9:16am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: What about trying new business models...

    There is a long tail only when supply is (nearly) infinite. With a finite number of radio stations in a market, and a finite number of hours in a day during which each one can play music, there is no long tail in broadcast radio.

    That is plain silly. By your logic, there is no long tail in selling CDs either. Yet here we are, in 21st century, with CDs competing against internet, terrestrial radio, satellite radio and mp3 players. And that's a list that Mike himself has written many times over. All of them are vying for listener's ear and optimizing listener base might be a good idea for that said ad revenue.

    Besides which, playing indie music wouldn't be a new business model anyway. The business model is "play music and advertisements", and the ads are the revenue source. Whether the music is major label or not doesn't mean the business model is different.

    Whether the music is major label or not means that you are targeting different listeners and with 24 hours of air time to work with, you'd think radio stations would have more flexibility that to all have an hour of "techno/alt music" on Saturday nights and pumping the top 40 the rest of the time.

     

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  40.  
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    Ilfar, May 8th, 2009 @ 11:58am

    Indie Music in NZ

    I'm given to understand that all radio stations in New Zealand are required to play a certain percentage of local music to get a slice of government funding. ("Local" in this case being in the national sense)

    I listen to The Rock in New Zealand. The Rock has regular (in all time slots) spots where they play a song from a particular up and coming band, giving some background on the band and stuff each time. I actually ended up purchasing a track after hearing it via this feature, and they always seem more likely to play these songs when taking requests.

    Sure, sometimes I don't like the music, but at least it's something new. You won't see the major pop station doing more than play the number one song six times in two hours all day...

     

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  41.  
    identicon
    salah amamm, May 17th, 2009 @ 8:18am

    algurua

    50 love

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2011 @ 8:43am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Mike I do agree with you, but

    "Of course, when you are unemployed and have no opportunities on the horizon, all you have is time. So you can spend all your time surfing the web, finding and downloading music, belittling people who work for a living as being people who do not think for themselves."

    With internet is even easier and faster to discover about music than with radio, PS:I am assuming that you want to have the same amount of music exposure.
    I saw somewhere on some article they add 3 new songs per week on radio. That is 156 songs per year. If we say those songs have a average of 5 minutes it will be 13 hours of new music per year.
    Now go to this link http://www.discogs.com/sell/list?audio=1 , this website has a database of albums infomations, it also has a part were users can sell albums. Some users put samples of the albums to buyers listen to see if they want to play. This link is this part of the album filtered by albums with samples. You can also filter the albums more with genres and year...

    Now with 13 hours or music per year on radio, if you spend just 2 hours per week on this website, you will be able to try the same 13 hours of music in just 7 weeks. Yes just 7 weeks.With radio you would need to listen to it alot to try all those songs. Now you can spend the rest of your year doing other stuff. In fact, if you had time you could at the first or second time of the year spend 13 hours on website and discover music for your entire year.
    And on this radio you can filter by genre and is not limited by the genres payola choose to show to you.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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