Seriously, have you listened to the radio lately? I don’t mean talk radio or sports radio, but radio for music? If you have not, than I strongly suggest you DONT! If you do, I am here to tell you all, that there is a better way.
I consider myself one of the fortunate ones, I was a child in the 70’s and a teenager throughout the 80’s. My passion for music got started before the rise of the machines! Ok that might be a little dramatic quoting the Terminator but the facts are not really that far off. Let me explain what I mean…
When I was 7 or 8 years old, I got hold of my first transistor “radio”, yes I am OLD but it was through this device that my passion for music was ignited. I would listen to the local “pop” music station and in the 70’s the pop was really just short for “popular” it wasn’t an actual musical genre. They would play music that was popular at the time so I would hear Billy Joel played beside Dolly Parton, beside Fleetwood Mac, beside Rush, beside Abba, beside Queen, beside Alice Cooper, beside David Bowie, beside the Bee Gees. It was a melting pot for all genres of music and exposed the listener to new sounds, new bands and new genres as they emerged. It was a healthy and creative time for music and a fantastic time to be a listener of radio.
In my teen years 1983-1989 three things happened. First I was able to start my own personal collection of music (first on cassettes, the occasional vinyl and then onto CD’s). Second I discovered my own particular flavour of music (Hard Rock and Heavy Metal) and lastly I watched as radio started to change. Radio through the 80’s started to segment more and more into “genre” specific stations.
Somewhere along this time “pop” became it’s own musical genre. It still played music that was popular (read sells a lot!) but it the music now had to fit in with the record buying youth. If it was bright and colourful (WHAM, Culture Club, Madonna) it was “in” and you now had to turn to a Country specific station if you still wanted to hear a Kenny Rogers song. As we moved further into the 90’s it became even more processed (insert all the Boy Bands and the Spice Girls here).
Satellite radio comes along in the 2000’s and segments the stations even further. So you have a Grunge station, an Urban Hip Hop station, a Hair Metal station, a Country station, a New Country station, an Outlaw Country station, a Traditional Country station. I think I am getting dizzy.
By now the music industry is so completely upside down and the business model that was the record industry is absolutely broken. The labels keep running around trying to figure out what happened and blame technology, instead of looking forward towards some sustainable solutions.
So you get what we have now. There are only four major labels left standing; Sony, Universal and Warner and the WEA Group that make up 90 percent of the market. Combine that with 1996’s radio deregulation that changed all the rules of owning radio stations. Prior to 1996 a company was only allowed to own 40 stations. Last I checked radio conglomerate “I Heart Radio” now owns almost 1000! Since none of these huge corporations are about losing money they have created an almost twisted “Orwellian” business model that basically eliminates any financial risk regarding radio.
Instead of investing in a bunch of artists and seeing which ones grab the interest and tastes of the public. They choose only a handful of artists, invest millions, package them up and force feed them to the radio conglomerates. From there, the “I Heart Radios” are going to flog them to death over and over again on not just one station but 1000’s of them all at once. This is why you will hear the same 25 songs on the radio over and over and over again. All across the nation. Sounds to me like a complete manipulation of the charts. Hard not to crack the top 20 when there are only 25 in rotation at any given time. “Please Sir, can I hear Bieber again, please?”
Even classic rock stations have been homogenized down to a limited playlist. Every station plays the same 4 or 5 AC/DC songs, the same 4 or 5 Led Zeppelin songs and the same 4 or 5 Rolling Stones songs over and over and over again. You do realize the Stones have recorded 30 albums worth of material?
The other casualty here is the loss of any sort of “regional” flavour that radio stations could create. When stations actually had control of programming, the DJ’s and PD’s could actually assist in helping a local act be heard. Years ago, a legitimate “hit” record could actually come from a sudden ground swell of listener request calls. Now when you call in to request a song, it will almost always be ignored unless it is a song on the “eligible” playlist. Meaning “approved” by the radio conglomerate in relationship to the record company. You the listener only have a voice if Sony agrees with your choice.
Now the interesting contrast to all of this is that technology has made it incredibly accessible for musicians and artists to do it themselves. Amazing quality recordings are coming from in-home studios and true artists will find away even without the help of big time recording contracts. Bands are out there doing it themselves and great music is alive and well if you are willing to dig a little deeper for it and not line up with your plate at the mercy of mainstream radio, mainstream radio, mainstream radio. Oops I played that already?
So about ten years ago I gave up on radio and I started listening to a lot of Podcasts. I soon found there were many like minded rock fans that were simply not interested in hearing “You Shook Me All Night Long” as the only approved Ac/Dc song choice (and 12 times a day at that!). A forum to discuss music, analyze music and discover new music. All things that I used to turn to radio for. I found that through many amazing podcasts that were hell bent on keeping the music they loved alive and sharing the new and exciting music that they were hearing locally. The Decibel Geek Podcast, Podkisst, The Rock n Roll Geek Show, The Rock and/or Roll Podcast, One On One With Mitch Lafon, The Talking Metal Podcast, Cobras and Fire Podcast I could easily keep going here. So many great podcasts out there. There is really no need to listen to mainstream radio.
I have literally discovered and purchased dozens of new albums from dozens of new artists because I found out about them through a podcast!
So the year of 2017 is the year that I am jumping into the game. 2017 will mark the launch of “Canadian Geeks Chat Metal”. Time to share some of the amazing music I come across with to as many people that are inclined to listen. My podcast will be reflected of my own personal musical tastes, therefore if you are a fan of hard rock and/or heavy metal then I invite you to check us out at CGwbCM. We are gearing up for our debut episode and we promise lots of frosty cold beverage fueled stories and lots of music you most likely have never heard.
If you check out our page and our podcast, be sure to hit “like” before you go and leave a message telling me where you heard about the show. Cheers!