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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Clear Channel Puts Another Nail In Radio's Coffin

As if radio couldn't get any lamer, radio conglomerate Clear Channel is about to implement national playlists for all its formats on all its stations. This means that there will be one playlist that every station of that particular format of music will use across the country.

Why is this so bad? Radio is a local medium. People listen for local news and weather, as well as announcements for social events. But musical tastes are local as well and through the years that's proven to be the force behind many of the musical trends that started locally and eventually grew nationally and internationally. With a single national playlist, local music is strangled at birth with no chance of even getting heard. In fact, a study last year found that 82% of the music played on radio was from major labels. Where's the diversity in that?

As an example of how music grows from a local scene, note the following:
  • Elvis broke out of Memphis and the South before signing with RCA
  • James Brown broke out of Atlanta and Cincinnati
  • Al Green, Otis Redding, Sam & Dave and all the Stax/Volt artists broke out of Memphis
  • The world-wide hits from The Romantics started in Ohio first
  • Aerosmith broke out of Baltimore (although they were from Boston)
  • REM and the B-52's broke out of Athens, Georgia
  • Nirvana and the whole Grunge movement broke out of Seattle
New music needs local radio more than ever. Homogenized radio that conglomerates like Clear Channel offer has been the cause of radio falling further and further into irrelevance. Nationalizing the playlists only causes traditional, terrestrial radio to slip closer and closer to death.

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