Digital Radio Bites the Bullet

Howdy to my friendly readers. My last rant was about the death of the CD. Now it looks like radio is on the same highway to hell. With iHeart radio now filing for bankruptcy, being $20M in debt, that speaks volumes of how people are getting their music fix. They’re about to sell off or shut down hundreds of stations. They’ll still be involved in concert promotion, but their attempt to find their way into the vastly popular streaming subscription platform couldn’t get any footing going up against Spotify’s 71 million subscribers, or Apple Music’s 38 million.

Looks like radio as I once knew it, is a dinosaur, not unlike yours truly.

Once upon a time there was radio with actual personalities, DJ’s we called them. They would fill the airways with records played on turntables, based on choice as opposed to the forced play lists station managers would feed them, based on what was deemed popular. I recently got to chat with Gino Michelini who was once one of those old school DJ’s, and a dear friend and supporter of my music. He talked about when the radio changed from personalities to play lists. It was the suits who, just like record companies, always had the bottom line first before the music. From my point of view, I was always aware of DJ’s who played music they liked, and usually that had local flavors. As you would drive across country you’d hear not just the nations hits, but also the local flavor, and every region had its own thing. It was so cool that they started naming it, Southern Rock, Motown, just to name a couple. I remember going to a station here in Los Angeles to do a late-night interview, and the DJ (whose name I will omit to protect the innocent) actually put on a 9 minute jam from a record so we could sneak out the back door and have a “smoke”. That changed because of ratings, better ratings meant more dollars from advertisers, so the suits won, and the whole business plan changed with it. What was good for Atlanta was good for Fresno, so you now heard the further adventures of the same old crap wherever you went. Hey, I might be a dinosaur but I know what I like, variety!

Fortunately, there are still some stations out there that do it old school, if you’re ever in northern California check out KPIG. Or if you get down to New Orleans WWOZ does a great job of playing music from the area from all eras. These folks rely on subscriptions and donations to stay on the airways. There are also lots more internet based stations popping up around the country as well, and they can do what they like, so find one you dig and crank up the old computer, you can listen all day long.                                                                                                      

But back to iHeart radio, or as it once was known as, Clear Channel. Let’s not get to misty for them. It’s only the radio portion that is losing its shirt and tie. The rest of the conglomerate is doing quite well, so I’m sure that once the selloff starts you’ll find some other kind of music or talk filling that spot. Christian, Country, Hip Hop, or some kind of political talk selling their talking points, left and right, you know the real bull crap to fill your brain as they wash it clean from ear to ear. I don’t recommend that to anyone, go and get some music to sooth the savage beast in all of us. The music position now is streaming, period! Thanks to streaming the music business grew16% last year, the highest in a decade. Streaming alone increased spending by consumers at a 43% clip and now is about 65% of the total music industry’s revenue. So that’s my rant about the music biz, let me know what you think, or if you have a favorite internet or local station that’s still catering to your ears these days, you can write me at info@betterdazemusic.com . Rock on folks and support your local bands.