In a piece on Tripwire, long-time indie entrepreneur and head of the label trade group A2IM Don Rose describes how radio fueled his lifelong love affair with music, how far broadcasters have strayed from their audience and offers some possible solutions.
"...Radio is dominated by large chains and overall listenership is under pressure. Many stations have been caught with their hands in the cookie jar, selling playlist adds and spins in return for "promotional consideration," writes Rose. "Commercial playlists have become subjugated to the major-label "priorities,"...some even sold the rights to "exclusive access" to their programming departments to individual gatekeepers who became funnels for these unholy practices. Real damage has come at the expense of independent record companies, local artists, and saddest of all, music fans."
"...The key components to enlightening the Radio landscape are broader access to the programming process, and relationships between labels and Radio which are transparent to the parties involved, including the public,"according to Rose and A2IM.
There is no question that the FCC must return more control of the airwaves to the people and level the playing field for indie music. But is A2IM and Rose's aggressive focus on radio short-sighted in an era of increased media fragmentation and endless opportunities for direct contact with music lovers via the net, cell phones, etc. ?
Rose himself acknowledges that "many independents have given up on commercial radio altogether, and limit their activities to the niche music genres generally left behind by the majors...". Is concentrating on limitless and shifting niches of fan interest rather than chasing short term mega-prof ts such a bad thing? Most indie labels we're founded by entrepreneurs like Rose who live and breath great music. Their singular goal is to help that music find an audience and perhaps to make a decent living doing it. Would indie lalbels like Rykodisc which Rose founded have survived much less thrived as it did if it had relied on commercial radio?
The internet and new technologies are changing the way that people create, promote, discover and distribute music. The new music industry agrees that radio needs an overhaul, but for the most part it doesn't really care.