Contemporary Radio Music

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Whizzkid1024
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Contemporary Radio Music

Postby Whizzkid1024 » Mon Sep 13, 2010 5:54 pm UTC

Hello, this’ll be my first post on this forum, and I hope this is the section were this information belongs.
I’m from Belgium, so please forgive me if I make any grammatical or orthographical mistakes...

The thing I want to talk about is contemporary radio music (as the title suggests). Because for me, music is important. In my opinion the musical strength of this kind of music is declining rapidly, I’m going to try and find the reasons why it is possible to have taken place so fast. I hope you will take the time to read this, and I’d like to know your thoughts on this subject. Also, I'd like to say up front, that there are dozens of great bands/artists that aren't mentioned, the text would be far to long to be posted on a forum.

Firstly about my musical background:

The music I listen to ranges from the earliest recordings of the pre-WWII blues artists till albums that came out just recently, from jazz to thrash metal. There are some things I don’t listen too, and these are techno and all its derivates, and Muse (but I’m not going to try to mention them a lot, because I can’t be really objective about them). Also, in my opinion musical talent in all of humanity is pretty constant, but it doesn’t get exposed well enough, but more on that later. And I also play guitar, which could influence my way of thinking a bit.
The information I’m going to use comes predominantly from these recordings, and also from the tens of festivals I have done the past few years (according to Belgian tradition). Next to these sources of info, I’ll also mention music I was forced to listen to this summer working in the supermarket (this was one of the main causes to write this).

The first aspect of the music I’m going to mention are the lyrics.

I find the lyrics of the radio music we listen to these days very similar and empty. Some adjectives I like to put on today’s music are decadent and sexist. Almost all R&B (which represents around 80% of the music, in Belgium at least) is about the same things, partying, and having sex with as many women possible (just look at today’s video-clips). I find this disgusting, even while I’m male.

Music used to be about social injustice, protest against war, romance (and not just the physical part of loving). All preceding decades, since the popular and rock music culture was created in the early 60’s, the lyrics of leading artists were at least a bit engaged in what was happening in the world the artist’s lived in. In the 60’s there were Bob Dylan, John Lennon (who write protest songs) and Jimi Hendrix (who emulated the sound of falling bombs with his guitar, this referring to his time in Vietnam)

The 70’s had Bob Marley, as the leader of the reggae music, which could be called a kind of Central-American Blues. The Punk movement was also born in this decade. The 80’s had the Dire Straits, and even Metallica (For Whom the Bell Tolls) as bands with fairly engaged lyrics. Also the rise of Indie Rock, with strong bands as The Smiths, brought us nice lyrics. The 90’s had Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Tupac, Notorious BIG and the like. But somewhere in the middle of this decade really strong songwriting ceased being broadcasted on the radio. Maybe due to leading artists passing on (Curt Cubain, Tupac and Biggie in ‘94, ‘96, ’97) and the rise of boybands in the second half of this decade (according to Wikipedia), which I like to link to record labels seeking short-term profit, rather than long-term (Who knows more than 1 song of bands like Backstreet Boys, Westlife and Blue?).

And so I conclude my view on the demise of good songwriting in contemporary radio music.
Now the musicality of this kind of music.

In my opinion the musicality is also weakening constantly, but this isn’t necessarily a problem, because simple music can be strong too, just think of campfire and protest songs. But these had really strong lyrics which obsoletes the fact that the music isn’t difficult.
Although simple music works for protest songs, it doesn’t work with the contemporary radio music, because strong lyrics are missing. The musicality has been fairly constant starting from the 60’s, but again, starts dwindling in the second half of the 90’s. Again there were strong mainstream artists in the preceding decades, like the Beatles (Happiness is a warm gun) and numerous other British Invasion artists in the 60’s, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd in the 70’s, Metallica and the Dire Straits in the 80’s. The 90’s had Pearl Jam and other Seattle based groups, which were all better musically than modern radio music.

But then the boybands appeared with weak and computer generated music, which meant that, to be a successful artist, one shouldn’t even need to know how to play an instrument. This is one thing that techno-music has in common with boybands. Also the time of guitar virtuoso’s (or just virtuoso’s) in radio music is over it seems, as there aren’t really musicians that can approach the level of earlier ones on the level of skill and emotion while playing.

As an evolution out of boybands came the ‘disposable’ R&B artists, of the kind who have just one hit, and then are forgotten. Some of them keep making music, which can’t count on real critical support (like Lil’ Wayne). The music of these artists is also computer generated. This is another indication, that the record labels value easy sellable music over good music.

The last thing I want to talk about is the way the contemporary music comes to be.

The artists that appear on the radio usually have a contract with a major record label, like EMI. These labels need to make money, and so they produce sellable music, even if this means forcing the artist too keep producing the same music, even if the artist had the potential to make better quality music (like Prince, who is a great guitarist as I’ve heard).

The other kind of artists, who have a contract with an independent label, don’t have this constraint, and can write and produce what music they like. These artists are the so called Indie (pop, rock,...) artists, and they usually have more interesting music, as I’ve discovered during this festival season, visiting the smaller stages sometimes. The other thing is possible too, that the music isn’t that great, but then they wouldn’t show up here in Belgium I guess.

So, to round up, I’d like to sum up what are the most important factors contributing to this rapid decline. The main problem is that commercial music has a near-monopoly position on the radio, because of which new, great (independent) musicians can’t break through (easily). This is probably caused by the focus on short-term profit by the major labels. This is, in my opinion, a loss for the artist, the listener and the record labels themselves, because great artists lyrically and/or musically, are a much more lasting investment then everything they have throw at us since the boyband-era.

That's it, thanks for taking the time to read my text, I hope it was enjoyable

Korrente
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Re: Contemporary Radio Music

Postby Korrente » Tue Sep 14, 2010 12:22 am UTC

I think we're just in the middle of a shift of taste. Hopefully it will get better as the shift continues. Like post-war music moving from big-band backed singers to rock-band backed singers. People probably thought musical talent was going down the drain (losing the ability to play all those beautiful instruments) back then, but obviously it didn't. It just so happened that everyone loved those protest songs and the like, and that's what made money. But now, auto-tune and sex make money, so that's what they're rolling with.
Is it greed? Is it a sign of the moral decline of our youth? Who knows. Maybe I'm naive, but my opinion is that the only demographic left that avidly listens to contemporary radio also only likes this genre. Or maybe the only like it because that's all that's played...but the good thing about living in the future like we do is that you don't have to listen to it if you don't want to. I think this is what most people are doing. Personally I couldn't tell you Kanye from Lil’ Wayne because I haven't intentionally listened to the radio in about two years, but I listen to music every day on my iPod or with Pandora or some other internet radio that plays what I like.
My views on the industry are that it's still strong, but changing rapidly, just like other creative content. I think you will see people moving away from the idea that you can get ultra-rich and famous from music, into something resembling Mr. Monroe's philosophy of "I make this because I like it, and if I can make some money on it, cool" (I hope that's his philosophy, I kind of just made it up, but he seems like that kind of guy). That's probably when you will see a resurgence of creativity and musicality in music, when the (evil) record companies stop blocking out the little guys.

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Re: Contemporary Radio Music

Postby Numquam » Tue Sep 14, 2010 2:29 am UTC

I used to think something similar to this. Then I heard a radio re-run of a top 40's list from the 1970's. It was some of the most awful music I've ever heard.

Here's a couple of examples:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcLazPauA1c

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKPoHgKcqag

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7NCZ4l8FCFc

The trick then - as is now - is to not listen to contemporary radio music, but to delve deeper into genres you like. Good music perhaps isn't being played as much on the radio, but I have faith that history will prove an efficient shit-filter as it seems to have done thus far.

Meaningful music still exists today:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7Vl0peys90

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qlOqXcPkUis


TLDR;

Pop music is always going to be shitty.
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Re: Contemporary Radio Music

Postby IcedT » Tue Sep 14, 2010 5:51 am UTC

It's because labels have effectively sliced-and-diced their demographics to tailor music towards specific identities. So the music they put forward is, as a rule, music that lets its listeners take on an identity. Think of all the suburban white kids who made "Fuck bitches, get money" into their personal catchphrase once they heard it in a song. Or how modern country is really just dance music for people who voted McCain. They're not selling the product itself, they're selling the appearance of being the kind of person who enjoys that product. Coldplay for sensitive guys who wear Hollister and lead youth-groups at their nondenominational churches, Lil Wayne for guys who wear DGK and want an excuse to buy brass knuckles, and Ke$ha for bitches who can't hold their liquor. They're fashion accessories, an appearance pursued in lieu of thought or achievement.

Also that the terms of 'success' are very different from what they were before the information age. The modern world is full of bands and acts that make good money, get critical attention, and play to large audiences, but as far as 'the mainstream' is concerned they don't exist at all. The mainstream KNOWS those bands exist, and makes money off of them- they'll turn up in commercials, video game soundtracks, etc- but the groups themselves are not advertised. Which, in a way, is actually better- good bands have an easier time getting noticed and making money at their work than ever before, it's just that, as a consequence of them being aimed at more specific tastes, they won't make it onto the radio as easily as, I dunno, Gucci Mane. But on the other hand, it also means two-faced corporations can make disproportional gains relative to the amount of actual exposure they give to good artists.

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Re: Contemporary Radio Music

Postby Zamfir » Tue Sep 14, 2010 9:40 am UTC

Has there ever been a time people didn;t have this complaint? If you compare random songs on the radio with your personal favourites among the classics of the past, you shouldn't be suprised if radio loses.

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Re: Contemporary Radio Music

Postby SlyReaper » Tue Sep 14, 2010 9:59 am UTC

This is what happens when Sturgeon's Law meets the passage of time. 90% of everything is crud. But that 90% doesn't last very long; it is only the really good stuff that stands the test of time. So of course if you listen to old music, you're listening to the cream of the crop from that time. It's not fair to compare that to contemporary radio music which hasn't had the bad stuff filtered out yet.
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Re: Contemporary Radio Music

Postby Whizzkid1024 » Tue Sep 14, 2010 10:23 am UTC

@ Korrente:
I hope that what you/Mr. Monroe said will happen, so that all that repressed talent can start a new age in music history, probably something pluralist, as is the nature of the 21st century, I think.

@ Numquam:

Yes I know there was also that kind of crappy music, having bought a box from the 60's hits once. But weren't the artists I mentioned holding top positions? According to Wiki, Led Zeppelin held the number 1 position a month with their debut album. And the following 5 albums all top 10. (this in the Dutch top 40). Three Smiths-albums held a number 2 position, and one of them reached number 1, in the charts in Great-Britain. But as I then look at the singles, the Smiths haven’t even reached a tenth position, this maybe is the kind of top 40 you’re talking about. If that’s the case, I have to agree with you firmly.

But thanks to you, I’ve done some additional research and I’d like to add another conclusion, which is that the album top 40 is a better view on talented contemporary artists. At the moment, here in The Netherlands (I live around the border between Holland and Belgium), the album top 10 has (fairly) good artists in it (Iron Maiden, Mumford & Sons, Eels, John Mayer,…). While the single top 10, has 10 out of 10 crappy music.

On your second point, I believe that there are artists who produce lyrics at the moment, it just doesn’t get the attention it deserves. I like the song by Immortal Technique you sent, I really enjoy rap if it’s about the subjects in this song. Just don’t like the ‘Look I have 3 cars, 4 ho’s and I carry two pounds of gold round my neck everywhere I go’-kind of lyrics which has a leading position now.

And I like the shit-filter idea of history 8)

@ IcedT:

I find your idea that today, the musical genre it belongs to, is more important than the actual music itself, interesting (like your connection between country music and republican voters… a bit like that one southpark episode). I have to admit that we have that here in Belgium too. I don’t know if Tektonic was popular in the USA, but here it was, albeit not a long time. This represented a whole package to live by, kind of clothing, music, way of thinking, strange way of dancing, that kind of thing. The worst part in my opinion here, is that the genre actually was owned by a company/nightclub in Paris. I think Tektonic is a good example of what you mean. (a thing I forgot to mention in my original text, the sick idea of a company owning an entire genre)

Yes the thing you mention about video-games is right, I came to know Franz Ferdinand trough NHL, and a couple of other artist through NFSU (Mudvayne (maybe not the best band, but there are worse) and The Doors). But the thing about radio music, I don’t understand why they keep playing that kind of crap, because none of my friends likes that kind of music, and we all get really annoyed when hearing the same song for the 5th or 10th time that day, it was party-time when the radio in the supermarket decided to play ’74-’75 (although this is getting a bit old by now, it was an oasis in a desert of talent-deprived music). I’d just like them to play some Led Zeppelin, or Clapton or something like that… That’s music that can get general appreciation, and still is strong.

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Re: Contemporary Radio Music

Postby Obby » Tue Sep 14, 2010 10:55 am UTC

Whizzkid1024 wrote:Yes the thing you mention about video-games is right, I came to know Franz Ferdinand trough NHL, and a couple of other artist through NFSU (Mudvayne (maybe not the best band, but there are worse) and The Doors). But the thing about radio music, I don’t understand why they keep playing that kind of crap, because none of my friends likes that kind of music, and we all get really annoyed when hearing the same song for the 5th or 10th time that day, it was party-time when the radio in the supermarket decided to play ’74-’75 (although this is getting a bit old by now, it was an oasis in a desert of talent-deprived music). I’d just like them to play some Led Zeppelin, or Clapton or something like that… That’s music that can get general appreciation, and still is strong.


Well, unfortunately, humans don't have the gift of precognition. There's no way to know what music from today will still be listened to 30+ years from now in the same way that Led Zeppelin is listened to today. The radio plays what's popular at the time, whatever will get them the most money (they are, after all, a business) in the shortest period of time. It's not an inherently bad thing, it's just the way it is. Radio plays popular music. If you're insistent on listening to the radio, I'd suggest flipping through the stations. I don't know much about radio abroad, but here in the Philadelphia area, there are quite a few stations that play local bands at a certain times of the day, or only play a certain kind of music (there are at least two stations for each genre you can think of, with the exception of techno music and its sub-genres), or do promotions for lesser-known bands for free to help promote the new bands and try to get their name out there. The one radio station I listen to frequently plays bands that I've never heard of, and won't hear on any other radio station (I guess you could say it's an indie station, if you had to classify it).

I guess my point is to find something that you like, and dive head-first in to it, and see how far you can go before you hit a dead end.
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Re: Contemporary Radio Music

Postby Zamfir » Tue Sep 14, 2010 12:27 pm UTC

Whizzkid, history does strange things.

In the early 70s Led Zeppelin were by many seen as commercial fakers who took the folkrock and hardrock of the late 60s and gave it a radio- and stadium-friendly sauce. In those days, Zep fans were the slightly derided mainstream kids who didn't know they were listeing to rip-offs of other songs. By now the originals have been forgotten, and Led Zeppelin (who were technically excellent session musicians) are remembered as the prime example of the genre.

Another example: Bob Dylan wrote protest songs for just a very short period, in 1962 and 1963. He started to dislike the protest movement, and tried hard to become a mainstream pop musician afterwards. As far as I know, he never wrote a single song about the Vietnam War.

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Re: Contemporary Radio Music

Postby Whizzkid1024 » Tue Sep 14, 2010 1:57 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:Whizzkid, history does strange things.

In the early 70s Led Zeppelin were by many seen as commercial fakers who took the folkrock and hardrock of the late 60s and gave it a radio- and stadium-friendly sauce.


Heard about that in a series on television (7 ages of rock, maybe they have played that in the USA too?), I can understand this idea, because they resemble the late bluesrock-early hardrock, which is logical, if you look at the background of Jimmy Page, the lead musiccomposer. He got his inspiration in the same group as all time legends Clapton and Jeff Beck. Not surprisingly the original name of Led Zep was The New Yardbirds.

'I had a lot of ideas from my days with The Yardbirds. The Yardbirds allowed me to improvise a lot in live performance and I started building a textbook of ideas that I eventually used in Zeppelin.'- Jimmy Page


If you can, please share the originals, not because I'm doubting you or something like that :wink: , just that I'd like to get to know them. If early Led Zeppelin was plagiarism, I'd like to find that out...

And about Dylan, I too don't know any counter-Vietnam songs, but I do know a lot about injustice in the USA (Like a Rolling stone, Times They Are Changing, Blowin' in the Wind,...)

@ Obby:
We don't have that kind of radio stations here, that gives local groupes a chance, which is a bit of a bummer, yet we have some X-factor like things speciffically focused on rock music (called Humo's Rockrally) and that produces relatively good bands. The only way for us to really get to know there kinds of bands is by using something like Last.fm, or on festivals. If we would have such a station here, I'd certainly be listening to it... We only have commercial music stations here, even the one station that used to play good music, turned to techno. So I depend almost fully on Last.fm to find me new music. That has given a lot of new bands to know, premarely bluesrock groups from the late 60's, like Mountain and Chicken Shack, which actually are good groups.

So the radio here as a good source to get te know new music is a bit dead. :(

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Re: Contemporary Radio Music

Postby Zamfir » Tue Sep 14, 2010 2:56 pm UTC

I got most of the Led Zepp stuff from people who were trying to be hipsters in those days. But you can look around for contemporary critics' reviews of their albums, they sometimes read almost like Limp Bizkit reviews.

The plagiarism is easier, their Wikipedia page even has a section on it. Most of it is pretty small stuff, "inspirations" that were a bit too close to the original and should have gotten a reference, nothing some cash couldn't fix. The point isn't really that they were plagiarizing (although sometimes they crossed that line). It is more that they would seem like the commercialized version of stuff that was cool some years ago, and people in those years would complain about them in the same way we complain about Tecktonik.

It's a scary thought, but what if hardstyle stays popular for the coming decades? You might perhaps find people in 2050 dreaming about the glorious early years of the century, when the music was fresh and pure and raw, unlike the crap they have now. And Tecktonic might be in their idealized image of the time, like California hippies are in our image of the '60s

Whizzkid1024 wrote:And about Dylan, I too don't know any counter-Vietnam songs, but I do know a lot about injustice in the USA (Like a Rolling stone, Times They Are Changing, Blowin' in the Wind,...)

Take a look at the lyrics of "Like a rolling stone". It doesn't have any political content, not even implicitly. The other two are indeed from his protest years, when he was active in the civil rights movement.

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Re: Contemporary Radio Music

Postby untilted » Tue Sep 14, 2010 3:14 pm UTC

i'd argue it's not a decline in quality of music per se (or songwriting or arangements or any other aspect you want to pick), but a change in the media (in your case: radio). what you're describing is the sometimes subtle, sometimes not so subtle change of the medium "radio" - in relation to the aired content as well as in relation to other media. not to forget, what we describe as "radio broadcasting" is anything but a monolithic object, it's fractured and contested.

one of the things you're describing is the increased commercialization of radio. but this trend isn't caused (atleast not solely) by the music labels as the seize bigger shares of "the market" - sure, it plays it's part, but the changes in the notions of the public and the private since the early 1980ies might have played a bigger part.
i'm not sure how it played out in belgium, but in austria the increased influence of commercial broadcasting has put public broadcasting under pressure. until the 1990ies there was only public broadcasting - oe1 being the station for distinguished people playing classical music and discussing high culture (although not per se conservative), then 9 regional stations playing schlager and broadcasting regional news, oe3 as station for contemporary music featuring specialized shows for different genres and at last an english news service of the ORF called blue danube radio.
why this detailed list? in 1990ies the market was opened for commercial radios, which soon led to a restructuring of public broadcasting. oe3 became the public sponsored equivalent of a commercial station (lots of hits, quite a lot of advertisement) which goes back to the interesting situation that public broadcasting in austria isn't based solely on radio licence fees but by approx 50% on revenues through advertisement. the "special interest" formats of oe3 migrated then to the new formed fm4 (which was the former blue danube radio). now we have (another) run-of-the-mill radio station that plays only music that allows for easy advertisement (have fun broadcasting an ad for a bank between slayer and metallica :P ) and a special interest station that has 90% of the program in english.

radio stations are competing for their share on the ad market, musical styles and interests are only relevant in connection with the according demographic. special interest programming decreases revenue, "low maintenance" programming adds revenue ... and what else would be low maintenance than radio that needs almost no editing and that gets it's music provided by someone who loves selling a product - in this case "functional music" ... some catchy tunes, some easy lyrics?
unless you have a steady source of income (either being sponsored by someone who's interested in the stuff you're broadcasting - even if it's only yourself .. or atleast someone paying for it with radio licence fees) you'll have to compete with other radiostations for ads.

so much on radio, but there's another aspect: the internet. i remember some old audio tapes my dad made when he recorded music he liked live from the radio broadcasts - which was/is in peripheral areas often the only way to get "new stuff". nowadays you'd go to youtube, last.fm or some other site to get your fix of new and interesting music. and unlike with radio you're not even bound to some pre-filtered sortiment (be it the general program of the station or the taste of the DJs) like you always were.
you're also lacking now a common source for reference, listening to music becomes even more a private act. now not only the act of listening itself is private, but also the act of talking about it is. you can call this "fragmentation of the public" if you want to. everyone knows some new good band/musician/singer, but it's likely that's the act of discovery is a private one (on youtube, on last.fm, etc.) and not a common shared experience, like e.g. a radio broadcast. it's less about "yay/nay" when talking with strangers about music and more about "huh?!".

tl;dr - music didn't get worse, "functional" music wins the competition for the stations, the development of the internet allowed the "discovery of" new music becoming a private experience -> no more grand narration of "music", just lots of niches & subcultures (lyotard would be happy i guess)

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Re: Contemporary Radio Music

Postby Whizzkid1024 » Tue Sep 14, 2010 4:43 pm UTC

@ Zamfir:

I don't think hardstyle will last for decades, because if we look at history, party-focused music doesn't last long. Just look at Disco, Synth Pop and 90's music (I believe it's called House, but I don't know that exactly, in any case it's the 2unlimited kind of music) They've all stopped being mainstream in the party circuit, simply being pushed out by the following party-oriented genre, which will ultimately follow the same faith.

If you compare this to non-party oriented music, there a new genre of music doesn't push others away, it just joins the variety of other genres present.

And about Like a Rolling Stone: I think it's about being homeless, about not having a fixed head above your head, and just roaming around without a real goal in life, without having hope... At least, that's what it means to me and this interpretation makes it a reaction on Social Injustice :)

@ untitled:

I understand what you're saying, that the radio stations need to get their money from advertising. But according to economic logic (supply meets demand) if there are enough commercial radio stations, one that gives quality music should pop up sooner or later (which we are missing, but it seems to exist in the States, according to Obby). This just doesn't seem to happen for contemporary good music here. We have radio Nostalgia (which, as you've guessed, plays older classic pop/rock music) and had Arrow Classic Rock, which doesn't exist anymore. But nothing that really plays quality music.

If there would appear such a station here, I'd be thrilled to listen to it, and get to know some new bands, because the only really good source for good contemporary music, is a friend of mine, who wants to be a musical journalist later (and has the reputation of knowing extremely much about music, so much that it freaks people out sometimes :D). Last.fm is great for delving deeper in one kind of music, but it's less effective in broadening your knowledge of music, because it only gives artists that suit your listening habits.

The internet is great if you already know something about the music you want to find (what genre, or even if you already know it's name), but for those few discoveries, that few bands that seem to appear out of nothing, the internet isn't the way. That kind of discovery is still done on the radio, or by friends who tell about a great album they've listened to. (Take Midlake, for example, I'd never go looking for that kind of music consciously, if it wasn't for that friend, I'd still haven't heard of them... I'm convinced that everyone had had that kind of experience a couple of times)

I'd also like to thank everyone for taking part in the discussion :) It's really nice to see people wanting to take part in it...

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Re: Contemporary Radio Music

Postby untilted » Tue Sep 14, 2010 6:15 pm UTC

Whizzkid1024 wrote:@ untitled:

I understand what you're saying, that the radio stations need to get their money from advertising. But according to economic logic (supply meets demand) if there are enough commercial radio stations, one that gives quality music should pop up sooner or later (which we are missing, but it seems to exist in the States, according to Obby). This just doesn't seem to happen for contemporary good music here. We have radio Nostalgia (which, as you've guessed, plays older classic pop/rock music) and had Arrow Classic Rock, which doesn't exist anymore. But nothing that really plays quality music.

If there would appear such a station here, I'd be thrilled to listen to it, and get to know some new bands, because the only really good source for good contemporary music, is a friend of mine, who wants to be a musical journalist later (and has the reputation of knowing extremely much about music, so much that it freaks people out sometimes :D). Last.fm is great for delving deeper in one kind of music, but it's less effective in broadening your knowledge of music, because it only gives artists that suit your listening habits.

The internet is great if you already know something about the music you want to find (what genre, or even if you already know it's name), but for those few discoveries, that few bands that seem to appear out of nothing, the internet isn't the way. That kind of discovery is still done on the radio, or by friends who tell about a great album they've listened to. (Take Midlake, for example, I'd never go looking for that kind of music consciously, if it wasn't for that friend, I'd still haven't heard of them... I'm convinced that everyone had had that kind of experience a couple of times)


some things that come to my mind ...

.) afaik the US has a quite liberal approach to licensing radio stations, while in europe it's quite restricted - not to mention the general difference that for the better part of the 20th century the majority of the radios in the US were commercial ones, while in europe commercial radio (and TV!) was almost non-existent before the 1980s/1990s. a limited number of possible "slots" (be it in regards to frequency or area) also means more (economic) competition for these "slots", which translates again into a higher entry-barrier (read: more money needed) ... usually money involved and idealist enthusiasm are inverse correlated. this could explain why it seems that the US has more commercial (?) special interest stations, or atleast some that deviate from the mainstream norm - so this might be partially an european phenomenon ... for now. but who knows?

.) yeah, peer groups are in my experience one of the best ways to find new music. but to say that bands "seem to appear out of nothing" is a bit .. well .. not realistic .. usually those friends that tell you about a new band that will be the "next hot shit" have either a.) heard about them through word of mouth from their own peers, b.) stumbled upon them on a festival/"accidental visit" at one of their concerts/were browsing through a record store or c.) have read about them on the internet (or to be more precise: blogs, newsgroups, forums etc.)

.) about which kind of discovery are you talking? your own personal one, where a friend gives you a tape/CD/mp3 or just a general hint, or a public one where the mainstream (whatever that might actually be) "recognizes" the qualities of said music? or do you mean listening to people like john peel - DJs that do their stuff and don't care if anyone but them likes it AND that become famous for exactly this reason (which apparently only can be done if you're working in an open/public funded radio station)?
the first still happens and will always happen - no matter what. the second also happens, but as some have already said it in this thread it's some sort of "canonization" (not sure about the " " :mrgreen: ) that takes its time and the outcome of it is also often debatable. the third on the other hand, i guess that time is over - atleast when it comes to a broader public.

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Re: Contemporary Radio Music

Postby Dream » Tue Sep 14, 2010 6:38 pm UTC

Whizzkid1024 wrote:Just look at Disco, Synth Pop and 90's music (I believe it's called House, but I don't know that exactly, in any case it's the 2unlimited kind of music) They've all stopped being mainstream in the party circuit, simply being pushed out by the following party-oriented genre, which will ultimately follow the same faith.

If you compare this to non-party oriented music, there a new genre of music doesn't push others away, it just joins the variety of other genres present.

Disco, Synth Pop and House are still going strong. Disco more as an element of other styles, like French House, but Synth Pop is alive and well in groups like Goldfrapp and La Roux, and House in any number of house artists. (And I wouldn't call 2unlimited an example of House, but that's beside the point.) There's nothing transient about "party" music. Tastes in the actual parties may change, but the various genres tend to survive. The best examples would be Hip Hop and Dub, both of which began as music for dancing at parties, broke out of their early constraints, and never looked back.

Here in the UK, BBC 6 Music and many local stations, like Resonance in London are fighting the good fight. Sadly this is not the case everywhere, but radio is very much still vibrant and relevant.
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Re: Contemporary Radio Music

Postby Whizzkid1024 » Tue Sep 14, 2010 7:39 pm UTC

@Dream:

The things I've said about party-music are from my very limited experience in the field of contemporary parties. (party-music I define as music which doesn't has a need for strong lyrics, and which is dancable (for most, I'd like to add)) The feeling I've got form those parties I went to are that the older genres of party-music were obsolete (because all the DJ's would play was techno, and occasionally some Rap, for which I was grateful in that situation). The only live synthpop I heard this year was The Human League (80's) and Empire of the Sun (00's) of which I haven't thought while writing my post, so I have to admit my wrong on this one ;)...

Personally I rather have my party-music more folkish (no matter from which part of the world it originates, if its World Music, Blues/Rock 'n Roll, Reggae, Gypsy or Irish Folk) but that's something that today's parties lack in my opinion (not a part of the topic, though).

@ untilted:

I was talking about a personal discovery, which could happen if someone like John Peel would have his own show on our radiostations here. That he would play a song by, let's say, Gaslight Anthem, which really makes one look for more information on that artist. It's that experience that I miss in our radio here. Not that in matter of days, everyone start saying that this or that new artist is fantastic... Oh and the accidental visit thing has also happened a lot :)

That thing about the radio here being limited can be a factor in my bad relations with the radio in the last couple of years... Thanks for bringing that up.

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Re: Contemporary Radio Music

Postby Zamfir » Wed Sep 15, 2010 7:45 am UTC

It's BTW pretty easy to download John Peel shows.

On the dance music: genre labels there are extremely fine-grained and change all the time. It's because the records they play, and even most local DJs, are usually not known brand-names the way bands with albums are. So you need very specific genre labels to tell people what music they can expect on a party.

But the actual music is not changing that fast as the changing labels suggest. Hardstyle, from music to clothing to audience, is basically the same as mid-90s gabber, and jumpstyle is almost happy hardcore from those same years. The Benelux, Germany, the UK have had some 'hard' electronic, working-class oriented rave scene for about 20 years at least.

I know people with kids who are nostalgic about the early Thunderdome parties of their youth, before they went commercial and sold out etc.

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Re: Contemporary Radio Music

Postby Whizzkid1024 » Wed Sep 15, 2010 4:24 pm UTC

@ Zamfir:

I checked out John Peel hoping to find a live programming through the internet or something like that ( I don't have any experience with listening to the radio through the internet ;)) But it seems he passed away a couple of years ago :(. So, do you know any radio-hosts with a similar kind of programming as John Peel once had? That kind of hosts are short in this world... At least here. I'll also keep searching for the John Peel live sessions though

Thanks

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Re: Contemporary Radio Music

Postby Zamfir » Wed Sep 15, 2010 7:39 pm UTC

I got the impression that in the late 1990s and early 2000s he was already sick, and his name was more a brand name. I have heard shows that started with some remark like "I am John Peel, autographs of me are for sale in the foyer", but were then afterwards presented by someone else. I used to listen to Mary Anne Hobbs on the BBC, but I think she quit this year. You can find a lot of her shows on the net. They were called Breezeblocks before 2005 or so. You might be interested. Haven't really been keeping my music up to date the last years, having a job and all that...


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