Kill Rock Stars president explains why the radio plays the same songs over and over

The problem is this. The advertising-driven model with which the record industry took over the finite radio broadcast spectrum by pandering to the Moral Majority Morons and the Stick Up Their Ass Brigade FCC’s Hall Monitors enabled them to pay large shareholder dividends, Wall Street sized executive compensation packages, and still have gargantuan advertising budgets. And because they control the airwaves, artists have no choice but to accept pennies on the dollar for their labor.

The rest goes to corporate coffers, from which advertising budgets are allocated to the biggest selling artists. Beyoncé and Justin Bieber can therefore make billions from actual record sales (which are much more lucrative) because the record labels promote the shit out of them. Artists commanding much smaller market shares meanwhile can either contribute to promoting the headliners or not get played on the radio at all, which remains the single biggest advertising venue in large part because of car culture. The major records labels and thus their three parent media conglomerates have thereby captured a public commons (radio frequencies) as a private corporate asset.

Even the Beyoncés and Biebers are beholden to these labels which own their names as brands. The history of popular music is rife with successful artists fighting bitter court battles, from Tina Turner to Prince, to gain control of their own names and therefore the fruits of their own labors. It’s why so many musicians and bands see starting their own indy labels as a sort of Holy Grail, not because of some vague hippy notion of sticking to the man, but simply so they can have a modicum of creative control over their own hard work and careers instead of being serfs to the record industry’s Ivy League suits. Yet even an indy label isn’t wholly free, because they still need to convince those radio stations, owned by the same media conglomerates that own the big record labels, to play their music.

People whine about not having free speech because people talk back to them. Meanwhile they’ve let the corporate kleptomaniacs steal all the megaphones. Guess why the media industry is so desperate to lock up the internet? The ubiquity of the net is swiftly replacing the broadcast and cable network commons they appropriated out from under us. Radio, for example, if toast when most people don’t have to pay attention to driving their cars and can give their full attentions to mobile devices. The war for free speech has never been hotter, and it isn’t a war with political correctness, it’s a war being waged by global corporations on the customers they want to keep as a captive audience.

TL;DR - Media conglomerates bought each other out until now only a handful control the broadcast commons and now dictate terms to musicians.


You are replying to someone who has proven themselves tone deaf on the issue.

The fever dream of Napster? Some us indies saw that for the big lie that it turned out to be.

"The anti-corporate messages of punk and hip-hop feel as relevant today as in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. The corporate monoculture in AM/FM radio is obvious

But AM/FM never played punk and were never going to with extremely rare exceptions. And the truth was we didn’t much care. Punk in the US was as much about making our own parallel alternative as anything else.

Also in the said timeframe it was not that hard to keep a punk label going without too much work.

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Much respect for sharing the Mr. B. I love how he had the balls to call this out.


Okay, Le Tigre isn’t on KRS but they wouldn’t be out of place.


Who the fuck listens to commercial radio for music? Even before Spotify and Pandora and Google Play were things that existed, I didn’t know anyone who would intentionally listen to ClearChannel instead of pirate/college radio. Maybe for jazz or classical, but those are largely niche channels for old people, not what you’d consider popular music.

If you have internet (and you’re reading this, so, you do) then you can listen to BBC radio live for free.
I’m sure you won’t like everything they play, but there’s bound to be a station you do like (generally Radio 1 >> for teenagers, Radio 2 >> for people too old to listen to Radio 1 any more, Radio 3 >> classical, and Radio 6 >> for people who just like music). They do have playlists, but money doesn’t come into it.
Oh, did I mention that because it’s the beeb, there’s no adverts?

If none of those take your fancy, there’s TripleJ, an Australian station (again with no adverts), who play a lot of of Aussie music which you won’t have heard before. Not sure what their daytime stuff is like, but the evening shows are good.


These are rather popular in there niche. :wink:


Internet “radio” is whole nother kettle of fish though, and will continue to be so until unmetered cellular data plans become ubiquitous. Terrestrial radio is still dominated by what you can pick up for free OTA on your commute.

(However I will take this opportunity to plug’s multifarious channels, as well as KALX, WFMU, Pirate Cat, and Radio Valencia, all of which are freeform and eclectic so you don’t know exactly what you’re gonna hear depending on who’s DJing at the moment. Probably not any smooth jazz though.)

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A decade ago, in another Zip Code there were two “Adult Hit” Stations… conveniently called JACK FM and BOB(?) FM (BTW - Whatever happened to calling a station by its call letters, but I digress)

I joked I could tell which one I was listening to because JACK played ZZ Top - Sharp Dressed Man, but BOB played - Legs. Otherwise, the play lists were the same.


Well, there are people out there you don’t know, you know?

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Good tips. And I’m’a say it again: there’s a reason college station KCRW was the top streaming radio station in the world for a while there.

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“The anti-corporate messages of punk and hip-hop…”

How is hip-hop anti-corporate? All rappers, DJs, and producers want is mainstream success, radio airplay, and hit singles. They are perfectly happy to sign with big corporate labels, obligingly instigate fake “beefs” to draw attention to themselves whenever they have new product to push, and even to accept the release of censored, edited, “expletives deleted” versions of their songs so they can be heard on more stations. The pro-crime, anti-authority “messages” of hip-hop are nothing but hype


Never say “all.” Lots of mainstream hip-hop does advertise an interest in superficial material symbols of success — limos and Cristal and so on — but there’s always been plenty that’s socially conscious or just not particularly interested in bling. Public Enemy had more in common with the Clash than with Li’l Wayne or Jay-Z.


Depends which hip-hop you’re listening to. Have you tried Public Enemy?

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I worked in an office for a decade, where the senior person insisted on playing classic rock radio. I used to like classic rock, but now I’d rather listen to silence. At least with silence, it is possible to concentrate.

And, 43 songs sounds about right. Interspersed with the lowest budget local radio ads you can imagine. Fuuu…


“Bring The Noise” had a specific line about this but as long as there were hip hop radio shows PE got airtime.

Oh come on. We had to tell kids at our terrestrial college radio station to STOP playing elliott smith, bikini kill, decemberists, sleater-kinney all the fucking time!

To be fair, I assume she is talking about commercial, terrestrial radio.

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I had completely missed that; thought they were two companies.

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Yeah, me too at first. Classic corporate nicewashing.

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