I miss the good old days of eclectic radio programming, and no genre of music has suffered more under the new corporate regime than dance music. Before Bill Clinton signed the Communications Bill in the 1990’s, there was a limit on how many stations a company could own. Once the limit was lifted, Clear Channel went to work and ruined terrestrial radio. Clear Channel’s vision (from what I can tell) was to kill the diversity in radio programming, and have 107.5 in one city play the same music as 107.5 in another city. The result was that the same 50-60 songs were played over and over, day after day after day. Slowly, the number of terrestrial radio stations that played dance music in their rotations flipped their formats at the request of ‘The Man’, who now owned them. Plus, it became a Hip Hop nation.
When Elliot Spitzer went after record labels a few years ago for payola to radio, he really should have gone after the ‘higher ups’ at radio, and terrestrial radio itself. I always found that whole investigation pretty ironic. Labels have always kicked something to radio for spins. It’s been going on for decades.
The demise of quality terrestrial radio has had a huge ripple effect on all of us who work in dance music. Budgets continue to shrink and the audience (in this country) is so much smaller than 10-12 years ago. So, where do we go from here? I’m not really sure, but I do think that mainstream dance music needs to re-discover its community.
The main reason that I have started this blog is that I am a big believer in professionals exchanging ideas. It’s healthy. The conferences don’t do anything for me anymore. It’s the same people griping about the same stuff, and there is nothing ‘fresh’ or ‘forward’ about them anymore.