I was on my way home from seeing a friend play a gig and listening to Sporting News Radio. The commentator was talking sports but also mentioned that he wouldn’t mind hearing from listeners about music.
He said that he grew up mostly on the music of the 60’s and 70’s and that he wanted to hear from people who also thought that music today sucked and wasn’t nearly as cool as music of previous decades. I’ve heard this argument before, especially from older people like myself, and I understand it, but it was what he said next that left me shaking my head.
He said two things – one completely true and one completely false…
1. Radio sucks.
This is, in fact, very true. Commercial radio is a joke, unlike the 70’s and early 80’s where dj’s broke new artists. Today, giant monolithic corporations program entire genres from one location and pre-program what will be on for days at a time.
2. There are no good musicians today.
This is entirely FALSE. His comment comes from the fact that he uses what is on the radio to gauge what is good or bad about music in general. This is his fundamental mistake and the flaw in his argument.
Unlike the music industry of the 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s where virtually anything went and the popularity of a band was based on their skill performing and the quality of their songs, today bands are mass marketed like toys or food. They are packaged and sold to us through the safe medium of radio.
As a result, all the really great bands – with VERY few exceptions – have been forced to alternate outlets. From online distribution to PodCasting to satellite radio to independent labels and radio stations, artists that used to be nurtured by the industry until they were able to take their place alongside the greats of music are now forced to do it themselves.
So, if you think music today sucks, stop turning on commercial radio. It will only re-inforce a false reality. There are tons of great bands out there. There are lots of great songs being written and new and brilliant musicians being discovered every day.
Don’t let Clear Channel fool you into thinking that music sucks. It doesn’t. You just need to work at it a little.