Views on pop culture through my eyes

Posts tagged ‘radio’

Radio Playlists (Stagnation)

Do you still listen to the radio? And if you do, is it anywhere other than the car? Once upon a time, radio was a place to discover new music. Now it’s the internet, and iTunes.world-radio-day-2013

I love music, all types. But radio doesn’t seem to see things that way. I love R&B, country, pop, dance, soft rock and more. But on the radio, the stations seem to have very narrow playlists that cater to one specific type of music. And then they seem to play those 20 hits over and over again — like can’t you play something else? And then you turn to another station, and they are either playing the same songs, or playing commercials. And why, is it that when one plays a commercial, it seems like the others play one too.

I remember as a kid I enjoyed listening to Casey Kasem’s “American Top 40.” You got the hits and he had interesting tidbits about the songs and artists too. Back then, if you had a big hit, it was something that everyone had heard of. Now a days, there are plenty of Top Ten hits I have never heard of… and the music market seems much more fragmented.

So what should radio do to keep me and the music public interested? More variety, fewer commercials and less talk all sound good to me. Why not play Katy Perry, next to Jay Z., next to Tim McGraw, next to Josh Groban? I am always pleasantly surprised by other people’s musical tastes. I remember one time when I was at an Anita Baker concert, these two long-haired rocker guys gave her some flowers. They looked like you would find them at a Metallica concert, and here they were loving some smooth R&B. People’s tastes are eclectic! Radio programmers somehow think we only listen to one type of music. I am not saying a radio station needs to be all over the map with their playlists. But it makes sense for a country station to mix in some classic rock like Fleetwood Mac (Little Big Town is clearly influenced by them) or a modern song like Avicii “Wake Me Up” or “Hey Brother” (with their twangy instruments) with their regular hits.

I remember some great concerts I have seen where the artists mixed songs of different genres — Beyonce singing Alanis Morisette’s “You Ought to Know” in the middle of “If I was a Boy” and Shakira doing a cover of AC/DC. When have you heard those artists back to back in any radio station? You’d have to switch the dial to a few different stations to hear that mix!

How about some fun shows or nights? They used to have some fun nights on LA radio — one was Disco Saturday Night, and another station had Dance Party. And from time to time there was an 80’s night too. People would make a point to tune in, knowing they were going to have a good time listening. On the Dance Party, I would always hear custom DJ mixes that I never heard in clubs or found available to buy anywhere. These were created for those nights only.

So what’s going to happen to radio? Is it going the way of vinyl? Or will the industry wake up and face their challenges head on? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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Is the Album Dead?

Remember the good old days, when you would buy an album or CD and listen to it all the way through? Now with MP3s, it is easy for you to just purchase the song or songs you want, and leave the album alone. While I like this idea, I wonder if we are losing something by doing so. Do we really know an artist from 1 or 2 hit songs? Or do you have to listen to an artist’s whole album before you really get a sense for them? And what about those artists who don’t have hit singles anymore? Many artists are feeling trapped, they are selling singles, but not albums.

Just before Flo Rida released his third album, almost two million fans purchased the first single “Club Can’t Handle Me,” helping the rapper snag yet another Top 10 hit.

But in its first week out, only 11,000 people bought the 8-song EP – “Only One Flo Part 1” – making its debut measly at No. 107 on the Billboard charts. And in nearly two years, the album has only sold 62,000 units, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Flo Rida’s experience in 2010 is being repeated again and again in today’s pop scene. He’s just one of many acts who suffer from an imbalance: They have a multitude of hits, but anemic album sales.

Years ago, a hit song was usually accompanied by a gold or platinum album, and multiple hits meant multiplatinum albums. But times have changed.

“If you used to have a big single, you would sell a million albums, and if you sell a million albums and you’re a band, you can probably not have to work for a couple years. We don’t have that luxury,” said Cobra Starship’s lead singer Gaby Saporta.

Cobra Starship had a top 10 hit with the double platinum dance jam “You Make Me Feel …,” but their latest album debuted at No. 50 and has sold a mere 33,000 units.

Ne-Yo, the Grammy-winning hitmaker who has written smashes for the likes of Beyonce and Rihanna, blames the phenomenon on a lack of personality and originality from the artists.

“I feel like a lot of people are saying that the industry is moving to just being singles driven, and that’s kind of a cop out to me. So it’s like, basically that means that we sign a bunch of disposal artists, you know, as long as we get one hit that’s good? That’s B.S.,” continued Ne-Yo. Ne-Yo added that today’s music executives should be “taking the time and spending the money that it takes to make sure that you’re building icons, not fly-by-night, add water-and-stir artists.”

Tom Corson, the COO and president of RCA Records — the label home of Pitbull and Mike Posner — says that just because an artist doesn’t sell a lot of albums doesn’t make the act a failure. He said record companies determine an album’s success by an artist’s TEA, which stands for track-equivalent-albums. “You have certain artists that sell 300,000 albums, but sell 10 million tracks. That’s the equivalent of 1.3 million albums,” he explained.

Recent albums by Bruno Mars and Justin Timberlake may be hits, but not because the album’s are good. There are good songs on both Mars’ “Unorthodox jukebox”  (Locked Out of Heaven, When I Was Your Man, Treasure) and Timberlake’s ‘The 20/20 Experience” (Suit & Tie, Mirrors). Both of these artists could have done better in my opinion. Mars has shown with his live appearances that he is a force to be reckoned with. Same for Timberlake. But at the end of the day, is anyone going to care about the album tracks, when they just wanted the single anyway?Justin Timberlake The 20/20 Experience

The biggest album of the last 2 years has been Adele’s “21.” With an impressive 4 hit singles off it, it was one of those albums that harkened back to the glory days when Michael Jackson had 6 Top Ten singles off of “Bad.” Both are career artists — not just someone who has a hit single or 2. Is anyone going to care about Kesha or One Direction twenty years from now? I doubt it.

I miss having the record stores around. There was an excitement when you went to those places. Wandering around, looking at the album covers. That is something today’s youth is missing out on.

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and  Rock the Kilt lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

All-Time Favorite Love Songs

As Madonna sings, Love Makes the World Go World. Most artists have written them, or sung them in their careers. Some, become timeless classics, others fall by the way-side. I am here to celebrate some of the most memorable and enduring love songs of all time. You still hear these songs on Love Songs radio shows, and as dedication songs at weddings and anniversaries.Love Songs

Unforgettable (Nat King Cole)
Who doesn’t want to be unforgettable in their relationship? To be the person you’ll remember forever? It was written in 1951 by Irving Gordon, and reworked as a duet with his daughter Natalie in 1991.

Amazed (Lonestar)
Everything your lover does, makes you feel blessed and honored to be together. It was written in 1999 by Marv Green, Aimee Mayo & Chris Lindsey and was a #1 hit on both the country and pop charts.

Endless Love (Lionel Richie and Diana Ross)
No one remembers the flop movie this came from, but the song still lives on. Written in 1981 by Lionel Richie, it was remade by Luther Vandross and Mariah Carey in 1994.

I Will Always Love You (Dolly Parton/Whitney Houston)
A sad love song for sure, but one the greatest ever written. Written and recorded by Dolly Parton in 1973, and covered by Whitney Houston for the movie “The Bodyguard” in 1992. It’s hard not to get teary eyed hearing this.

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