Tricky Mickey´s Rant About Radio

One morning (January 13, 1999) I was listening to a radio show on one of the local radio stations - a non commercial station - and about 6.50 AM the dj were saying something about what would follow in the next hour, after the news bulletin at 7.00 AM. Some of this, some of that - and as special feature they were going to play a new record. A new record! That is really something, isn´t it?

The record they were going to play was the new single by Roxette: Wish I could fly. In a way, a new single by Roxette could be considered as an event. Many people around the world like their music and a new single is probably anticipated.

The magic trick in this announcement is that Roxette´s record company, EMI, has started a competition for the radio show producers and radio djs. The dj who is playing Wish I could fly most frequent in their show will be participating in a competition where the first price is a journey to a sunny and exotic country. Which is a nice and desirable first price if you are living in a cold and snowy country like Sweden.

The marketing of music with a competition is something that bring questions of free choice and selection into consideration. Are the radio hosts playing music they like, or are they merely in the hands of the advertisers and their marketing interests?

The commercial radio stations seem to have only money from commercials in prospect - of course I am here stating the obvious, but anyway. Some of the radio stations have breaks for commercials and jingles so many times during one hour that the records they are spinning seem to be a way of transporting the listener from one commercial break or jingle to the next. Like as if the music was a break from the commercials - and not the other way around. Seen in such a context - if the announcement about spinning a new record the following hour had been made on a commercial radio station I wouldn´t have been surprised.

It has been a sad fact during the last three or four years that the commercial radio stations in Sweden doesn´t ever play new records. They are constantly replaying old records and rely on what people are supposed to like - that is - listening to records they all ready know of - or perhaps even have in their record collections. The play lists on commercial radio stations are in that way only confirming what is already established as a imagined structure of common taste in music.

If the radio stations doesn´t play new music - where are people supposed to find new music? At clubs? Buying records? But in clubs the dj´s are mostly cutting either hard to get white labels, or top ten hits already known from the radio stations, in order to please the dance crowd. In the record store there are tons of records by Celine Dion, U2, Oasis and a number of other million sellers.

Artists without the immediate commercial appeal doesn´t get any real support from the record company and the customer has to look real hard in the racks or ask a uninterested sales person if they stock a certain artist.

Back to MusicCentral

The Homepage. 1998 by Mickey