Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Local Commercial Radio, in tune with nothing.

It is phenomenal! 

My new releases, 'kuJenga Society' and it's single 'It's Christmas Time! (Oh, yeah, NaNaNa') are available globally, the CD versions are stocked by Amazon and the MP3's are available through every major download vendor, they can can be streamed via Spotify and soon through YouTube Music Key. It's Christmas Time! (Oh, yeah, NaNaNa) is being played across the world via internet radio, and the hits are beginning to rack up on it's humble little   YouTube video (see below).

And yet there is virtually no chance of a single play on our local commercial radio station. That is because the thing that is local about it, are the targeted ads, traffic reports and the people they get ringing in for some facile quiz, or to give an opinion on some subject of the day, by the DJ of the moment. Not the music.

The lure to this honey pot, is a playlist reflecting the strangle hold the music industry has on your ears, that is, a series of current pop hits, played over and over again which reflect, not the nation's taste, but the success of a particular plugger from a particular major record label (of which I believe there are something like only 4 around now) National radio is dire, then local radio follows it, as it is a business model that is determining this and not the chance to offer something that is connected to the community it serves (or should be serving).

It sounds like common sense (forgive me for using myself as an example here, this is not a revelation to me as I have been here before, more on this later, but I think it is my experience that adds best to my point).

Yes, It sounds like perfect common sense to all of us, that a really catchy single, recently released by a local musician would be supported and played by his local radio station and, as it is a Christmas single, would be playlisted along with all their other Christmas fare broadcasted to the local community.

But that is the last thing that will ever happen. Because there is no opportunity to reflect the our community through it's music. It's not playlisted nationally, therefore it is not a part of the business model, therefore it does not exist! It will add no income to shareholders and the station is there to tap an existing market not try to influence it with local content. It is trying to provide just enough local connection,to lure a local audience to sell the national playlist and then to capitalise and monetise it.

That leaves me, and other local bands and musicians out in the cold. This cultural isolation is compounded by local commercial radio refusing to carry any information about what is on at the Square, a local music venue, that practically defines our musical and cultural community here in Harlow. For thirty or more years, it has been influencing generations of the town's young people, to be involved, through the venue, to be creative and to be inspired. That experience, encourages them to grow as adults and to be community minded. And this legacy has continued to the present day via the hard work of a small group of people, who saved the venue from the dereliction that the building next to it, the YWCA, has been allowed to suffer, and by doing that, to keep music local and live year on year. It has been a real struggle for them, and local commercial radio has played little part, support or encouragement.

It is no wonder then, that people are turning to streaming services to personalise their music consumption, to what they want to hear, and not what the 
music industry want them to hear. You see someone play live or get recommended a band or musician through social media, and then you go and stream their album, who needs DJ's? (that's a real shame because DJ's can be great if they are allowed the freedom to turn you on to something they think is great).

I have been here before, in the Eighties, the Newtown Neurotics released a song called 'Never Thought', it was a bright, catchy (commercial even), thoughtful song (I have provided a link to it below, take a listen and see what you think). It was a perfectly radio friendly tune unlike most of the Neurotics usual material (Kick Out The Tories being an obvious example) but I could not get it played on local commercial radio, not at all, not once.

And after all these years nothing has changed, sadly. Yet is is infuriating to know that 'It's Christmas Time! (Oh, yeah, NaNaNa)' has a story within it that the listeners to commercial radio would identify with and enjoy, especially because of the nature of this fast approaching holiday period.

If only they could get to hear it.

Fighting to be heard,  is something we all struggle with at times and we all know what it feels like to be ignored.

                 Here is the song that failed to get any airplay from commercial radio in the                              Eighties

And here is the song It's Christmas Time! (Oh yeah, NaNaNa) that will suffer the same fate in 2014


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