Thursday, April 07, 2005

Radio Broadcasts and New Music

Where does your music come from today – especially new music? That question popped into my head after doing some reading last week. It got me thinking about how my music listening habits have evolved.

Growing up I loved listening to FM radio. It was fun tuning around to hear new music. KCLD was a great Top 40 station out of St. Cloud, Minnesota. If propagation was right, I could hear stations from the Twin Cities that played good easy listening or rock music. It wasn’t all good of course, but I was hearing new stuff. I got a good feel for which groups I liked and which I didn’t. It seemed like there was more stuff I liked than not.

College days here and here were a music bonanza. If nothing else, stereo wars in college dorms exposed me to a lot of new music. Word of mouth and media sharing (records and tapes) with friends helped. In the early 80s, who didn’t vegetate for an hour watching music videos on MTV?

Today things seem different. I find it hard to listen to Top 40 radio. Even local alternative radio stations don’t hold my attention anymore. And the commercials get old really fast. How many times can you listen to an Enzyte commercial that tells you nothing? Good luck even catching a video on MTV during normal viewing hours today. When you do find a video on their sister stations, it’s not even worth watching. It seems there is a very small percentage of new music that I consider airworthy. I guess I’m getting old and cranky. I’m sure Dianne would agree.

My waning interest in FM radio isn’t unique. A recent article in the NYT discussed the rise of satellite radio and how that may be changing the landscape for traditional broadcasting. I see an analogy to cable TV subscriptions. I have an XM satellite radio and love it! Continuous reception, no commercials, wide selection – what’s not to like. Even though satellite radio subscribers only represent about 3% of number of radio listeners, apparently broadcasters are changing formats and reducing commercials to protect their lucrative business (I was amazed that profit margins can be up to 50%). I’m sure the rise of iPods and similar devices as well as internet streaming audio have cut into radio listening time.

So where is my new music coming from? I still get good music tips from friends and share CDs now and then. Web based streaming audio is another way to hear some variety. I used to use the custom radio station option of the Real Player. You pick groups you like and they stream songs from those groups as well as related groups. It was a good way to hear new songs that you’d have a high likelihood of enjoying. Unfortunately, Internet streaming at work (most of my listening time) isn’t allowed. Finally, special internet broadcasts are good if you can find ‘em. For example, David Byrne of Talking Heads fame has started a regular streaming audio broadcast to share new music he finds interesting. That’s the best sampling service I’ve heard recently. I also liked his comments about licensing in his interview with Xeni Jardin.

I’d be interested in other approaches you use to find new music.


Brian said...

New music (as in mainstream) I can usually get from compilation CD's (absolut #) or listening to the radio later at night. I always notice they wait to play the new stuff or indy music from 111 pm - 2 am.

Underground stuff is easy. Find the city guide for your city. Look at the indy performers. Check out some of the locations and pick your favorite. Then just go to a few concerts a month. I saw garbage, rocket from the crypt and the toadies in a small venue in dallas almost on accident. I think I paid 11 bucks for the ticket.

Dea said...

Earl, I just wanted to track you back to your own blog to say thank you for leaving the comment on mine. My kids don't know about my situation, and I admit to being nervous about what the doc will say, no matter the face I put on it. Well, thanks for the encouragement