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Radio, the Culprit, Dan Krimm

Subject: Radio and the Industry Complex

Greetings and kudos for this website! At long last, there is a communal place where music lovers and musicians can vent their frustrations, while hopefully providing fresh perspective and direction. I hope you find my contribution helpful and usually find myself with something to say on these matters, so a word of warning: I'll be back! ;-)

Currently, I am a "starving artist" musician, living the typical life working a completely unrelated day job while devoting the remainder of my time and energy to songwriting and band related stuff. I'm lucky to live in a metropolitan area where original music is relatively well supported by local folk who are eager for live performance as well as fresh musical ideas. Unfortunately, local radio stations ignore the abundance of local music, focusing completely on industry promoted talent.

I believe a chaotic combination of the recording industry and radio used to serve as an open conduit between the public and "art music". The public was better able to determine what they wanted through exposure to much of the available music on the radio, and popularizing certain music through record sales. During these times, there was much room for "experimentation" and exploring consensual boundaries of acceptable musical forms. I think this arises out of musicians' natural need for self challenge and progressive musical growth, something that adds fresh energy to live performance. Nowadays, this notion seems more like a luxury, than a recognized component of musical expression with the music industry.

As Dan describes, the industry has conducted much research in effort to minimize exposure from "failed" artistic efforts while growing the almighty bottom line with the red white & blue tried and "true". While the many artists (worried about their own bottom lines) have surrendered to this "new order" and arguably surrendering their status as true Artist, musical expression and the variety of it has not disappeared. Though increasingly marginalized by mainstream radio and record labels, the "fringe" musical groups and artists laboring independently through entire careers is testament enough that the art is still alive. (Of course this does not say anything about what these striving folk must do to stay alive.)

At this point, it seems there is little choice between artistically laboring in obscurity or conceding to the industry defined musical formulas in some attempt at popular appeal. This is a realization that has greatly diluted my personal interest in any "new" music spoonfed from the radio.

Musical categorization and identification with "style" arose out of the recognition of diverse musical interests in the world and the attempt to help direct the most receptive audience to the artist. Of course all this has spelled death and obscurity to "crossover" music artists whose forms do not neatly fit into any one genre. I suspect it also has stymied the creativity of many songwriters lucky enough to have already succeeded in one or another genre, but unlucky enough to be typecast in that genre.

For myself, I've not been able to "compartmentalize" my musical ideas into one concise genre. I find these distinctions artificially limiting as well as eliminating the very dynamic which my own personal style depends on, the ablility and freedom to cull various stylistic "brush strokes" from my personal wide ranging musical "palette" to paint a unique musical portrait. For quite sometime now, I've relied on some wisdom from I believe, Duke Ellington, who said, "There are basically two kinds of music, good music and bad music." I agree with this notion that any distinction, beyond what is perceived as good or bad, is purely arbitrary. Now this is a good subject for furthur debate, so I'll give your eyes a rest for now.

-- Dave Fink, Pan Productions
posted 9/14/96