If you’ve been in the music business for decades, you’ve seen it firsthand: household radio DJ voices giving way to nameless playlist curators. The leisurely FM frequency scan turning into direct, on-demand track selection. Radio promotion teams being turned into playlist pitching ones that more negotiate with mysterious computer algorithms than actual human beings.
News continues to herald the inevitable: iHeartMedia (800+ stations, owner of Mediabase) filed for bankruptcy in March 2018, only months after US radio’s #2 owner/operator Cumulus Media (400+ stations) filed the same in November 2017; US radio continues to draw ire from the global radio community for its practice of paying zero recorded music royalties (also known as “neighboring rights”) to copyright owners, despite making billions in advertising revenue over decades ($15.9B in 2017 alone for traditional US radio ads). The only other non-Rome Convention countries to act similarly: Rwanda, North Korea, Iran, China. Most recently in September 2018, Sirius XM agreed to purchase Pandora Media to the tune of $3.5B USD, saying something about radio’s reluctant agreement that digital streaming is indeed the future.
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