Tuesday, July 20, 2004

The New York Times > Business > Media & Advertising > Advertising: A Radio Giant Moves to Limit Commercials

I subscribe to the National Lampoon Radio Hour, delivered on a weekly basis to my account at Audible.com. The actual program, minus the commercials, runs just over 30 minutes. I'm happy to pay for the content (dirt cheap, actually, with an Audible subscription) rather than put up with 30 minutes of commercials.

With the exception of NPR (yeah, yeah, I know), I rarely listen to broadcast radio. Why would I? There's so much great music available via other sources, like MusicChoice on my cable system, or dozens of Internet "radio" stations.

Clear Channel, like the other media conglomerates, has to do something to retain an audience that, despite the numbers cited in this article, is being siphoned off by alternatives that offer a broader and far more accurate picture of what's really going on in music.

But I don't think Clear Channel and similar companies are inherently evil or bent on destroying music. If they're guilty of anything it's a narrow, artless, and thoroughly commercial sensibility with regard to serving up music. They're in the business to make money, not to promote music. To them, music is a commodity. If (or rather, when) music stops making money for them, they'll move on to something else. Radio, as a vehicle for delivering music to fans, doesn't make sense anymore. At least, not in its current state. But changing that will take more than a reduction in the number of commercials.

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