Friday, October 12, 2012

Sick of Corporate Radio? Turn it off!

Kathryn Shut October 11, 2012

This evening, I took a rare few minutes off, sat down in front of the TV, and started watching what turned out to be a fairly boring science-fiction movie. While the plot was mediocre and my empathy for the characters non-existent, one thing stood out about the story where I identified.

The year was 2093 and everything had gone completely corporate, including crappy space missions like the one in the story.  In the movie, corporations owned everything and because of their vise-like grip on humanity, they could dictate exactly what society was and wasn't allowed to do, simply because money talked.

Unfortunately, in the entertainment and media world, many of us already feel that we need not wait until the year 2093 for corporate tyranny to take over.  Movies are rife with product placements, so-called reality TV shows often have a product agenda, and even music has succumbed to the vanilla and boring police state that is terrestrial radio.

In this not-so-make believe land of manufactured music, payola rules the day, and big record labels dictate which same 10 songs one gets to hear in an hour.  Big labels are convinced that everyone loves rap, hip-hop, Justin Bieber, and Katy Perry, and therefore attempts to establish some de mode coolness factor by ensuring that they are always on the cover of every pop magazine.  The same 10 people also tend to show up on every program (also corporate) everywhere; the little indie guys are forgotten in the mélee.

However, it's only partially true today that corporate media has completely taken over.  One saving grace that the discerning listener has is the Internet, and there are literally millions of fantastic, independent (not Pandora, not Yahoo, not AOLMusic, not even Spotify - and I'll pick that bone later) - truly independent radio stations worldwide, dedicated to the eclectic mix and the freedom that comes with breaking free of corporate saccharinated swill.  Therefore with this first-hand knowledge of how good independent Internet radio can be, I hereby declare:


I know it will seem like a dark, scary, and eerily silent landscape once the car radio's squawking falls mute. I know that you'll feel like a traitor and be convinced that Sirius/XM will show up immediately via helicopter and wrecker to repossess your car, starting with the stereo.  I know you'll feel like a hopeless jerk.  But resist the corporate-imposed guilt; seriously, switch that swill off and feel your soul take flight!

The only way to send a message to the "big record labels", in cahoots with corporate trash radio, that one doesn't care about their incessant playlists is to switch to independent radio on the Internet. Only here can you interact directly with DJs, program managers, and music enthusiasts to hear exactly what you want.  Only here does the freedom still exist to discover an incredible new band.  Only here can the corporate shackles be broken!

I am not saying that independent radio stations may not have commercials from time to time; they have to pay their bills as well.  However, in the majority of cases, these ads exist to promote new artists that do not have a big label behind them and therefore are just trying to get the word out.  They are not part of a huge agenda and don't have super deep pockets.  Most ads do not come from a hungry machine that already has plenty of money to blow and greedily must have more, and most do not disturb the music but for a couple times an hour.  Finally, you may not enjoy every song you hear; indie Internet radio is not a paradise.  But you probably don't like every song you hear on corporate crap radio either, which is why you're still reading this blog!

Now that I've said my peace, where does the new wayfarer go?  Here are some suggestions for stations that have been welcoming, open, eclectic, and truly friendly places for the independent artist to be heard.  (This is but a tiny list, as I know there are other amazing stations out there.)

  • Radio Kaos Caribou (Ermont, France) - Follow @RadioKC on Twitter
  • KINGFM World (Berlin, Germany) - @KingFMWorld and/or @TomKolbe
  • Awesome Sound Wave with Online Don.
    (USA, classic rock/oldies from 60s - today) - @Sound_WaveRadio
  • Radio Wey
    (United Kingdom, eclectic mix, classics)  - Mandy Morrow @toucan2
  • WDGP (Maryland, USA)  - @WDGRPRadioCom
  • 40 Foot Hole Studio (New Jersey, USA) - Eclectic Mix - @40FootHole
  • Simphony Tandil (Tandil, Argentina) - @SimphonyTandil
  • RadioIO  (Florida, USA. Every genre possible) - @TheRadioIO or @mmatheny
  • Coffee Talk Jazz (California, USA) Mainstream and Smooth jazz) - Bridgette Lewis - @CoffeeTalkJazz
  • Soul City Radio (Baltimore, USA) - (Soul/RnB/Smooth Grooves) DeWayne Alston -

Be assured that NONE of these stations has paid me anything to mention them.  None of them has asked me to take a stand.  None of them even knows that I am writing this article (yet).  They are simply stations that have invited new music into their rotations, made it to my bookmark list, and are amazing supporters of the independent artist above all.  Furthermore, it is through these stations that I too have learned about some other fantastic talents!

Finally, as the president of an entertainment company, I also understand too well how cold the corporate stations can be.  Again, if one is not from a big label, sending a CD to local program managers gets you nowhere.  They do not bother to thank you. They do not play your music.  They don't care how good it is. It very likely ends up in a pile with every other independent artist, or worse, flies right into the trash can, dismissed as futile rubbish from the indigent masses.  Corporate entities such as Sirius/XM, Pandora, Clear Channel, Premier, and Intercom have never even so much as graced me with a message to piss off, and we have sent program managers in key market areas several of our albums to enjoy.  They are obviously too buried in their Arbitron Ratings to realize that the crap on their stations isn't anything most people want to hear.

Want proof?  Do you remember who the #1 album seller was this last summer?  I'll give you a hint.  It wasn't Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, LMAO, or even Madonna.

It was Tony Bennett, and Gaga knows it, because she is now making a jazz album with him.
That's staying power, that's talent, and that's a huge barometer of who the record-buying public really is.

So since probably you're in the majority of people with some modicum of taste, take the airwaves back. Turn off the corporate crap (including Internet corporate crap) and start exploring more independent mavens.  And if you find one that I need to add to my growing list, let me know at Twitter: @timkatent.

Best wishes,
Kathryn Ballard Shut /shoot/
TIMKAT Entertainment LLC
Denver, CO, USA

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