27 Jul 2005 tnt   » (Master)

Why Can't I Hear The Music I Like on the Radio... Bribing, Payoffs, and Scandals... WiMax/802.16 May Be the Answer

In the past, for the Vancouver area in BC, Canada, the music radio landscape has been dominated by 2 radio stations. The Fox for rock music and Z95 for pop music. Fans of rap and r&b music had no station to call their own. Some listened to Z95 until they played a rap or r&b song (which was rare). Some listened to CDs. And some put up with the staticy signal and listened to the Seattle based rap and r&b station Kube93 (that is, if they were in a location where they got any reception at all).

In 2001 or 2002 (I think) a couple of warehouse workers, knowing that there was a large rap and r&b fan-base, became entrepreneurial and created a new rap and r&b radio station called The Beat. (At least, that's the story I heard.) The move shook up the airwaves. Listeners from Z95 flocked to The Beat. Z95 was forced to completely change what their motif, and became a 80's and 90's soft-pop station. Obviously The Beat was playing what a lot of youth, teenagers, and adults in their 20's and early 30's wanted to hear. There was obviously a large fan-base for rap and r&b music (in addition to the very large rock fan-base that the pacific northwest is known for).

Not too long ago though -- earlier this year (I think) -- The Beat completely changed its tune. In what shocked many rap and r&b fans, they became a pop station; claiming to play "all the hits". Exactly what Z95 was. Exactly what many music fans demonstrated they didn't want to really hear, when they made their switch to The Beat. Why did they do this‽ Why can't I hear the music I like on the radio‽ Why have rap and r&b fans been forced to go back to listening to CDs and trying to listen to Kube93 (when we can get a strong enough signal)‽ The answer, I'd conjecture, seems to have a lot to do with the current state of the music industry. The bribing, payoffs, and scandals that various players in the music industry are using to get radio stations to play their artists music. It would seem that it can be lucrative for radio stations and DJ's to play pop-music.

Although radio stations and DJs don't admit to these payoffs, many have been suspected them. (And some in privileged positions have known about them.) These payoffs have even made news headlines recently.[1]

While The Beat made this switch, alot of weird and annoying things went on. Rap and r&b songs have been weeded out. And have continued to get less and less airtime. (Which has alienated much of The Beat original listeners.) Also, The Beat has something called "Battle of the Beats", where 2 songs will compete against each other; and listeners call in and vote for the winner. (The winner then gets onto the regular playlist.) Some of the winners of this have left listeners thinking "what the f---" or "you've gotta be f---ing kidding me". Some of these supposed winners generated so many complaint calls that they actually put the songs up for a re-battle,... which is really unheard of. And some of the contenders have left listeners saying, "I want to vote no for both of these". (But generally people are voting against the one they dislike the most.)

So where does this leave us‽ Some stations do infact play music to their fan-base. Some don't; and are more like one long commercial for record labels. And you may or may not be able to listen to the music you want to listen to. Will things change‽ They might.

There is disruptive technology coming that has an opportunity to change things. The technology is WiMax.

Like Wi-Fi, WiMax is a wireless networking technology. However, WiMax operates on a much much larger scale. Where Wi-Fi gives wireless networking to a house. WiMax gives wireless networking to a city. Specifically, WiMax can give city wide broadband wireless Internet access.

WiMax opens up the door for an explosion of "radio stations" that you can listen to in your car. Imagine this. Instead of having a regular radio in your car, you have a device -- an IPradio -- that is connected to the Internet via WiMax. With this IPradio you can connect to any of the tens of thousands Internet radio stations. And listen to the music you want to listen to. You could even listen to music stored on your home computer. Or music from other places.

There is something that could hold this back though. WiMax may be held back by large teleco's who don't want WiMax to succeed for various reasons. Also, music licensing organizations so far have not given Internet radio stations the same kind of "fair" licensing deals they offer classic radio stations. And music licensing pricing has been set to, in effect, kill Internet radio. (Which seems to be the intent.)

I'd like in-car IPradio to get mass adoption though.

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