Radio’s Place In A Streaming World


You know the narrative. Once upon a time, when terrestrial radio reigned supreme, jockeys, DJs, and programmers handpicked which artists had a shot of breaking through to the masses. Like The Claw in Toy Story, or Got Talent judges. This old school business pokes its head during a scene from last year’s Oscar-winning Queen film Bohemian Rhapsody.

While gathered in a dimly lit label office, the legendary band shares the song that gave the film its name — a lengthy, operatic opus — with their record exec for the first time. He’s not pleased. “It goes on forever! Six bloody minutes! Not possible. Anything over three minutes and the radio stations won’t program it. Period.”

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The Other Playlists: How Behavior Shapes Songs

“We should get good enough that you don’t have to take your phone out of your pocket to get the right stuff,” Echo Nest CEO Jim Lucchese told FiveThirtyEight in 2014, soon after Spotify acquired the Boston-based music intelligence startup. The corporate absorption would lead to Discover Weekly, and Lucchese's offhand comment speaks volumes about the evolution of listening—and creating, by default.

The impulse to press play goes beyond random desire: Music augments reality, making even the most mundane activities blissful. For decades, fans have owned that process, choosing their own soundtracks. Now, in an era of streaming successes and socials, the music business has transformed into a moments business. What’s it all mean?

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Decoded: Spending Music Money Smart

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“This would have worked if we had more money.”

It’s tempting to point fingers when things go wrong. Where there’s cash or credit involved, there’s room to scapegoat — not having enough, misusing what’s available, losing opportunities to get more, you know the drill. It’s easy to write off slower-than-expected trajectories as the natural result of insufficient funding. In most brains, understandably, more is better.

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Breakthrough Hits and Signature Songs: What Can They Teach Us?

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Although it was more than sixteen years ago, I still recall chatting with a twenty-something guy who stood in front of me in line as we waited to attend the taping of the David Letterman Show. The guy was excited because his brother Adam would be performing on the show, along with the band he fronted. It would be their first major television performance as they ramped up for the release of their debut single.

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What a Difference a Mix Makes

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If you’ve got something really hot on the multitracker, spending some extra time during the mixdown phase can make it that much better

Theoretically a great song should speak for itself, no matter how it’s been recorded. But why rely on theory? Here, we once again review more methods of mixdown, such as knowing where and when to place tracks, how even the subtlest panning or tone trimming can allow otherwise “buried” parts to emerge, and more.

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How Spotify Is Trying to Take Over Nashville

Streaming-music service is actively courting country fans in what it views as a rich “music territory.”

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Nashville has long been a town that preached one particular gospel: if you want to make it in country music, you have to break through on country radio. Slowly but surely, though, Spotify, along with other streaming-music services like Apple Music and Pandora, are trying to change that, investing huge amounts of capital into Music City and persuading fans, and the industry itself, to ditch — or at least diversify — their dedication to physical CDs and terrestrial radio in favor of the cloud. So far, it’s working. Case in point? A once little-known local artist (and now Grammy winner) Maren Morris.

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