There are constant debates on whether radio continues to play an important role for artists' exposure and musical popularity in modern society. The debate rises with the influx of modern musical platforms such as: websites for online digital streaming and downloadable applications with personalised playlists, which have become more of the standard. With these new forms, radio has continued to maintain its own expansive reputation by adhering to these current technologies by also using the platforms to its benefit (May, 2013). Despite the transition however, the subject of radio popularity and longevity continues to be a topic of discussion. This essay aims to prove the constant growth of radio and in turn the influence radio has to an artists' exposure and popularity through airplay. Examples on consumer growth in the two main radio networks, that is: Commercial, Community and Government Radio, through recent statistics will help show that Australian Radio is alive and thriving. This essay will also show the restrictions placed in the selection process of what music is played on radio networks. Examples of an artists gain and loss due to popularity will be viewed in direct correlation to this airplay.
Radio has been a platform for different styles of music to a wide range of people, nationally and eventually internationally, since the 1920's (Skretvedt and Sterling, 2018). Community radio, community focused broadcasters (Australian Government, 2011), has had a consistent reputation for exposing and reviewing ‘an eclectic mixture of musical styles' (Negus, 2008) to the general public. Compared to it's more popular cousin Commercial radio, a Network that appeals to the wider population, Community radio has been and continues to be, the expansive supplier of unknown artists with an array of musical styles and voices. In Australia, community radio has gradually increased its following as result to the uniqueness and enormous variety of musical content (PBS Online Radio, 2018). With separate genre specific time allocations, stations help narrow the musical styles which ensures specific genres reach particular demographics. It is not only music that keeps people from wanting to listen to radio, there is a sense of community through radio in talkback and the easily accessible contact brings more of the intrigue (ref). Government radio, funded through government, are also non restrictive in station diversity ranging from Podcast channels to different genres of music stations (ABC, 2018).
Through the expansion and influence of the internet, Radio has found ways to endure these changes by also adapting itself to these parameters. The first area to look at is the expansion of radio content through the multitude of available channels. Although the car still remains a very important listening environment, the internet has paved the way for new listening platforms reaching wider audiences (May, 2013). Digital radio has allowed consumers to listen to radio at any time, on any day. The digital platform has introduced ‘better quality audio, easier tuning, interference free reception, the ability to pause, rewind and record live radio... and multimedia capability' (Kakaire, 2007)'. These audio altering capabilities has allowed consumers to further engage with music, personalising their involvement making it a more intimate experience. Online streaming has also become a common method for listening to music and the most recent addition of the smart speaker has had consumers listen to radio through a new device (Digital Radio Plus 2018, Fleming 2018).
Commercial radio stands as the number one radio network listened to by the general public. Statistics show that Australian radio has increased each year since 2013 with the revenue alone shifting from $767 million up to $773.85 million in 2017 (May 2013; Fleming, Shaw 2018). Note that this money comes from advertisements, which help fund radio. More Australians are tuning into radio every year with a major misconception that young Australians are not a part of this growth however, in a recent survey 79% of people between the ages of 18-24 showed that radio had been, to the collective, a favourite means of listening to music (Fleming, Shaw 2018). Making itself highly accessible on a series of different platforms, consumers are spoilt for choice. The abundant supply of potential radio listening may not of course necessarily mean people are tuning in, however in radios aspect, they are (ref). includes modern digital television through a system called Broadcast Programming. These stations range from talk back to country to pop radio to world radio and much more, diversifying themselves to suit any kind of listener (Broadcast Programming, 2018). Artists debuting or promoting their music on Radio remains a brilliant way to reach a wider spectrum with a high probability that the exposure will increase their fanbase (Luckerson, 2015).
The constant expansion of Radio platforms, means that finding artists of any genre has never been so easy. A 2018 survey shown by Radio Australia, expressed that commercial radio is currently at its Peak, with Fox FMs ‘Fifi, Fev and Byron's breakfast show' reaching number one in Melbourne (Radio Australia, 2018). This does not in any way weaken the growth of community radio, as popularity in community radio continues to increase yearly (Radio Australia, 2018). Although the connection to radio has its benefits through exposure, an artist wanting to get a spot in any of the stations may potentially be difficult, which in turn means that an artist may not necessarily be chosen for airplay.
Jacinta Parsons stated in a recent talk that there is a musical hierarchy in putting together a radio playlist. The Director of Music has final say on what does and does not get played. The Director needs to see whether the selected track is appropriate for the designated time slot. This means that it can be difficult for an artist to get radio play if the song does not classify under the right style for the segment. These Music directors are also called the ‘Taste Makers' (Jacinta Parsons, 2018). There have been artists' that have gained and lost popularity from radio due to the decision making of the Tastemakers. Artist and Label Manager Jen Cloher had received airplay early on in her career through Triple J and without much effort, Cloher had sold out gigs as result. Some time after, another song was put forward to the same station which was not pick up. Ticket sales plummeted for the second round of performances because the artist did not market herself very well and relied solely on the possibility that radio would pick her up again (Cloher, 2018).
In saying that, radio has helped so many artists gain exposure and performance work through radio play. Some examples of Australian artists that have been pushed to faster success through with the assistance of community radio alone are Tash Sultana, The Pierce Brothers, Tame in Parlour and many more. These artist have also worked hard at their marketing strategies however radio play helped bring more listeners to gigs, purchase merchandise and gain over all community support (ref). Commercial airplay is by far the best in reaching the largest amount of people possible. Unfortunately, artists' under Major Labels such as Sony and Warner Music are the sought out artists for the Commercial Network.
Luckily for artists, larger radio stations have substations which, depending on the station, have their own following. Unearthed for instance, is the younger brother of Triple J. The site allows an artist to upload, like and share music with other musicians, fans and other social medias (Unearthed, 2018). Music from this site can then be selected for radio play through the ABC Radio.
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