By ALICEN HACKNEY
How many times can I listen to The Offspring’s “You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid” before my brain slips out of my skull? It’s a great song, but when I hear it hit rotation for the third time of the day, it’s merely numbing if not aggravating.
Today’s rock radio faces two main issues that are evident in the songs they play. First, they seldom play rock, it’s mostly alternative and indie. Second, the rock they do play is outdated and has been overplayed in the years since it came out.
The issue isn’t that there has been any lack of rock music being produced, but rather that they are left behind by radio music selection formats and algorithms.
In the 80s there was an underground movement that sparked the creation of the
“alternative” genre which was influenced by the “punk” ethics of individualism and creativity. At its beginnings alternative music wasn’t popular, but, with the creation of sub-genres like grunge spearheaded by Nirvana, the genre took off and became the mainstream.
Alternative’s breakthrough nearly collided with the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which according to Clea Simon, a writer for The New York Times, “cleared the way for corporations to own and manage multiple stations in a market.” Simon explains that this act caused the prices of FM stations to rise resulting in large corporations snapping them up en masse.
These companies decreased the number of different specified stations in favor of single stations for larger areas that followed a common algorithm. This wasn’t entirely marketable and these companies were in the business of making money, so they set out to support a format that brought them new and popular music that would drive up listener ratings.
This brings us to where we are today where the most popular music on rock charts such as Billboard and individual radio stations isn’t actually rock.
Currently, the top three songs on DC101, D.C.’s alternative rock radio station, all belong to genres that aren’t rock. Number one is Panic At The Disco’s song “Say Amen (Saturday Night)” which belongs to the pop genre. Foster The People’s song “Sit Next To Me” is number 2 on the top songs list. This song belong to the genre Indie Pop along with much of the bands other works. Number three on the list is Two Feet’s song “I feel like I’m drowning,” which is an Alternative Indie song.
There has been no movement to change the title or tagline of these stations to represent them more accurately, nonetheless the music continues to stray from the station’s original purposes as modern rock continues to present less popular than pop and alternative music respectively.
Here is my solution: revolutionize radio. If you’re like me and want to see more modern rock represented on the radio, demand it. Support the musicians you wish to see represented until they get picked up by the radio as what is new and popular.
Instead of turning to mainstream broadcasting for new rock music, which is unlikely to be found, try using any of a number of music database sites. Or, the all-time best method, record stores. Finding record stores with a section for new music is simple, either call or visit stores websites to see what they provide. Downtown Fredericksburg has a wealth of antique shops with an array of records to pick through where you can find older rock music, including Blue Shark Antiques and Collectables.
It’s also important to remember that music is an artists’ livelihood. One way they could be making money is if their songs get picked up for the radio, but since they are often not purchasing the music yourself is an integral part of ensuring the musicians you like can keep working. You can also do this by playing their music on websites that provide their music where they can gain notoriety.
To support up-and-coming rock, punk, and other sub-genre bands, using sites like Spotify, YouTube, bands’ individual sites and their record labels. There is a plethora of new music available. There’s Turnstile, a hardcore band from Maryland that any metal-head would love. Starcrawler, a female lead glam punk rock’n’roll band will please the 2000s punk music lovers. SWMRS, who are releasing their new album “Berkeley’s On Fire” in February of 2019 and Dog Party, a rock’n’roll sister duo are great for old souls.
There are so many ways to support current rock bands than just listening to the radio. In the long run, if current rock bands can achieve large enough audiences, maybe there will be a radio revolution. But until then, support your favorite bands and musicians by purchasing their albums, streaming them on music databases and attending shows in your area.