Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Two Years After the Payola Bust, Major Labels and Corporate Radio Still Playing the Same Game

Repost from the Future of Music Coalition via Lefsetz:

Using playlist data licensed from Mediaguide, Future of Music Coalition (FMC) examined four years of airplay – 2005-2008 – from national playlists, and from seven specific music formats: AC, Urban AC, Active Rock, Country, CHR Pop, Triple A Commercial and Triple A Noncommercial. FMC looked at each playlist and calculated the “airplay share” for five different categories of record labels to determine whether the ratio of major label to non-major label airplay has changed over the past four years.

The data in the report indicates almost no measurable change in station playlist composition over the past four years. While this may lead some to conclude that payola is alive and well, and that the Spitzer and FCC agreements were ineffective, the report instead views these results through a broader lens, using the data to describe the state of radio thirteen years after the passage of the 1996 Telecommunications Act. The playlist data analysis underscores how radio’s long-standing relationships with major labels, its status quo programming practices and the permissive regulatory structure all work together to create an environment in which songs from major label artists continue to dominate. The major labels’ built-in advantage, in large part the cumulative benefit of years payola-tainted engagement with commercial radio, combined with radio’s risk-averse programming practices, means there are very few spaces left on any playlist for new entrants. Independent labels, which comprise some 30 percent of the domestic music market [editor’s note: actually less, considering the hundreds of thousands of independent, label-free releases every year], are left to vie for mere slivers of airtime, despite negotiated attempts to address this programming imbalance.

This report also confronts a practical challenge in measuring the effectiveness of the policies negotiated by the FCC, broadcasters and the independent music community in 2007. The ambiguous language of the Rules of Engagement and the voluntary agreements make it difficult to set specific policy goals and effectively measure outcomes. In this report’s conclusion, FMC puts forward three policy recommendations – improving data collection, refocusing on localism and expanding the number of voices on the public airwaves – designed to assist both broadcasters and the FCC in ensuring a bright future for local radio and for the music community.

Read the full report here.

May 7, 2009 Posted by | Culture, Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Concert Review: Amy Allison at Banjo Jim’s, NYC 1/31/09

An understated clinic in expert songcraft, double entendres, metaphors and just good fun. Tonight Amy Allison was all business (aside from reciting a scatalogical jumprope rhyme from her childhood that just crossed her mind, she said). Backed by Madison Square Gardeners guitarist Rich Hinman on Telecaster and the redoubtable Lee Feldman adding marvelously incisive, smart piano, the cult artist ran through a brisk, thirteen-song set comprising mostly new material. Of the older stuff, the tongue-in-cheek Garden State Mall was the biggest hit with the absolutely packed house (it was practically impossible to enter the bar), Feldman adding some beautifully authentic oldschool honkytonk licks (on the out-of-tune piano) to Allison’s big enchilada The Whiskey Makes You Sweeter. A quiet, subdued version of the as-yet unreleased Anywhere You Are Is Where I Am hinted that it has all the makings of a classic vocal jazz song – what Allison could do with that one backed by her dad (Mose Allison) and his band!

 

The most striking of the new ones was a remarkably optimistic, even triumphant song, a starkly celebratory nocturne called Come, Sweet Evening. “I can’t wait to see the dying of the light, a deeper blue,” she implored with characteristic mystery and restraint. She got almost all the way through the catalog of names in Sheffield Streets, the wry tribute to her onetime UK home, without forgetting a handful (“I’ve never gotten all the names right,” she laughed). The crowd implored her for an encore, so she indulged them with one of her very best (a request, naturally), the suicide anthem Turn Out the Lights. A vividly direct, unsparing portrayal of clinical depression, it must not be an easy song to sing, but Allison made her way through it methodically just as she does with her lighter fare. It would have been nice to be able to stick around for brilliant Americana rock guitarist Tom Clark and his band the High Action Boys, but the crowd proved even more overwhelming than the cold outside.

February 1, 2009 Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Concert Review: The Second Fiddles at Rodeo Bar, NYC 1/27/09

Oldtimey music doesn’t get much better than this. Along with the 4th St. Nite Owls, Mamie Minch and the Moonlighters, the Second Fiddles are equally good at rousing, pre-1930 blues, country and ragtime tunes, as they reminded at Rodeo Bar last night. With guitar, mandolin, upright bass, harmonica and piano, they bordered on psychedelic: although most of their songs feature solo turns from various members, the interplay between the instruments was so intricate that at times it was hard to keep track of who was playing what. Much of their first set featured guest resonator guitarist/vocalist Brian Kramer, who’s playing solo at Caffe Vivaldi tonight 1/28 and tomorrow 1/29 at 8 PM.

 

Their version of Sittin on Top of the World was laid-back and rustic in the style of the Mississippi Sheiks rather than any Chicago blues version. A similarly warm, upbeat, sparse number sounded like an early prototype of Sweet Little Angel, one that B.B. King might have heard and said to himself, hmmm…. They also ran through an upbeat bottleneck blues tune, a boogie, an Appalachian-inflected song that could have been a Tin Pan Alley ragtime hit, and a bouncy Big Bill Broonzy cover. Everybody in the band got a solo turn; the star of the night was the piano player, who kicked out some warmly crescendoing blues along with some tastefully minimalist honkytonk playing. To the club’s credit, the sound was terrific: you could hear everybody, something that can’t always be said for a band that relies on a lot of mics to amplify their acoustic instruments. They’re back at the Rodeo on 2/24 at 10:30ish.

January 28, 2009 Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment