Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Greys Anatomy is the new radio

There's an extraordinarily over-optimistic piece just turned up on Reuters trumpeting the role played by US dramas in breaking new music.

Sure, getting a background slot on The OC or Grey's Anatomy does a lot of good work for a band's profile, but is it really a replacement for radio exposure? After all, just how many tracks does the US TV industry need each year? Two dozen? Three dozen?

TV reckons it's more likely to take risks:

The problem with radio is a concern with being safe," says Calamar, who, in addition to his work as host of KCRW's "The Open Road," has served as a music supervisor for such shows as "Six Feet Under" and Showtime's current hits "Dexter" and "Weeds." "If Coldplay is hot, then let's play five more bands that sound like Coldplay. It's all about following trends. TV and ad people are much more willing to take risks than radio programmers are. There's actually a preference now for music that hasn't been heard in a lot of other places.

This would be a lot more convincing if the biggest breakthrough using this route hadn't been, erm, Snow Patrol, who are like five tracks from Coldplay playing simultaneously.

And do TV soundtrack programmers really take more risks than mainstream radio programmers? If by "risk" you mean playing a band whose name isn't a household word, perhaps. But if by "risk" you think of exposing an audience to a style of music they wouldn't normally come into contact with, forget it.

And Calamar admits this isn't so much about artistry as bottom lines:
"And on a practical level," Calamar continues, "there's an affordability factor -- it's a lot more economical to license a new artist. That's not the first thing anybody thinks of, but there's always a budget to work within, and it's a win-win when you can find something that's great and affordable. The band's thrilled to get the exposure, and you're thrilled to get a song that works and helps establish a show's personality."

There is the attraction of a band with no track record: they don't come with a high price tag.

If they sound like Coldplay, of course, that's just a bonus.


Anonymous said...

If Coldplay is hot, then let's play five more bands that sound like Coldplay

How exactly is this risky?

James said...

It reminds me of a quite sweet article I read a few years ago, where someone from a record company described how they'd sent regular parcels of CDs and posters to the Eastenders offices, in the hope that they'd end up gracing the walls and jukeboxes of Albert Square. It sounded like a loveably cheeky bid to get some free airplay for their acts.

Trust the American media to turn it into a joyless demographicised industry. I'm all for finding new music, but this is hardly going to be revolutionary stuff, is it? I won't be throwing out my radio and buying a Dawson's Creek box-set in the hope of discovering a new love for hardcore Belgian techno any time soon.

What's the point in telling OC viewers "Hey, you like Daniel Powter? You should try the Fray! They sound exactly the same!"?

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