Over on Crunch Gear, Nicholas Deleon tried to make the case that no one finds new music using commercial radio anymore, as social networks, Last.fm and so on have superseded it. He specifically targets “commercial” radio for some reason, but it doesn’t really matter. I’m really not convinced any “muso” has ever used daytime commercial music stations to discover music. But at night, when they specialist DJs came out, that was when things got interesting.
I would probably agree with Nicholas about finding commercial music radio pretty horrible – but it was horrible before the internet! If you don’t want to hear classics, or the top ten on rotation: don’t listen to those show. There’s plenty of other good stuff on the radio.
However, that’s not the point. The argument that the internet has killed radio is wrong. The sensible radio broadcasters are using the internet as their broadcast medium, so as an industry it should do just fine. BBC radio‘s listen again service is hugely popular, for example. It is true that you can use Myspace, Twitter, FaceBook, Spotify , Last.fm and so on to discover new music, but as radio stations, Last.fm and Pandora miss out the personal touch that you get with a DJ.
The best DJs can give you a constant stream of new and exciting music, often programmed so the tracks fit together well. For every shouty-trendy Portuguese act you find on the internet, listen to a good radio show and you’ll probably hear it there first. Of course, chances are you’ll have been streaming your radio show over the internet, so I think it’s better to say that the Internet is saving the radio show. Much like MTV didn’t hail the death of radio in the 80s, it’s premature to write its obituary today.