Music radio and the record industry: songs, sounds and power
Percival, J. Mark
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Percival, J. (2011) Music radio and the record industry: songs, sounds and power, Popular Music and Society, vol. 34, , pp. 455-473,
The nature of the economic, social and cultural relations between the radio industry and the record industry is most often characterised by both academics and practitioners as symbiotic, that is, both parties benefit from the interaction. Music radio needs records to fill airtime and to attract audiences and the record industry needs the kind of pervasive exposure that airplay still provides to sell product and to build artist profiles. This paper argues that the symbiosis argument is an over-simplification of a complex set of relationships. Drawing on interviews with record industry promotions personnel (or 'pluggers') and music radio programmers, I make a case that not only does music radio hold the dominant position in the relationship between itself and the record industry but also that this has had important consequences in terms of record industry A&R practices (signing policy and release schedules) and the production of popular music recordings (the actual sounds on the records). The power of music radio extends far beyond simple promotion of records and artists - it has a profound influence on the sound of popular music and the shape of popular music culture.