Monday, January 23, 2012

The Toughest Jobs In Music City

This time, as noted in my previous missive, of potentially smaller reporting panels for BDS and Mediabase charts as two major groups move to standardize many more monitored stations' music should be a major opportunity for a reliable and, hopefully, larger sample of more stations that could be looked on by the industry as THE chart.

I certainly don't question any chart editor's right to add and drop reporters, but at a time of great opportunity for the country format, it would be a shame if the convergence of a smaller number of major group programmers controlling an increasing number of reporting playlists, homogenizing the top of the national charts and a larger portion of new reporters coming from the ranks of "easy add" stations preferred by the promotion community made the charts less trustworthy.

Over the years, large groups have diminished the impact of "independents" on their playlists after signing consent decrees, yet admitting no wrongdoing. Payola/plugola laws remain in effect, of course, and due to human nature, require careful and constant vigilance.

Rumors out of Nashville make me worry that the major trades are wrestling with all of this, contemplating cutting their panel of reporters based on a very, very, very troubling criteria --- the songs they report (or do not report)?

A very disturbing possibility, which would harm the format, I believe: if you don't play unfamiliar new music by unproven new artists that is being pushed by certain companies who are financially supportive of the trades your reporting status may be in jeopardy!

My fear (and maybe that's all it is - groundless fear) is that if chart editors and their friends in the music business don't like your playlist decisions, they will drop you as a reporter.

This is hypocrisy, ethical bankruptcy, dishonesty and damned frightening!

It is not news that the trades are subject to powerful pressures, of course. BUT - dropping stations because they don't like the songs the station reports is in essence telling us, "If there is no one at the station who can be influenced, we don't care what they are playing."

Trades should reflect what is being played by successful, winning radio stations. Period. They should NOT dictate how those songs are selected.

In tomorrow's post, let's put ourselves into the shoes of Lon Helton, Wade Jesson and David Ross and ponder what we'd do if we were in their position right now.

1 comment:

Scott Fuller said...

I'm sure you may disagree Jaye, but I personally feel that the gradual dismantling of the 'chart system' would be the best thing to happen to country radio moving forward.

Of course, I use charts to verify music decisions I make.

But ask the question: 'what if they weren't there tomorrow?' We still have a log to schedule, full of what the audience wants to hear and separates us from the other guys.

It might force we radio programmers to do something that's deeply fallen from our daily routine: caring what our own audience has to say. Sure, we'd still play the A+ from Nashville, but I'll bet we'd give a lot more spins to the B- in our own backyard over Nashville's third or fourth tier.

And just imagine the thousands of different 'types' of country radio 'mini formats' that would follow in their wake. Call letters with character once again.

I don't hate charts, and I'm not saying tomorrow, but it is starting to look like the way the business is going in general.