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Radio Radio by jason
September 4, 2009, 2:09 pm
Filed under: NPR, Pop, Radio

by jason

One of the fundamental principles of Capitalism is that the Invisible Hand of the market weeds out the weak and rewards innovation. We hear this argument a lot these days from those who suggest that a public option in healthcare would stop any new medicines from being developed and would cause the entire medical industry to flatline.

However, if this principle were as universally true as pundits would have you think, then how do you explain radio? I propose that your radio is proof that the Invisible Hand is very fallible.

Take for instance, your local rock station. Go listen to it for an hour.

No, really, do it. I’ll wait.

Oh, hey! You’re back! So…what Guns N’ Roses song did they play? Sweet Child of Mine? Or was it Paradise City?

What about Zeppelin? I know they played some Zeppelin.

Metallica? Was it early, good Metallica, or the later stuff?

Not to knock any of those bands…if they’re your thing, that’s fine. Keep listening. You’ll never discover anything new, anything that challenges the mold and attempts to advance the genre, but hey, whatever.

Now another experiment. Flip through the pop stations. It should only take a minute.

Ok…which one was playing Black Eyed Peas? Or was there more than one doing it?

“But jaynova,” you may say. “What’s wrong with them playing popular music? It’s popular because it’s good!”

Really? Is that why it’s popular? That stupid song about a “Disco Stick” by Lady GaGa is popular because it’s really the best there is?

Now, if you even have one, turn to your local publicly-funded music station. I’m not talking about that NPR one that’s playing the Classical music…the other one. Listen to it for an hour.

OK…how many of those songs would you say are a) Good, and B)songs you’ve never heard on the radio before? I’ll admit, the station in my neck of the woods plays some crap, but it also plays a lot of stuff that I like that I don’t hear anywhere else. It’s the only station around me that I’ve ever heard play Wilco or Andrew Bird.

And NPR? Well, I’ll admit, my NPR station doesn’t play a lot of music that’s not Classical, Jazz, Folk, or some genre we don’t even have in the states. However, I’ve heard them play The Mountain Goats and Belle and Sebastian.

So, in conclusion, you can argue about the merits and faults of Free-Market Capitalism, but that Invisible Hand has shitty taste in music. I don’t trust anyone with shitty taste in music.

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4 Comments so far
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But I love that song by Miley Cyrus. You know, the one about the mountain. It’s so inspirational. I can’t hear it enough!!!

Comment by Kelly

I think the problem with your analysis is that it is taking a conception of ‘the market’ that is two broad in scope. Capitalism is working exactly as advertised, you just don’t like the result.

I think there is some common misconception about how this works. In that you’re thinking ‘I have really great taste, but the radio won’t play my favorite musician(s)! If they did then everyone would have a “I could have had a V8!” moment and take to the streets to buy Mountain Goats CDs.’ Or something like that. That there is music that people would like if they were hearing it. Generally though the mean taste of the American listening public is pretty well set and established. Especially in this day and age, when if you’re even remotely curious about a new recording artist or genre, you’re seconds away from finding out if you like it.

Your analysis is that the concept of the ‘best’ only works in terms of a given category of something, and then it’s actually working really well. Like, tweens want to hear boy bands and syurpy pop music, so there is tremendous competition within that market to make the best syurpy pop music and get some of that tween moneh. Trying to define the best music out of all music is too broad, subjectivity basically negates your starting point.

So really, The Black Eyed Peas are the best. They are the best souless dance-rap group that white people like. Those four Zeppelin songs are the best four they’ve ever recorded, as judged by a market of unimaginative white guys that like ‘hard rock.’

Comment by exurban001

The Invisible Hand guided me to Hollywood Undead. Thanks, Invisible Hand.

Comment by Kelly

[…] you don’t want to put out such and such album, that’s really your business. There is a really false perception that if the listening public had all of this independent music available on the same level they […]

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