Thursday, July 23, 2009

Are MySpace Playlists as Edgy as College Radio?

Record Library at KALX

How many things can take the place of college radio (which still exists!)?

The New York Observer article, "MySpace Music Will Make Stars out of Little People," recaps a recent presentation by MySpace Music President Courtney Holt at the New Music Seminar (I had no idea this conference from days of yore had been resurrected). According to the piece:

"[Holt] plans to take advantage of MySpace Music's edge over Apple's iTunes and Amazon: social media metrics and user-generated content. Mr. Holt plans to make the site a data goldmine for figuring out what's going to be the next big thing in pop music--helpful not only to artists and users, but producers and agents, too. They'll publish trends, track influencers and create lists of top-played and playlisted content of not only major bands and artists but also of all the independent work on millions of MySpace artist pages."

Additionally, Holt explains the benefits of the MySpace community in terms of helping to expose indie and obscure music acts. Along with that, he actually extols the benefits of college radio's more diverse music offerings, comparing what one hears on college radio to the user-created MySpace playlists:

"He added that there aren't as many 'loud media outlets,' like radio, that are willing to take chances on new artists. 'Despite the fact that I think the iPod shuffle has changed the minds of the consumer, most radio stations don't have permission, outside of maybe college radio stations, to play Miles Davis and Bad Brains back to back. You just don't hear that,' he said. 'And yet if you look at the types of playlists that people are creating on our platforms, they are that. You get randomness, you get obscure, you get songs that come from different places and it doesn't feel like a sonic trainwreck, like things just bombarding you. People, they want that randomness, and that notion that they're in control of their programming.'"

He makes a really interesting point here that when creating their own online playlists, music lovers will play unknown artists and mix genres and styles of music in much the same way that a college radio DJ might.

So maybe MySpace Music can be the new college radio.

I'm intrigued to see where they take things. But, of course, I remain loyal to the massive libraries of physical music at college radio stations. I enjoy ceding control to the DJ (when I'm not on the air myself!) and allowing myself to discover new sounds. Discovery. That's what listening to radio is about for me.

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