Indie musicians tout LPFM


A group of independent musicians joined Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA) in a discussion of LPFM with trade magazine Billboard. They were looking forward to its emergence as an alternative outlet for artists such as themselves.

Erin McKeown, Nicole Atkins and the Indigo Girls were the artists. They represent the type who are generally excluded from “narrow and homogenized” radio playlists. The note that even the best of the local and national independent artists have much chance to get on the radio.

Noting that not everybody has easy access to web or satellite radio options, McKeown added, “There are also a lot of people who listen to the radio in their cars out of habit, and it’s easier for them to flip to a new channel than convert to satellite.”

To that end, they are looking forward to a time when local radio stations provide a new outlet for locals and indies.

“Low-power FM is about creating opportunities and forcing the big broadcasters to compete,” Future of Music Coalition’s Michael Bracy says. “People have a huge desire for these stations. They want to feel like the radio station they are listening to is part of their community.”

RBR-TVBR observation: We’d love for artists to benefit from any media outlet, but we just don’t see LPFM as being able to contribute more than a trickle of support to the artists that make it onto LPFM airwaves. Understand that as well-educated reporters with eclectic and highly developed musical tastes, we sincerely would welcome a radio home for great and varied artistic musical talent across a wide variety of genres.

We believe that local radio stations help themselves out when they adopt an extreme local focus – but that does not mean they can get away with doing so while ignoring big national acts. The fact is that most people want to hear those acts – bringing them into the local market is in fact serving the local public.

So when we urge stations to make room for local talent, and to make from-the-gut national choices that are off the current beaten path, we are not suggesting they do so while ignoring the charts; nor can most afford to break format more than once in awhile, unless eclectic is their format.

We understand McKeown’s desire to be on the radio in somebody’s car, but anybody on an interstate will drive out of range of an LPFM in a matter of five minutes, traffic willing. It will only be a little better on more crowded streets and avenues.

The lack of range, the eclectic playlist these artists are looking for and the lack of a tight rotation means it will be a matter of chance as to which of their number is heard by a member of the audience at any given time. The odds that any artist will be able to ride an LPFM surge to even moderate recording sales seem like a fantasy. We wish that was not the case, but all logic dictates that it is.

The exception to this will be the LPFM station that manages to strut its stuff with an excellent web presence. That is the way for them to put some kilowattage into their 0.1 KW stick, and we hope some are able to pull it off and truly forward eclectic music.