Thursday, 16 January 2014

Where Is My Mind? - They Play Music On The Radio...

...And That's The Way I Like It
by Jo Michelmore

In case you missed the storm in the teacup, a few words were spoken this week about a certain radio station, let’s call it, triple J, and in this article an anonymous musician said something about this radio station not being very fair in the decisions they make about what music they play. This musician says they have been somewhat 'forced' to write music to cater to this station and that's what lots of bands/singers/musicians apparently do. Other musicians responded, as did Triple J and a whole bunch of people offered their opinions. Now it's my turn.

I'm neither a fan of the station in question, nor do I dislike it. I like music, so whichever station is playing music, I like. I don't like everything any one station plays which is great; if I liked everything JJJ played, when would I ever get the chance to flick to Nova to hear what Jason Derulo is up to these days? If I liked everything Nova played, when would I get a chance to flick to my local community station and hear some random hardcore local punk? All radio is good, regardless of what is played or how it got there.

My radio. Not joking. I didn't name it Bush.

While I don't wish to go on about things, this is a music blog and there were a couple of things about this whole debacle and the subsequent backlash/hoopla/publicity afterward (which is still continuing) that made me feel, as a lover of all things music, let's see...what's the word…

Confused? Angry? Questioning? Annoyed? Happy?

All of those things, one would say. So, since we left off last week on an Australian band that were once darlings of JJJ and then some other commercial stations later on, it seems a perfect time to look at some other Australian musicians that have been darlings of JJJ for a minute or two, and also some other stations as well.

Where is my mind? Let's start with somewhere it often is; confused.

First of all, this is news? This is the music industry. Music is a beautiful thing, that can't be denied. So while at the heart of the music industry is beautiful music, once you start to sell it, it becomes a commodity. Once people can buy or sell something, of course people who can make some cash are going to get involved and radio stations, commercial or government funded, are going to do what they do and play 'popular' music on their stations, whatever they decide popular is, because the point of radio is to have people listen. What people don't seem to understand is that this doesn't make any music any less beautiful.  It doesn’t matter whether you’re listening to Beyonce, a busker or Blasko, if you connect with music, it doesn’t matter which station plays it, that beautiful musical relationship is yours.

Let's get to my anger issues then. While trawling the internets reading the comments about JJJ and their programmer, Richard Kingsmill, there seemed to be a theme occurring. Lots of people were lashing out at the fact that this 'youth' radio station has a programme director who is (close to) fifty years old and therefore, apparently too old to be programming for this ‘youth’ station. I'm not going to say I'm the biggest fan of ol' Kingsmill, but you know what I say to those people?

Don't be so fucking dumb. Music has no age. If you think it does, it’s simple. You're wrong.

It doesn't matter how old you are, guitars are guitars, drums are drums, keyboards are keyboards, anger is anger and music is music. It doesn't matter if you like Ngaiire, Nickelback (but please don't) or Northlane, you relate to music however you want at whatever age you want.

So what is it I'm questioning? There's one little thing I question and it's based on an old saying, which is "any publicity is good publicity". The station in question is currently running a competition for a vote driven countdown. Is it coincidence or convenience that such an article be published days before the voting on this countdown ends? Hmmmmm. Things to ponder. Things to think about are the songs that have made number one on said countdown, which have been wide and varied over the years. Not one genre, not one type, it doesn’t matter how biased the programming may or may not be, each year lots of different songs make it to the top hundred. It doesn't matter if you're more San Cisco than Scissor Sisters or more Something For Kate than Silverchair, they're all bands that have made the top ten in the hottest 100 and they're all different genres, all played by one government funded station and a bunch of commercial stations as well. Interesting.

Which reminded me of Mackelmore which brings me to annoyed, because who voted for that? Each to their own. I digress. Why else annoyed? Because who cares about this anyway? If you're a musician, you write music because you have to, not because you want to. It's not a choice, it's who you are. If it gets played on a radio station, that's fantastic, but if it doesn't….it doesn't. That's life. I don't get paid to write on this blog, I do it 'cause I love it, which is generally (hopefully) the same thing most musicians are doing. Life would be easy if everyone got paid to do what they love, but that's just not the way things are. Grouplove or Gaga, Gotye or the old guy that plays that mean sax on the mall in my city. You like music, you play music, you feel better, whether a radio station plays it or not.

Which brings me to happy. Yeah, totally happy. You know why? Because when things like this get publicity, it means people start talking about music and you know what I think about that. Music is the most beautiful thing in the world, so why wouldn't I want people to talk about it? The Preatures or Prince, Powderfinger or Pink Floyd, I don't care. Talk negatively, talk positively, talk talk talk talk, just keep talking about it. Then when the music starts playing, stop talking, start singing and start dancing.

Because music. Isn't it awesome?

And just as a special treat for those who've stuck through all my words, a little something about said radio station, JJJ. Whether you think it's true or not, it is kinda funny.

Next week, where will my mind lead you? I know already. Less talking, more music....

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