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Selling Noise, Not Art

Recorded June 11, 2019 in San Diego

Alex Cosper talks about the decline of the alternative radio format and its music since the 1990s. He explains that at one time when he programmed an alternative station in the 90s he specifically looks for unique bands. He learned from the Beatles that the key to being a top artist is reaching a lot of different markets, yet the music industry has never seemed to learn that. Instead, it has pursued the "noise wars" that have made alternative radio unlistenable and unpopular in 2019. He quotes UMG CEO Julian Grainge, head of the world's biggest music label, as telling the New Yorker in 2012, "we're not here to sell art." Yet the industry still calls its products "recording artists."

The collapse of alternative music and the lingering "rock is dead" or "the guitar is dead" messages coming from mainstream media don't paint a very accurate picture of what rock fans want. Most people who grew up on rock like unique bands rather than bland formulas that the major labels keep releasing. The key to getting back to a vibrant music community is to encourage diversity and creativity. In other words, when it comes to alternative music it's better to stand out than blend in, otherwise, what's the point?

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