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January 27, 2005

Popularity and diversity

Found an interesting article that argues that too much diversity can make people jaded about choice. I think this is spot on, and it's why a lot of the hyperbolic suggestions about the Internet providing venue for lots of alternative music and art to suddenly become popular was utter bollocks.

This blogger is referring to Satellite radio programming, which provides 70 channels of music he could listen to. After a brief period of experimentation, he now limits himself to a few that he know work for him. This is a "media consumer" behaviour that is repeated time and again around the world. In fact, it's not limited to media - pick a product and you see it happen there, too.

See, people like journalists, radio programmers and their ilk because they reduce the need to make choices. I don't want to know wverything that's going on in my world - just the interesting bits. Hence, the work of a journalist as "gatekeeper" is important. Similarly, listening to the radio is grewat because it provides a variety of music without me having to get up and decide what I want to hear. Sometimes it's great to hear something that I wouldn't have put on if given the choice.

However, that's not to say that the Internet hasn't been a breath of fresh air in terms of choice. The big record companies have, for too long, limited the choices too narrowly because that limits their risk (and maximises their profits) in the marketplace. From a music fan's point of view, not good.

Take my two favourite radio stations MMMFM and 97.3FM, for example. Triple M is part of the Austereo network - very uch in the lap of the majors - and plays lots of classic rock, a bit of pop ... pretty mainstream stuff. I like 97.3 because they play a LOT more music and less ads, talkative show hosts, "humour" and so on. They play up the variety of music they play - but it's pretty much mainstream pop and a bit painful at times.

So, I tend to switch between the two. But Triple M have just run "The Essential 2005 Countdown" in which they played 2005 songs nominated by listeners as "essential". Now THAT was a breath of fresh air. Some songs I hadn't heard for ages, some I'd rather not hear again for a while - but plenty of programmed variety. and they seem to be making a concerted effort to keep playing things people don't hear everywhere else (every so often).

On the other hand, 97.3 plays a reasonable variety during the day - not too many repeats - but the same set day after day! I think it's on a two-week roster. Listen on Monday and you can pretty much predict what you're going to hear for teh rest of the week. This gets very frustrating and makes me change back to the talkative hosts.

The point of this rant, I guess, is that people make these choices all the time. There are plenty of other stations in Brisbane that I could listen to but usually don't. Normally, that's because I pretty much get what I want from one of those two stations and am not sure what I'll get from the others.

I just wish they's play my tunes ...

Posted by Huge at January 27, 2005 11:55 AM

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