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July 25, 2010

The audience is listening (and buying)

The widespread adoption of radio saw the beginning of broadcast propaganda, in which messages that blatantly took one side of the World War II conflict were broadcast in the direction of the other side. These messages were intended to demoralise listeners by taunting them with stories of their losses and threats of imminent attack.

The Third Reich's propaganda machine made a fine art of combining stirring music by German composers with patriotic images and public displays of strength to encourage the German people's support for their policies.

During this period, less idealistic radio programmers discovered that people liked to hear popular recordings of the day on their radios. Playing these recordings attracted an audience, to whom advertisers would pay money to have messages broadcast.

In time, music was combined with broadcast messages to sell everything from fast food, computers, and health insurance to patriotism, election policies and government initiatives.

The recording makers discovered that people were more likely to buy recordings if they heard them on the radio. The processes and technologies for making a 'broadcast quality' musical product became expensive and payola was born.

Rock 'n roll, punk and hip hop music each developed as alternatives to the culture that dominated the airwaves. However, as each increased in popularity its creators were bought or copied by record makers chasing a profitable new musical 'product'.

The acquisition of record makers by companies that owned broadcast technologies made the process of creating hit records more efficient. It also reduced the diversity of music to which the general public was exposed.

The power of radio can make people flee in terror.


Broadcast technologies proved the most effective way to use music to sell ideology, power, and technology. Being able to control the content as well as the technologies of production and distribution gave a few companies incredible market power.

This post is the summary of Part 1 of Dr Huge's "How the record industry got it so wrong". The latest version of the complete ebook can be downloaded here and a hard copy can be ordered here.
Posted by DrHuge at July 25, 2010 10:21 AM

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