In a clear sign of the rapidly worsening landscape for commercial radio and the major record labels, the bible of their symbiotic relationship, Radio & Records, has ceased publication. The June 5 issue will be last.
Record-label promotion staff and radio-station program directors lived and died by the trade publication, whose charts tracked the status of records at stations across the country. It was founded in 1973 when numerous labels competed for the ear of program and music directors, whose decisions about playing a record could make or break it. The labels fattened its pages with splashy ads announcing that a certain single was “going for adds” on such-and-such a date, hoping to create out-of-the-box impact that might snowball the song into a hit.
In a sense, the publication’s obituary was written well over a decade ago, when the Telecommunications Act of 1996 dramatically accelerated the consolidation of radio stations into a handful of chains that eliminated local control of programming. At the same time, the number of major labels shrank, and by the end of the ’90s, they were much more focused on disposable teen and pop acts that could be promoted on TV shows and other alternatives to radio. In addition, de facto payola filled playlists with songs that weren’t really popular with listeners. With the advent of the Internet and file-sharing, the role of radio as music tastemaker declined even more, and the distribution and promotion functions of major labels became obsolete. Once an essential read for people in the music business, R&R became a vestige of another era. — Anastasia Pantsios
We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.
Email us at [email protected].
Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club
Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.
Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.