Alternative radio playing the right stuff? Other questions…

Mumford & Sons breaking the U.S. through airplay, touring, word of mouth

Some interesting questions: Should alternative radio consider tweaking its music? Why is it so difficult for UK indie bands to crack the United States market? Why the scarcity of rock on recent UK singles charts?

The alternative format has recently relied heavily on 90’s music. Noted industry commentator Sean Ross is always on the lookout for new music approaches that can be employed at stations in various formats nationwide. Of course there are many sides to this debate, but you can read his take in his September 30 and October 5 posts here. He argues that a fresher sound would help stations retain listeners in the 12-24 demographic. National consultant Dave Lange in a letter to Sean posted October 5, suggests that the format needs tastemaker leaders. Further input from programming leaders can be found in Sean’s October 12 post. I believe that Sirius XM’s Alternative Nation channel is the future. They’re hooky and melodic, and they add indie bands far earlier than most stations in the format.

Former WOXY Program Director Mike Taylor has a cool new music blog and podcast called The Big Beat. Check out his article on the difficulty found by English bands trying to break in the U.S. Bottom line is they’ve got to tour, tour, and tour.  Then tour again.

Speaking of the UK, we always used to be able to look to them for the coolest hit rock singles, but their charts are no longer filled with exciting new rock-oriented artists. The record industry bible Music Week reported that through August, the top 100 year to date singles included only 5 songs that can be classified as rock or indie: Two by Florence & the Machine, one each by Mumford & Sons, Pendulum, and (get this!), Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing”.  From what a BBC Radio 1 exec tells me, it’s not that they don’t want to play more guitar-oriented and indie-electro music. They just don’t feel there’s much in the genres that they can get behind right now.

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