Do Record Companies/Radio Decide What Is Popular??

Do Record Companies/Radio Decide What Is Popular (Pop Music)?

Throughout my time on audio forums, Facebook groups and Pro Audio circles, I often hear this one theme that comes up which I feel needs to be corrected. And I also consider it to be a nice learning opportunity as far as how things really work.

Do record companies or radio decide what is Popular?

The answer is a definite and very clear “No”.

The problem that I believe most people struggle with is that they think, if they don’t like something, why would anyone else? Quite narcissistic if you ask me but I think humans are wired to want to connect with each other. So when many people disagree, we claim foul play. Something must be wrong. We’ll say, “This is a terrible song. Why would anyone like this? The labels and radio are clearly trying to convince us that this is a great song when it’s not”.

Fortunately, for us (and unfortunately for the labels) that’s not how any of this works. Not even close. Think about it. If the labels could get you to buy, listen to or consume the music that they “choose”, why would they pay Artists so much to make it? Why would they be signing dozens of new acts each year if you’re going to buy whatever they put out anyway? And more notably, why do they sign so many artists and spend millions on them, to have them fail at such a high rate?

McDonalds sells millions of burgers every year. How often do they chase down the hottest hamburger to get you to buy it? Do they pay millions of dollars to get the best recipes on a monthly basis?

The record business and radio is not the same thing at all. They search for new product all of the time. Because that’s what the listener wants. They chase down every hot wave or new sound they can find. They need Artists and they need to know what people want to hear. That’s how they operate.

They would LOVE to keep pumping out the same songs by the same 4 or 5 artists and never sign anyone new. But you won’t buy it.

What you consider to be Pop Music or at least Popular Music is nothing more than the record industry looking at what you do, what you buy and what they think you’re looking to listen to and simply giving it back to you. A musical mirror. If you will.

So in the end, if you or we don’t like what we’re getting. We only have ourselves to blame. Pop Music is us.

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I hope this message finds you well. Kenny Gioia