One of the things that I have learned is that “One man’s music can be another man’s Misery.” This means that while certain people may like certain styles of music there are others who may probably hate on them. Conventional radio stations often play songs that they believe will fit into certain categories. For instance, there are pop, country, reggae, gospel, r&b and oldie stations (just to name a few). While categorizing the music may help the station form its identity can this be harmful in any way? Throughout the years there have been many artists who attempted to “cross over” into other genres. Some of them were successful and some were not. When music is categorized does it impede the listener from hearing different choices? Also, do all artists stand an equal chance of having their music played on the stations they prefer? When you get the chance, check out a lot of the artists who are played on “country radio.” When you actually get to “see” what most of those artists look like, what do you notice? Then check out the artists who are played on “r&b” stations and tell me if you notice any difference there? Without going into detail you should be able to make a determination of your own. I guess I am saying that often our categories of music will reflect that “r” word (you know, the one that rhymes with “face”). A pop station will attract a certain type of audience. The same can be said for a hip hop station. However, if one of these artists decides to “change”their music so that it can fit into another genre (and it is good enough) can they be successful in getting their music played on other stations? A LOT of the African American artists that I have worked for (and I have worked for many) would have “loved” for their music to have been played on pop stations as well. Even though their music may have sold on the r&b charts they might have done even better with a pop audience. Some artists have been able to do so (but not all). Lionel Richie was often labeled a Black entertainer who basically made white sounding music. He got played on both r&b and pop stations during his heyday. Hall and Oates were a white duo that made predominantly black sounding music, so they got played on both stations as well. When they “discovered” Elvis they went “specifically looking” for a white artist who had a black sounding voice. When your music is categorized to fit into “different genres” you start to make more money (with a more diverse crowd) as an artist. When your music is categorized to fit into “only one” category then of course your earnings will be limited to that particular market. Most radio stations have a certain amount of artists that they fit into their regular rotation, so naturally those artists are the ones you will hear more of on those stations. Basically you hear the same ones that they promote most of the time. If music is universally pleasing, then it should be able to be heard by everyone. The categorization of music can help and hinder the listener (and the artist), because we all should love more choices. Until it gets to the point where we actually “can” hear more choices, we are stuck with what they offer us. There are LOTS of great artists that you will never hear of until you find a way to search for them. Don’t let the categorization of your music impede you from what you “want” to hear. There are MANY stations online that can possibly fit your tastes. Reach out and you just might be surprised at what you discover… Thank you for checking out my Daily Thought and as always I wish you the very best that life has to offer.
The late r&b artist Gerald Levert in concert with Brett Jolly on basss