Vintage Radio player and clock in room with green wall,

What’s the future of alt-rock radio in the age of streaming?

Technology has been tried to kill off radio for decades, but the oldest of all media is still here and still profitable, powerful, and popular. But things are a-chaningin’, especially when it comes to how we all access and consume music.

This article from the New York Times is (a) pre-pandemic; and (b) written very much from an American point of view, but is still an interesting read. (Via Rick)

“It was still light out, early on a weekday evening this summer, when dozens of contest winners, radio station employees and advertisers packed a small Manhattan music hall for what was not exactly a display of rock ’n’ roll bacchanalia.

“Free pizza was scattered about and people waited patiently as the station hosting the event — ALT 92.3 (WNYL-FM), New York City’s only major contemporary rock station — was piped in at a respectable volume. Songs by Red Hot Chili Peppers, the All-American Rejects and 311, each more than a decade old, played to little notice. But a cheer of recognition bubbled up for “Quarter Past Midnight” by the British group Bastille, which was scheduled to take the stage to celebrate its recent album release with an intimate performance.

“After three minutes of glossy, post-Coldplay pop-rock, the crowd once again quieted for “Somebody That I Used to Know,” the 2011 No. 1 hit by Gotye, as it awaited the four men of Bastille in the flesh.

“This, in a nutshell, is what local alternative radio looks and sounds like at the moment, in a time of streaming, hip-hop dominance and not-so-much rocking: a selection of throwback favorites from mid-90s and early 2000s hitmakers — Green Day, Weezer, Sublime and others that could pass as classic rock for old millennials and young Gen-X-ers — plus newer, often synth- or electronic-based and pop-crossover folk from acts like Of Monsters and Men, Smith & Thell and Matt Maeson, whose song “Cringe” recently spent four weeks atop Billboard’s Alternative Songs chart.”

Keep reading.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 37434 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

One thought on “What’s the future of alt-rock radio in the age of streaming?

  • SO MANY classic 90s alt-rock albums are still missing from streaming services. I don’t remember everything I’ve been missing off hand, but I need to keep my CDs/MP3 library around specifically for when I want to listen to classic Therapy? albums, Chapterhouse, Suede, Adorable, Mega City Four.

    I don’t think it explains everything, but I believe some of these are caught in licensing hell (in Canada at least) from Universal acquiring A&M back in the day.


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