January 23rd, 2006


sign of Air America Radio death spiral?

My lady wife used to work for a dinner theater that shut down in October 2004. One of the things I noticed towards the end had to do with pre-show music.

The dinner theater paid money to ASCAP or BMI (or maybe both; I'm not sure whether one suffices) and in exchange got the right to play appropriate music before shows, e.g. Glenn Miller or the Andrews Sisters before It's A Wonderful Life (yes, there's a musical version). It would get the audience in the mood for the show. (I think it also allowed them free choice of music used as sound effects in a show, e.g. if at some point a character has a radio, tape, etc. playing, they could freely select music appropriate to the time and character.)

Marrying an actor increased my theater-going considerably, and so I noticed when that practice changed. At some point not long before the theater's demise, they stopped playing appropriate music before shows. Instead, they had some generic background music that was played before shows—the same stuff for each show. Evidently they'd switched to royalty-free music. It was bland and utterly unrelated to the show, and I think it detracted from the audience's experience.

I'm reminded of that by something I have read about Air America Radio... they've taken to running music in breaks where one would expect commercials to be. People are complaining about the music, and sure enough, the music appears to be (1) lousy music and (2) royalty-free (see this thread at Democratic Underground and this thread at the Air America Place forum). Explanations vary; some claim that it appears where local stations haven't sold commercial time, and some claim that it only appears on audio streams (the latter claim is contradicted by others who say they hear it on over-the-air broadcasts).

I can't help wondering whether Air America Radio is as close to folding as the dinner theater was when they switched to royalty-free music as filler.
  • Current Music
    something royalty-free