BAYOU CITY SOUL/BLUES AND RADIO
Radio programmers in the 1980’s and 1990's almost programmed Soul/Blues music out of existence, whereas the space devoted to Soul/Blues music in record stores and the sales of Soul/Blues CD's increased dramatically in the same time period. An inquisitive person might ask, how is this possible? After all, the conventional wisdom says that sales of recordings are very much dependent on airplay. The more airplay (essentially free advertising) the more sales. If there is no airplay of a recording , a consumer's knowledge of the product is typically limited to word of mouth, which is a far less efficient means of advertising. Then how can Soul/Blues sales be increasing dramatically with no air play? Radio Programmers and others in the radio industry have failed to catch wind of a major revolution in the listening habits of adults. In order to understand what is happening in the music industry, it is necessary to understand what led us to this point.
A LITTLE HISTORY
In the 50's and 60's there were Top 40 stations and classical stations. Virtually all forms of popular music ( R&B, Rock, Country and Pop ) could be heard on the Top 40 stations. It was not unusual to hear George Jones, Sam Cooke, Little Richard, the McGuire Sisters and Elvis, all in the same half hour. There were a few R&B stations and Country stations, but most of the USA heard all "new music" on Top 40. In the 60's Country became a stand-alone format and disappeared from Top 40. Rock, R&B and Pop continued as predominately Top 40, but in the early 70's Rock began to fragment. Album Rock (playing album cuts rather than just singles) became a factor, pulling away more serious Rock listeners, but for the most part, Top 40, which was starting to be called Contemporary Hits Radio (CHR) , was still the home for most Rock fans as well as R&B fans. In fact, for the vast majority of the Rock Era, Rock and R&B fans were essentially the same people, and every year the audience became larger and larger as new listeners came to CHR while older listeners stayed on. At the end of this "era" in radio, which came in the late 80's, the age demographic of the audience was an extremely broad 12 to 49. The only other radio format with that broad an age demographic was Country. More about Country later.
In the late 80's the audience for Rock & Roll music, Soul music (R & B) and Pop music began to fragment. The "Punk" ,"Grunge", "Acid", and "Heavy Metal" factions, which had formerly be strictly an underground movement in Rock, took control of the majority of new listeners in the 12-24 age group. In the R&B field, "Rap" and "Hip Hop" did the same, siphoning off the younger listeners. No longer were youngsters and their parents listening to the same music. Even new Pop music was so strongly influenced by Grunge and Rap that it no longer was attractive to adults. Those over 24 generally detested most of the new forms of Rock and R&B music and therefore would not listen to a station that featured new music. Radio programmers then began scrambling for the adult rock audience which incidentally is much larger and more economically powerful than the pre-adult rock audience.
THE REDISTRIBUTION OF THE AUDIENCE
The fragmentation of the Rock/R&B/Pop music format has taken many twists and turns. One of the first new formats to become successful was Rock/R&B Oldies. This is a totally retrospective format featuring music from the 50's and 60's. Essentially it is like turning on the radio thirty years ago. There are now Oldies stations featuring the 70's, which is the same idea 10 years later. Another angle revolves around the premise that a large portion of the adult audience which was formerly into Top 40/CHR likes only "soft" music. There are also Classic Rock stations , Album Rock stations and stations that feature a mixture of established hits from the past with the new music that is most palatable to adults.
The various treatments are numerous, and confusing, but the essential point to remember is that all these formats are subdividing the former Rock/R&B audience that left CHR in the late 80's. They are not designed primarily to capture new (young) listeners and most do not showcase new music as a rule. The words "established hits" are heard frequently. Adult stations in the 90's (once again, other than Country ) are leery of new music until it is well established and generally considered a hit.
Bayou City Soul and Blues Radio features the very best New Blues and newly reissued Classic Blues, Adult R&B, Adult Soul, Blues Rock, Zydeco Blues, and Gospel. Click Here To Listen