Independent radio stations have long provided a platform for true musical exploration, and we need them now more than ever
Times are unpredictable for independent radio: with arts funding in low supply, and the looming competition of streaming sites like Spotify and Apple Music, the future of independent radio stations is uncertain at best. Under this pressure, indie radio stations have been dropping like flies, stalwarts like Berlin Community radio are closing their doors: “We reached a dead end and spirits have fallen low after losing all funding in 2018. We realize for many this comes as a shock and surprise but unfortunately, as it is, BCR is not a sustainable model.” While streaming platforms clearly take the top spot when it comes to music discovery, Jeff Ihaza theorizes that independent radio may be the way forward.
Music discovery beyond the algorithim
However, even under this pressure, enthusiasm for online radio and the potential for listeners seems huge. Stations like NTS based in London, and Brooklyn’s Half Moon Radio garner up to a quarter of a million listeners every month. Away from the input of algorithms, DJs can play a massive variety of music, and this may be the future of music discovery.
The historical context behind indie radio
Independent radio surfaced at a time when official–and legal–radio wouldn’t play less-known genres. Pirate radio can be credited with the rise of techno, grime, garage and more. It seems that in 2019, alongside the seemingly ubiquitous use of algorithms that narrow the possibilities of true exploration, the desire for independent radio could see a resurrection.
See more of Jeff Ihaza’s thoughts over at Pitchfork.