Thursday, September 10, 2015

9.10.15 Bee-otches of the Day: corporate radio and record labels

Bee-otch of the Day honors are awarded Monday through Thursday, Bee-otch of the Week is awarded Friday on



Names: record labels and corporate radio
Ages: various
Occupation: the people who choose what we listen to
Last Seen: everywhere
Bee-otched For: trying to kill rock and failing

What are three words that are nowhere near true?

"Rock is dead".

Last week, the rock band Disturbed scored their fourth straight #1 album on the Billboard 200 with Immortalized, the hard rock band's first album in five years. Led by the hit single "The Vengeful One", it's proof that despite bullshit from critics who claim that indie is the way to go these days, that there's still a market for good 'ol hard rock.

But it's not just Disturbed that's proud of their numbers, it's hard rock stations in Michigan that are all singing the praises as well. Last week, it was revealed that Detroit's WRIF had one of its best Nielsen books in ages: #4 with a 5.9. The three stations beating The Riff were 97.1 The Ticket (sports), WOMC 104.3 (classic hits) and sister station 94.7 WCSX (classic rock).

In the new rock category, The Riff soundly beat alternative counterpart 89X almost fourfold. The lowly Canadian station was 19th place with a measly 1.7. They are now Detroit's second-lowest music station, narrowly beating sister station 93.9 The River by a tenth of a point.

What might be the saddest of all is how LITTLE hard rock bands are getting promoted these days. Last year on Saturday Night Live, the closest to hard rock the show got was when the country group Zac Brown Band performed their surprise crossover hit "Heavy is the Head" with Chris Cornell. The rest of the year was loaded with pop acts and indie groups.

What's more astonishing is looking at Mediabase's rock charts. On the Active Rock charts, Shinedown's "Cut the Cord" is #1 with around 2,000 spins while #40 is occupied by a band called Bridge to Grace with a tune called "Everything" with only 126 spins. The Alternative chart, however, has Elle King's "Ex's and Oh's" at #1 with nearly 1,000 more spins than "Cut the Cord" with #40 being Moth and the Flame's "Young and Unafraid" with a healthier 256 spins.

Let's face it: active rock, ratings-wise, is healthier than alternative. We mentioned WRIF vs. 89X, but also look at here in Grand Rapids. WGRD is a perennial top five favorite. The last alt-rocker this market had, Radio X 9-6-1 couldn't make it to a 2 share and eventually flipped to ESPN. Even WGRD was alternative for years but got its ass whooped by WKLQ on a regular basis. Having a druggie as its morning show host didn't help WGRD, either.

Even a college-friendly market like Lansing couldn't support an alternative. The Edge died on both 92.1 and 94.1. Northern Michigan had The Zone which was odd since that market isn't the most-college-friendly in the state. Yet, that station ended up flipping to mainstream rock. Right now in Michigan, there's only one alternative station that does have ratings, and it's Z96.5 in Kalamazoo. That's probably because the only other rock stations in the market - 92.5 The Zoo and 107.7 WRKR - are both white trash-friendly classic rockers. Yes, there's people who don't mind sitting through Florence and the Machine and Twenty One Pilots to get to Foo Fighters and Shinedown. But then again, those groups are less wussy-sounding than Styx and Foreigner.

Personally, the only way an alternative station can survive is if there's no active rock station in the way. Sadly, it's pathetic that New York hasn't had a real rock - active or alternative - station in years. Yet there's good 'ol Nash FM 94.7, a station that will never get over a two share in the ratings.

The people have spoken: they CRAVE hard rock and even metal. Hell, the Butcher Babies have the #6 rock record in the country with VERY little promotion. I think it's time for record companies and stations to care more about what the fans want and less about the shots being called from San Antonio. Consultants have wrecked radio. Regular people want a good, kick-ass, balls to the wall rock band, not a dorky folk group that's a better sleeping aid than Ambien.

As my friend Lu Cifer once said, "there's a reason why it's called alternative, and it's an alternative to good music!"
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