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Saturday, February 2, 2013

Feeding Fingers vs. Clear Channel Communications & iHeartRadio



I don't often use Facebook, Twitter, etc. to address our friends or listeners about my own personal opinions about current events, or to discuss things not directly related to my band or creative endeavors. I just don't find these outlets to be appropriate for such things, but I recently received a contract from a college radio station in the USA (whom I will keep anonymous here - though it irritates me to do so). The contract was asking for my written approval to feature the new Feeding Fingers album for an agreed upon amount of time in rotation at their station. I have had a good, working relationship with this radio station since 2007. The previous three Feeding Fingers albums, "Wound in Wall", "Baby Teeth" and "Detach Me From My Head" have been in regular rotation there since their release. I signed the contract and returned it to the station manager, only to get a stock rejection letter stating that Feeding Fingers no longer meets the operational standards of said station and that, unfortunately, the station would not be able to put "The Occupant" into rotation. I was a bit confused as to why my band no longer met the "operational standards" of the radio station, considering that we seemed to have met their "standards" for a little more than five years beforehand. Then I read the fine print of the licensing contract. This COLLEGE radio station had SOMEHOW since the beginning of this year become a Clear Channel Communications affiliate. 

For those of you in the USA that have ever wondered why it is that nearly every commercial radio station in the country plays the same handful of bland, safe and sanitized bubble-gum pop music, salacious and empty-headed hip-hop and "R&B" (I hate using the term, "R&B" - in my opinion, real, respectable "R&B" more-or-less died with Sam Cooke and Marvin Gaye around 1982, or earlier) and this incredibly cautious, vapid and indistinctive 4/4 rock music day-in, day-out, 24/7 in quarterly and bi-annual cycles, it is because the "artists" that are being lubricated with Coca-Cola corn syrup and shoved into your ears have major sponsorships from soda-pop companies, cosmetic companies, perfume and clothing manufactures, etc., etc. who in turn have advertising partnerships with Clear Channel Communications - who essentially own not only the largest share of the most "relevant" radio stations in the country (whatever that means anymore), but they also have their oily fists (and sometimes possibly a foot or two and a tongue as well) deep inside whatever orifice(s) made available (often willingly) to them from almost every major concert venue and promoter in the country. Clear Channel is the reason why you can see any run-of-the-mill "alternative" rock group or lip-synching pop music choreographer any night of the week in every venue in your town, but not very many other artists / musicians that dare to engage their listeners on a level that (hopefully) aims to transcend something at least a little more valuable than mere "entertainment". These artists, as you know, do exist, but thanks to companies like Clear Channel Communications, these artists are not often given a megaphone large enough to be able to shout over all of the noise spewed out of such a massive organization. Clear Channel has been spearheading the homogenization of music, talk and information in general in the USA since 1972.

So, back to my opening statement. When I read that this COLLEGE radio station had, this year, become a Clear Channel affiliate via "iHeartRadio", I immediately ended my relationship with them entirely. Clear Channel has been slithering its way into college radio since last month (or a little earlier it seems) as a sort of 2013 New Year's resolution initiative, claiming to want to offer a helping hand to these tiny stations through the shared utilization of their incomparable resources thereby (in theory) opening their broadcasts up to a broader audience. In exchange, these college radio stations have to adopt "small portions" of Clear Channel programming and influence. In other words, and I am sure that they are just lovely little boys and girls, don't get me wrong, but be prepared to listen to entertainers like Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga (ad nauseum) in the very near future on your local college radio stations in between local, independent and unsigned bands. 

Radio is dead. Clear Channel Communications knows this. This is why they are trying their best to hang on to dear life by attempting to buy up as many radio properties and airspace as possible to try to keep themselves afloat. Their desperation lies so deep that they are making deals with with just about anyone on the planet with a mixer and a pair of headphones and in the process, squelching as many artists as possible that do not have advertising partnerships in some way with them - and it appears to be working.

With all of this said, those of you that run independent podcasts, e-zines, indie music blogs, etc. may not fully realize how important you are to people such as myself - even if your visitor statistics don't seem to show it. Don't let your low numbers discourage you from doing what you love to do. You are helping the artists that you appreciate more than you can imagine, really. To give a real-world and personal example, there is a very small online radio show based in North Carolina who happened to be playing music from my band one evening last year. We found one single listener living in the Midwest USA that night that made a contribution to our previous Kickstarter campaign that put us over the top that allowed for the successful funding of our new album, "The Occupant". It is often the little things that matter most. 

It is all of you smaller guys that make the biggest difference to independent artists and musicians such as myself. We have no chance with people that align themselves with cancers like Clear Channel. We aren't meant to. We aren't a part of that popular culture narrative and we likely never will be. You can shove your licensing contracts up your ass and I hope that the paper cuts deep on the way in. There will be plenty of people, just like me, standing behind you with a bottle of rubbing alcohol and a box of matches to light that paper wick peeping out from within your torn, purple and red little anus just to make it hurt a little bit more.

Thank you to everyone, you discriminative few, that have invested your attention and your resources into those of us who have not submitted and likely never will, to Clear Channel's rules and expectations.     

Your Friend,
Justin