16 August 2007

A sad sign of Corporate America gone wrong

Regarding the "Rock the Bells" hip-hop concert tour with a sold-out San Francisco show this saturday the 18th:
"Sunday - August 19th - Sacramento, CA - Sleep Train Amphitheatre - Cancelled
Refunds available at original point of purchase.

The Rock the Bells Festival date scheduled for Sunday, August 19 at the Sleep Train Pavilion near Sacramento, CA has unfortunately been cancelled due to slow ticket sales. Fans will be able to receive full refunds at their original point of purchase. The tour will be in the Northern California area on Saturday, August 18 for a sojavascript:void(0)
Publish Postld out show at McCovey’s Cove in San Francisco.

Festival founder Chang Weisberg from promoter Guerilla Union adds, 'I am disappointed that we weren't able to sell enough tickets to bring the full Rock The Bells experience to Sacramento this year. Unfortunately our San Francisco show was too popular. We know that over 4,000 people are coming from the Sacramento area based on our online ticket sales info. We kinda hurt ourselves with our own ambition to play Sacramento this year. We hope to bring Rock The Bells back to this area very soon.'"


Well, I feel sorry for all the fans of good hip-hop residing in the Central Valley who have to drive another 90 minutes just to get to cold San Francisco. The Bay Area is big enough that there's actually "nonconformist" hip-hop fans like me who can look beyond the corporate monsters of Wild 94.9, BET, and MTV to listen to underrated hip-hop MC's who don't get much media exposure. Well, you have exceptions like Kanye West and Lupe Fiasco, but we can't totally rely on big corporate media to give us the new stuff from talented MC's like Nas, Wu-Tang Clan, Public Enemy, Cypress Hill, Redman, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, etc. We have to suffer all the terrible derivative mindless pop-rap from G-Unot, Ugly Ricky, DTP, etc on the corporate media. The cancellation of the Rock the Bells show in Sacramento due to poor sales shows just how corporate America with its media consolidation can affect "smaller" markets like Sacramento and silence the voices of new and upcoming artists.

Media consolidation has been a big issue among the Creative Voices of America since the Telecommunications Act of 1996 relaxed rules on media consolidation. Nowadays, we have only a few big media corporations giving us what we hear on radio, responsible for influencing music sales, so let's have a look at how the radio is owned, shall we??
Clear Channel Communications owns these radio stations locally, in the San Francisco Bay Area:
- KSJO-FM "92.3 La Preciosa" (Mexican oldies)
- KYLD-FM "Wild 94.9" (hip-hop)
- KUFX "98.5 KFOX" (classic rock)
- KIOI 101.3 (pop)
- KDON 102.5 (hip-hop)
- KKSF 103.7 (jazz)
- KCNL 104.9 (alternative rock)
- KMEL 106.1 (hip-hop, with a more "open-to-the-underground" playlist than 94.9)
- KNEW-AM 910 (conservative talk)
- KKGN-AM 960 (liberal talk)
Empire broadcasting owns these local stations:
- KRTY 95.3 (country)
- KLIV-AM 1590 (news)
CBS Corporation:
- KITS 105.3 "Live 105" (alternative rock, but their playlist is more open to indie acts than does the over-corporate KCNL)
- KCBS-AM 740 (news)
Cumulus broadcasting:
- KFFG 97.7 (San Jose)/KFOG 104.5 (San Francisco) - adult album alternative
- KSAN-FM "107.7 the Bone" (hard rock)
- KNBR-AM 680/KTCT-AM 1050 (both stations run under "KNBR" banner, sports format)
The Walt Disney Company:
- KSFO-AM "Hot Talk 560" (conservative talk)
- KGO-AM "News Talk 810" (news & talk)
- KMKY-AM 1310 "Radio Disney" (children's)
- KOIT 96.5 (light pop)
- KDFC 102.1 (classical)
Now, these are perhaps the most well-known stations in the area! The rest of the stations are owned by smaller companies, NPR, or local colleges. (Don't even get me started on "pirate" radio!) Luckily, because San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose is a big, profitable market, while there is room for the "conformist" music fans who get their music & information off the radio, there's also room for the "nonconformist" listeners who get their music off Live 105 or indie outlets or their news off the "alternative press". I fit somewhere between these two categories: While I get not all of my music and news off the radio, I do not consider myself 100% "anti-mainstream". Thus, the only music stations I really listen to are 104.5, 105.3, 106.1, and 107.7, as most bands I feel have true talent do not get much media exposure. (Look at my Last.fm and you'll see. Luckily, the programmers at local college radio stations 90.1 (KZSU, Stanford), 90.5 (KSJS, San Jose State), and 103.3 (KSCU, Santa Clara U.), are brave enough to play "indie" rap and rock that seldom get played on my fave corporate stations.

This story is easy enough to be viable in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Unfortunately, in the smaller Sacramento market, even a higher percentage of well-known radio stations are corporatized! Now, here's the logic: smaller market + larger corporate media ownership = less room for "unknown" talent to be heard. According to Wikipedia's list of Sacramento-area stations, Entercom, Clear Channel, CBS, Entravision, etc. have stakes on numerous FM stations, leaving less room for "indie" radio like KDEE 97.7 or KXJZ or whatever. I've been to Sacramento before, in 2005 when I was still a "corporate-possessed music junkie", to attend a clasical music concert, and the radio stations there are oh so corporate now that I know the dangers of media consolidation! So the conclusion?

Big media caused Rock the Bells, a concert tour with mostly unknown hip-hop acts, to be cancelled in Sacramento.

This is just one of the consequences of big media. Tomorrow or soon, I shall explore the dangers of media consolidation on TV.-

No comments: