Tangent Sunset

The History of Conscious Music by Alex Cosper

Corporation Meltdown


Throughout the evolution of the music industry there was always a certain mystique about who controlled the overall musical landscape. In 1996 we found out how influential government is in controlling the music with the infamous Telecom Act, which allowed radio to become run by a short list of big companies. A wave of consolidation then completely changed the face of the radio and record industries. After 1996 and well into the next decade neither alternative radio nor alternative music projected an inviting spirit. From that point on it projected a divided spirit as further format fragmentation broke the scene down even more.

The lure to get listeners was no longer about anything other than pure demographics. Labels and stations began catering strictly to specific age groups, as the common understanding among programmers throughout the development of corporate radio was that each station needed to carve out its own niche while not straying too far from the mainstream. The problem that the alternative radio format faced in the new millennium was that it tried so hard to be its own thing that it completely wandered away from the mainstream and simply became an unpopular format. For awhile rap/rock became the mainstream and was mirrored by alternative radio, but even that genre wore out when a lot of songs and artists started sounding the same as ratings steadily declined. Originality again, was lost, further blurring the meaning, purpose and future of alternative radio. The shift from community vision to corporate control that began to carve out a new cultural landscape was actually documented in the kooky 1997 hit "Walkin' On The Sun" by Smash Mouth which asked, "man, what the hell happened?"

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