I must admit I’ve never been a big fan of radio for music. I love radio for talks and news, but not for music. I like many different genres in music and most of the time the choice of what I want to listen to comes from my mood. For instance, I will not want to listen to the same kind of music whether it’s rainy or sunny, whether I feel happy or melancholic, whether I’m alone or with friends… I love to discover new bands but I also love listening to old hits that take me back. I also love to discover old unknown bands and songs, and realize that I have loved a song for years but never known who sang it…
For all these reasons, radio is a very imperfect medium since you have to choose and limit yourself to one genre — not to mention that there are many genres which are not broadcast. Radio is also imperfect because it’s a form of mass media, a medium which conducts surveys to make sure it broadcasts songs that appeal to “most” listeners, to the people who tune-in and don’t change the station.
So, what’s a better replacement?
If you think about it, music is likely one of the most intimate and shareable cultural goods. You will always remember the song you love to listen to with your girlfriend, the music you were listening to with your friends in high school and college, the music your parents were playing on a Sunday afternoon, the songs your friends made you discover… A few years ago, I used to go to clubs quite often to check out DJs, and the one I was crazy about at the time was a French DJ by the name of Laurent Garnier. This guy used to DJ all night long from 11PM to 7AM, playing techno, house, new wave but also soul or rock in the same party. What I loved about him was that he was building a story with the music between himself and the dancers, and one unique story each night. He was the perfect guide for a great and new journey, every night.
All this brings me to… playlists, and why I love them! You can find playlists by keywords for moods, genre, artists and influences, periods, specific moments of the year (Christmas, Summer…), and of your life (birth, meetings, getaways, weddings…). You can create collaborative playlists with your friends to share all the music you love, or you can create your own playlists and share them with your friends, or even strangers on the other side of the world.
Another important part of the playlist universe are the curators, the grandmasters of the playlist community. Everyone can create a Top 40 Best Single Sales, and to be frank, you don’t need a playlist for that; you can just turn on a commercial radio station. Curators however are the guys (and girls) whose ultimate goal is to bring you the most surprising and consistent music around cities, movies, covers, samples… or anything your imagination can cook up. These curators, like the French DJ I mentioned above, know how to create a perfect musical journey. And, as for a traditional trip I might plan, I’d tend to trust a Portuguese fellow the most for Fado or a Brazilian one for a Samba. (Expertise has its benefits.)
Thanks to playlists, you don’t need to have an encyclopedic knowledge of music anymore, or spend hours and money trying to find what you love. Just search, listen, and open your ears!
And, if you’re a playlist fan too, take some time to become a curator yoursekf, making thousands of people happy sharing what you know. Now, let’s turn off the radio for a second, and begin to rediscover music…