Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Why won't Australians buy British-sounding music?

In a conversation with Laughing Outlaw Records store manager Stuart Coupe some years ago now, he mentioned to me that a radio programmer told him that "Australians don't buy British-sounding music".

A sweeping generalisation, to be sure. But having said that, explain why Radiohead, Adele, Gorillaz and Coldplay continue to sell heaps of records and resonate with listeners here?

On the other side, it goes a long way to explain why The Jam, The Smiths, Cast, The Bluetones, Blur (before they released "Song 2"), The Fratellis, Teenage Fanclub, and any number of great bands from the UK could barely sell a record here.

With the advent of Beatlemania in the 1960s, all any band here wanted to do was sound English. These days it seems to be of detriment to want to sound even remotely like anything coming from the sceptered isle these days.

But why?

From what I've seen in observing the radio industry over many years, Radio programmers seem very quick to program the latest tunes coming from America, but have looked down on and otherwise avoided local talent. Why else would there be a federally legislated local music quota for all radio stations in this country? How else do you explain the stream of bands who needed to break overseas before even being recognised here? Think The Saints, The Go Betweens, The Birthday Party, The Triffids, The Reels, The Vines et al.

Is it because British music is idiosyncratic and sounds too different from the American stuff they cram their daily playlists with? It seems to make no sense.

I think it all has to do with exposure. With the right marketing push and support from the media you could almost sell anything. After all, if One Direction were given no marketing push they'd die in the marketplace too.

What is missing from this equation? is there any logic to this that I am missing? Leave a comment below.

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