Radio Stations Can't Play Crippled Music Disks.

By Richard Menta 4/6/03

Here is a story out of Australia that I picked up on the wire. Something that should give the record industry pause.

A few days back we wrote about how Arista records made the committment to ship all of their CDs with copy-protection to prevent their being played on PCs. Their notion is to stop users from ripping tracks to trade online. The problem we had about this scheme is that it will only distant consumers from CDs, because they won't work as expected. For many, that expectation is to play in the background on the computer as people do their job.

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But working stiffs are not the only ones who have turned to the PCs as their music conduit. Many radio stations have integrated PC systems to play tracks over the air.

The Age is reporting that radio stations are finding that they are unable to play copy-protected CDs on the air. So what are they doing about it? Simple, the CD go into the wastebasket rather than get much-needed air play.

"...if we can't transfer the CD tracks to our digital playout system the CD ain't going to get any airplay at all!" said an unamed radio jock.

Radio stations in the states have also incorporated computers to serve the daily rotation. Just the other day I was listening to college radio station WRSU and the DJ was lamenting how the only place he was able to get a hold of the latest Third Eye Blind single "Blinded" was to download it from the Net. This is not unusual, the MP3 format offers radio stations quite a bit of time saving convenience in organizing and selecting tracks for airplay.

I used to work at WRSU and the old process involved going into the record library to grab the appropriate vinyl (yes vinyl), carry a dozen albums into the control roomto set up your first couple of sets, pull the next record out of the sleve and cue it up, and then run back to the library in between songs to gather a few more albums for the nights shift, an act the DJ needs to repeat several times during the session.

A laptop filled with MP3's hooked up to the control board eliminates the back and forth.

Modern DJs - a group that does not exactly make the greatest of salaries - wil ultimately take the path of least resistance. If a record plays in the CD tray it will make airtime. If not, they better REALLY love that album or it aint makin' the cut for reasons that have nothing to do with the music.

The biggest loser? Yes, the artists again, just like they were in last weeks story. At least the artists of those labels who are instituting copy-protection on all their products, which right now means only BMG-owned Arista records. Unless every single label follows suit soon (which at that point DJs will not have much choice but come up with some solution), radio airplay may come up scarce for Arista artists.

Like I said before, ill-conceived record industry activities will only distant consumers further. This time by distancing the biggest promoter of records.


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Other MP3 stories:
Arista looks to Copy-protect all CDs.
Apple Paid Digital Music Service - Can it Overcome Record Industry Resistance?
Mix cd swapping is goooooooooooood!

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