In his 2006 book – The Long Tail, author Chris Anderson suggests that the age of the ‘hit’ is dead – or at least dying … The ‘hit’ – by definition, is a mass market phenomenon, something known and shared by the majority of the population.
There is a lot of statistical support for Anderson’s view, it mirrors a decline for mass market television and the fragmentation of both video and audio choices.
Declining impact of album/CD sales points to the loss of a common music culture. In addition the growth of streaming options means that the expansion of choice for music listeners is now virtually limitless.
A different view suggests however, that too much choice creates ‘decision stress’ and consumers faced with overwhelming choice often can’t decide what they want and as a result often choose something that they didn’t intend to or don’t buy anything at all.
So how does this apply to music on radio?
In media studies, mass communication, media psychology, communication theory, and sociology, media influence and media effects relate to mass media and media culture’s effects on individual or an audience’s thoughts, attitudes, and behaviour.
Music forms a significant part of ‘community’ choice and reflection of group interests – groups where tastes are similar recommend and share with each other. Fragmentation of both music style and media options allows for listeners to exercise greater control over their own listening environment.
Taken as a ‘worst case’ scenario, perhaps music tastes are also fragmenting as ‘hits’ are no longer shared among all groups. Fragmentation of music style also reduces compatibility within the mass market.
While music consumption may be becoming less reflective of a ‘mass’, radio has always provided more than that.
The community created by a successful radio station reflects the general interests of an identifiable group and goes beyond the boundaries of a narrow music focus.
‘ …. there is still a demand for big cultural buckets, but they are no longer the only market. The hits now compete with an infinite number of niche markets, of any size. Consumers are increasingly favouring the one with the most choice. The era of one size fits all is ending and in its place a market of multitudes….’ Chris Anderson – The Long Tail