Music Bubble

I’ll bet that if you read OffBeat and this blog that you tend to live in what I call “the music bubble.” We are the people who love local music, local musicians. We don’t give a damn whether the musicians we love are in the top 40 or in rotation on a commercial station, or on the Billboard charts, or whatever.

The music bubble probably surrounds Orleans Parish, because any time one ventures into most of the surrounds, the music live music “scene” includes mostly cover bands. Nothing against cover bands; they are great for weddings and for people who never listen to music other than commercial radio, broadcast and internet media. I just think it’s a real shame that with the rich musical tradition that we have in this city (and state, for that matter), that most of the population doesn’t respond all that well to local musicians.

Case in point: I’ve been told that the big Mardi Gras krewes regularly hire cover bands for their balls. I’ve seen (advertised) numerous church and school fairs that feature cover bands. Obviously, whoever is booking the music for these events isn’t familiar with local original music.

Now, you can’t really blame people for liking only the music they’ve been exposed to over the years. That’s where the problem lies. Why aren’t local radio stations playing more local music? Why can’t they be incentivized to play local music in some way—and I don’t mean in an off-time period like at 5 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon when someone puts on a “locals” show. I mean in prime time listening periods. Tax credits maybe?

It’s a shame that we only really have two non-commercial radio stations in New Orleans now: WWOZ and WTUL. WWNO still plays jazz during the day, but only on its HD affiliate (WWNO has gone to an all-talk format on its regularly-broadcast FM programming).

I suppose that one could contend that “forcing” the public to listen to local music is against some first amendment issue, but our music’s survival, based on widespread appreciation and subsequent support from the public, is crucial to perpetuating the music, educating the public, entertaining listeners, and is essential to our culture.

I’d certainly urge anyone to support non-commercial radio and to support those stations which make an effort to play local music to a prime time audience (of course they need to promote the fact that they do this as well). Ask your favorite commercial station to play mre local music. Anything helps.


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  • J. Scott Fugate

    I’ve said for years that all local businesses – particularly in the French Quarter – should be required to play WWOZ if and when they are not featuring live, local music. It’s a good idea – however, probably just a wee bit fascist. 🙂

    I do often ask local businesses in New Orleans why they are not playing WWOZ or, at least, CDs of local artists . . . and they usually don’t know what I’m talking about.

    For a city with the best live, local music & musicians in the world – indeed the seat and foundation of just about all music played around the world today – I just find it strange that businesses & organizations don’t see fit to benefit through cross promotion & celebration of the National heritage that is at their finger tips.