Archive for February, 2008

Opinion: The Spirit of Radio

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

So WORD Magazine has an article about “why records DO all sound the same?“, which has this epic quote:

“Two or three times a year, a company like LA-based Music Research Consultants Inc arrive in town, hire a hotel ballroom or lecture theatre and recruit 50-100 people, carefully screened for demographic relevance (they might all be white suburban housewives aged 26-40). They’re each given $65 and a Perception Analyzer; a little black box with one red knob and an LED display. Then, they’re played 700 seven-second clips of songs. If they turn the knob up, the song gets played. If they turn it down, it doesn’t.” [emphasis mine]

Ponder that. Seven Seconds. That’s the Pepsi Challenge of Music. And we all know where that got Coca-Cola.

This sort of market research is what gets every industry in trouble. It’s like the contest to find the funniest joke in the world. You end up with a joke that’s not really funny, but “[...]the world’s blandest joke–the gag that makes everyone smile but very few laugh out loud.” It’s why software fails, why cars fail. You can’t ask people what they like. You need to observe them and see what they habitually prefer. Otherwise you end up with Windows Vista and SUVs. And Maroon 5.

Now I’m going to go off and listen to some unlistenable Legendary Pink Dots.