In 1980, a Canadian band called Rush released a song titled "The Spirit of Radio" on their album Permanent Waves. The song brought Rush, already with a substantial following, to the forefront of mainstream Rock N' Roll. Little did lyricist Neil Peart, and music writers Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson realize at the time how true the words of that song would ring today.
The chorus spells it all out:
Invisible airwaves crackle with life
Bright antennae bristle with the energy
Emotional feedback on timeless wavelength
Bearing a gift beyond price, almost free
All this machinery making modern music
Can still be open hearted
Not so coldly charted
It's really just a question of your honesty, yeah
One likes to believe in the freedom of music
But glittering prizes and endless compromises
Shatter the illusion of integrity
The audio entertainment sector has morphed substantially from 1980. Big terrestrial radio giants have come into existence. MP3 Players, satellite radio, Internet radio, wireless carriers all join terrestrial radio and vie for a stake in the audio entertainment sector. Audio entertainment has become big business. One has to ask if "The Spirit Of Radio" has been lost. Are the financial prizes compromising the integrity across the board? Are the merger and anti merger arguments embroiled in what is good for consumers, or what is good for the bottom line? Can a compromise exist that caters to consumers while at the same time enabling audio entertainment companies, no matter how the signal is delivered or received, to make some money? We are amidst a struggle between audio as a business, and audio to satisfy the consumer.
Regardless of what the FCC decision is on the merger between Sirius and XM, what we need is an overall solution in audio entertainment that satisfies the needs of businesses without sacrificing "The Spirit Of Radio" that consumers deserve. While this may be a Utopian thought at best, it is important that we as consumers never lose sight of what radio and audio entertainment is all about.
The challenges that exist are daunting. No solution will make everyone happy from a business perspective, but in the end, it is the consumer that has to live with whatever decisions are made. Businesses can come and go, but the Freedom Of Music is something that must remain constant.
Position - Long Sirius, Long XM, Rush fan
Catch Sirius Buzz Radio This Thursday at 10:30 PM EST