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Free «Impact of Radio on Music» Essay Sample


In the recent years of high definition television involving pictures transmitted via satellite around the world, radio technology can be dismissed simply as an old-fashioned prologue to the current generation.  The importance of radio was observed in the past music compositions and has continued to impart the current music artists generation.   Similar to the reputation of automobile, radio also defined the twentieth century with similar impact.   Radio as the first modern mass medium it transformed the American land into a land of listeners, delighting and irritating, enlightening and entertaining, and in addition to that, joined people into a common culture irrespective of their age or class (Lewis, 1992).   The various entertainers in the golden age of broadcasting – thirties and forties – captured the hearts and imaginations of scores of people.  Radio innovation produced a national craze across the entire American nation.  It taught them new ways of talking and thinking as well as sold them commodities they never thought were essential (Lewis, 1992).   



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Radio provided an implication that one person can sing or speak to many people using a microphone and influence the lives of many.   Through radio, a single speaker or song can sow seeds of propaganda, information, religious and political zeal, entertainment, culture and also hatred across land (Lewis, 1992).  Prior to radio innovation, people’s trepidation at hearing sounds transmitted through air was immense to such an extent that they would listen to anything that came their way.  However, through radio people are provided with a mixture composed of education, culture and entertainment thus taking care of the needs to the satisfaction.   

Social and Cultural norms

Culture plays a vital role in a person’s life since it dictates what is right and what is wrong.  The behavior of an individual is much influenced by social and cultural background as one would not act against his or her culture.  People with different cultural backgrounds behave differently as what is considered right to one might not be to another person.  People will therefore act with respect to what is right to them.  Radio was integrated into the social norms of the people thus contributed greatly to the culture adopted by people (Greene & Porcello, 2005). 

As a result of radio reaching many people at once, the information conveyed influenced the lifestyle of many people and particularly music artists.  Radio constituted an integral part of the surrounding of an individual, which psychologically influences the behavior of a person (Greene & Porcello, 2005).  Artists compose songs relative to their opinions and ideas which originate from their culture.  A change in culture is followed by a change in behavior.  Radio led to cultural change hence contributed to the artists’ change of behavior.  For music artists to sell many albums their music has to be in line with the culture of most people.  Cultural change required artists to change their music composition in order to capture more audiences and also for radios to play their music. 

Music industry and radio broadcasting standards

Besides having a great impact on the American culture, radio influenced greatly the music industry.  The effect of radio broadcasting in the music industry can be observed in the sound recording market and the type of music created by artists and sold in the market.  Radio influenced the way of thinking by music artists when composing their music.  As a result of music artist yawning for fame brought about by their music being heard by many people, they had to create quality music.

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Furthermore, in the recent years radios play music which most people listen to thus providing an implication that outdated and uncultured songs will be left out.  For a radio station to remain in business the type of music played is essential since it impacts on the number of people listening to the station.  Audiences play an important role in radio broadcasting business thus making broadcasters wary of the music and information transmitted.  As a result, music artists have to compose music which is acceptable with regards to radio broadcasting standards.  Otherwise, their music will not be broadcasted to a great multitude and this would affect adversely their sales.   

Musical genre      

The emergence of the musical genre, rhythm and blues in the early years of 1940 could be attributed to radio innovation.  Prior to the emergence of this music genre, the terms “race music” and “race records” were utilized in classifying all types of music composed by African-American artists (Killmeier, 2002).  As practical examples of popular music, race records represented the first music composed and sold in the music market by Black Americans.  As a reflection of a segregated American society and culture status, race records entailed a separate catalog of music made by African-American artists.  Prior to the years of 1940s, the music by African American was scarcely played on radio and in addition to that live performances occurred in limited segregated venues (Killmeier, 2002).    

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Race music provided a medium through which African Americans could express their feelings, communicate, educate as well as entertain; however, during the prior years of 1940s it could not be heard by many as was rarely conveyed through radio (Killmeier, 2002).  Following the change in perception by radio broadcasters on matters concerning race music and record, the popularity of this kind of music increased greatly and in turn influenced a multitude of people.  Race records have been influential in the past and still influence the current artists, audiences and even scholars.  This type of music contributed greatly to the artistic composition of most twentieth century popular music such as country, and rock and roll (Killmeier, 2002).  Consequently, the impact of race music on music artists can be attributed to radio broadcasting.  Radio played an essential role in the type of music created by artists in the twentieth century since it provided an excellent medium of communication and advertising.

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Negative impact    

To the society, radio was not considered a threat however to some extent it represented a potential negative effect on the music recording industry.  The potential harm on copyright owners can easily be envisioned in spite of actual harm existence being a debatable issue.  Radio listening can be viewed as a substitute or to some extent a complement for the procurement of copyrighted musical products.  If the symbiotic relationship between radio broadcasting and record industry that ensured copyright protection did not exist, radio broadcasting represented a potential failure in music market (Liebowitz, 2004).  Failure by radio broadcasters to pay for copyright works used in their business would have resulted in the collapsed or under-performance by music recording industry and this would have a negative impact on music artists’ careers.   


Radio had a great impact on the past and still continues to influence the present style of music composed by different artists.  Radio influences the culture thus changing the way artists think and act, and this contributes immensely on their music composition.  The message conveyed through radio reaches a great multitude thus the potential of influencing their lives.  Furthermore, the motive for listening to radio is mainly to acquire information and entertainment.  For radios to provide satisfactory entertainment to their audiences they have to play music accepted by the prevailing culture.  This therefore provides an implication of the existence of a symbiotic relationship between culture and radio broadcasting.  The two constitute an element that impact greatly on the music style adopted by artists.  From the time radio was invented, its influence on music industry has continued to be felt up-to-date.  Radio broadcasting has therefore impacted vastly the music industry and the way artists create their music.


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