Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I Don't Get It!

I went to Scottsdale Fashion Square Mall with the girls this evening and something happened that I just don't understand. Maybe someone can explain it to me.

We went into two makeup stores (teens need makeup), Sephora and Bare Minerals and then walked by Armani and Metropark on our way to have dinner at the Grand Luxe. There was one common thread among these five business establishments, they all were playing dance music from "Deep House" to current remixes. As a matter of fact, Armani had a live DJ mixing.

This is what I don't understand. If five establishments are playing dance music why doesn't dance music have a bigger commercial footprint on terrestrial radio here in the United States and specifically in Phoenix? I don't get it. Walking through the mall, I heard a disproportionate amount of dance music compared to other current types of music. Why do retailers feel that dance music works for them in their stores but we can't seem to have any great success with it on the air?

Before everyone comes out of the woodwork and tells me that in Phoenix on Energy we have a bad signal,crummy programing and don't know what we are doing, Stop! That's not what I'm talking about. Say what you want about our station, you are entitled. I'm talking big picture, about dance music as a viable sustaining format on radio stations across the country. After all, dance seems to do well in Europe, why doesn't it do better domestically?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that dance music hasn't had it's success's on the radio. I am suggesting that it hasn't been a hugely successful, sustaining format. Pure dance stations are simply niche formats that rarely break a one share. Yet, you go to the mall and aggregate all the music genres played in the stores and I can assure you that dance represents much more than a one share of all the music types being played in there.

I'm a big fan of the genre and the format. We brought the format to Arizona and have been committed to it for five years. I'm anxious to get your take on the disparity.


Anonymous said...

Hi, Michael. I've never commented on your blog before, but we're friends on Yelp. Two thoughts:

1) There's always a difference between music played in the background and music for active listening. I suspect that some forms of dance music have become the former for the current generation, just as easy listening and smooth jazz have filled that role in the past. Dance music in the background makes a store seem modern but does not distract shoppers from their core mission of spending.

2) A lot of the music played in retail environments seems designed to appeal to shoppers' lifestyle aspirations. Hearing dance music in the background may make some shoppers think of themselves as fashionable clubgoers, even if they really spend most nights at home watching reality TV. In other words, the retail environment speaks to how consumers want to live, rather than how they actually live.


Michael Mallace said...

David, Thanks... good points.

Anonymous said...

David brings up some valid points. But I think its simply this: Dance music is currently a nameless, faceless format. The 3 biggest pure dance records on Energy right now are by Kaskade, Morgan Page and Ercola. I would venture to guess you've never heard of two of those artists and the third may be one of those "I think I've heard that name before but I can't remember any songs" type.

Being nameless and faceless makes for exactly what David said. A novelty music genre that doesn't have any "real" passion. So while people can describe what Mariah Carey, Chris Brown and Miley Cyrus look like without hesitation, I doubt Kaskade would even get stopped by anybody if he were walking around Fashion Square. And he's one of the biggest dance artists in the country right now.

You could blame the artists for wanting to stay too cool for the room and not wanting to "sell out" and go mainstream for this. Or you can blame corporate, mainstream radio/MTV for being hesitant to play the records. Or you could even blame the labels for not putting the right type of support behind their artists(this is where I place a good part of the responsibility.) But it is actually a bit of all of that and probably more that is to blame.

Plus, when you add in that whoever that douche bag is that is programming Energy right now has no clue what he's doing, it's no wonder nobody has any passion for dance music here! Who hired that guy???