Do the record companies have control of radio?
Or does radio have control of the record companies?
Maybe a bit of both.
It’s like asking if writing agents control publishers, or if publishers control writing agents.
And what about the point where musicians do not need record companies or radio to make a career – and writers don’t need agents or publishers?
Although the labels have lost much since the appearance of Napster, they still have one thing no one else has: their control of radio. The record and radio industries have been engaged in a mutually profitable, though at times adversarial, marriage for more than eighty years, and the old folks still love each other. Radio needs music that’s compelling enough to keep people listening through the ads, and the record companies need radio to sell records. Both need hits.
-John Seabrook, The Song Machine