She Watches Channel Zero
by Jeriko One... 3/29/02

Independent rap music and the music industry itself has slowly been going through changes. Some people might not be aware that big business is controlling what types of music and artists get exposure. The four major record labels (Sony, Universal, BMG who recently purchased EMI, and Time Warner) have 85% of the market share when it comes to sales of Compact Discs. Leaving only 15% for the hundreds of independent record labels out there. And when indies get too big or an artist starts making noise these major companies usually pick up the artist or label. This way they control the artist/label, get a percentage of the sales and keep competition to a minimum.

There are three companies that basically own all the radio stations in the US - EMMIS, Radio One and Clear Channel. The company Clear Channel is now posing the biggest threat to independent music. Over the past two years the company has been on an acquisition binge, spending almost $30 billion on buying radio stations, concert venues and advertising companies. The company is building a "monopolistic multimedia empire" that has decreased competition, reduced consumer choice, and driven up ticket prices for concerts.

Prior to the Telecommunications Act of 1996, a radio company could only own 40 stations nationwide and only four in a particular market. Since that has changed Clear Channel now owns 1,170 radio stations nationwide! One out of every ten radio stations across the United States broadcasts under the Clear Channel1s banner and the company's approximate 1,170 stations bill a full 20% of total industry revenue. Clear Channel broadcasts in every top ten market and in 47 of the top 50. These stations take to the airwaves across all 50 states, in almost every major market, reaching nearly every demographic. Clear Channel stations broadcast to over 110 million listeners every week. Oh yeah, they also own 19 television stations.

Clear Channel had acquired SFX Entertainment, the world1s largest promoter and producer of live entertainment events, including concerts, theatre and sporting events. Clear Channel now owns 135 venues, producing 26,000 shows last year (attended by 62 million people) - 70% of the total "live concert" market! Buying entertainment giant SFX cost Clear Channel $4.4 billion, making it instantly the nation's biggest promoter with $2 billion in live-event revenue a year.

Clear Channel Outdoor owns over half a million outdoor displays (770,000 billboards) around the world. This gives them and their customers the ability to, as they state on the Clear Channel website "reach over half of the entire U.S. population and over 75% of the entire U.S. Hispanic population". Outdoor is more than just billboards, other products they provide include; bulletins, posters, street furniture, airport displays, convenience store posters, mall displays, mass transit displays and mobile ads.

Now there's rumours that Clear Channel wants to start their own record label... hmmm. Think about it. They can play them on their radio stations, tour them in their venues and advertise them on their billboards.

1. - Help educate others, please copy and send/email this article to friends and other music fans
2. - Support college and non-profit radio in your local area. These independent radio stations program alternative music as well as speciality shows (hip-hop, jazz, electronica etc.)


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