The problem at the root of it all is advertisements. By relying on ads, radio stations put themselves at the mercy of something other than a mission to promote genuinely good music. Music fans instead are going to sites like Bandcamp or SoundCloud, or Spotify’s own Discover Weekly algorithm, to find new artists. As radio’s main listening demographic ages and younger audiences turn instead to platforms like digital streaming, the kind of music that’s best-suited for radio plays also becomes further limited.

Ad-funded music platforms have drawn hate in recent years for other matters too—such as the paltry payouts they offer to artists. Remember when Taylor Swift called out Spotify over its free, ad-based tier in a Wall Street Journal op-ed? Since then, disgruntlement amongst over not getting paid enough from ad profits has only grown.

While the complaint about meager artist profits doesn’t specifically apply to radio because payouts are structured differently there, radio’s echo chamber problem just gives musicians another reason to be hesitant about putting their attentions toward anything that relies on advertisements. Now, major artists like Frank Ocean, Chance the Rapper, Rihanna, Drake, and Beyoncé are opting to give their albums exclusive releases on Tidal or Apple Music, platforms that don’t rely on ads.

Frank Ocean’s exclusive interview of Jay Z came during the debut of his own show on Apple Music’s Beats 1 station—which has no ads. An audience paying for music, rather than listening casually on radio on their way to work, will be the one to hear such an interview. It also means artists get to bypass the gatekeepers, taking their music directly to fans, who come to subscriber-based streaming services to hear them promote the music as well. (Future, for example, has released two albums in two weeks—with all the promotion coming via interviews with Apple Music’s Zane Lowe.)

Artists these days trying to do what brands like HBO are aiming for in television entertainment: getting fans to pay for what they like directly. Apple CEO Tim Cook recently predicted the death of ad-heavy cable TV for that reason. The death of ad-funded music may not too far away, either.

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