Dr. Dre has racked up 25 million streams and $56 million in box office for the juggernaut that has become Compton, but that’s not enough evidence to convince FM to step out their zone and start playing brand new unfamiliar music.
Based on the latest Mediabase stats, here’s a total summary of what Terrestrial Rhythm and Urban stations are doing with the Dr. Dre album: not a damn thing.
Is this because Dre is 50 years old and irrelevant beyond his urban core? Well it doesn’t get any more core than Compton/Long Beach/Inglewood—the Los Angeles broadcast metro for Latinos/African-Americans (which, according to Neilsen’s own research, is the last bastion of people still listening). Yet, evenL.A.’s two hip-hop stations, where you’d think this release would be celebrated in full, show NOTHING in rotation beyond a few mix-show spins on various tracks—no doubt attached to the multiple interviews both Dr. Dre and Ice Cube have done to promote Straight Outta Compton.
WJMN Boston has the Dre/Eminem’s “Medicine Man” in rotation at 23 spins. Beyond that, airplay is sparse, tp say the least.
Very little satellite airplay on Dre’s album either, except on Shade 45—the Eminem-controlled SiriusXM channel.
So it’s reasonable to assume that the entire groundswell is coming from the on-air and viral marketing activities of Beats 1 and the movie. Is radio pushing back on this record because it’s an Apple Music exclusive? Programmers who reportedly flipped out about Chris Cornell debuting a new “World Record” with Zane Lowe last week confirms to me they are indeed concerned, which is interesting considering the general mode of operation at FM appears to be to ignore new music altogether.
But in this industry, perception is reality, people meters notwithstanding.
Letting Beats 1 gain traction as a legitimate destination for new music— a position no programmer tasked with attracting 18-34s can afford to lose— doesn’t seem like a winning strategy, nor does missing an obviously huge cultural moment that actually has juicy demo appeal attached. Engaging, however, would involve radio playing new, unfamiliar music—something they simply no longer do.
Even when the opportunity is gift-wrapped with a big bow tying in a superstar producer and all-star cast of artists plus #1 film. Go figure.