Axl Rose and Slash – ‘US radio sucks’

Staff Writer

Legendary guitarist Slash (left) has been in Australia this week promoting his new album ‘Apocalyptic Love’ and has spoken bluntly about the chances of airplay in the United States for his new material.

Speaking to journo Kathy McCabe about the album he said – “here in Australia it seems to have been welcomed but in the States there are two speeds – what used to be alternative rock, which is now mainstream rock, and classic rock. There’s no in-between”

Slash is not the first ex Guns’n’Roses member to criticise US rock radio. Recently Axl Rose (below) gave an interview with the LA Times describing radio in his home city as ‘dead’. This is an extract from that interview with Rose:

What are your listening habits these days?

"I like radio, and the vibe of whatever — I like finding some obscure station on the radio dial playing Eric Carmen at 3 a.m., you know? I like that rather than necessarily putting an album on. But the radio died in L.A. just died. To me, corporate radio killed radio and you hear the same . . . "Carry on My Wayward Son" might be a great song, but there are other songs on that album, and there are other songs on Queen albums"

Have you heard anything recently that surprised you?

"There was a station dumping their easy-listeners, and it was the best two weeks of music in L.A. I ever heard. It'd go from Queen's "Dead on Time" to "Fingerprint File" by the Stones, to "Rockaria" by ELO, to "The Theme from 'S.W.A.T.' " Just crazy, fun music. I turned to my friends and everybody was like, "Yes!" I called the station and said, "I will do anything to help promote your station." And they go, "It's not a real station. We're just dumping listeners." I said, "But this is it! This is amazing!" 

Pet peeves now?

"It kills me when someone will call KLOS from Builder's Emporium on their lunch break going, "Play Jethro Tull's 'Aqualung.' " It's like, why even request it? They're going to play it anyway. And they're going to play ZZ Top's "Legs." The only time I hear fresh sounds is in movies. Like "Drive." There are great songs in that — all kinds of stuff in movies where I'm like, "I've never heard this song, and I didn't even know it existed." I really miss that"

Breaking it down, Axl isn’t criticising the strategy of the radio stations in LA: The fact that he cumes KLOS (a 30+ male targeted rock station) indicates he is clearly a rock fan who chooses to listen to a rock station. So conceptually he gets what KLOS stand for, and is into it.

What he is criticising is the execution of the strategy: that they aren’t as adventurous as he would like them to be, within the context of their strategic position. Or to use that old quote ‘I like everything they play, but they don’t play everything I like’.

Both Slash and Axl are coming from entirely different perspectives, but arriving at a similar conclusion – that radio in the US is too rigid in it’s formats and structures to appeal to either their taste, or to support their music.

So which model is better?

The US model? Providing for a relatively large number of licenses in a market than Australia. For example; Philadelphia, with about the same population as Sydney and Melbourne, has around 18 commercial FM stations and 6 commercial AM stations. A further key difference is that in the US operators can own multiple licenses in the one market –Clear Channel own 5 FM stations in Philadelphia.

Or the Australian model, allowing comparatively few licenses and restricting operators to a maximum of 2 licenses per market.

What do you think is a better regulatory model and why?

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