MED4106 Radio & Popular Music Reading Response Week 3

Political Economy

‘The Political Economy of Music Radio’ (2004) by Tim Wall looks at ‘critical political economy’ which regulates the ‘basic moral questions of justice, equality and the public good.’ Before Internet radio, many theorists did not think commercial radio was diverse enough and therefore was not in the interests of the public good. However, Wall predicted that the Internet would change this as there would be more choice and diversity.

‘Internet Music: Dream or (Virtual) Reality’ (1998) by Kon & Iazzetta describes their hope for Internet Music services. At the time of writing, Internet Music was just ‘one-way streaming of digitalized audio with very little interaction.’ This essay looks at how they think it will develop and the possible problems they will face. They also discuss the technological possibilities and constraints and possibilities of content including live concert broadcasts, education and composition.

Both texts discuss the positive opportunities the Internet is likely to have for the industry. For example, Kon & Iazzetta look into the idea of education through the Internet which had already helped schools and collages with distant learning. This could lead to musical opportunities including lessons and live broadcasts which would be educationally beneficial. For radio, the Internet would mean a wider range of programming which would promote variety and lead to a greater public good. It would also mean less regulation which could be positive as certain types of music could be played or topic discussed.

Also, both essays talk about funding; another aspect of political economy. Technical issues could occur with the creation of Internet Music meaning funding would be necessary for the expansion. There would also be issues involving time constraints, networks and operating systems that could cause problems. Wall’s predictions for the future of Internet Radio include a description of the characteristics of radio, many of which reflect Capitalist economic systems. This is largely because of the profit maximisation of the privately owned stations which suggests that funding would be required to help new stations start up with the introduction of Internet Radio.

As both of these essays were written before these changes had taken place, it shows what the authors saw as priorities in their respective industries. Generally, I think that Kon & Iazzetta prioritise funding for the introduction of Internet Music and Wall prioritises regulation as he sees the importance of diverse content as important. Political Economy is involved with both industries, although the introduction of the Internet into the industries would change it.

To research this area I would look at a current internet radio program and compare its content to an on-air station such as the BBC. I would look at the language used, topics discussed and the music played to see if the regulation is of the same standard. I could also talk to listeners of the Internet Radio station to see if they prefer it because of the content which they cannot get on on-air radio.


Kon, F. Iazzetta, F. 1998 ‘Internet Music: Dream or (Virtual) Reality’ In: ‘Proceedings of the 5th Brazilian Symposium of Comupter Music’ pp 69-81

Wall, T, (2004). The Political Economy of Internet Radio. Radio Journal: International Studies in Broadcast & Audio Media. 2 (1), pp.27-44


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