Music Thoughts

kryptonite

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Oct 21, 2008
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It seemed like back when Sirius and XM first started, you could get a lot of music not really available on other platforms. Of course, there weren't as many platforms, but whatever.

Super Shuffle, Boombox, Planet Jazz, Wax, Swing Street, etc. The Express was dropped in 2003!

Anyway, since those "niche" and "ultra-niche" channels were long-since dropped, the company seems to have been taking on more of a hits-based format.

Some blame belongs with the merger, but certainly not all. Some of these channels could be easily added back online.

What other channels were there?


Here's an old thread. Octane used to play stuff similar to Boneyard and Buzzsaw.
What's the difference between Squizz and Octane? - SIRIUS Backstage Forum

(As I posted previously, the channels have definitely taken on more of a decades-based format and less of a sound-based format.)
 

scotchandcigar

arrogant bastard
Feb 13, 2009
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It seemed like back when Sirius and XM first started, you could get a lot of music not really available on other platforms. Of course, there weren't as many platforms, but whatever.

Super Shuffle, Boombox, Planet Jazz, Wax, Swing Street, etc. The Express was dropped in 2003!

Anyway, since those "niche" and "ultra-niche" channels were long-since dropped, the company seems to have been taking on more of a hits-based format.

Some blame belongs with the merger, but certainly not all. Some of these channels could be easily added back online.

What other channels were there?
I came from the Sirius side of the merger, so I don't lament Fred or Lucy. There was Left-of-Center, which became SiriusXMU, but otherwise, that's not the issue for me. Here are my litany of issues with the music programming now.

- Repetition like clockwork: I often listen to the new-music channels, like XMU, Alt Nation, and The Spectrum. They have a strict formula that they always follow, every day. The top tracks are repeated once per hour, 2nd tier is every 2, 3rd tier is every 4, and so-on. The Spectrum even has a formula for its "legacy" bands: U2 - 12 times/day, Talking Heads - 8 times/day, Van Morrison - 10 times/day, Steely Dan - 6 times/day, etc. Just go to dogstarradio.com, and you can see the algorithm. Even XMU repeats their new indie songs by the same formula.

I also listen to Classic Vinyl/Rewind, 1st Wave, Lithium, and Deep Tracks. They also have a limited repertoire.

- DJs that won't STFU: The DJs yap mindlessly between every song for anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Richard Blade is the worst; I once heard him spend 5 minutes recapping a review of a Morrissey show in Leeds, England. He mentions Facebook, Twitter, other channels, sports programming, tour dates, special programming, or just talks about something that happened to him in 1983. Kristine Stone, Mark Goodman and all the others (don't even get me started on Madison) tell the most pointless stories about the band they haven't played yet (it's all pre-taped). The classic rock DJs are constantly reminding us that they're broadcasting from the Alan Freed studio in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and then they tell you about some exhibit they added, like I'm gonna jump in my car and drive there. An hour later, they do the same thing; day after day, year after year.

- They preempt the regular programming all the time. Every weekend, they have Nordic Rox, and Dave Marsh, and 4 hours of Bonneroo live, and Coachella, and Robert Frick, and Stevie Nicks talks about old stuff, and Kick Out The Jams etc.

I feel that they realized, a long time ago, that satellite radio is really not going to be the future. So they decided to do a bare-bones service, where everything can be done cheaply, and nothing changes. They are still using this airbrushed picture of Howard from 2004
upload_2018-7-25_15-3-54.png
 
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Aaron

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I've been a subscriber since 2004. I've always loved the service, but yeah, I don't "need" it as much as I once did. I still love that I don't have to suffer through all the commercials on FM in the car.

I listen to the app quite a bit, but there are many other options for music now, including my own collection of songs I can always access through iTunes.

The playlists are pretty shallow, so I really never leave it on one channel for very long. But as I channel surf, I can always find something I like to hear.
 

HecticArt

Administrator
Oct 19, 2008
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Toledo, Ohio
Don't get me started on Boombox! That was the channel that made me pick Sirius over XM.

The play lists have gotten pretty formulaic. The saving graces are that you can switch between any one of your favorite channels when songs repeat, or the Smiths come on.

I don't mind a little chatter from the DJ's, it keeps things from feeling too cold, but I agree that Blade is the worst.

They used to drift from tight playlists like they have now, to more deeper tracks from time to time. But they haven't done that in a while.
 

scotchandcigar

arrogant bastard
Feb 13, 2009
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The saving graces are that you can switch between any one of your favorite channels when songs repeat, or the Smiths come on.
Hey, I like the Smiths. But I agree they get played too much; there are many other bands they could be playing instead.

We actually use the streaming service at home for background music during dinner, or when we have people over. The Bridge is just about the only channel that I can play without my mother-in-law complaining. We often play Yacht Rock, but that has a playlist of about 12 songs.
 

HecticArt

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The Smiths are wayyyyyy overplayed, and DJ's think they only have 3 songs.
I acknowledge what they have contributed to music, and that they are an important band, but I can't stand Morrisy's whining. It's like fingers on a chalkboard, and an instant channel changer for me. I could listen to a Smiths instrumental album with no problem.
 

Jon

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Dec 16, 2008
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I've had the service in the car now about 4 months and I've enjoyed what I've heard up to this point.

I've pretty much selected my favorite channels that are usually my go-to.

The Spectrum: For the time I listen, I don't hear a lot of repeats, the playlist reminds me a lot of the old KBCO (Boulder, CO) when it was still a freeform station and not an iHeartRadio property. Only complaint is when Meg Griffin is hosting, she can be a little talkative.

Lithium - 90's Alternative, and Alternative Rock as a whole, is pretty much my main interest music wise, so this is a nice station to listen to and hear the old hits. Biggest complaint: Madison!!!

Outlaw Country - I like the old X-Country on XM better, but this station grew on me when I got the service back, an it's now one of my main presets. Biggest complaint: Mojo Nixon, but I only hear him on weekends once in a great while.

80's on 8 - I grew up on the old MTV when it first started so hearing some of the original VJ's is pretty cool. No real complaints with the station, the DJs talk a lot but it seems to be about the music which I'm okay with.

I have about 25 presets in the car, and all of them are set to music channels so I'm never at a loss for something to listen to.
 
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kryptonite

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Oct 21, 2008
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I had the misfortune of listening to "Downtown" Julie Brown today. They cannot get the MySXM back on the phones fast enough.

You want to talk about heavy rotation? Add Metallica to your artist alerts and see how many times it come up on Ozzy's Boneyard. Plus, there's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Radio and maybe 1-2 other places as well.
 

scotchandcigar

arrogant bastard
Feb 13, 2009
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I've had the service in the car now about 4 months and I've enjoyed what I've heard up to this point.

I've pretty much selected my favorite channels that are usually my go-to.

The Spectrum: For the time I listen, I don't hear a lot of repeats, the playlist reminds me a lot of the old KBCO (Boulder, CO) when it was still a freeform station and not an iHeartRadio property. Only complaint is when Meg Griffin is hosting, she can be a little talkative.

Lithium - 90's Alternative, and Alternative Rock as a whole, is pretty much my main interest music wise, so this is a nice station to listen to and hear the old hits. Biggest complaint: Madison!!!

Outlaw Country - I like the old X-Country on XM better, but this station grew on me when I got the service back, an it's now one of my main presets. Biggest complaint: Mojo Nixon, but I only hear him on weekends once in a great while.

80's on 8 - I grew up on the old MTV when it first started so hearing some of the original VJ's is pretty cool. No real complaints with the station, the DJs talk a lot but it seems to be about the music which I'm okay with.

I have about 25 presets in the car, and all of them are set to music channels so I'm never at a loss for something to listen to.
I listen to the Spectrum too. However, if you were to sample it for a week, you'd see that they put their top 10 new songs in heavy rotation. The new Paul McCartney is played every hour. Btw, I like 1st Wave too.
 

Jon

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I've been a subscriber since 2004. I've always loved the service, but yeah, I don't "need" it as much as I once did. I still love that I don't have to suffer through all the commercials on FM in the car.

I listen to the app quite a bit, but there are many other options for music now, including my own collection of songs I can always access through iTunes.

The playlists are pretty shallow, so I really never leave it on one channel for very long. But as I channel surf, I can always find something I like to hear.
I chose to come back to satellite for a few reasons. The car I bought (2017 Checy Cruze) had a trial that came with it, and I liked what I heard. I have a 10 minute drive between home and work, and i find that most/all stations i listened to locally go to commercial at the same time, usually during my commute.

That commute will soon turn to 45 minutes which will make Sirius even more useful. Sirius also has formats that local radio has long since abandoned. You all know i’m a big fan of classic/outlaw country. Can’t hear Johnny Cash on the radio around here anymore and what they do call Country around here is crap! I also like the uncensored nature of the music, listened to Korn’s “Freak on a Leash” on Lithium on the way home the other night in all its vulgar, uncensored glory with no cutouts or bleeps ruining the song.

It’s also indirectly made Apple Music better for me since I can hear it on Sirius and look it up/download it on Apple Music. Between the two services and podcasts I won’t need to touch local radio again!
 
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HecticArt

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i find that most/all stations i listened to locally go to commercial at the same time, usually during my commute.
That drive me crazy. I try to listen to local FM on my way in to work to hear what's going on in town, concerts, and what music is going around. When they all go to commercials at the same time I want to scream. SXM to the rescue.
 

scotchandcigar

arrogant bastard
Feb 13, 2009
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That drive me crazy. I try to listen to local FM on my way in to work to hear what's going on in town, concerts, and what music is going around. When they all go to commercials at the same time I want to scream. SXM to the rescue.
There are 2 FM stations I primarily listen to on my commute, and one is a commercial-free college station. But I can only get it for half my ride, so it's a roll of the dice.
 

geosync

Well-Known Member
Oct 13, 2008
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I don't listen to the rap channels much anymore, I've heard all of backspins catalog. And 44/45 play music that's just beyond my age and pay grade. When stern leaves I may bail too. 22 bucks a month is too much. I'm glad the early subscribers helped get it to this point.
 

scotchandcigar

arrogant bastard
Feb 13, 2009
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I got into a discussion with my daughter (the one I commute with) about the work schedule of the music DJs. I think each DJ pre-records an entire 3 or 4-hour show at one time, perhaps each day, or even once a week. They know the playlist, and when it's going to air. It probably takes an hour or so, and then they can pre-tape a 2nd channel for air on the same day.

She noticed that occasionally they announce the wrong song, and I said it's because it's all done ahead of time. But I don't know how true that is. Anybody?
 

Channel98

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KGBS-FM (now KAMP) in Los Angeles had a country music format from 1973 to 1979. The executives at Storer Broadcasting were cheap. To keep costs low, they didn't hire engineers. The disc jockeys would come in early and record voice tracks. They were never on the air live. They would act as their own engineer, playing the music and (ideally) inserting each voice track at the proper time. Most of the DJs were able to do that without making mistakes but midday host Chris Lane was terrible at it. Almost every day, he would be two or three songs off by the end of the first hour. I have some airchecks of him. On one, he said, "That's Tear Time, the latest from Dave & Sugar. Now here's Johnny Carver with Yellow River." Then he played a Crystal Gayle song. The Johnny Carver song had aired six minutes earlier.

Mister scotch, lest your daughter think Chris Lane is now on SiriusXM and making the same mistakes, I should point out that he died of cancer in 2000.
 

Jon

Well-Known Member
Dec 16, 2008
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Amsterdam in the Rockies
I got into a discussion with my daughter (the one I commute with) about the work schedule of the music DJs. I think each DJ pre-records an entire 3 or 4-hour show at one time, perhaps each day, or even once a week. They know the playlist, and when it's going to air. It probably takes an hour or so, and then they can pre-tape a 2nd channel for air on the same day.

She noticed that occasionally they announce the wrong song, and I said it's because it's all done ahead of time. But I don't know how true that is. Anybody?
I don't know about announcing the wrong song, I have seen the wrong song displayed on the screen in the car. I also have seen one song being displayed, even though several songs have past.

I don't listen to the rap channels much anymore, I've heard all of backspins catalog. And 44/45 play music that's just beyond my age and pay grade. When stern leaves I may bail too. 22 bucks a month is too much. I'm glad the early subscribers helped get it to this point.
I give fuck all about Stern, but I do see a point where leaving might be an option. Getting rid of all my favorite channels, and raising the price (either scenario) might do it. I'm already around $24 a month with royalties. Anything above that might get me thinking about other options.
 

scotchandcigar

arrogant bastard
Feb 13, 2009
11,167
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Vacationland
I don't know about announcing the wrong song, I have seen the wrong song displayed on the screen in the car. I also have seen one song being displayed, even though several songs have past.
Yeah I'm not talking about the display (which does those things) but when Jenny Eliscu says "here's Vampire Weekend" and they play an Arcade Fire song.

But I'm not asking why that happens, it's just the situation that prompted the conversation. I'm wondering if anyone knows what the pre-recording routine is for the DJs. Do they record all their little snippets ahead of time? Is it done that day? Or the day before? I assume it's done in one shot.
 

HecticArt

Administrator
Oct 19, 2008
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Someplace in the Backstage Forum, there are threads that talk about the software the Sirius uses/used. I can't remember what it's called.

The short version as best as I remember the details, are that a DJ can record a 4 hour set in something like 45 minutes. They start talking, pick the song(s) that they want to play, can keep talking over the intro like a live DJ would. When they are done talking, they can skip over the rest of the song and get to their next voice slot. Most of the time they should be able to hear the song that is about to play or has just ended. My understanding was that many of them would record a weeks worth of shows in a few hours early in the week. There didn't/don't all do it like that though. There are times that you know that they are live because they are talking about current music news. I remember a few musicians deaths that were discussed pretty instantly.
 
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