The new radio paradigm – GIITV talks to Gimme Radio DJs Dave Mustaine, Will Carroll and Albert Mudrian
“Radio” is changing putting niche and fans front and centre. Gimme Radio is leading that charge…
As the music industry changes, those people confused by the changing paradigms announce that everything is “dead”! Because the old ways are changing it must be dying. Hit by an onslaught of streaming growth, station monopolisation (and homogenisation) and technological changes, “radio” has been placed high on the death list.
Prominent points in this discussion expose a backlash against algorithms and a craving for trusted, human voices curating music with passion. All this is wanted with the ease of access that streaming offers.
US platform Gimme Radio has stepped into to this gap as a niche-driven, subscriber-service with a freeform, non-playlist approach to music and with shows manned by passionate big-name hosts. They are soon to launch Gimme Country to complement their established metal station that has grown in popularity due to DJs like Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine, Randy Blythe from Lamb of God and Johan Hegg of Amon Amarth.
Giving real fans, trusted music curation is an ambitious project especially given Gimme’s desire to service more and more genres in the coming years, but their core team comes from a place of innovation and success.
Combined there is experience at Beats Audio (and after the sale also at Apple Music), GooglePlay and Rhapsody as well as various experience in aspects of playing, selling and promoting music. It is a team, that has the clout to deliver on this exciting new premise for genre fans.
While anyone can access shows as they air through the app, becoming a subscriber provides access to archive shows, new ways to connect and exclusive perks.
Albert Mudrian, the editor of Decibel magazine and one of Gimme’s roster of DJs, explains what turned his head about Gimme’s step into metal radio.
“Now all the streaming services are general audience, trying to cover everything and this is more of a niche thing and the niche that I am most involved in is, it is dedicated to. It was a bunch of factors really, that they were trying something new and that they had some seriously high aspirations, but it wasn’t a difficult startup. It wasn’t like “oh we’re going to get Dave Mustaine to do a radio show” and this and that. Immediately, I thought they could probably get this done.”
And the stats do suggest it is getting “done”. Since its launch in July 2017, by January this year, it had attracted 127,500 registered users proving that there is serious weight to the idea of niche curated music.
“The idea that radio is a dead format, I don’t believe that. I think that things that are actually curated by humans and no algorithms are still a worthy, interesting piece of culture. I mean, I can listen to Gimme Radio and those dots that are connected within a show, a two-hour show of somebody’s playlist, you really feel like somebody is looking out for your best interests, an actual human being trying to put together a mix for you,” added Mudrian.
“There is definitely a different feeling from the curation from a human being and a computer. I don’t know if generations younger than me get that, but I do know it speaks to me in that manner.”
He finished his point on “people power” in radio being a key part of the Gimme fabric, “It is the people that are driving it. Obviously, if you don’t have listeners you don’t have a radio station, but these listeners aren’t coming to be told what to listen to, they feel that there is potential for the people curating the shows have the potential to give them good advice. That curatorial approach by humans is meaningful still.”
Thrust the idea of community into this powerful mix and you have something that algorithms can’t deliver. It is this sense of community that attracted the attention of Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine.
“The way they set this up, was supposed to be a whole new outlook towards radio and a way to take care of our community. A community that I am so happily a part of, there’s not a lot of places that play our music, there’s not a lot of places that play a lot of the other music that’s on Gimme too. We’ve got this really great place to stream music, to get royalties to the bands, interview the bands – bands that people would just not hear, even on satellite radio some of these bands wouldn’t get the time of day,” explained Mustaine.
Far removed from the commercial radio model of advertiser-pleasing playlists and DJs hired as much for their voice as their love, or knowledge, of music, Gimme aims to distil the knowledge and passion of those curating by letting them do their own thing. This freedom allows deep-dives into the genre, album tracks and an abundance of new music is not only possible but is, actually, expected. In fact, around 50% of the music hitting the Gimme airwaves is brand new.
Mustaine explained, “We’ve got this really great place to stream music, to get royalties to the bands, interview the bands – bands that people would just not hear, even on satellite radio some of these bands wouldn’t get the time of day.”
“We really are thinking about the fan. It’s not about seeing how big this can get, about getting sponsors, selling advertising, selling it out. It’s about the music.”
It’s easy to claim that you already get this with streaming. The music you want, on your own terms, when you want it. But in this model the new music you get is data-driven, you are data and it is easy to get stuck in the same aural rut that traditional radio has found itself in. This new model for radio offers something more, like the record shop hang-outs of old.
In this new radio new era, it is no longer a passive medium and, out of all the big selling points offered by Gimme, it is active engagement that really hits home and is undoubtedly what makes them stand out.
It’s not just about DJs like Mustaine having the space to share stories. Fans can connect directly with him, and other DJs, while they are on air creating a new paradigm between fan and rock star.
“It is a little strange, I must admit because if you had told me when I was a kid that I would be chatting with Jimmy Page or Jimi Hendrix I would say “you’re crazy”! The opportunity now to be able to have this platform to talk to people, to share with them, to chat. When they have their handles, their user names or whatever, a lot of that is about who they are,” he told me.
On top of this the ‘Gimme Bot’ interjects into the comment system dropping vital knowledge on the tunes and bands that are being played, making it easier to get deep down knowledge of the music as it plays.
Another DJ at Gimme, Death Angel’s Will Carroll is also enthused by this new connection.
“To some degree [there is a lot more interaction]. A lot more than terrestrial radio. I take suggestions all the time from the chat and apply them to future shows. At the same time, I’ll purposely put on a stinker of a song just to get the listeners riled up and chatting away. There’s definitely a humour element to my show. Something you don’t get too often in metal.”
All this has a positive upshot for niche music scenes as well. The usual gatekeepers and commercial powers aren’t in play to object to airplay. “Oh man, if Gimme was around in my demo days it would have been a different ballgame. Many DJs, including myself, play unsigned, unheard bands. And by doing that the band has just been exposed to listeners all around the world. It’s very effective. More young bands should get wise,” added Carroll.
Radio is not dead, it is just evolving with tech-upstarts like Gimme reframing the medium in favour of fans and those passionate enough to share the best sounds.
Dave Mustaine believes that the listener now has more choice than ever, ““I believe they have the power of choice. They can disconnect, there are a million, even a billion alternatives right now.”
Tech doesn’t need to remove the humanity from sharing music and can be the tool we’ve been needing to reconnect with the social side of music fandom, away from algorithms. This is what Gimme believes and is putting all its faith in.
God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.