In College Radio, Are Bloggers Setting the Agenda?

Arcade Fire

College radio and related blogs set the agenda, and the Grammys responded by awarding indie group Arcade Fire with the 2010 Grammy for Album of the Year.

This week, I read a New York Times article for my journalism class called “Are Bloggers Setting the Agenda? It Depends on the Scandal.

In this article, the writer quoted a Pew Internet and American Life Project report called “Buzz, Blogs, and Beyond,” which stated,

“Buzz can alter social behavior and perceptions… It can embolden or embarrass subjects. It can affect sales, donations and campaign coffers. It can move issues up, down and across institutional agendas.”

Though the article primarily focused on bloggers’ influence on American political campaigns, its excessive use of the word “buzz” (meaning: “excitement-generating”) reminded me of the social satire website Hipster Runoff which, actually, has a lot to do with the college radio industry.

Hipster Runoff, in all its ridiculousness, uses the word “buzzband” a lot. The word, according to Urban Dictionary, means “A band that is discovered and becomes well-known or famous because of popularity on the internet.”

Websites like Hipster Runoff, Pitchfork, and those belonging to actual college radio stations truly set the agenda for the music industry. Because of exposure on websites like these, talented indie artists generate buzz and ultimately go on to secure deals with major record labels, win prestigious awards, and score collaborations with famous, well-established artists.

Want some examples?

1. Bon Iver — The success of this reclusive Wisconsinite’s first album, For Emma Forever Ago, in the college radio world scored him the collaboration of a lifetime on Kanye West’s latest album, My Dark Twisted Fantasy.

2. M.I.A. — After a relatively obscure early career, in 2008 the London native was nominated for an Academy Award for best original song “O…Saya,” which was a mashup of her song “Paper Planes” used in the film Slumdog Millionaire. In 2009, she was then nominated for the Grammy’s Record of the Year. These nods came only after “Paper Planes” was a huge college radio hit.

3. Death Cab for Cutie — After almost a decade of crafting indie soft rock gems, the Bellingham, Washington-based group was picked up by Atlantic Records on their 5th full-length release, Plans. Since then, the group has released two more albums on Atlantic.

4. Arcade Fire — Prior to 2010, this Montréal-based group had released just two albums over the course of six years. Then, in 2010, their third full-length The Suburbs became a whirlwind college radio success…and won 2011 Grammy for Album of the Year.

5. Beck — This prolific singer/songwriter/mult-instrumentalist/rapper was nominated for the 1996 Grammy Album of the Year for his album Odelay, which was a runaway college radio hit. The same album received Rolling Stone’s Album of the Year award, and was also featured (along with his 2002 album Sea Change) on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list.

What other bands would you add to the list?

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