Music on the Radio – Facts and History


With a history of nearly 130 years, the radio is, undoubtedly, the most important invention of the 19th century that truly revolutionized the world. Although designed for military purposes in the beginning, the radio became more and more popular and a rapid mean of communicating important news instantly.

It wasn’t until the end of the World War I that the first commercial public radio station was licensed, in Pennsylvania, although the history is hazy and counts for several attempts in Europe, the United States, and Canada around the same time.

Throughout the years, the concept of radio has developed massively, becoming a powerful tool for commercial reasons. Nowadays, you can find everything you want broadcasted on the radio, from political talk shows to audiobooks, music, and even sports events. Below you’ll find some other fascinating facts about music on the radio.



The first music on the radio

In February 1919, the station 9XM at the University of Wisconsin was used to broadcast a human speech to the broad public. The radio station had been experimentally licensed since 1914 and, by 1917, it already provided music to its listeners. However, it wasn’t until 1921 that music became a popular demand on the radio and embraced by the population.


A short history of music on the radio

When the radio was first introduced to the masses in the 1920s, it was predicted that it would eventually kill the phonograph record industry. As with many other popular channels nowadays, the radio was the first free place where people would listen to their favorite songs, without having to pay for them.

However, what was seen for some as a mean to promote their music, was also considered by others a sure way to diminish their profits. Therefore, many recording companies prohibited their songs from being played on the radio and also refused to perform on radio broadcasts.

Soon after, in 1923, the American Society for Composers, Authors, and Publishers started collecting licensing fees from radio stations, turning the broadcasting of music into a popular practice.


Why should music be on the radio?

Years have passed, and we consider this practice not only common but mandatory for certain bands and artists to promote themselves.

Underground artists and bands have fewer chances of being discovered and promoted by large recording studios, meaning they have to choose alternative channels to bring their music closer to the public and fans. So what better way to do so if not by promoting themselves on the radio?

Another reason why music should be on the radio is that it offers the opportunity for exclusive releases. Radio stations pay for a band to perform a live and exclusive song, which further increases the popularity of both the station and the group.