Broadcasting, Programming, Advice

The Move Away from Genres: Programming Your Radio Station Based on Activities & Moods

When programming your radio station, what's your focus? Is it genre(s)? If so, you might want to consider putting more focus on programming your station based on activities and moods. The truth is, artists and listeners alike are foregoing traditional genre categorizations and often times focusing on sounds, moods, and activities to classify music instead.

Many artists are not as interested in making music that "fits" in the genres anymore, and are looking to fuse different sounds and elements from the rigid genres to create something that's fresh and more authentic to them. This is fueled by a number of different things: artists are resisting being placed in "boxes"; artists are listening to and therefore influenced by a bigger variety of music as music has become more easily accessible with streaming; more artists can make and release music as the process of making music is more attainable than it has ever been with the technology and tools that are available for recording, producing, and distributing music without labels or other third parties; artists need to make music that stands out in such a saturated market; and culture is generally leaning toward seeing things as more fluid with less focus on labels.

Outside of the artists themselves seeking to create more blended music, many listeners, specifically the younger generations like Millennials and Gen Z especially, are becoming disinterested in genre. Much like with artists, listeners of the younger generations have more varied music tastes as they aren't restrained by albums or genres on streaming services, and as we move toward a more label-less world overall, they are viewing music in that same fluid way.

Additionally, the streaming service experience encourages the move away from genres. On any given streaming service, you'll see many playlists based on activities, like working out and studying, and moods, like sad and happy, that incorporate tracks from all across the genre spectrum. Not only do these playlists exist though, the services often distinctly promote them on their primary "Browse" pages.

On top of that, social media is incredibly influential on music consumption and it massively encourages consumption that moves away from the rigid genres. (The emergence of TikTok and its enormous influence on the music that's popular is just one example of social media's ongoing role in music consumption.) Music listeners are constantly connected now, so they are sharing music they're loving and this is assisting with diverse music discovery, which allows for the creation of new trends and opportunities for virality. More now than ever, there is interest in music from all around the world, as different sounds and languages are resonating with people outside of the bounds of any given territory. Long story short, the connectivity that social media cultivates naturally makes music consumption more fluid.

Ultimately, this freedom from strict genre categorization allows for increased creativity and authenticity, meaning there is still so much high-quality music to be made in the future. So, as a broadcaster, how should you approach programming your station with this in mind? Consider utilizing some more activity-based "genres," such as "Work Mix," and mood-based "genres," like "Chill," when labeling your station. Add activities, moods, and sounds to your station description. Create special shows that are activity- or mood-based. Curate playlists that are less about genre and more about vibes, sounds, moods, and activities. And, don't forget to post about your station's featured vibes, sounds, moods, and activities on social media!

Given that artists and listeners are leaning more toward hybrid sounds and streaming services and social media encourage the move away from the rigidity of genres, it's clear that genre classifications are becoming less and less relevant as time goes by. While it may be awhile before the music industry fully adopts the genre-less approach, it's worth the time and effort to be ahead of the curve. So, it just might be the perfect time to reconsider your own station's focus on genres and adapt to some of the new ways of music consumption.


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Article Image: IgorVetushko via DepositPhotos.

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About Michelle Ruoff

  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania