This has been a good year for Springsteen fans. April saw the release of a very fine album, Devils & Dust, and Bruce embarked on a solo acoustic tour that’s still going strong. On November 15, Columbia Records will release a 30-year anniversary edition of Born To Run, a box set that will include, among other goodies, a remastered version of one of the best albums ever recorded (is my bias showing here?).
Coinciding with the release, Sirius Satellite Radio has announced the November 1 launch of E Street Radio – a channel exclusively devoted to the music of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. In addition to the music (which will include some rarities), the station will feature album discussions, conversations with band members and other Springsteen insiders, and an exclusive interview with the man himself conducted by biographer Dave Marsh. Sirius plans to run the station through January 31, 2006.
Sirius is the industry leader in the field of satellite radio, having captured a 56% share of the market in September. Although the notion of subscribing to something that most of us have been accustomed to getting for free seemed a strange business model at first, satellite radio has caught on, with subscriptions on the increase and most major car manufacturers jumping into the game by offering receivers as optional equipment.
While 120 channels of commercial-free radio at a reasonable price is attractive, perhaps the greater value to be had from satellite radio is the opportunity for people to listen to stations that have been programmed by people who love music, rather than being subjected to the latest corporate playlists being dictated by marketers to broadcast radio stations. Long-time Springsteen associate and E Street Band member Little Steven Van Zandt has been producing his Underground Garage program for Sirius for quite a while now, and was drawn to the format by the attractiveness of being able to program a channel devoted to music that just doesn’t get played on commercial radio any more (Van Zandt is devoted to keeping rock and roll alive and kicking). The ability to devote an entire channel to the music of one artist is clearly another advantage that subscription radio has over regular radio – and while I’m not a subscriber, I have to admit that this E Street Radio thing has me thinking about it.