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Why are there so many French internet radio stations?
June 9, 2009 7:25 AM   Subscribe

Why are there so many French internet radio stations? On iTunes, they seem vastly disproportionate. Is there a legal reason, a historical reason, or something else?
posted by Bugbread to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Several reasons! The first that comes to mind is the French language's ranking: 11th in the world for native speakers, and 5th for total number of speakers. Next up would be French-speaking researchers', developers', etc. long-standing contributions to the Internet, both on the theoretical and infrastructure levels. For instance, CERN's contribution -- it's located in Geneva, in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. Another cite I was able to find mentions Paris among the top 10 best-connected cities, with Asian cities occupying the first five places. Along with that, France is also home to its own Silicon Valley, named Sophia Antipolis, home to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute and the European headquarters of the W3C, among others.

Speaking to ease of setting up an internet radio station, France has great internet providers: most basic offers are for ADSL (we've had ADSL 2+ since 2004 or 2005) with free telephone and a hundred-odd television channels starting at about 30 euros a month. There are no bandwidth limits from most broadband providers, so it's easy to set up stuff. As for the number of subscribers, according to these (very thorough) stats, "France has the third largest broadband subscriber base in Europe." Sorry I can't speak to other French-speaking countries'/provinces' infrastructure; I know France off the top of my head since I live here, but not much about Quebec, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Belgium etc.

As concerns the music aspect, just speaking from my own, admittedly anecdotal, experience as an American who's spoken French and followed French-language (not just from France) music for most of my life, there's a very rich popular music culture, and the arts are considered an essential part of life for many. The language ranking also comes in here: they have a huge international market/pool of potential listeners.
posted by fraula at 8:16 AM on June 9, 2009


I think fraula has some strong points. I'll provide some more (possibly weaker).

In world music, "French pop" is one of the few subgenres I know of which actually details the country of origin (Japanese pop is another). In contrast, "Afro-pop" covers an entire continent. I'm not saying anything about worthiness, breadth, or so on - merely that French Pop is well-known enough to warrant being a useful label. (One could argue that the "French" part refers to the language, but in fact it doesn't - Quebecois, Haitian, and Algerian artists are not represented. IME, only France's artists typically are labeled such.)

France has (historically) a huge interest in foreign music, as well, adopting genres from other cultures almost as readily as the US does. Think jazz & blues, still immensely popular there. This distillation of styles may make their music more accessible to foreign audiences, giving their "home-grown music" a foot-up in popularity.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:58 AM on June 9, 2009


Those are good points, IAmBroom, it is true that jazz and blues are very popular here. However as concerns that construct of "French pop", it is... not French! It must be an Anglo construct -- I've honestly never heard of it, so I say "Anglo" since I wouldn't know which country, if any, defined that subgenre, but then I've been living in France for 10 years. Wikipedia says it refers to the language. Even barring Wikipedia, think of major French-singing stars such as Johnny Hallyday (Belgian), Céline Dion, Garou, Linda Lemay (all Québecois), MC Solaar (born in Senegal)...
posted by fraula at 12:21 PM on June 9, 2009


Sorry, I should have been a bit clearer, in that the genres I'm thinking of aren't particularly French. I'm mainly thinking of 70's, 80's, and 90's American pop music (lots of French stations for that) and for dance music. I know that there's a lot of interest in dance music in France, but even then, the number of stations seem disproportionate.
posted by Bugbread at 12:51 PM on June 9, 2009


Ah, the fact they play non-French music may be the answer. French radio stations are legally obliged to play French music (Wikipedia tells me 40% of songs in French). Internet broadcasting may offer a way around this law.
posted by Coobeastie at 4:30 PM on June 9, 2009


Even barring Wikipedia, think of major French-singing stars such as Johnny Hallyday (Belgian), Céline Dion, Garou, Linda Lemay (all Québecois), MC Solaar (born in Senegal)...

fraula, those artists don't strike me as being in the style of "French Pop". For instance, it is definitely more pop than Celine (she's more easy-listening/diva). Since I'm shit at remembering group names until I've heard them 100 times, I really can't help with any names here. I know: lame...
posted by IAmBroom at 9:58 PM on June 10, 2009


Putting together the comments here (and discarding the stuff that came out of my confusion of not pointing out that I was talking about un-French music), what I'm looking at is:

France has a relatively well-connected populace, with high bandwidth, low costs, and no upload limits, which, unlike most other countries, has a legal structure that dissuades people whose tastes don't include much French stuff from becoming DJs on the radio, and hence they turn to the internet to DJ their non-French music. Does that sound fair, or are there other factors I'm missing which apply to France but not, for example, Germany or Spain or the like?
posted by Bugbread at 12:38 AM on June 11, 2009


Oh, and...

However as concerns that construct of "French pop", it is... not French! It must be an Anglo construct -- I've honestly never heard of it, so I say "Anglo" since I wouldn't know which country, if any, defined that subgenre, but then I've been living in France for 10 years.

... that makes perfect sense. The English probably didn't call New Wave "New Wave" (at least, at first), since it referred to the new wave of English rocksters becoming popular over here.

To put it another way, the appelation d'origine is more useful outside the homeland, where it provides a distinction from the rest.
posted by IAmBroom at 6:21 AM on June 11, 2009


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