If you’ve gotten in your car and tuned in to Sirius XM‘s Jam On station over the last few days, you’ve probably noticed that something’s a little… different. The satellite station that regularly plays full live Phish performances, up-and-coming jam bands, and the like–music with a niche yet incredibly enthusiastic audience–has been transformed into Coachella Radio, airing performances and interviews from the mainstream California mega-festival as well as studio tracks from the generally pop-facing acts on its lineup. While Jam On’s regularly scheduled programming is continuing on without interruption via the Sirius XM website and mobile app, your car tuner will take you to Coachella territory when you tune to Channel 29 until April 25th.
It’s true! Coachella Radio has begun. You’ll hear live sets, interviews and more from @coachella 2018 in your cars on ch.29 thru 4/25. We are still streaming @SXMJamON via the internet & @SIRIUSXM smartphone app. Sign up for a free app trial at: https://t.co/R7qqpQYbkH
— SiriusXM Jam ON (@SXMJamON) April 12, 2018
Since Channel 29’s temporary shift to Coachella Radio began, it’s safe to say that jam band fans as a whole are less than satisfied with the change—Okay, that’s an understatement: People are pissed. Baffled posts have popped up across jam-oriented pages and forums commenting on the jam band station playing a Cardi B song, or tracks by The Weeknd, or even a live Beyonce performance. Jam band fans are crying sacrilege, canceling subscriptions, and generally melting down all over the Internet.
[Screenshot via Reddit]
[Screenshot via Phish Tour 2014]
[Screenshot via Phish Tour 2014]
The overwhelming distaste for the move among jam fans isn’t all that surprising. Sure, Jam On goes live from music festivals all the time (likely a reason the Sirius brass thought this was the right call). However, Coachella’s musical offerings are just about as far away from Jam On’s core demographic as you can get within the insular world of live music.
In addition, while there were surely some great performances at Coachella over the course of the weekend (that Beyonce show was a spectacle worth seeing and hearing, even if it’s not usually your cup of tea), the extensive coverage of the two-weekend festival takes away valuable airtime from the many acts who rely on Jam On as a main source of national exposure. In general, the bands that get played on Jam On are bands that don’t get covered on pop stations, college radio, or other platforms. That visibility is often an integral factor in a given band’s growth in this particular scene. It’s what makes the station such a valuable and important facet of the jam band world: Jam On provides a service that doesn’t exist anywhere else on the radio.
The unhappy fans argue that Coachella Radio’s occupation of Channel 29 effectively takes that publicity away from underserved jam bands and fans and replaces it with music which, making no comment on its quality, you can probably also hear on a dozen other stations nationwide at this very moment. The move feels like a reverse-Robin Hood situation: The provider is pulling coverage from those who truly need and rely on it and is giving it to what is already perhaps the most highly-publicized and extensively-covered music event there is.
Take a peek at some of the melts below via Twitter:
— Bryce Beckmann (@BryceBeckmann1) April 12, 2018
@SIRIUSXM why put #coachellaSXM on JamOn? You’ve destroyed my favorite station with music that millions of JamOn listeners think is crap. I get it Coachella is a music festival… but come on… we don’t wanna hear that… bring back the jam please!
— Charli gebo (@Cosmic_Charli) April 14, 2018
— ericbudke (@ericbudke) April 15, 2018
it’s really disappointing that @SIRIUSXM doesn’t know their audience well enough to know that putting #CoachellaSXM on @SXMJamON is a really slap in the face to long time listeners and the jamband scene
— Sean Maloney (@Maloneynyc) April 16, 2018
— liv [&let live] (@ojc___) April 14, 2018
Whose idea was it to repurpose @SXMJamON as #CoachellaSXM? Because that was…not a good choice. 😒
There weren’t any other channels or blank channels you could’ve used? Way to remove a great station from the rotation. 👍🏼 pic.twitter.com/ddMaoDBxO5
— GWAL (@TheRealGWAL) April 15, 2018
This is horrible having Coachella on Jam On, I’ve been a SIRIUS subscriber since day one and this is the biggest mistake ever😡 will disappear into my other fave the Grateful Dead channel until the kiddie jam crap is over
— Michelle Williams (@michellegrace54) April 13, 2018
— mike monahan (@mikem126) April 13, 2018
So for now, all disgruntled jam fans can do is voice their disappointment online, get their Jam On fix outside their ride til the 25th, and hope Coachella picks a new station to cannibalize next year. However, while you wait for things to go back to the way they should be, you might as well take advantage of the bright spots that do come along with Coachella Radio on Jam On–maybe even listen to something new and expand your horizons. Don’t worry, the jams will be back in due time.
— Ari Fink 👽 (@Finkerton) April 16, 2018