|Why Clear Channel is Irrelevant
by Bryan Farrish - December, 2002.
Back to The
After endless concerns in the indie community about radio consolidation and Clear Channel, I'm here to tell you
that it should be of no concern to you. Regular rotation on large stations (Clear Channel or otherwise) in major
or medium markets is not available now ... nor has it ever been ... (for over 30 years) to small indie releases
and artists any more than McDonalds is available to you to market your indie toys. Remember McDonalds' 10-year
marketing agreement with Disney? Before it happened, do you think you had any chance at all of getting your indie
toy into McDonalds? That situation is the equivalent of you trying to get your indie release into regular rotation
on medium and major stations. Consolidation or no consolidation, trying to get a product with entry-level marketing
onto the largest media outlets in the world is a terribly-misplanned idea. (This applies, of course, to new acts/labels
releasing their first or second record on their own.)
So why all the hoopla? Because news outlets know that you'll read it. And when you read it, they get paid. News
outlets (like the LA Times and salon.com) need to print things that you are worried about, so you will log on and/or
purchase copies, or else they will close down. Since the worse fear of all musicians is not having their music
heard, if the publications tell you how the biggest radio stations are not going to play you, they know you will
pay attention and read.
But just because you are just now learning how difficult the large stations are, does not mean that it used to
be any easier. Fact is, if you were trying to release your own record (even on AM radio) in the '60s and '70s,
you would have been going directly up against Capitol, RCA, ABC, Atlantic, CBS, and the other major labels at the
time. So even then (with no Clear Channel), you would have had to start off with the smaller stations, just like
you have to today. And also back then (20 years before the McDonalds-Disney agreement), you would never have been
able to get McDonalds to carry/market your indie toy; but you can bet that the toy industry publications back then
did their best to paint a depressing picture for the small toy manufacturers, despite the fact that the best way
for an indie toy makers to market its toys (both then and now) is to work with the mom and pop toy stores throughout
What does this mean for your airplay? The same thing we've been trying to get across for years: Start with small
market commercial stations (or college stations in any market), and use the results to book more and bigger gigs,
all the while selling your CDs and merch for full price at those gigs. You'll never have to deal with getting distribution
(or getting paid from distribution), much less have to worry that you won't be getting any regular rotation on
a Clear Channel station. If you absolutely won't rest until you get some Clear Channel spins, however, then consider
commercial specialty/mix shows ... These shows are available on Clear Channel stations from New York on down, and
with good music and a good push, you can get a spin or two for a few weeks.
is an independent radio airplay promoter. He can be reached at 818-905-8038 or at radio-media.com
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