|Commercial Radio Myths
by Bryan Farrish
Back to The
When talking to people who are launching their first couple of projects, invariably the same misunderstood points
come up concerning commercial regular-rotation airplay. Here they are:
DJs PLAY THE RECORDS: This only applies to non-commercial radio, and specialty/mixshow radio. The majority of
people in the U.S., however, listen to commercial regular-rotation radio, and on these stations, the DJs have no
say at all in what is going to be played (unless, in the case of a smaller station, the DJ is also the PD). So,
the biggest pitfall to avoid is asking a DJ at a commercial station "Can I give you my CD for possible rotation?".
The DJ is not allowed to say "No", and he/she is probably not going to explain that only the PD can approve
regular rotation. The DJ is just going to say "OK".
GOOD SONGS SPREAD TO OTHER STATIONS: Good songs (or for that matter, good programs) do not mystically spread to other
stations. Every single song you hear (or every syndicated program you hear) on commercial regular-rotation radio
is on that station because of layers of promotion and marketing. The song you hear was the one that made it...
it beat out the other 300 songs that were going for adds that week. What you don't hear are the endless phone calls,
faxes, trade ads, personal meetings, consultant recommendations, call-out research, and other things which went
into getting the station to add the record. All you heard was the record itself. And station owners make it a requirement
that DJs make it sound like they picked the music themselves.
COLLEGE OR SPECIALTY/MIXSHOW WILL EXPAND TO COMMERCIAL:
Just because you do well on non-commercial or specialty/mixshow
radio, it does not mean anything will happen on commercial regular-rotation radio. Matter of fact, nothing at all
will happen at commercial unless a separate, higher-level campaign is put into place to take the record into regular
rotation. The pitfall here is that a listener will hear something on college, and then a month later hear it on
commercial, and conclude that the college caused the commercial to happen. The listener did not know that both
campaigns were in place simultaneously, and the college simply went for adds a month earlier.
YOU HAVE TO BE SIGNED: Untrue. Being singed is only a signal to the stations that the basic marketing practices
are going to be done right. If you have the budget, you can duplicate the marketing practices of larger labels,
provided you know how. The band Creed set a good example of putting their $5 million marketing dollars into the
REQUEST CALLS WILL HELP: Not really. They won't hurt, but your time is better spent doing other things, like inviting
people to your gigs. Stations know which calls are real, and which are bands and their friends. Stations have consultants
and seminars which cover only this one topic.
I CAN'T GET AIRPLAY WITHOUT DISTRIBUTION: Depends on the size of radio that you are going after. Smaller commercial regular-rotation
stations in smaller markets won't make this too much of a sticking point, especially if you have a powerful radio
campaign going, or if you are doing great gigs in their city, or if you have great college or specialty/mixshow
results. But the larger stations... which you can't work anyway until you do the smaller ones... won't touch a
project that has no distribution.
I CAN'T GET AIRPLAY WITHOUT GIGS: Again, depends on the size of radio that you are going after. Not being able to
gig is a serious handicap at any station, but you can overcome it in smaller markets with intense radio promo,
press, sales, and non-comm results.
NON-MONITORED STATIONS ARE OF NO USE: Non-monitored stations are of no use only on the Billboard, R&R, and Album
Network main charts. But FMQB, CMJ, and all specialty/mixshow charts found in magazines are compiled manually;
since you need to start off on these smaller charts first, this works out just fine.
is an independent radio airplay promoter. He can be reached at 818-905-8038 or at radio-media.com
|Submit An Article for Consideration!
Would you like to submit an article for publication at MusicBizAcademy.com? If you have music-related expertise
you'd like to share with other musicians including career tips, how to's, or general music business-related articles,
please feel free to send them our way. We'll be glad to consider them. Submit your article!