|Radio Airplay 101:
What is Successful?
by Bryan Farrish - September 25th, 2002.
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What is "Successful"?
The first question people have when they want to hire us (provided that they have never done an airplay campaign
before) is "What airplay campaign do I need in order to be successful?" There couldn't be a more misplaced
question. It's like when a cab driver asks you "Where to?" and you say "Well, where would I need
to go in order to be successful?" Where you need to go depends on a million things, not to mention what your
definition of "successful" might be.
For some people, a successful radio campaign is getting one spin on a small college station. For others, it is
getting 60+ spins per week on each CHR station in the top 100 markets... thus charting #1 in Billboard & R&R...
which then produces a major label deal... which then scans 10,000 units per week in the U.S... which results in
a 300-date U.S. stadium tour, not to mention all major magazines and TV covering the artist. And this is in just
the first month. (This is not an exaggeration.)
So instead of seeking out a "successful" radio campaign, look at what you have to spend on radio, and
1) What hard-core
radio results are worth this money.
2) What you
(not me, but you) are going to do with these radio results in the rest of your music campaign. This is where your
"success" comes from.
The above two ideas are entirely different. The first point, "Radio results", are what we are hired to
produce: Spins, charting, station IDs, station interviews, station visits, and possibly... reviews in the radio
airplay magazines. That's it. It's the most difficult aspect of the music business... airplay... but it's the one
thing we focus on. The second point, "what you do with these radio results", is what will determine your
Here are some starting points where you can use your radio results:
TRADITIONAL (NON-WEB) DISTRIBUTION:
You can start by getting consignment in select stores. You do this by telling the consignment manager that "you're
currently spinning on the WXYZ station down the street." Next you try to get a simple distribution deal through
a small independent distributor, which will require more airplay results than "just one station." Finally,
you try to get a good-sized P&D deal, which in itself could be considered "successful". To impress
these P&D people, you need significant airplay results that will be quite costly. And keep in mind that no
matter how good the radio results are that I hand you, you have to take them and use them properly to get your
distribution "success". And if retail SALES are your final measure of success, then it will be up to
your salesperson (who is calling the stores) to create the sales.
Start by showing the bookers your airplay report. Even if a station is not near the clubs, just the fact you have
some spins occurring in other places will help you get booked. On the next level, start talking to booking agents...
they will need some bigger airplay results to work with... but they will be able to book you into 200-500 seat
clubs (with bigger bands) that you could never get yourself. Finally, with commercial regular rotation, you can
work with large agents to get 1000 to 5000 seat venues.
The final use of your airplay results can be to attract and/or impress others who can help your career. Labels,
newspapers, magazines, TV/film producers, managers, law firms, and (especially) investors all know and understand
the fundamental value of airplay, and they will see from your airplay results that: (1) Your material is worthwhile;
(2) There now is an audience waiting for your next release; (3) You understand how the radio system works; (4)
You agree to work with this system; and most important, (5) You already have paid for a certain level of radio,
and thus anyone who would be backing you would have less to contribute in order to get you to the next level.
is an independent radio airplay promoter. He can be reached at 818-905-8038 or at radio-media.com
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