Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Breaking Radio Rotation

I always hear indie artists complaining about radio rotation, but you have to take responsibility for your own hustle. To break the charts on MediaBase/BDS and finally crack regular rotation it will take work on your end. You need to establish a fan base and devise a plan to put that fan base to work. Radio rotation is not that complicated. Understand that radio is a business and every station has to answer to their sponsors. Sponsors/advertisers are paying the bills for the station and those advertisers want their money’s worth. This means that the station has to be able to hold a majority of listeners and not just the 28 people from your block. This is a simple numbers game and is not necessarily a giant conspiracy to hold the indies down or a massive payola problem. Who listens to the radio? Get to know the demographics of the average radio listener and ask yourself; have you tapped into that demographic? What are you doing to grab that demographic and most importantly, get them to call in and request your song? This same question holds true with mixtapes and clubs. What value do you bring to the table in number of radio listeners, hits/downloads to a mixtape, and paying customers through the door to see you perform?

Just focusing on radio, I’ll use K104fm (Dallas/Ft. Worth Texas, #1 station in the #5 media market) as an example. K104 does provide opportunity for indie artists, as do many other stations in many other markets. Once you get your song to the station and into their Hometown Showdown you’re going to need the help of your fan base to keep it going and hopefully break into light rotation. Do you have 30 people who will take the time to dial in and vote for your song? This is basically a small snapshot of the bigger picture. The station needs to know that your song will bring listeners to the station and hold on to existing listeners. If you can prove to the station through call-in votes that your song has support, then you move on to the next round. Keep it going for a week and you then move into light rotation. Your work isn’t done though. You still need requests to keep your song spinning and those requests will determine of your song moves up into heavier rotation. Honestly though, this can all be done with the work of just 30 people who are willing to dial the station’s number and simply request your song a few times per day. So you have to ask yourself now: do you have just 30 people from your own city that will support you and your song with consistent requests? We’re only talking about 30 people from one city, but you would be amazed at how few artists have even just that small amount of support. That problem falls on the artist’s shoulders and is his/her responsibility to make that happen. Not a payola scheme and not a big conspiracy against indies. If you can’t bring 30 listeners to the station then you are definitely not ready to break into rotation with the artists that have 300,000 listeners singing every word of their song. Remember, we are only talking about ONE station in just ONE city for just ONE song. Somebody like Chris Brown or Kanye West or Nicki Minaj has that same buzz on every station in every city. That’s why you hear their songs so many times a day instead of unknown songs from unknown artists. Same question as before; what value do you bring to the table in number of radio listeners, hits/downloads to a mixtape, and paying customers through the door to see you perform?

Take responsibility for your own success and/or failure. Stop complaining and get to work. You know you have a lot of work to get done. Making the music was the fun and easy part. Now is when all the work comes. Time to clock in!

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