I teach the Introduction to the Music Business Course at Baruch College in New York, and these days I consider myself irresponsible if I donâ€™t scare the shit out of my students about the state of the music business.
As you start doing more radio, you'll get more opportunity to choose between "reporting" and "non-reporting" stations, and also between "charting" and "non-charting" campaigns. One is not better than the other; they are just meant for different purposes... like a car versus a bus.
Four example levels of the costs of taking a project to radio
Many people, when planning the date that their radio campaign will start, think that starting the campaign at
a certain time of the year will make a huge difference in the outcome of the project. It won't.
An artists's perspective on the effects of P2P mp3 sharing.
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.
Three little words that have a powerful meaning in your music career. In my opinion, they are the determining factors as to how far your career will go or how successful it will be.
We've talked a lot so far about CMJ magazine/charts for college radio, since CMJ is a good starting place for most bands (and should be included even if you attempt commercial campaigns.) We now progress on to the commercial radio charts. (Billboard is best not attempted at this point in your career, for reasons covered before. And Gavin, unfortunately, does not publish a magazine with charts anymore.) There are other charts/magazines besides the ones listed below, but they are more non-commercial, and will be covered later.
This topic is one that I always bring up and talk about when it is that time of the year for the first NAMM (National Association On Music Merchandisers) convention. While thousands of industry buyers walk around to the various manufacturerâ€™s booths talking about what product to buy and feature in their music stores, countless numbers of independent artists are flying around trying to get the attention of anyone who will talk with them. All desperately seeking a sponsorship deal from one of those coveted audio gear, recording equipment or instrument companies. Only later to learn that the deal they so desperately wanted doesnâ€™t provide them with money but if they are lucky, a free guitar or a discount on strings.
Here are the amounts of money to ask for. Again, the preferred angle is to convince the investors that they are investing in building your awareness (and charting), and that they will benefit by being attached to you. It is too difficult to try to generate a profit (and guarantee your investor a profit) on your very first release. And remember, we are talking here of commercial regular rotation (10 to 100 spins/week/station) on well known commercial stations... NOT specialty or mixshow, NOR non-commercial, college, public, web, NPR, or other campaigns. Here we go...
We now look at how to find investors, with an angle towards using the money for radio. Finding money is an inherently difficult thing for most artists to do, since most artists dislike business people, and also hate marketing (much less, marketing to FIND business people,) But, it must be done in order to pay for serious commercial regular rotation (and charting) campaigns... which for most beginning bands would be between $10K and $100K.
While indie artists can afford non-commercial campaigns on their own, any serious commercial marketing campaign (be it for airplay or soda pop or tires) is going to cost quite a bit.
Unless you have worked for the radio department of a label, or else you have worked for an independent promoter or radio magazine, you probably have never heard of an "add date". But the "add date" is probably the most basic building block of both commercial and college airplay, and it is used in every successful airplay charting campaign there is, so we better cover how it works.
Radio has the most stringent requirements for the CDs that you send them, the discs you put them on, and the cases you put them in. Let's go over them...
How is web radio (and downloading) going to impact your efforts in reaching mass numbers of people with your songs? Fortunately, for those who have studied media (yes... "media" is a topic in and of itself,) there is an answer that we can use. But you need to separate "radio" from "downloads" in order to understand it.