Rising Star Systems

MUSIC INDUSTRY SECRETS – Trends in Radio Panel

I was invited to attend this panel sponsored by ReverbNation and hosted by The Knitting Factory last week.

The Panelists were:

  • Moderator: Valerie Gurka, Marketing Director – Knitting Factory Entertainment
  • Lynda McLaughlin Producer – Premiere Radio Networks, Founder/Partner – LYVA Music and Espresso Sounds Publishing.
  • Liz Berg Assistant General Manager – WFMU Radio
  • Seth Hillinger, Creative Technologist – iHeartRadio, Organizer – Music Tech Meetup
  • Michael Gunzelman, Radio Host – The Gunz Show, Idobi Radio

I found it very informative.  And overall, the panel answered one of my key questions about the Music Business in the 20-teens:

Is radio still relevant?

I was happy to discover that today’s radio, as a curator of music and as a place to discover new music, is still alive and well.  And thanks to the Internet as well as local, college and NPR stations, radio still has a place in the marketing and promotional plans for unsigned, independent DIY bands and musicians.

How and where people listen to radio depends largely on their demographics and geographic locations.  People Over age 50 and/or living in rurul or suburban areas are more likely to listen to terrestrial radio in their cars and home. Younger audiences and urban audiences are more likely to listen via the internet and their smart phone, ipad or ipod.  So, knowing who you’re targeting will help to guide your decisions when promoting your music to radio.

According to the panelists, today’s music fan is still introduced to new music via radio, but unlike 30 years ago, their next step isn’t to buy the album at a brick and mortar retailer.  Now, when someone discovers new music via either radio exposure or the use of that music in TV shows, commercials or films, their next step is to listen to that band or artist on YouTube and then seek to stream or purchase their music via Spotify, iTunes or the like.

Which means that getting your music up on YouTube as well as using an online distribution center such as CDBaby or SoundCloud is critical.

They also commented that using Internet Radio and other curator services such as Spotify and turntable.fm have been great in the past for reaching an international audience, and they are currently hampered by international licensing issues.

How do artists pitch to radio?

The biggest mistake you can make is sending your CD to a program director and then calling her a million times, leaving the “have you listened to my CD yet?” message. Program directors are inundated and they don’t owe you anything.  Be respectful of their time and their process.

First research and make sure that your music is a good fit for that stations programming.  Send your CD to the music director, but don’t call over and over!  You’re more likely to get a response from targeting specific DJs.  Search the radio website to target DJs who play music like yours.  Another sources is the CMJ NMR Report

Another important aspect is to network at live events.  A personal connection is always better than a cold submission.

This panel didn’t seem high on using Radio promoters.  And if you do decide to go this route, they highly recommend that you do your research before hiring a radio promoter.  Get the list of bands your prospective promotor is working with and talk to them.  Find out if they’re happy, find out what kinds of results they’re seeing from the promotion and if they’d work with this promoter again.

Another suggestion was to use turntable.fm and be a bit sneaky.  Become a DJ and curate music within your genre, and create a fanbase as a curator, then periodically slip in your music.

The idea of people curating music for their friends creating play lists and sharing seemed both intriguing and a bit threatening to this panel, basically they felt that DJs are the better choice for learning about new music (an understandable bias).  They mentioned that Spotify had merged with Facebook, making it really easy to share play lists with your friends and requiring a Facebook profile to join.

Other Resources Mentioned:

Artist affiliation on iheartradioUnsigned, undiscovered artists can submit to “Discover & Uncover”

WFMU Free Music Archive for creative commons – The Free Music Archive is an interactive library of high-quality, legal audio downloads.  The Free Music Archive is directed by WFMU, the most renowned freeform radio station in America.  Radio has always offered the public free access to new music. The Free Music Archive is a continuation of that purpose, designed for the age of the internet.  You can tell people it’s safe to use for podcasting and then promote your music to music blogs.

Tumblr is also getting huge for music blogging.

How does radio fit into your music promotion?

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