It is generally understood by most people, whether or not they work in the radio industry, that commercial radio stations, one-on-one, still carry the most listeners in the terrestrial broadcast world. This is versus non commercial, public, and college stations. Hence, their large listenerships are, in part, why it is difficult for new independent artists to break into their main rosters directly for airplay.
Additionally, their listenership numbers are why commercial station rates are the most expensive as well. But, there is a "back-door" approach that can get your music on commercial radio stations from the onset that eliminates your need to "build up" to them by first going through college, non commercial and public stations. I'm not saying that you don't need these other stations, because you do. However, again, you don't need to wait nearly as long just to create a history and, pardon the pun, track record for commercial stations. And, the element that assists you in achieving this feat is known as "specialty/mix shows.
" It is truly perplexing to me when I read other writers' articles that attempt to devalue specialty/mix radio shows as positive sources of exposure for independent recording artists. They attempt to further substantiate their claims by alluding that specialty/mix shows are aired during late nights when no one is listening, say, at 2:00 a.m. Come on! Not everyone has "day" jobs.
Without trying, I can think of a number of jobs, services and positions that function all night, with their employees listening to radio stations during their entire shifts. One such area is the security industry which, by the way, is a very large industry. And, while it is true, in part, that many such shows air during late nights and overnights, there are just as many shows that air during early evening time slots as well. To learn if stations have specialty/mix shows, which many have at least one, it is as simple as calling them up. If a station has a website, it will usually post its program schedule online as well, which will oftentimes include its independently produced deejay-run shows. However, some stations won't include their specialty shows and, in these cases, you are better off contacting their programming departments by telephone, as you may then find that they also have multiple shows where your music will fit.
To further support my own argument for specialty/mix shows, many listeners keep their radios set to their favorite stations around the clock, regardless of the programming content possibly changing during different times of the day. Hence, in relation to working with commercial radio stations as a part of your promotion, your goals should be as follows: 1. Locate as many commercial radio stations as possible. 2.
Discover as many specialty/mix shows that each station carries in its programming lineup that specifically fit your genre. 3. Ask for the names of the producers of the shows, who are usually the same individuals who host, and who are far easier to get in touch with than the station's staff music and program directors.
Additionally, in most cases, it is much easier to get your music aired on specialty/mix shows that are carried by commercial stations, as opposed to attempting to get it onto commercial stations' main rosters. Likewise, the specialty/mix show host has much more time to, and can more freely present bios on the artists whose music he is airing on his show. You will rarely (if ever) get this added service through a station's main programming, unless you are a superstar artist.
Be sure to also include a note within your media kit informing the host/producer that the music can be purchased online, either on your site, or on a site such as CD Baby. And, as I've informed through other articles, you should also ensure that your music is carried by such organizations as The Orchard as well as by New Artist Direct. Why? Because, in addition to providing online sales, these particular two distributors also place orders with offline music retailers, with (I believe) a 90%-95% concentration depth on a national level in the United States. They are actively involved with both major music retail chains, as well as independent music retailers. And, they have been specifically created to offset and eliminate the headaches and heartaches that most artists and small labels experience when dealing with traditional distributors. By the way.
radio stations maintain constant contact with their area retailers to learn what is being requested and moving via sales. Likewise, retailers stay in contact with area radio to learn what is popular enough to stock. The best things that can come from all of this are: * If your music becomes extremely popular on the show, and the station request line heats up, followed by your sales increasing in the station's area retail stores, its popularity will get noticed by the music or program directors, who may decide to try it within the main lineup. * Due to its popularity with station and retail requests, retailers may decide that your music has proven itself and is worth the risk of ordering from The Orchard or New Music Direct to stock in advance. So, are you now thinking more seriously about marketing your product to specialty/mix shows on a national level? If not, you certainly should be.
Kenny Love is president of MuBiz.com, a promotion and media publicity firm for musicians. Get complete details at MySpace.com and at the MuBiz.com website.