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Thursday, March 7, 2013
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The Math of Radio & Music - Part 2

Music genres are diverse. Songs and radio programs are so prolific that it's common for companies to offer thousands of stations, or millions of songs. Pandora and Clear Channel may be the online and over-the-air gorillas, but there are hundreds of others in each camp. Cumulatively, these "hundreds" overtake the audiences reached by either P or CC.

YouTube has become a source for promoting indie artists; and bands by the gazillions have Facebook, MySpace, Bandcamp, Reverbnation, and CDBaby accounts. The line above about others cumulatively overtaking the gorillas is also accurate in this sector of music distribution.
"There is no magic bullet in promotion. There is no easy way onto a radio station's playlist. And there is certainly no company that will get you widespread attention and response. The worlds of advertising and promotion just don't work that way."

If caution is to be thrown to an indie artist or group, beware of any company claiming "direct links to producers and radio station programmers." Also, place a little advertising math behind your expectations; it will give you examples of what to expect, relative to response.

You produce a product. Music. You are in competition with others in getting exposure for your product, and in deeper competition in getting fans to purchase or come hear you play.

Turn the term "promoting yourself" into "advertising your product" and it's easier to digest the following. These are not arbitrarily assigned numbers. They come from my own analysis of ad campaign successes and failures over the years. That said, focus on the decimal 0.4%, as it is an average response rate when tracking response to ad campaigns. Simply stated, it means 4 persons respond to your message for every 1,000 persons reached. Notice the keyword here is "respond," not buy. That is a much smaller decimal.

My target response rate hovers around 1%. Anything below that gets more attention to improve response. Anything above 1% is considered to be providing adequate response (which you may call icing on the cake).

When you see an ad for one of the above described companies claiming to offer your song to "thousands of stations, record and film producers," take a breath and consider how many of those reached are actually listening to your song. 0.4% is where I'd start, and that's if you use a company with relationships to its mailing list recipients. Take special notice here; it's not always advantageous to reach for a larger number of contacts.

I once took over an ad campaign boasting 14 million impressions each month. It delivered 25,500 in response (0.18%). 20 sales resulted, which gave this campaign a 0.08% rate on convertering response to sales.

By adjusting where ads were running (akin to an artist paying close attention on who it is they are promoting to), I raised the response rate to 1.16%. The "purchase rate" also rose to 0.62%. Both of these occurred despite impressions being lowered to 1.5 million per month.

I realize these response and purchase percentages appear small. But they represent an increase of 544.4% in response and a 675% increase in sales. Ponder that just for a moment. This is real world advertising math - and what you (as a musician) are up against when advertising yourself.

There is no magic bullet in promotion. There is no easy way onto a radio station's playlist. And there is certainly no company that will get you widespread attention and response. The worlds of advertising and promotion just don't work that way.

If your target is to play on a slew of Clear Channel stations, or to be heard by millions of Pandora listeners, work the math downward dramatically. It's much harder to get either of these two company's attention.

Avoid promoters that promise widespread distribution, too. Many of their "contacts" will end up unopened in the recipient's trash. Read James Moores' "'Has Your Music Been Featured In The New York Times?' An Exposť on" at Music Think Tank for a very good commentary on this aspect of music distribution.

What you don't want to do is quit. What you do want to do is adjust expectations. Keep them in-line with reality. That's where we live.

Expecting too much sets yourself up for disappointment.

Yet, here are some final words: Please, keep dreaming. There's always the exception.

While the broadcast side of radio has a near lockout on indie artists, introducing music is open wide to internet stations.
A Pop artist to consider:
Carmin Blinn.

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Carmin Blinn

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We listen for songs that evoke emotion; fast, slow, female, male, group, it doesn't matter. When an artist has the power to please, they should be given a chance to be heard.

Give Carmin Blinn's "I Wish" a listen. (More Artists Here)

Add it to your playlist, free! Such is the new world of music distribution.

The radio industry had its shot. It's time internet radio programmers take a chance and reach into a huge pile of talent. It is there that new hit songs will increasingly be found.

It's obvious to all except those in denial that the new radio industry is online.

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