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Tuesday September 18, 2012
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Radio and Indie Artists' New Relationship

As radio industry managers flock to Dallas for NAB/RAB "Radio Show," and as hundreds of them today attend the only event holding information (the Rain Summit), let's speak to independent artists who use Audio Graphics' services. It's time to relay a few facts that you may/may not be aware of about radio.

We'll start with a simple question asked at AG before any major radio conference: Are you aware of an idea (or panel invoked concept) introduced at these get-togethers which resulted in action taken when the attendees got home?

"Online radio station owners need indie artists as much as artist need these online stations." I've been watchful while asking the above since 2004; and, as of yet, have not seen these radio industry conferences offering anything more than a chance for a lot of people to feel important.

Deals may be cut, relationships started, and people get their rush standing behind a podium, but the promise that each of these conferences gives on "moving into the future with new information" constantly falls short. Status quo returns with the attendees every time.

Getting this radio industry routine (of radio touting technical education at its conventions) out of the way for indie artists readers is important because it's demonstrative of a very important hurdle on an artist's road. As much as the radio industry wants you to think there's change in the air, it's same-old same-old, relative to how its system works for indie artists getting airplay

An example which best suits this indie artist dilemma is how I've recently visited a score of radio web sites, finding a few offering to "accept independent artists songs." At the same time I've been on the lookout for radio industry trades to speak about indie artists discoverd by radio.

It's amazing how the action of soliciting new music results in so little airtime devoted to independent acts. You can count on one hand the acts being "discovered" by the radio industry this way.

Point 1) The broadcast radio industry, with few exceptions, ignores new artists that aren't label backed or fed to them through corporate.

A musician's life is difficult and usually built on a dream, with a foundation of belief in one's self and persistence.

There once was a time when a band could get local radio airplay, but those days have disappeared (sans "new music" shows in an extremely limited number of markets).

Point 2) Online is the "new" discovery channel for indie acts, but it's so much more difficult to navigate than calling local radio stations.

In decades past, local radio stations would have been your vehicle to audience, but today social media is where much hope lies. The caveat is that SM offers only a sliver of exposure that's required to sell music, so much of this "hope" is false.

What's needed today is having the online radio industry pay attention to your songs.

Point 3) In its early stage of development, online radio needs indie artist music.

A band may not realize an immediate payoff in royalty fees - as many stations, along with Audio Graphics' - ask for a waiver in the early stage of gaining exposure. At this time musicians are finding their groove while building buzz. You don't do either overnight and, while you are doing either, just getting your music out is more important than quanitfying how much worth your music carries.

Point 4) We're building to a time when an artist "star" will be uncovered through online radio alone. When that happens, be prepared.

In the not-too-distant future, some band will become a smash hit through online radio airplay alone. It will be at this time when a light bulb will go off in hundreds-of-thousands of indie artists' minds: Broadcast radio is for hearing established acts. Online radio is for discovering new music.

A most important item in the broadcast radio industry is casting as wide-a-net as possible, and that requires familiarity. Online, it's playing to a far smaller audience comprised of people sharing more specific music tastes (which makes this an ideal environment for music discovery).

When artists and internet radio operators join together, when each understands the other is an important aspect of their future, we'll all be on the path to fixing a broken music distribution system.

Never before have there been as many bands seeking exposure. Nor have we ever had this enormous number of internet radio stations listening for new music.

Where an indie artist may have petitioned regional radio industry stations to play a song, and succeeded on one or two of them, we are now entering a system that allows one group access to hundreds of stations in one motion (see RRadio Music as an example).

To not take advantage of technology, to not help prime a new music distribution system, to not acknowledge how a broadcast radio industry ignores nearly all calls from indie artists for airplay is keeping one's artistic head in the sand.

Final Point, 5) The relationship musicians once had with the broadcast radio industry doesn't exist anymore, and indie artists need to evaluate the potential offered by the online radio industry.

You can still spend time on social media. But, to reach the masses you need radio web sites that have built an audience seeking fresh content. Online radio station owners need indie artists as much as artists need these online stations.

From a "getting results" perspective, an artist's time is better spent reaching out to internet stations which are more receptive to playing new music - and whose audiences are expecting the same.

It's a win-win relationship between independent artists and internet radio. And artists - it's now your move.

Hear a few indie acts taking advantage of internet radio.

Nick Gill:
"By the Way"

sample song

Download Song

Hard Rock:
Siamese Sundow:
"Dresden Girls"

sample song

Download Song

Katie Robinette:
"Some Things Amazing"

sample song

Download Song

Neon Blue:
"Thank God For The Simple Man"

sample song

Download Song

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