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Tuesday, October 8, 2013
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Artists: The Market Changed

Thought of the following concerning indie artists who want to sell their music - not as a song but as background in radio commercials. It comes from an interaction I had with an artist whom I greatly respect.
"It's not just mass consumption today; it's mass competition."

A quick setup: I'm doing a radio ad campaign for a local client in Cleveland, OH. Though there's an existing jingle, I tried using new music in creating these commercials by reaching into some of the songs I have available from Audio Graphics' RRadio Music.

I used the above artist's catchy song after editing it into a commercial's music bed; the commercial sounded good.

I sent the artist a note on my desire to use his song and a request on how much would he charge. His response caught me offguard. It showed there's a disconnect between what he thinks the song is worth and what it is worth to me (as a producer).

His song is quality. It's featured at RRadio Music, included in an "Intro to Indie Artists" program, and I personally like it. Sample Robert Wuagneux's "Bip Bop, I found a Love."

The question: What is a fitting price for the use of a song in commercials? In a medium size market like Cleveland (and for a small advertiser within that market) payment's not much. My thought was around $100-$150 for sixty seconds unlimited use of the song. Note: The song was not created specifically for the client.

However, if I correctly read the artist's reply, he was asking me to split his $5,000 cost of producing the song 50/50.

He declined my offer. If not, I would have declined his. $2,500 isn't in the production budget of a medium market radio advertiser.

I get it. A musician needs payment for their work. "How much?" is the question - what is reasonable?

Over the past 15 years we've gone through upheavel in music distribution. To quote an article appearing here September 6, 2013: "As a talented indie, your biggest hurdle is in how the internet has given free reign to hundreds-of-thousands of other indie artists in exactly the same ease of availability as it's been given to you."

It's not just mass consumption today; it's mass competition.

To artists who are looking for exposure: Radio stations make music libraries available to advertisers for free. An advertiser isn't going to pay big bucks for sixty-seconds of music, especially in a smaller market. That's my opinion, based on four decades of making radio commercials.

I would love to pay the money asked. It just can't be justified within the reality of radio advertising, or in today's world of music distribution. Both changed dramatically with the internet.

...And this leads to our open-ended ending: How do you go about pricing a song's use in a radio commercial? What do you look at as a baseline? This is new ground for everyone. A dialogue in the comments section below would be helpful. Your opinion is appreciated.

Today's indie artist introduction is to...
A Country artist to consider:
Andy and the Rockers

sample song
Down Home Kentucky

Download Song


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 Andy and the Rockers's "Down Home Kentucky" a listen.

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

It's time internet radio programmers reach into a huge pile of untapped talent.
It is here where new hit songs will increasingly be found.

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