Give The Musician A Hand
March 24, 2015
Commercial radio people at every level are all striving for the ratings goal deemed successful by their company. For any music format, the true measurement of success, regardless of their PPM or Diary numbers, is advertising dollars. The whole point of any format is to appeal to businesses for advertising.
The Music Conference
Recently I was on a music conference panel in Kansas City for Carter Broadcast Group. There were many aspiring musicians and singers there soaking up information on the music business from every aspect; getting started, putting together a demo, licensing, legal representation, producing, arranging, marketing, branding, networking, getting noticed, writing music, live shows, social media, street promotions, distribution, and how to get music on the radio.
There really are a lot of things that go into putting a song in position to potentially chart. Every music conference I attend, there is one question that persists: "How do I get my song on the radio?" I remind you again the purpose of a commercial contemporary music station is advertising. However, one of the side effects of a well-run station is music sales, digital downloads and streaming. By the way, don't fall for the "music doesn't sell anymore" line. Although it is down, percentage wise, it still sells. Consider this: If it didn't, why do companies continue to buy music catalogs?
Staying On Topic
But let me get back to my point of writers, singers and musicians wanting to get into the music industry. Just like those longing for a broadcasting career, both need information and direction. We try and guide air personalities, but many of us forget the opportunity to do the same for the music community. Because stations play music, musicians assume personalities and OM/PDs can put their music on the radio.
Do not dismiss them by merely citing the criteria for getting airplay on your station. Go one step further and make an appointment to spend some quality time and explain what they really need to know, and that is an education into understanding the mechanics of everything that has to happen before any station could even consider their song for airplay. Tell them what you know and guide them where they can get the information that you don't know.
It Never Hurts To Be Nice
What you share could have positive repercussions on many levels. That artist or manager could go on to a successful career, could be a great source of information among local musicians, could be selected for a PPM panel, or get a diary. Even more important, why wouldn't you help someone? Over the years you have gained more knowledge than you are aware of, pass it on and give artists the necessary information to break into the music business.
The Next Music Mogul
In 1998 while programming in Kansas City, I remember my MD Myron Fears telling me about a local musician named Tech N9ne. I got a call requesting a meeting with him and his manager Travis O' Quin. We met and I started explaining the process of getting on our station and before I knew it, they were showing me how they had met the criteria. They went on to show me their marketing plan and all the necessary business steps they had taken to cover every aspect to creatively compete in the music industry. Today, Tech is one of the most financially successful independent artists in the music world. Forbes magazine did a feature and referred to Tech as a "Quiet Hip-Hop Mogul." In 2013 Forbes estimated his Strange Music Label pulled in $7.5 million. You just never know.
Stick With What You Know
Honesty is the most important thing for mentoring. If you don't know something, don't make it up. Let me give you an example of what not to do. Before GPS, many of us had the experience of dealing with the unknown do-gooder who gave us the wrong directions when we were lost. Now he or she probably knew the directions were wrong, but thought they had to say something. Don't be them; knowing enough can get the person you're helping to the next level for the rest of the story.
Radio personalities and programmers come in contact with authorities in just about every aspect of the music world. Take the time to start a list of those in the various segments of the entertainment industry and double check their legitimacy. If the people on your list prove to be worthy for information, make them part of your music industry information base. Think about it, you come in contact with producers, music publishers, singers, entertainment lawyers, guerilla marketing types, ASCAP and BMI officials, record company promoters, songwriters, artist management, record execs, social media gurus and a host of other industry-related people. Use your circle of knowledge and pass it forward for the potential professional musicians of tomorrow.