10 Questions with ... Carmen Allgood
April 1, 2013
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Carmen Allgood produces and hosts the world's first and only syndicated indie music radio shows "The Colorado Wave" and "Indie Music Wave" with more than 100 broadcasting platforms, 20,000 artists, 300,000 avid music lovers, and 170,000 podcast subscribers worldwide.
1) What Got You Interested in creating a syndicated show for unsigned/independent artists?
I was working at a Classic Rock station in the mid-80's in Oklahoma City and knew a lot of musicians. There was so much great original music that I had to wonder why these famous unknowns never got any airplay. I found a few sponsors, presented the concept to management, and they loved the idea of hosting a "Homegrown Music Showcase." At the time I never thought of syndication, but over time I decided to test the waters and see what could happen. I started the arduous process in 2005. New music discovery is certainly a hot item in this day and age, and the Waves are rock solid programs. Call it a big niche program.
2) Your show is now considered the #1 syndicated independent music show in the world? Who are some of your most interesting affiliates?
That's a loaded question! I love all my affiliates, terrestrial and Internet. I will give it up to John Waters, PD, KFTM/Fort Morgan CO for being the first station to pick up my shows through syndication. He's a great radio guy and a musician, and this idea simply resonated with him. Andy Rice, PD at KPMX/Sterling. CO also fell in love with the show, and Tony Mauro, GM at KZYR/Vail and KSNO Aspen is a very smart Triple A programmer. Tom Dobrez who owns these two stations and the Cool Radio networks is a serious musicologist and frequently tunes in to my shows. Will Spears, GM at KWUF/Pagosa Springs CO and sister station KZBR/Alamosa also carries my shows. All these stations have been running the Colorado Wave for about eight years. Jack Smith, GM at WKYZ in the Florida Keys is all over it as well and swears there is a serious market for Indie Music Wave.
Most of the stations are commercial but a few public radio stations are on the hit list like KPOV/Bend, OR and KVRZ/Libby, MT. As we like it.
I think it's fair to factor in some of the bigger Internet stations. Dave Kaspersin runs an all indie music station out of Rochester NY, WDYN, and airs my programs every day of the week. GM Mark Maverick, iRadio LA (a.k.a. "Indie 104" Los Angeles has been going strong in the all independent music market since 1998. There's a lot of support for this type of music and the fact that there are only about a gazillion bands out there gives us a lot of material to work with. That covers this side of the Atlantic.
Across the Big Pond, one of the last radio ships in the world, Radio Seagull, has a couple of AM signals that hit a big part of EU. Moored off the coast of the Netherlands this station covers both coasts of the UK and bounces up to Scandinavia and back through Benelux, Germany, and Switzerland (not to mention their streaming signal). PD Stevie Gordon, IMHO, runs some of the best programming in the world through this station and everyone on board is their own programmer. He picked up my show without any arm-wrestling.
3) Where do you find the music that you use for your shows? Please tell us about the process you go through each week to select the new music for your shows?
I don't have time to find music anymore, it just finds me. Somehow the word got out that there's a producer who really has a show with some muscle (okay, not exactly Popeye, but Olive Oyl is a great runner up) and anyone who will take a couple of minutes to look at my website will find out about the Music Submission guidelines. The way I pick out songs is simple: I listen to the opening, middle, and the end of the song and can usually tell in about 15 seconds if it will fit. I honestly make a concerted effort to put the biggest spotlight possible on each band so they will rise and shine in these shows. The next step is to listen to the song in its entirety and (GOD FORBID!!!) find out if there are any words that the FCC frowns upon. If there are, and I love the song, I'll edit and admonish the band later. The long and short of it is the lyrics should be clean and it needs to be a good production. I also prefer songs that deliver a positive message and are socially conscious. We are living in a chaotic world, and people turn to music to make them feel better.
My show is basically an Adult Alternative show with a lot of independent artists. I produce showcases, which feature just about every style of music: Rock, Pop, Acoustic, Singer-Songwriter, Jazz, Country Rock, Americana, Reggae, World Beat, Blues, Hip Hop ... we've got you covered!
4) What do you view as the most important issue facing radio today?
It is tragic that DJs have disappeared. Radio is a people business. Get rid of the people and there goes radio. I don't understand the reasoning behind this at most stations. They say it is a question of economics. The biggest issue, though, came through consolidation and national playlists. This explains why so many people are flocking to the net for alternative content. Every once in a while I have a vision of radio towers downed like old dinosaur bones, and I have to do a real mental adjustment to accept this. Who would have believed that the tiny cell phone would ultimately change traditional media in such a drastic way in such a short period of time? Ah well, life is like that sometimes.
5) How did social media sites such as MySpace, then Facebook, Soundcloud, and Twitter change the opportunities for the independent musician? And what are some of the things you see bands doing to connect with their fans on these platforms?
The Internet has been one of the most healing, transformational things to ever happen to the human race. Everyone can have a voice. Anyone can share their creations and creativity with the world and always find someone to connect with. I think most of us are hip to the endless possibilities available to us and the fact that we don't need anyone's approval or permission to 'be the media.' All we need is the desire to share our wares, and with a little marketing skills the sky is the limit. Since everyone is doing it, there's no novelty to any of this anymore, but it is still a necessary, creative, inexpensive way to stay in touch with your friends and fans.
One thing I would caution against is this: Don't always make it about you! It's okay to have a relationship with people who love and support your efforts, but this should work both ways. The world is really supportive and forgiving of DIY projects, meaning everyday people can make a splash with little financial investment.
6) While today's technology has leveled the playing field in terms of production, what is it that still makes a great song stand out to you?
This question will always have the same answer, "love!" Music strikes a chord in our soul, and humans relate to this invisible, intangible expression of love in the same way that a lover just sweeps us off our feet. Feelings, relationships, relating, and emotional responses will always be involved in hit material. The most enduring songs in the world always revolve around a crazy little thing called love.
7) Tell us about your Golden Wave Awards?
This started out as a bit of a fluke! (A nudge nudge wink wink situation) and has evolved to be a serious endeavor. What is it? Recognition. When someone does something that deserves some applause, I think they should be recognized. For instance, after Hurricane Katrina (that bitch) did her thing, a Ft. Collins artist by the name of Liz Barnez did her thing. Four days after this disaster, she put on a benefit concert and raised $40,000.00 for the victims. This is what a Golden Wave Award is all about. We have a page devoted to this on the website. These days, artists include this Award on their resumes. Thanks!
8) What are your thoughts on the current independent music scene? And can you please describe the difference between an "independent musician" and an "unsigned musician?"
The indie music scene is sizzling and red, red hot! Every musician in the world started out as an independent artist, and eventually returns to their humble beginnings. There are so many amazing writers and musicians it is mind-bending.
As far as I can tell, "Independent" and "Unsigned" they are one and the same. It seems that "unsigned" is becoming a bit of a four-letter word these days, and "independent" is the term that most musicians prefer. All it means to me is that they are not signed with a major label, and are a free bird who can manage their own affairs.
9) What are your thoughts on independent bands who use crowd funding sites like Kickstarter or PledgeMusic? Have any of the bands you support on your show had success using these fundraising platforms?
I know a lot of bands that have launched very successful campaigns, and met their goals. All of them are producing a new CD and plan on touring to promote their disc. What a concept. If our government modeled themselves after these launch pads we'd probably all be in the money!
10) What advice do you have for the aspiring musicians of tomorrow?
Its okay to dream and dream big! Whatever your passion is, don't lose sight of it! Recognize you are an artist because this is who you are. Love should be at the center of all your actions in this world, and then there will never be room for loss or disappointment. Learn how to play well with others, and don't hold grievances.
What do you do in your spare time?
I'm a great cook and have included a vegan recipe page on my website. I'm also a contributing writer for an online publication out of Sydney AU, called "WakeUpWorld." This is an alternative news and information source that is fairly new but has developed a huge readership. My articles revolve around "Love as Energy, and Healing." My biggest devotion is that I am a "Loveologist," a "Teacher of Love." I released my first book in the Temper Tantrum Series, "The Beginner's Guide To Inner Peace - Beyond Diapers: How not to wallow in your own poop."
Whatever we do, there can only be a sense of purpose and passionate involvement when love is at the center of the action. I love what I do, and think my devotion to sharing great music with as many people as possible for most of my adult life is evidence of that.
Are there any artists that have been played on your show and then hit it big?
One of the first bands I featured in the '80s was The Flaming Lips. This band is still out there with a big international following and delivering great music. I've also been spinning music by South Africa's Just Jinjer who signed with Curb records. Hazel Miller has been a mainstay on my shows as well. That's not to say these bands were successful because they were on my show. I wish I could put that feather in my cap. They made it by getting a lot of exposure, and being willing to go the distance in this complicated business.
Tell us what music we would find on your MP3 player right now and what is it you enjoy about that particular selection?
Right now I've got a few new music submissions that are really working me over, including: Jonny Barber and Mama, Dennis Wanebo, Elm Treason, The Strolling Scones, Andy Palmer and Grub Street Writer, and the newest offering from Jude Johnstone. What do I love about these selections? Diversity and a cool new genre called 'Vintage Vibe' Yeah!
Can you give us a glimpse of what you have planned for your shows in the future and where you're headed?
These programs could easily find themselves on hundreds of stations, enhancing great stations in any market. If I could clone myself a few times that could happen! We shall see...
What is the biggest change that you'd like to see happen in the business?
I'd like to be Queen of the Wavez. No, wait. That's already happened. Uh, how about everyone learning to get along, no more free music unless everything is free? DJs get their jobs back and radio becomes the most fun, powerful art form and communication device that it once was? Like I said, it's okay to dream!