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Commercial Airplay Myths
July 05, 2003

Bryan Farrish::

When talking to people who are launching their first couple of
projects, invariably the same misunderstood points come up
concerning commercial regular-rotation airplay. Here they are:

DJs PLAY THE RECORDS: DJs only do this on non-commercial
radio, and specialty/mixshow radio. The majority of people in the
U.S., however, listen to commercial regular-rotation radio, and on
these stations, the DJs have no say at all in what is going to be
played (unless, in the case of a smaller station, the DJ is also the
PD). So, the biggest pitfall to avoid is asking a DJ at a
commercial station "Can I give you my CD for possible rotation?".
The DJ is not allowed to say "No", and he/she is probably not
going to explain that only the PD can approve regular rotation.
The DJ is just going to say "OK".

GOOD SONGS SPREAD TO OTHER STATIONS: Good songs
(or for that matter, good programs) do not mystically spread to
other stations. Every single song you hear (or every syndicated
program you hear) on commercial regular-rotation radio is on that
station because of layers of promotion and marketing. The song
you hear was the one that made it... it beat out the other 300
songs that were going for adds that week. What you don't hear
are the endless phone calls, faxes, trade ads, personal meetings,
consultant recommendations, call-out research, and other things
which went into getting the station to add the record. All you
heard was the record itself. And station owners make it a
requirement that DJs make it sound like they picked the music
themselves.

COLLEGE OR SPECIALTY/MIXSHOW WILL EXPAND TO
COMMERCIAL: Just because you do well on non-commercial or
specialty/mixshow radio, it does not mean anything will happen
on commercial regular-rotation radio. Matter of fact, nothing at all
will happen at commercial unless a separate, higher-level
campaign is put into place to take the record into regular rotation.
The pitfall here is that a listener will hear something on college,
and then a month later hear it on commercial, and conclude that
the college caused the commercial to happen. The listener did
not know that both campaigns were in place simultaneously, and
the college simply went for adds a month earlier.

YOU HAVE TO BE SIGNED: Untrue. Being singed is only a
signal to the stations that the basic marketing practices are going
to be done right. If you have the budget, you can duplicate the
marketing practices of larger labels, provided you know how.
The band Creed set a good example, by putting their $5 million
marketing dollars into the right place.

REQUEST CALLS WILL HELP: Not really. They won't hurt, but
your time is better spent doing other things, like inviting people to
your gigs. Stations know which calls are real, and which are
bands and their friends. Stations have consultants and seminars
which cover only this one topic.

I CAN'T GET AIRPLAY WITHOUT DISTRIBUTION: Depends
on the size of radio that you are going after. Smaller commercial
regular-rotation stations in smaller markets won't make this too
much of a sticking point, especially if you have a powerful radio
campaign going, or if you are doing great gigs in their city, or if
you have great college or specialty/mixshow results. But the
larger stations... which you can't work anyway until you do the
smaller ones... will be almost impossible.

I CAN'T GET AIRPLAY WITHOUT GIGS: Again, depends on
the size of radio that you are going after. Not being able to gig is
a serious handicap for any station, but you can overcome it in
smaller markets with intense radio promo, press, sales, and
non-comm results.

NON-MONITORED STATIONS ARE OF NO USE:
Non-monitored stations are of no use only on the Billboard and
R&R charts. But FMQB, CMJ, and all specialty/mixshow charts
found in magazines are compiled manually; since you need to
start off on these smaller charts first, this works out just fine.

------------------------------------------------------------
Bryan Farrish is an independent radio airplay promoter. He can
be reached at 818-905-8038 or www.radio-media.com
------------------------------------------------------------


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