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Hiring an Independent Radio Promoter
August 16, 2003

By Bryan Farrish

If you are hiring a promoter to push your artist to radio, here are a
few things you can consider which will help you have the
greatest chance of success. (And when I say promoter, I mean
an airplay promoter, not a club or booking promoter.) The big
concern with this process is, if you choose the wrong person(s) to
promote your artist... and end up with bad results... you can't just
go back and do it over again. That's it for that CD (at those
stations). That CD is now "an old project", and you can't go
back to those stations until you have a new release.

USING A FRIEND: Non-experienced friends sometimes offer to
work artists to radio for free or "for a few dollars". This is fine as
long as you use them for the right tasks... like helping with the
mailing, etc. If you are working college radio... say, no more than
20-30 stations... then they could help you with some phone calls
too. But if they try to call any more stations than this, or if they try
to call commercial radio, they will probably stumble after just a
couple of weeks. And forget any capacity of doing reports or
trade charts.

SOMEONE FROM THE MAJORS: Staff promoters at major
labels sometimes offer to "help you out on the side" for a fee. On
their days off, or on the weekend, they say they will "make some
calls for you". What happens is that their company finds out and
disallows it, or, the person gets tied up on their days off and can't
do it. You are then stuck. Either way, it is a conflict of interest
for them.

PR PEOPLE: Public Relations (or "publicity") people sometimes
offer to work an artist to radio for airplay. But don't, however,
confuse PR with airplay. A real radio campaign has nothing to do
with publicity. They are two separate techniques, with different
contacts, lead times, terminology, call frequency, and so on. A
person who is good at one is usually terrible at the other. This is
why they are always separate departments at labels.

STATION PEOPLE: Station employees are sometimes recruited
to work an artist, and will tell you that "they know what stations
want." This sounds convincing, but in reality, taking the calls
(which they do/did at the station), and making the calls, are very
different animals. Until station people are trained (at a label or
indie), they usually make poor promoters.

OWN CHART: When you do hire a real promoter, make sure
he/she is not affiliated with the chart that they say they are going
to promote you to. Some promoters actually publish their own
chart, and they can put you on it wherever they want to. And
they can take you off just as quick. Worse, any advertising
money you place with the publication actually just goes straight to
them. They won't make any of this clear to you... you'll have to
ask around.

BIG CLIENTS: The most-often used sales technique of
promoters is to tell you they have worked "some big artist", and
that this would benefit you. Ask them what they mean by
"worked". Were they solely responsible for charting that artist?
Probably not (you will have to ask the artist to verify this... the
promoter is just not going to tell you the truth.) More than likely,
the promoter was probably just partnered with a label or another
promoter, or worse, was just an assistant or sidekick. Again, they
WILL NOT tell you they were not the only promoter. You will
HAVE to ask the artist or the artist's management directly.

Promoters who really do work major label projects just do not like
to work with entry-level projects. With major label projects, the
indie promoter ALWAYS has staff promoters at the label doing a
ton of the work, in addition to heavy retail (the CD is on the shelf
at most bookstores), touring (20-200 cities in major venues), and
press (10-100 articles in major publications like Spin or Billboard,
along with 50-500 articles in small publications.) And all this is on
top of TV appearances. So if you think that the indie promoter is
the one person who made the artist chart, think again. He will
not be able to do the same for you.

------------------------------------------------------------
Bryan Farrish Radio Promotion is an independent radio airplay
promotion company. 818-905-8038 www.radio-media.com. If you
live in Los Angeles and want to be informed of any events,
seminars or parties we do, email meet@radio-media.com and tell
us what town you are in, and also put "Request" in the subject.


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