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Radio Airplay 101
Radio is one of the *mass media* that record companies use to promote
CDs to a wide-spread audience. It is the only medium that gets songs to an audience on a *repeated* basis (meaning,
a person can hear a song on a particular station 20 or 50 or 100 times...just compare that to TV, film, print...or
even touring.) So the question stands: How do you get your songs on the radio? With this and following installments
of *Radio Airplay 101*, we will look at what radio avenues are realistically available to indie bands and indie
labels, whether or not you use an independent promoter.
The stations that are *not* listed here are either news/talk, oldies, foreign language (besides Spanish), traffic info, or some other non-new-music format.
Regardless of what you were thinking were the "charts", you should familiarize yourself with radio-only publications that "track" airplay (as opposed to tracking retail or ticket sales.) Also, you need to be careful of the word "chart", because confusion will inevitably occur if you do not specify what chart you mean: "Charting" in the "trades" or magazines is what most people mean when they use the word "chart", but it is constantly mistaken as meaning charting on an individual-station's chart, or "playlist". The first chart is an average of many stations, while the second chart is from just one station.
A long-standing entry-level publication for this purpose is CMJ. With the variety of genres that it covers, and with its acceptance of up-and-coming projects, you can get a good feel for what you are competing against in the radio airplay world. If you are hiring an airplay promoter, then you do not need to subscribe to CMJ or other charts, but you do need to know how the charts work.
CMJ (College Music Journal, www.cmj.com) is the starting point for non-commercial (mostly college) stations. It comes in two versions...the consumer's monthly version (found on some newsstands) which is called the New Music Monthly, and the professional weekly version (available by subscription only) called the New Music Weekly. The professional version is the one that is of interest here.
With its six different weekly-airplay charts, the weekly version covers the six basic areas of music heard on college radio. They are Alternative (called the TOP 200 chart,) Metal (called the LOUD ROCK chart,) Electronic (the RPM chart,) Hip Hop (the BEAT BOX chart), New Age/World (NEW WORLD chart,) and Jazz (JAZZ chart.) There is also a AAA chart, but it is a subset of the Top-200 chart, and has strong limitations.
Forget Billboard...For an indie act with a limited budget, its charts are impossible, since they incorporate sales. Other charts are possible, however, and we will get to them later.
Next issue we will go into detail as to what acts should consider what stations for airplay.
is an independent radio airplay promoter. He can be reached at 818-905-8038 or email@example.com