I have been in the music industry a good 40 years including serving as VP of a division with a major label. I have seen a lot of changes and then some things never change. I was recently asked by a very good independent artist “I am just as good as anyone I hear on the American top 40 why do I have to pay to get a radio hit record in the US?”
Good question. There are a lot of artists out there that are every bit as good as who you hear on the Top 40. Why don’t you hear these people? One reason is there are 9 radio conglomerates that monopolize all the Billboard reporting stations they are http://www.billboard.com/biz/articles/news/1358081/abc-news-payola-probe-shifts-to-radio
The we have the article on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Payola This article tells us all about how payola is illegal. But there is always more than one way to skin a cat. The Record and Radio Industry are big business. Big Business has no ear for talent just making money, that’s the American way. http://blog.sonicbids.com/5-surprising-things-you-probably-didnt-know-about-record-labels
If you google this subject you will really have to read between the lines because no one wants to admit how corrupt radio and the business of hit songs still are today. See http://www.forbes.com/sites/melindanewman/2015/03/05/heres-how-it-cost-6-9-million-to-make-robin-thickes-blurred-lines-a-hit/
The fact is in days of old many promoters used to bring in bags of cash to drop in DJ’s or Music Programmers hands. Again see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Payola. If you want your record played on major US stations its business as always Pay to Play.
Even though legislation was passed payola in some form or the other still exists. The estimates vary, but the number is around one million when all is said and done to get a hit record. http://www.npr.org/sections/money/2011/07/05/137530847/how-much-does-it-cost-to-make-a-hit-song
Yes a good artist can get played on B and tertiary stations along with college radio in the US. But this will not translate to a Billboard hit. http://www.tunecore.com/blog/2011/09/how-to-get-your-song-on-commercial-radio.html
I could reference articles all day long. The fact is if you want a hit on US radio then you have to pay for it and handsomely. Estimates range from $50,000 to in excess of $1,000,000.00 in promotional costs and payoffs.
But if you want a Gold record in the US all you have to do is stream yourself a half a million times and that Gold record is yours. Total cost $3500.00. But that doesn’t mean anyone will hear it.
However, indie artists can make a good living and can tour the world. The fact is you need radio airplay to be able to successfully tour. People have to know who you are. Yes there is streaming. But who is gonna hear you among billions of songs? You need radio airplay to tour.
Indie artists, you don’t have a million dollars for promotion? First hire a good radio promoter who covers the world. Outside the US the type of corruption referenced above does not exist. Radio outside the US will play good music. They don’t care if it’s from a major label or a indie artist, as long as it good music they will play it.
After you are getting played contact the stations that are playing you and thank them. Offer them radio liners, radio interviews and offer to send them a dozen promo give- away cds. Radio likes to offer their listening audience giveaways. To give your cds away, they play you more, mention who you are more and increase your exposure. Once you have done this you are that radio station’s friend.
So then ask the stations that are playing you who are their advertising venues. Get their contact information. Call, email those venues. Tell them you are playing on xyz radio station in their town and want to come to their town to perform. Let the radio stations know you are going to do this and they will back you because if the venue hires you the venue will hire them to advertise the performance.
This will get you even more exposure on that radio station. Radio will love you because they got the venues advertising dollars because of you. You get a performance date that is well advertised and a radio station that is playing your music and supporting you. Most likely when you go to perform you will have a full house of people who came to see you. You will sell merchandise, gain fans and if you do a good performance be asked to come back again. Everyone wins.
You don’t have a top 40 Billboard hit but you are getting airplay around the world. You can now book gigs around the world successfully, for decent money. You may or may not attain superstar status but you can perform around the world and make a good living.
By Stephen Wrench www.musikandfilm.com