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Radio Airplay 101 - Investors, Part 1 of 3

While indie artists can afford non-commercial campaigns on their own, any serious commercial marketing campaign (be it for airplay or soda pop or tires) is going to cost quite a bit. Most of you reading this will be seeking $10,000 to $30,000 from an investor, but the following points apply up to about $500,000. Here are some things investors will ask you before they are going to back you for commercial REGULAR-ROTATION charting campaigns (NOT specialty or mixshow campaigns, which are only one or two spins a week. Regular rotation is 10 to 100 spins per week per station.) Here we go...

"CAN YOU GET THE SONG ON THE BIG XXXX STATION IN MY CITY?" This is a vanity plea on the investor's part. The PROPER way of marketing a record is to start in smaller markets, and then build up from there (regardless of where the investor lives.) Serious investors understand this, since it is a standard marketing practice, music or otherwise.


"HOW MANY STATIONS WILL PLAY IT?" This is directly proportional to the marketing budget, the music, the genre, the skill of the people promoting it, the time available, the distribution, the press, the gigs, the history of the artist, the previous sales of the artist, and the previous gigs of the artist. Assuming you are a new artist with nothing going on, the budget will be your only determining factor.

Note: HOW MANY stations play you has nothing to do with how many LISTENERS hear you (which, is a function of the size of the stations; commercial stations can have from 100 to 100,000 listeners at one time on one station.)

"WILL THIS GET US A RECORD DEAL?" Will nice shoes get you a new job? Will a gym get you a new body? Answer #1: YOU get you a record deal, using tools (airplay) provided by us. Answer #2: Record deals are not yes/no or off/on. They are a variable, ranging from "partnering" with just one person, up to the mythical major label deal. You can, however, buy yourself into distribution (indie or major.)

"WILL THIS HELP US GET DISTRIBUTION?" Ahhh!... Finally a realistic question! Now you have an investor who has a partial grasp on marketing. Yes, airplay has a direct role in helping you obtain simple independent distribution. As a matter of fact, we actually send our airplay reports directly to distributors. They need to know what is going on. Even simple college airplay will help you obtain simple indie "distro" deals. More complex and expensive commercial regular rotation will help (not guarantee) you more serious P&D deals. Of course, though, you can always buy distro.

"HOW CAN WE BE SURE YOUR AIRPLAY PROMOTER WILL DO HIS/HER WORK ONCE WE PAY THEM?" You do this by looking at the promoter's history of clients. Simply talk to the clients yourself. Also, have your investor call and talk to the promoter(s) directly. Caution: If the promoter says they promoted "big artist", yet they won't give you direct contact info for that artist or management, then they did NOT promote that artist.

"IF WE START YOU OFF ON A SMALL CAMPAIGN, WILL IT 'BLOW UP' IF STATIONS LIKE IT?" Projects do not "blow up"; they are built up, using standard promotion. When you see an artist appear on a single station, and then all of a sudden that artist is being played across the country, what you are not seeing is the campaign behind it. And don't use Creed as a counter-example... they spent $5 million of their investor's money in traditional promotions. And no, they did not "break" on the web... that was just the angle that their PR firm was hired to push.

"WILL I MAKE MONEY?" Too vague a question; serious investors will be able to ask more specifics. Besides, radio is only one of the four areas of marketing a CD... and it is not where the money comes from. Money comes from retail, which we are not talking about here.

Here is hint: Instead of proposing that the investor invest in you in order to make money, propose that the investor instead invest in building your awareness; the investor will then benefit by being attached to you, the artist. Then, look to make money in your second or third year instead.

Next topic: Investors, part 2 of 3

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