Airplay 101 - What is "Successful"?
New For 2016: The first question people have when they want to hire a promoter (if they have never done an airplay campaign before) is "What airplay campaign do I need in order to be successful?" There couldn't be a more misplaced question. It's like when a cab driver asks you "Where to?" and you say "Well, where would I need to go in order to be successful?" Where you need to go depends on a million things, not to mention what your definition of "successful" might be.
For some people, a successful radio campaign is getting one play on one small college station. For others, it is getting 60+ plays per week on each pop station in the top 100 U.S. markets... thus charting #1 in Billboard and getting up to 100 million complete listens per week just in the U.S. which then produces a major label deal... which then scans 10,000 retail units per week just in the U.S... which then results in a 300-date U.S. stadium tour, not to mention all major magazines, sites and TV covering the artist. And this is in just the first month. (This is not an exaggeration of what some artists "want" with their first release.)
So instead of seeking out a "successful" radio campaign, look at what you want to do with it first, and then decide:
(1) What hard-core radio results are worth the money.
(2) What you (not us, but you) are going to do with these radio results in the rest of your music campaign and career. This is where your success comes from.
The above two ideas are entirely different. The first point, radio results, are what promoters like us are hired to produce: Listens, Spins, Charting, Station IDs, Station interviews, Station visits, etc. That's it. It's the most difficult aspect of the music business... airplay that generates million of complete listens per week... but it's the one thing a promoter focuses on. (See our current weekly listens HERE) The second point, what you do with these radio results, is what will determine your career success.
Here are some starting points where you can use your radio results:
TRADITIONAL (NON-WEB) DISTRIBUTION: You can start by getting consignment of CDs, vinyl, shirts and posters in select stores. You do this by telling the store manager that "you're currently playing on the WXYZ station down the street." Next you try to get a simple distribution deal through a small independent distributor, which will require more airplay results than "just one station". Finally, you try to get a good-sized P&D distro deal, which in itself could be considered successful. To impress this last group, you need significant airplay results with million of complete listens per week concentrated in certain towns and cities, and that will be quite costly. Web views, plays, comments, likes etc will have no impact. And keep in mind that no matter how good the radio results are that your promoter hands you, you have to take them and use them properly to make your distribution "successful". And if retail SALES are your final measure of success, then it will be up to your salesperson (who is calling/visiting the stores) to create the sales. Web-only sales are going to be very poor.
GIGS: Start by showing the bookers your airplay report. Even if a station is not near the venues or places you want to perform, just the fact you have some plays occurring in other places will help you get booked. On the next level, start talking to booking agents... they will need some bigger airplay results to work with... but they will be able to book you into 200-500 seat venues (with bigger acts) that you could never get yourself. Finally, with commercial regular rotation, you can work with large agents to get 1000 to 5000 seat venues, with or without other acts. This level does require lots of millions of complete listens per week concentrated in the cites and towns where the actual venues are. A few thousand partial web plays per week won't be taken seriously by any real commission-seeking agent.
IMPRESSING OTHERS: The final use of your airplay results can be to attract and/or impress others who can help your career. Labels, newspapers, magazines, TV/film producers, managers, law firms, and (especially) investors all know and understand the fundamental value of airplay on real FM radio stations, and they will see from your airplay results that: (1) Your material is worthwhile; (2) There now is an audience concentrated in certain cities that is waiting for your next release; (3) You understand how the radio system works; (4) You agree to work with this system; and most important, (5) You already have paid for a certain level of promotion, and thus anyone who would be backing you would have to contribute less in order to get you to the next level.
Next topic: Radio Cost Sheet
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