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Radio Airplay 101 - How to Use Videos for Airplay

Many times, beginning bands that get a hold of some money ($50,000+) try to put out a video. There is nothing wrong with the intent, it's just that their timing is off. What these bands will do is put all their money into the making of their CD and video, and have nothing left for promotion. I've already heavily covered how the promotion of a CD is more important than having the CD in the first place; now I'll say the same thing about the video: Having a video (or even 1000 copies of that video) is irrelevant if it does not get promoted onto music channels. Having the video... but only having it on your CDrom or on the web... is of no use at all, for radio.

Why? Because no one will see it. The few people that do see it (less than a couple hundred people) is not enough to cause anything to happen. Widespread awareness requires that several hundred thousand viewers see it, and this can only be accomplished by having a video on several local cable music channels; the web just can't do it for you. The video channels I'm referring to are the local cable music channels/shows that most cities have, as opposed to MTV and their ilk.

And this is where the "timing" issue arises. It costs a lot to promote a video, and putting that promotion money into the video BEFORE you put it into radio is the mistake that some bands make. Remember, only commercial regular-rotation radio sells large quantities of CDs... even major labels concede that videos don't make any money... they just help build awareness through the cable video channels. So if you are going to make a video, only do it if you have enough budget left over to promote to radio first, and video second. Video promotion costs about the same as non-commercial radio or specialty/mixshow radio.

If you are going to go the video route, there are some additional things the video can be used for in addition to the cable video channels. The first use is to send a VHS copy to each radio station that you are promoting the CD to (yes, you MUST use a VHS copy... CDrom copies are not taken seriously). A good time to do this is when your video is airing on the local cable channel in the same city of that radio station. This is because you not only interest the station more, but it gives them more to talk about on the air since they know the video is available for their listeners to view at that moment.

The second (more obvious) use of a video is to send it to the press, to give them an idea of what your show is all about. A third use is to send it to clubs when attempting to book.

A fourth use is to offer it for sale at your gigs... keeping in mind it will be tough to sell (much harder than selling CDs) if it is not currently on the local cable channel. You are only really doing this because you already have the video in your other promotions.

So if you do have the budget, and if you handle your timing right (by starting with radio and then pushing video,) you will have a very strong case for good sales and gigs in the particular markets that you are airing in.

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