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Radio Airplay 101 - Radio and Records Magazine

You won't be in the music or radio biz long before you hear about R&R... it's a very widely used magazine/newspaper in both the radio and music businesses. If you "show up in R&R" in almost any way... you are doing good. R&R has been around since the early '70s, and many people in music and radio have literally grown up with it. R&R comes out weekly, and it is very expensive. It's available by subscription, and also on newsstands in NY and LA.

Most of the main charts in R&R are top-level... meaning that an indie band with their first release is going to have a tough time charting on these charts. There are some other charts in R&R, however, which are achievable (although not easily) by an indie band... and they are called Indicator charts. We'll focus on these. Indicator charts are made up of the smaller non-monitored stations.

Overall, here is what is available in R&R each week...

CHR/POP (contemporary hit radio): Also known as "pop" or "top 40", this is your basic Britney Spears chart. This is a big category for R&R, and this section includes the CHR/Pop Top 50 airplay chart, the Callout America research chart (derived from calling thousands of people at home and asking them what songs are on their mind,) the Rate The Music research chart (derived from questioning people on the web,) and finally, the Top 50 Indicator chart.

This CHR/Pop Top 50 Indicator chart is made up of under 50 stations. This is not an easy chart, but an indie act with a good promo push has at least a chance of charting. Compare this to the main CHR/Pop Top 50 chart, which is all monitored medium-and-large market stations, with no indies on it, at all.

CHR/RHYTHMIC: Also known as "crossover", "rhythmic top 40" or "dance". CHR/rhythmic is also a big category in R&R, and some people consider the stations which report to it to be almost regular pop stations. Janet Jackson is your best example of a crossover artist. The MediaBase monitored CHR/Rhythmic chart is made up of less than 100 stations, again, all major regular rotation stations in good-sized cities. Also again, there are no indies on this chart. This section also has Rate The Music, an Indicator chart (about 10 stations... the only rotational chance for an indie), and something which will be of real interest to new bands... the Mixshow chart. The mixshow chart is one place that an indie act (with a dance / urban feel) has at least a chance of charting for less than $5,000.

URBAN & URBAN AC: Once you eliminate the pop artists from the playlist and stick to Motown-type material, you get the urban chart. It's less than 100 stations, all major, all regular rotation, with no indie artists. The Urban AC chart (in the same section as urban) is a smaller chart... the "AC" stands for adult contemporary. This MediaBase chart is about 50 stations, all major, all regular rotation, but it does have a few indies on it (big indies, not small).

COUNTRY: Another big chart, about 100 stations, with only a few major-indies on it (no small indies). Also has a Callout chart, a Rate The Music chart, and an Indicator chart that is made up of about 50 stations. This Indicator chart has quite a few indies on it... some big, some small.

AC and HOT AC (adult contemporary): About 100 major AC stations (and a 10-station Indicator most-added chart), and 100 major Hot AC stations (also with a 10-station Indicator most-added chart). AC is your basic Celine Dion format, while Hot AC would be would be more for Smashmouth.

SMOOTH JAZZ: Less than 50 stations, all of which are non-monitored. A lot of major-indie artists, and maybe one or two small indies. Dave Koz is a good Smooth Jazz example.

ROCK and ACTIVE ROCK: About 50 monitored stations for each, and 20 Indicator stations for each. Active Rock has a Rate The Music chart, and Rock has the very useful Specialty Show Chart (about 30 stations). Tool and Staind are good Rock and Active Rock examples.

ALTERNATIVE: About 70 monitored stations and 15 Indicator most-added stations. Also a Rate The Music chart, and a Specialty Show chart (about 35 stations).

AAA (adult album alternative): This is your singer-songwriter chart, but it has become more rock-based lately. The main AAA chart is 25 monitored stations, but for the Indicator chart, R&R has combined both monitored and non-monitored (10 non) stations for a total of 35. The AAA Indicator chart is a realistic place for a small indie to go, as long as they have a substantial promo push.

CHRISTIAN: These charts are all non-monitored, and consist of the CHR Top 30 (about 30 stations), the Rock Top 30 (about 50 stations), the AC Top 30 (about 60 stations), along with a Specialty Show chart for Rhythmic and Loud.

Next topic: Small Market Commercial Regular Rotation

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