Why New Artists Won’t Get Heard On The Radio - Noise11.com
Sam Smith photo by Ros O'Gorman

Sam Smith photo by Ros O'Gorman

Why New Artists Won’t Get Heard On The Radio

by Paul Cashmere on September 8, 2017

in News

Ever wondered why your new song is ignored by radio even though it sounds pretty shit hot to you and all your mates? The answer is simple. Radio is being flooded with new music at the moment.

Universal Music released 123 tracks just today and will release another 20 over the next six days. By comparison, Sony Music has 36 tracks scheduled for release this week and Warner Music has 19 tracks.

Collectively that is 198 tracks that radio has to choose from just this week (and that is not even counting the independent releases, or last weeks releases or next weeks releases).

For pop radio, it is easy to grab the new Demi Lovato, Sam Smith or Jason Derulo. It’s always a no-brainer for a radio programmer to pick the artist with the proven track record for its audience. If you are an unknown act, a radio station will need a reason to take a risk on your song over a new Sam Smith song.

On contemporary radio, there was new George Michael and a new Michael Jackson track to play this week. The older the audience the deader the playlist. For that audience, an artist just needs to be on the pulse, not to have one.

The same applies to classic rock radio. Rest assured that while you might be capable of selling out the Corner Hotel, your new song will be equally ignored just like a new Cold Chisel track (they had two last week). Programmers for this audience just want familiarity and won’t risk the audience going ‘Whats that?”.

Radio also works in clusters of music. If your sound is completely different to everything else on the radio, you have no hope. Just say radio is prepared to take a risk on you, it will still need songs either side of your song to transition around. Think of a radio playlist like a jigsaw puzzle. If you don’t fit the gap you won’t get played.

All that seems like overthinking when the big issue is not the radio station but the record labels. Around 200 new songs in one week is overkill. 143 from just one label is a joke. 143 songs cannot possibly be worked properly by any label.

Said label has been trimming staff for years to the point of a bare bones operation today. Just say you do get signed, and just say you do get released and just say a few radio stations pick you up. Does your label have the resource to promote you?

Even if an artist is prepared to get out and promote, the label probably won’t have the staff to prepare a proper media schedule. With one or two promo people per office and just one artist requiring promo, the operation of all other artist activity grinds to a halt. The result: less staff equals less promotion equals fewer sales which leads to more staff cutbacks which leads to less promotion which leads to fewer sales (rinse and repeat).

For the past decade, this has been a consistent picture of record company operations. You would think the end result would be fewer signings and therefore fewer releases but no … it is the opposite.

Today we have more releases in a single day and fewer people to work them. The old analogy of throwing enough shit against the wall in hope that some of it sticks has never been truer than today.

When the ‘Reality TV as A&R’ mentality kicked in, record labels made Andy Warhol’s ’15 minutes of fame” prediction come true. Reality shows have created an illusion that anyone can be famous and you don’t even have to earn it. Today you can win fame. That has set more kids thinking they found a stairway to heaven when instead they were on a highway to hell. Yes, you can win fame but you can’t win respect or credibility.

The music industry itself is doing fine. Labels are generating record profits but artists are still under the impression it’s Spotify that is ripping them off. Think about it, how could that possibly be? Record companies are just the distributors of creative content from aggregated artists. It stands to reason that if the labels are doing better than ever, the artists should also be doing better than ever. But hey, we’ll leave that story for another day.

If you think radio is to blame, if you think Spotify is to blame, your head is up your arse.




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