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Payola, or Why You Can't Be on the Radio...


thelurker

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That is interesting, though not surprising.

 

A buddy of mine is getting some notice with his band in the last year. "New Music" type shows on the local radio stations and such. When I asked him how some of the other local bands are getting lots of airplay and quite popular in the area, he mentioned the "Advertising Fee" they pay weekly to the local radio station.

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That reminds me of this little chestnut.

 

A few days ago, I recalled a statement made by one of the marketing mooks on the PBS show, complaining that over 50% of their business comes from Wal*Mart, Target, and Best Buy, but that music sales is such a small part of their overall retail sales that they're insignificant to them. In other words, those three retailers tell them what they're going to sell and how many titles they've got room for.

 

So here's my thought: if you're in such a poor business relationship, why don't you get out of it by finding an alternative? If they had made the switch to online sales years ago, or even sell the damn things direct, they wouldn't be in the position they're in now.

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In 1980 the Moody Blues "Long Distance Voyager" album hit number one on the charts for two weeks and was up there in the top ten most of the late spring and summer. Their next album in 1982 didn't recieve any airplay at all! I called a local disc jockey one afternoon who told me to call her the next weekend at , say 3am, because she was filling in for someone's vacation. I took her up on it and was told about the secret DJ's chart, the money that gets your music on it and the fact that little gets played that isn't on their own personal chart. Right at that point in time popular music changed from rock to punk; overnight it seemed. The DJ told me that the music scene was going to change radically in the not too distant future (1982) and it did maybe two months later.

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Originally posted by Paul Buerk

That reminds me of


A few days ago, I recalled a statement made by one of the marketing mooks on the PBS show, complaining that over 50% of their business comes from Wal*Mart, Target, and Best Buy, but that music sales is such a small part of their overall retail sales that they're insignificant to them. In other words, those three retailers tell them what they're going to sell and how many titles they've got room for.


So here's my thought: if you're in such a poor business relationship, why don't you get out of it by finding an alternative? If they had made the switch to online sales years ago, or even sell the damn things direct, they wouldn't be in the position they're in now.

 

 

cause in most non metro areas of the country, the only store is walmart. thats it. and internet is not universally available. esp once you leave the major metro areas. so in reguards to rural america, walmart is it. they tell you what to do, and you do it. and they have over protective "family" values, so no parental advisory stickered cds. no ao rated video games.

 

best buy reguards cds as addon sales to their electronics. sort of a "you just bought this huuuge stereo.. why don;t you go buy some cds too?". which is why they frequently have cheaper cds than anywhere else. so you also go in for a sale on cds, and they give you a "you need a new stereo to go with that!"...

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So the music biz is totally corrupt. This is news?

 

When the Bears released Car Caught Fire we hired a small independent promoter. He did a pretty good job considering the pittance we paid him - got us charted on the non-comms pretty decent - but when asked about getting played on Chicago's WXRT (which is a pretty good station & had played us back in the day) we were told flat out it would cost 5K to get the record in rotation.

 

Multiply that by 6 or 7 major radio markets and that's the price of poker.

 

I don't know how to fix it, but that's the way it is. It is virtually impossible to break major radio without some serious capital behind you. :mad::p

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Originally posted by the_big_geez

Radio is completely impertinent. If you want to get your music 'out there', you have to get it on MTV....

 

Bwahahahaha!!!! rofl.gif They don't play music anymore...at least every time I tune in to it, it's either a commercial or some stupid show...

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Originally posted by Deacon_blue

Dick Clark was involved in a similar scandel in 1959.

The music was slightly better, though.

 

 

Dick Clark was a nazi. My grandfather used to tell me stories about him ind his henchmen in the DC area back in the late 50's and 60's.

My grandfather was a fulltime musician so he encountered this a lot. He told me that Dick Clarks "represenatives" would come into the clubs and bars musicians were playing at to see if the musicians were in the union. If they weren't then they weren't allowed to play certain songs which Dick owned. And if they were playing thise songs than they could be sued or worse. Rockin' New Years my ass

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Thats why we send our stuff into the smaller stations and college radio stations. WXRT in Chicago is a great outlet for local bands. They'll pretty much play you if you send it in and you are halfway descent. Big corperate radio blows.

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This has been SOP for tens of years and the FCC is finding out now? No, they don't care, this is just lip service, nothing will change. Hell, even the Grammys are for sale.

 

Inie record stores and college radio are the way to go (though this 'system' is becoming the norm in college radio, too.) Once you break in there, a label will pick you up, feeling that you've 'proven yourself' because they have no idea what music is and won't make a descision on their own. Then you can have a chance to have your song paid to play.

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Originally posted by cthulhu0



cause in most non metro areas of the country, the only store is walmart. thats it. and internet is not universally available. esp once you leave the major metro areas. so in reguards to rural america, walmart is it.


 

 

I wouldn't agree to either assumption, but for now let's take it as a given. If I'm a marketing guy for a big label, I look at that and say that we could probably write off 100% of those areas and not make a dent in overall sales.

 

 

He told me that Dick Clarks "represenatives" would come into the clubs and bars musicians were playing at to see if the musicians were in the union. If they weren't then they weren't allowed to play certain songs which Dick owned.

 

 

Doesn't sound any different than what ASCAP or BMI do. I know, because I used to be one of those guys doing the investigations.

 

 

Thats why we send our stuff into the smaller stations and college radio stations.

 

 

It will be interesting to see how serious Podcasting gets to be. That might be an ideal "viral" way to get exposure.

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Originally posted by Paul Buerk



I wouldn't agree to either assumption, but for now let's take it as a given. If I'm a marketing guy for a big label, I look at that and say that we could probably write off 100% of those areas and not make a dent in overall sales.

 

 

"In the past decade, Wal-Mart has quietly emerged as the nation's biggest record store. Wal-Mart now sells an estimated one out of every five major-label albums. It has so much power, industry insiders say, that what it chooses to stock can basically determine what becomes a hit. "If you don't have a Wal-Mart account, you probably won't have a major pop artist," says one label executive."

http://www.boycott-riaa.com/article/14567

 

i'm not sure where you live, as your location isn;t listed... so i don;t know if you realize that for many small towns, walmart is _it_ for choices of where to buy. if indie record stores struggle in cities, they are non existant elsewhere.

 

but if a store sells one out of every five major-label albums, i don;t think that you can just ignore 1/5th of your sales... and if as a marketing guy you recommend to not sell in walmart, well... you better have your resume ready.

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You've got a point there. Even for an old codger like me, a greater percentage of my playlist is music I got from independent artists not on major labels. Nothing new out there really interests me coming out of the Big Labels. However there's plenty of good stuff to be gotten directly from the source.

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Originally posted by cthulhu0



"In the past decade, Wal-Mart has quietly emerged as the nation's biggest record store.

 

 

That wasn't the point. What I was saying is that there are relatively few buyers out there in the sticks as well as few stores. Basic population density.

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but also the fact that they use their marketing clout to push prices below $10. what indie store can match that?

 

and while there may be relatively less people out in the sticks, there are aaaaaalot of sticks out there. 24% (roughly) of the us population lives in a rural setting. that doesn;t include suburban centers. and in the suburban areas, there are _still_ walmarts, and people will rahter go there than to an indie shop, because it carries whats popular, and everything under $10.

 

if you are pushing for national status, as a huge band (one step above large), can you really write off 1/4 of your potential buyers?

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Yep, that's the way it goes. :(

 

I heard rumours that some old records would actually ship to radio stations with hundred bills in the jackets, and that's how they got played.

 

I think it was someone here, or on another forum, that said you could do better than getting a record deal simply by taking out a bank loan and hiring a big promo company yourself. The contacts and distribution are the only thing a label can do for you that is somewhat difficult to do on your own.

 

College and community radio are different, though. If you have a good product and you put in a small amount of effort to ensure that the record gets in the right hands and you ensure they know of it, you can do well in that market and get some exposure.

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Originally posted by cthulhu0


if you are pushing for national status, as a huge band (one step above large), can you really write off 1/4 of your potential buyers?

 

 

Good comeback. 1/4 is high, but OK for argument's sake.

 

If you're hitting your numbers with the other 3/4, then you dont' have a problem with the other 1/4. If it's popular in the cities, that popularity will be there in the sticks, too.

 

Wal*Mart indeed will drive down the price of CD's, and also reduce the profit to the record company while limiting the number of titles to offer. That's why I compared it to an abusive relationship for which they need to find an alternative.

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