Friday, September 22, 2006

Independant music on the radio

It's common knowledge that major label music gets more radio airplay than the indies.
But why? Is it because independant music is less accesible or is it because of the cocaine and cash delivered by regional record label reps in record sleeves to Program Directors.

The American Association of Independent Music (A2IM) -- a group that represents more than 100 indie labels and counts representatives of TVT, Roadrunner, Tommy Boy, Beggars Group, Thirsty Ear, Bar-None and Lookout Records as members of its Board Of Directors sent a letter to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin asking for an investigation to determine if major record labels have an unfair advantage at radio over indie labels.

The letter praises the anti-payola efforts of a certain New York Attorney general and by connection gives them some praise too. Of course the FCC tried their best to do nothing but that's probably because the bush administration got booku dollars from Clear channel. it could be a coincidence of course like the coke and cash.

The A2IM called out the recent settlements by BMG and Warner bros "as mere slaps on the wrists in comparison to the financial harm caused nationally and states, " and it really was. To pay out a few hundred thousand while raking in billions is like be losing a quarter in the change machine.

They argue that it's vital that we ensure that the vast diversity of American music has a fair opportunity to access the public airwaves. I'm not sure how vital it is, but I certainly would listen to more radio if its programming was less stale. maybe other people would too. With the hooplah over Jack's deep catalog approach is any indication, maybe they are right.

They also make another bold and interesting statment

"One of the most serious allegations facing the broadcast industry is that radio stations engaged in business activities that made it virtually impossible for songs released by independent labels to be considered for airplay within existing formats. Independent music is booming-innovative programmers highlight songs released on independent labels on satellite radio, non-commercial stations and webcasts. Well over half of the releases cited in January's Village Voice Critics Poll were released by independent labels. The marketplace is responding, as independent labels now make up over 27 percent of sales in the American music market. Yet, somehow, music released by independents is virtually absent from the commercial airwaves."

I've confirmed these numbers independantly. indie music makes up almost 30% of sales and yet comprises under 10% of radio airplay. This does not worry me. Ultimately that kind of bullishly ignorant programming will burn the asses of the Programmers at radio. If they wont play what people want, people wont listen. They will go elsewhere for their media and ultimatley it will shrink the radio market. It will decrase it's sales relevance and undermine it's long-held dominance. They are shooting themselves in the kneecaps. The number of music media options is increasing steadily. If radio refuses to stay relevant, it's their own fault when they fold.