Let’s take a wild guess at how many music groups (or stand alone musicians) are vying for attention. I’ll put the number at 100 gazillion, give or take whatever number you want to suggest. In reality, we all know there are enough to satisfy entertainment demands of the public.
On the other side, that which we call the online radio industry, we won’t guess at any number of music outlets because it doesn’t matter. Reality here says the biggest get mentioned, and the rest just exist.
|“Though there are tens-of-thousands of outlets, the truth is only a very small percentage have a desire to take the time for listening to what you send, then properly funneling it to interested parties for airplay.”|
You know Pandora, Spotify, Rhapsody, Live365, and a few more which round out the top 10. But what of the lower-level players, the one-person-run radio station or music service in the long-tail of online audio? When a consumer is listening to them, they are not listening to the big company names – which makes not pursuing airplay with smaller audio sites a mistake. In aggregate, they reach a huge number of ears.
You’ve probably heard of Rdio, but what about Indie 100? The former has investor money to ring its bell. The latter successfully struggles to pull in a much smaller audience (but it’s joined by tens-of-thousands of similar small operators, each with an audience of 10-10,000). As a single player Indie 100 is very small potatoes. If conjoined with peers, though, Indie 100 controls millions of ears – and all seem to disappear off the radar screen of most artists and groups.
For the independent artist, the internet brings a new world of music distribution that you need to understand; or adjust your definition of success to accommodate a much smaller fan base. The people you want to reach are online. It’s how you reach the online people that matters more today than any time in music’s history.
There’s no shortage of internet based companies willing to help an artist stand out from the crowd, but with this comes a warning that nearly all carry more rhetoric than action. Try matching column “A” with column “B” to get a sense of how the music community is pitched by these services.
East Coast Digital Radio
|“Get your music discoverved and start climbing the charts.”
“Create a promotional message to reach new audiences on Facebook and Twitter.”
“Your song will be submitted to over 7000 radio stations, including; Major FM…”
“We’re working with musicians to build a free and open platform of tools they need…”
“The most powerful band website platform…”
“…to save musicians time and hassle when sending their material to music companies.”
“Artists: sell your music & merch directly to your fans.”
“…a direct radio promotion service to make your music available to radio station DJs”
“…to automate much of the traditional PR process and maximize client placement…”
“Your #1 Online DJ Network!”
“…podcasting/blogging network specializing in marketing and promotion of Urban Music.”
“…one-stop synch licenses for use in online video productions, apps…”
Add a few hundred other web sites claiming similar features to see how artists can, quite easily, be taken for a ride without proper research – and who has time for research?
The internet has given music a huge opportunity at the same time that it’s offered indie artists bigger hurdles.
1) Many people have been conditioned to believe music should be free.
As an artist you may not like this, but it’s today’s reality.
2) There are so many social media outlets to use that understanding
how to “use” them – so they deliver response – is a problem.
3) Just because you place your music online doesn’t mean anyone
is going to listen or like it.
4) Getting the attention of online radio programmers is/can be
a musician’s biggest waste of time.
Contemplate the first three, then digest this sentence for the last item above: There is more new music available to internet radio operators than any person has time to hear. Translated: By the time you find out a station’s name, who it is to contact, and make your submission, they have received another grouping of songs pitched by other artists – and yours is placed at the bottom of the pile.
Our digital age has not made it easier for indie artists to get exposure; it’s only created more options to consider for reaching that end.
Online, radio exists in two forms: stations that are reflections of their broadcast counterpart (think Clear Channel), and stand-alone operations which consumers find, abandon, and move on from. Pureplay stations maintain a relationship with only a small ratio of listeners because the internet radio industry is in a state of constant flux.
As an artist looking for exposure, wade through what you find online with a high degree of skepticism about getting results. Then, try again with another station or service.
Though there are tens-of-thousands of outlets, the truth is only a very small percentage have a desire to take the time for listening to what you send, then properly funneling it to interested parties for airplay. That’s the reality of a music distribution system in a high tech world.
Above all, hang on to these thoughts: Throughout music’s history only a small percentage of acts actually make it to the big time.
Don’t give up. Adjust expectations. Understand the amount of work required to get the exposure you need.
Being an artist is still a tough way to make a living. And here’s my firmest belief: The only time to quit is when it stops being fun.
Audio Graphics, Inc.