The Goat’s View - Radio 101

getting paid

The Goat’s View  - Radio 101 – Who, What, Why, and How the Hell Do I Get Paid?

Welcome to the first “Goat’s View” on Audiopolis. I’ve been asked to write about the things that I know about when it comes to the DIY-independent artist and the professional aspects of our craft. If you’re interested in knowing more about me head to the links at the bottom of the page. This go-‘round is more or less radio 101. Who do I send it to? What do I send? How do I get paid? (WHAT?? I can get paid??? – yes, if you do everything else right).

I get a lot of submissions for the radio shows I’ve produced, and the venues and festivals I’ve booked. I get a lot of email from folks who want me to represent them to radio and venues and festivals. I promote very few, for some very important reasons. Everyone wants to get “in” and get paid for being “in,” but not everyone has done the legwork to get “in.”

Step #1: Have the right product. PRODUCT??? My music, that I’ve poured all my soul and spare money into ain’t no stinkin’ product!! Sorry to break that one down that way, but it is exactly how I and nearly all the radio people I’ve ever known call what gets sent to us – product. It’s the one sheet, the art, the physical media the music is on, the story behind the artist/band, and finally it’s about the music.

Your “product” has to be as good as, or better than, anything else that is out there - regardless of professional stature or label affiliation - if it’s to stand a chance against the HUNDREDS of other releases that hit a music director’s desk monthly. It also has to fit what the station or independent show producer is trying to do musically. If you’re doing Speed-Metal you don’t send to a station that doesn’t play that kind of music.

Step #2: I highly advocate working the non-commercial public and college radio circuit. Not many new music oriented commercial radio stations will take a chance on a record not worked behind some serious money and press. If you can’t build a buzz nationally then it seems at least on the surface of things that they just don’t want to hear from you for the most part. That’s not always the case, however, and there are many contemporary music based stations in small and medium markets that do play DIY-independent music on rotation.

Two recent examples I can think of are the artists Maree McRae and Xiren – both of whom spent the promotion money necessary to get songs added to adult contemporary radio stations in small and medium markets around the United States. Their results got them charted in the trade magazine FMQB adult contemporary charts. Ultimately, though they tried, they could not break through to the more popular stations in the largest markets – and “breaking” that “national” level of airplay is what it’s all about for the most serious minded professional players.

Public radio on the other hand is all about playing stuff that no one has heard before – although don’t count on getting much more than a couple of spins a month – because public and college radio by and large can’t seem to say “no” when it comes to how much music they add. Public stations in my area, for example, keep anywhere from 15,000 to 50,000 album titles in their libraries. So getting any substantial airplay is really tough.

I recently tabulated the number of songs played at one regional non-comm. In one month that station played 5505 songs, of which 1 was played 7 times, 1 was played 5 times, 8 were played 4 times each, and 16 were played 3 times each. Unfortunately the vast majority of non-comm public and college radio I’ve surveyed the past few years fall into more or less that same pattern.

One area of public and college radio often overlooked by many DIY independents is the specialty show. Instead of sending a release directly to the music director, who is more interested in stuff with a “story,” find out who the host is of the blues show or the folk show, etc (pick your genre). Usually, these guys and girls are purists in their genre, know all about who’s who, and are more willing to play those rare independents who cross their path. The thing is, if you don’t submit to someone you’re not likely to get any airplay, and with that airplay at least comes the opportunity for exposure, and maybe you can make a few pennies along the way.

Step #3: Get yourself set up to get paid. If you want to get paid, you gotta sign up with the applicable performance rights organizations. Those would be ASCAP, BMI, SESAC and SoundExchange in the United States (I cannot speak to any issue outside of the US cuz I don’t have a clue). Most of us have heard of the first three – not all of us are hip to SoundExchange, and that may be the most important one of the bunch for those artists who are DIY-independent and get played online in some form.

According to wikipedia, SoundExchange is a non-profit performance rights organization that collects royalties on the behalf of sound recording copyright owners (SRCOs — record labels, generally) and featured artists for non-interactive digital transmissions, including satellite and Internet radio.

Okay, that’s it for this episode of The Goat’s View – the editor gave me less than 1000 words … cya next time.

Find out more about Chris K, aka The Goat, at