By Bryan Farrish
Hiring Your Own
Although it is similar to "self-syndication",
hiring your own syndication deal (barter) allows you to do more of
the things that established syndicators do, while going through less
of the learning curve that training a self-syndicating staff would
entail. I'll cover mostly a radio angle here, and touch on the
This article does
assume you have some marketing money to spend.
Reasons for hiring your own deal are several: You don't
like the people you've talked to at the syndicators; you can't get a
deal where the points seem favorable; the syndicator wants you to
change your show; you don't think you will be a priority at the
syndicators; you don't want to lose ownership of your show; or
simply, you want to start to take control of things now, instead of
The main thing a larger syndicator does for a show is fund
and steer the marketing. The production of the show itself is
not a real concern, since the show probably has been moving along
for several years before a deal is reached with a syndicator.
But a show with no marketing will get zero stations, and thus zero
Fortunately, the five main marketing areas that a show
requires can be hired by you: Radio, press, TV/film, retail,
and touring. Indeed, the people you hire to do these jobs for
your show are sometimes the same people that the syndicators would
hire. Obviously, not all shows that are starting out need all
but at some point, if a show gets moving fast enough, all these
areas will have to be considered.
Here are some details; you should look at your marketing
efforts in terms of 12 months (one year), since syndicating is a
long-term process, and even modestly-successful shows can go for 5
to 10 years.
This is your main concern of course, since you need affiliates.
A syndication promoter's only job is to get you affiliates.
Costs for one year would be around $10,000 for a slow-build
the unrated markets, to $150,000 for a faster build in the medium
Needed after you get some affiliates; a publicity firm is going to
run $35,000 a year for smaller clippings in city papers and regional
mags, to $120,000 a year for full page stories in city papers, TV
morning show appearances, and national large-distribution magazine
While considered a non-necessity for radio syndication, hiring a
firm to get the host/show placed in TV/Film scripts is still an
option for the high end. The firms are usually paid
per-placement, with indie films and late-night TV costing maybe
$2,500 per show, to $25,000 for a major film or prime-time TV
If you have a product (or even show-merchandise like t-shirts) to
sell at retail, a retail promoter can get the accounts set up and
get the merch on the shelves. This topic is too involved to
get into here.
In addition to doing "station visits", a tour is where you
make public appearances or even talk to the audience in live venues.
For this, you hire a booking agency (actually, they "sign"
you), and maybe a tour manager. Each person you work with will
run about $25,000 per year plus bonuses, unless you
can get an agency to work on commission only.
One last person that
you might want to consider is a quarterback.
A quarterback works full-time on your behalf to coordinate
radio, press, retail, appearances, and TV/film. He/she also
hires the proper people for these areas, and acts like your manager,
so that all you have to do is your radio show.
is an independent radio syndication promoter. He can be
reached at 818-905-8038 x11 or