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 Column Airplay 101    

By Bryan Farrish

How Retail and Radio Work Together

Although we recommend that a new label get their radio and gigs  going first (so they can sell their CDs at the gigs), if the label gets  to where it has at least four or five acts, and EACH one is  charting in their respective airplay chart, and is doing 100+ gigs  per year, and is getting 50+ articles/reviews per year, then it  MIGHT be time to consider real retail promotion and distribution.  But not sooner, and not with less than four acts. And when we  say retail, we're not talking about consignment, either.

The first thing you'll want to do once your distro is set up (real  distro, not web) is set up a retail promotion, which will cost you  $3,000 to $15,000 with particular chains; this will probably  include ads in the chain's or distro's house publication, and a  buy-in of 500 to 3000 units from the chain. You'll also want to tag  the fact that you are doing radio. If the promotion is big enough  ($35,000+) you'll get POP in addition to the listening stations and  ads, but you can go beyond this by trying to get talkers on your  bin or listening stations, on which you would print something like  "As Heard On WXWY"... provided of course you are spinning on  that station. 

Next up on the cost ladder are co-op ad (or underwriting) buys on  the pertinent stations. In the case of music, "co-op" is you,  paying 100% of the bill. You run the spots for your release(s),  which include tagging of the local retailer. And if you can afford  it, a remote at the retailer would make everyone happy. Remotes  start at about $300 in small/unrated markets, $3,000 in medium  markets, and $30,000 in major markets. Your releases are not  the focus of a remote, but then they don't need to be... everyone  at the station will know who paid the bill.

You'll also want to coordinate drop-bys (or "meet-and-greets" or  full performances) with the stores, while the artist is in-town  visiting stations. While at the stores, ask the GM if he/she would  like to post the playlist of the station somewhere in the store  (hopefully you are on it) if it's not already there. While it's true that  the first thing a station does is try to get its playlist into stores,  extra help from smiling folks like you won't hurt.

Don't forget to ask the stations (or have your radio promoter ask  the stations) for their recommended stores that your product  should be placed in, and further, what is the name of the buyer is  that you or your retail promoter should speak with there. When  you do speak to that buyer, you have a much greater chance of  them caring what you have say if you preface it with "Bob at  WXYZ is playing our record and said you might be interested in  it... can I send you a copy?"

One last area of available exposure would be the community  events announcements that stations make. Many stations (even  college stations) have someone who's job it is to collect and  announce what interesting things are occurring in their town that  week. When you have a confirmed appearance/performance at  a store, make sure the station hears about it. And if your  announcement is aired, try to get a tape or transcription of it, and  give it to the store GM or buyer to impress them.

Lastly, there is the need to inform the distro's reps about your  project. Even with real distro, you (being a new indie) are just a  single page in their book of 1000 other releases that they take 
with them when they meet with buyers. In their twenty minute  meetings, maybe they get around to talking about ten releases;  yours will not be one of them, unless it has more "apparent  activity" than all the other 990 releases (most of which are major  labels.) So you have to make it appear to the rep that you have  a lot of things going on, and you do this by informing them, once  a week, of everything that is happening with your project.

Bryan Farrish Radio Promotion is an independent radio airplay  promotion company. 818-905-8038 If you  live in Los Angeles and want to be informed of any events,  seminars or parties we do, email and tell  us what town you are in.

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