Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Why You Only Hear Major Label Songs On The Radio

Techdirt has an interesting article on why independent artists are not heard on major radio stations. The article is based on an a post from George Howard on Tunecore's blog.
Here's an excerpt explaining why independent labels don't get the same attention as the Majors:

Getting a song “added” to a station’s playlist to get a certain number of plays per week involves a rather byzantine process that brings in various parties, called independent promoters (“indies”). These “indies” are first paid by the label. It’s important to note that the money the indies receive isn’t necessarily compensation paid directly to them for getting Program Directors to get a song played. Rather, they work more like an intermediary to pass the label’s money to the radio station. These indies, with the money paid to them from the labels, pay the radio station money for various listener give-aways, bumper stickers and so on. To top it off, these very same indies are often also paid a second time by the stations themselves as a consultant to advise the stations on what songs they should play.
Because of this, the major labels absolutely dominate radio airplay. Independent labels could try to hire the same indie promoters, but won't get the same attention anyway:
Here’s why: You’ve come to these indies, and they’ve gone to the labels, and they’ve taken your money, and they know that you’re probably not coming back any time soon. On the other hand, the majors are coming every week with money and new artists. Who would you prioritize if you were in the indie/radio station’s shoes?
The article goes on to say how the internet, specifically music blogs are becoming a huge alternative to traditional radio:

"If you're wondering exactly why the labels have been trying to shut down popular hip hop blogs recently, look no further than this story. Such blogs have really become "the new radio" for creating hits for the younger generation. But, unlike the old radio, the major labels don't "control" these blogs in the way they control radio"

Also George's article mentions other alternatives and why they're changing the way we listen to music:

"Customers who have been fed a steady diet of music that is not being played because it impacts the market, but rather because it was the highest bidder, eventually lose interest and look for alternatives.  Up until recently, there weren’t alternatives, but now with internet radio, satellite radio, subscription services, and your own playlists on your iPod/iPhone, the alternatives abound."

What do you think? Agree, Disagree?


  1. Very interesting Gary. Thanks for sharing.

  2. This is very good stuff for people to know. I am trying to educate people on mixing and audio as well. If you are interested exchanging material for our blogs, let me know.

  3. The thing with "indies" is that they exist since the time that laws were passed banning Payola.
    Before this time, labels paid the radio stations directly, and it was considered quite normal.

    Think of it as sponsorship, the label has a product they want on the air, so they pay for the air time.

    Just like any other company hawking their products.

    The "difference" if any, is that they hold a virtual monopoly on that class of product, in that media. If seen in this way, then it is unfair.

    But, remember, American companies LOVE to monopolize their markets. Railroads, TV Cable, Cellphone bandwidth, etc.