On The Radio ?

**I’ve edited some of this where my choice of words were a bit harsh and unfair. It didn’t really reflect my intentions properly.

For a lot of artists being heard is a major priority. There’s plenty of places to present our music and a profile for friends, groups, and acquaintances to see and hear on demand. Like Sound Cloud for example. Excellent options abound all over the internet, but to me there is something very special about radio still. These days most radio shows are fed to us via the Internet, which is also a great convenience, but I think its extremely important since radio shows are often played all around the world to people who dont want to sign up just to listen to music, and thus who may not use sites like Sound Cloud (or the likes). Unlike those useful sites radio is heard without any need for the listener to set up an account, search around for music they may or may not ever play. People tune in (so to speak) to radio expecting a show to play music that to them may be undiscovered. That’s priceless for the artists. Not just an individual playing you, but people listening.
On Sound Cloud we depend on people finding our page with our music, to follow, favorite and play. It’s a great community service, but with limitations of its reach.
All too often it ends up being a “I’ll pat your back, if you pat mine” system of favors and expectations. A very insincere environment sometimes. Not always, but plenty of times.
Ill admit I enjoy the interactions, but I don’t really put much stock into the stats. I don’t believe they have any real meaning on their own. Yet, many people think their play totals, comments and whatnot are somehow legitimate indicators of how their music is appreciated. Some even think they have bragging rights when they hit some arbitrary “Play” number.
I do not think Sound Cloud is completely one way or another. Its very useful, and beneficial. I just think too much value is placed on the stats that can be as diluted as they are legitimate.

Radio play still has that special feeling to me of really being heard. No followers, no stats, no “Hey! great track, check out my stuff” comments with self serving motivation. Just an honest, and anonymous audience from around the world simply hearing your music. No strings attached. It’s not like you’ll never hear from radio listeners. Some do take the time to find you and offer positive comments.

Of course I want 10,000 or 20,000 plays on Sound Cloud, but I don’t think of that as anything to brag about as the single most important indication of anyones artistic worth. Appreciated yes! Worthy of a snapshot to share with all my friends not really since its mostly them doing the playing anyway. It’s still nice though.

So that all said, I feel radio is still very important for artists to maximize options to really be heard. I believe we should be more supportive of radio shows like host Bruce Galls, ARfm U.K. Sunday Synth (see screen shot of his blogs playlist below for example) and his One World Music, “Atmospheres”

20130907-180212.jpg
I always feel incredibly grateful when I see my name and music on any radio shows playlist, but Bruce is special. He sincerely appreciates the artists, and plays music that might not ever be heard anywhere else, as well as music that is.
All mixed together, and no matter how it was made.
There are a lot of great electronic music radio shows around like one of my other favorites from KXLU Los Angeles “Alien Air” hosted by Pat Murphy since 1984.
There’s Radio Happy in the Netherlands, and many more.

What’s your favorite radio show that supports artists who aren’t signed by some mega label?

I’d love to see comments sharing links to radio shows from around the world for us to all enjoy hearing and maybe even that other readers of my blog could send their music to.

Remember, Sound Cloud stats are nice but don’t get caught up in thinking they are the end all be all. They are not bragging rights, nor are they complete qualifiers of anyone’s quality of music or any artists talent. They are just numbers and sadly can be very easily padded.
Its about maximizing being heard as much as possible. New fans are out there and many are unwilling to create an account on a social media site to find music. Radio has potential of one play being heard by hundreds or thousands of more people. So why not give it a shot? You never know who could be listening.

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6 comments

  1. Hi, David. While I agree that artists shouldn’t forget about radio as an option for getting heard, I can’t help feeling that there’s something else behind this post. I applaud your effort towards championing radio, or even reminding everyone that it still exists, but I don’t feel that it’s necessary to do so at SoundCloud’s expense. And really, a good half of this article, including the closing statement, is about how meaningless SoundCloud stats are.

    Please consider that the majority of your readers probably have no serious aspirations of getting radioplay. On the other hand, seeing comments and likes on their SoundCloud tracks, from people who would never have heard them otherwise, can be very meaningful. Some folks actually do set goals for themselves to get a certain number of plays, downloads or followers – who are we as the voices of the community to tell them that their goals are “nice but don’t mean anything”?

    Regarding radio, back when people actually bought music, the real statistic that mattered was album sales. You knew airplay was working if you were selling CDs outside of gigs. But with the collapse of the record industry and the over-syndication of mainstream radio, one of the unfortunate results is there is no longer clear feedback on whether the effort put into finding and submitting to radio is actually paying off. In the end, someone hearing your music on an internet or college radio show and not buying it is no different or better than someone hearing it on SoundCloud and not buying it. But at least on SoundCloud you do know they heard it.

    Most people don’t want an “honest anonymous audience”. They want to be part of a community that they can share their passion with. From my own experience with SoundCloud, there are a handful of folks who listen to the majority of the tracks I post and regularly comment. That interaction is very meaningful to me. And honestly, having just started really posting to SoundCloud at the beginning of this year, hitting 10,000 plays this month IS going to be meaningful to me. Just like millions of other artists, I’m not selling any albums because of it, but it’s still meaningful – actually more meaningful than a pitiful little check from iTunes every few months.

    Your last statement, “Radio is where you are really heard”, is highly questionable. In the last 8 months, my music has been placed in an independent film, featured on Mixlr by folks with a significant listener base, and is pending release as part of a compilation by a small but established netlabel. Those are successes in my book, and they all started with folks who discovered my music on SoundCloud and contacted me unsolicited with a desire to use my music.

    So again, I applaud your support of radio, and I would love to see you share more about your experiences with radio, and maybe some info that might help others get their tracks played. But please remember that SoundCloud is an important part of the puzzle for many independent musicians, in most cases even moreso than radio play.

    1. I’m more speaking to how in some (I think many) cases artists place too much value on Sound Cloud stats. I think I was pretty clear that I too greatly appreciate and love to see plays, comments, favoritings etc, but many of those numbers are often clouded with “favor” points. Partial plays that were skimmed through are counted as well as full plays. That bothers me and I feel dilutes the stats. It’s those portions of the stats I consider meaningless. Not all of them. I should have been more clear on that. Ill edit a little bit to make that point clearer.
      I do believe in radio, and I think its being overlooked by many. Those who have no interest in it are not who I was speaking to.
      There are a lot of really good independent radio shows that reach enormouse audiences which can be huge for anybody who wants to be heard. Too many artists depend soley on social media, Sound Cloud etc and let it go to their heads, and I think that’s a mistake. If one is very serious about their music reaching the most people as possible, then depending on just Sound Cloud, Facebook, or whatever is not in their best interest. I feel or maybe I’m just worried that too many artists think radio is pointless. That is foolish in my opinion.
      My hope was to spark some dialog from people who listen to whatever radio show and share with others in comments here. Also I wanted to help support some shows that are really worth listening to.
      My radio experiences have been very positive and I’ve had contact from more people who heard something of mine played on some radio show than all my Sound Cloud comments and favoritings. Maybe I’m just lucky? I don’t know, I thought it was normal? Whatever the case that has shown me that radio is very valuable and should not be overlooked. But, this is not about me or my experiences, I wanted this to be about helping others, who want to, get heard more. I was hoping to see comments from anybody about their favorite show for others to see and share. Not for me.
      Sound Cloud is great, but its stats alone (all eggs in one basket much?) are not what should define anyone’s artistic worth. I listen anonymously often to avoid leaving anyone feeling obligated to return the favor. Maybe a lot of people like that dynamic and I’m the nut job? I don’t. But Whatever. It’s how I feel.
      As for what might be, “something else behind my post”, I don’t understand what that’s supposed to mean? No good deed goes unpunished I guess.

  2. Thanks for your response. To work backward a bit, what I meant by “something else behind this post” was this: to me, the post as originally written came across more as reacting against a certain artist(s) maybe bragging about their SoundCloud stats than promoting the value of radio. That may or may not be the case, but it seemed it might be, given the tone of the post.

    I agree that there are many different ways to get your music heard, and I think it’s important to help make other artists aware of those options. I also agree that the SoundCloud stats are far from perfect. I kind of like Bandcamp’s stats that show you how many full plays, partial plays and skips your songs get… humbling as it is.

    I think we agree on the underlying concept that stats are not a measure of an artist’s talent, and I would include album sales and number of gold albums in that statement, personally. And an artist’s _worth_ is immeasurable from my perspective. It’s natural to seek validation for whatever it is you’re putting time and effort into. For some folks that may mean a certain number, or some nice comments from peers. For me, I’d trade 10,000 SoundCloud plays in a heartbeat for knowing I had inspired just one other artist to create.

    So back to the topic at hand, I definitely think it’s a worthwhile pursuit to find and share more ways to get our music out there. I don’t really listen to radio, so I’m not much help there, but hopefully some other readers will share some insights. And let’s keep this conversation going, beyond radio and beyond this single post. I like where this is going.

    Thanks, David, as always.

    1. Oh, ok I get it. Nope, there was no particular individual or instance specifically targeted. It was a generalization based off having seen it before several times over a long period of time, from some folks who I can’t remember. In those instances their sharing was less than humble. It left me feeling a bit underwhelmed and a touch offended by the arrogant tones. At any rate it was a point I didn’t clarify very well, and worded poorly. I hope altering my choice of words helped ease that.
      I sincerely thank you bringing that to my attention so I could correct it. Everything I do and say is with positive intent.
      I think people have a hard time believing anyone is honestly interested in being helpful without looking to gain. I truly wish to be helpful and ask for nothing beyond willfully supporting my efforts by buying a track or album I made if they can and want to. I certainly don’t do anything because its making me any significant money. My royalties are sporadic, sometimes they have saved me a shut off notice, but often are quite pitiful. Nevertheless, I count every penny as a blessing and appreciate the support far more than the actual dollar amount.
      I would love to help or facilitate shared information so others spread out beyond just their community, and reach as far as can be reached. Thanks to the Internet, radio does significantly increase the odds way more than when shows were only heard within range of the broadcasts. It all counts, so I say count them all.

  3. I love radio…and I am very happy that you’ve blogged about it. Since this is my first response on your blog I should say I really enjoy your posts and I have found yours to be the most enjoyable read of the many blogs I’ve found involving the subject of making music (iOS or otherwise).

    Much of what you stated kind of echoed some thoughts I had about Soundcloud. And really it is not just Soundcloud, I’m just not good with social sites in general. But this is about radio which is a subject that is near and dear to me. It seems to me that getting a mention on a radio show, and/or having your music played would be one of the ultimate thrills and I think it is a big deal, so congrats.

    I don’t know much about internet radio outside of my subscription to Live365. I have lived in several differnet places across the USA (but very happy to be back in Austin, Texas) And up until the last couple of years for me, local non-commercial broadcast radio had been the only consistent place that provided good music, and music discoveries. Be they in Missouri, Texas, or New York, I found a lot of variety and all around good stuff from local public radio stations.

    National radio programs that I’ve enjoyed over the years and are still on the air (on NPR):
    Echoes, Hearts of Space, Thistle & Shamrock, and World Cafe with Dave Dye.

    Public radio in New York City has been excellent for a long time:
    WNYC: the show New Sounds — http://www.wnyc.org/shows/newsounds/
    Radiolab: this is technically a science program, but it is worth a mention as they often cover musical topics: http://www.radiolab.org/

    And again from NPR, some of the coolest new things I’ve heard recently have been on alt.latino radio. Here’s the blog link, it contains some Youtube links for some very cool and different tunes.
    http://www.npr.org/blogs/altlatino/
    This is a technically a podcast, but it is broadcast locally in Austin, Tx on HD radio.

    Local shows on public radio have been a great source for music discoveries, and so I would encourage everyone to seek out local non-commercial radio and check out their shows. If you like it, then I’d encourage you to support the stations however you can.

    Again, this is a great subject for a post, and by reading this its helped me to resurrect some great memories and now a desire to go learn more about the state of radio. Plus I’ve jotted so many notes about this that I may have to blog about this subject too.

    Regards
    — Bourne

    P.S. I like your music.

    1. Thank you very much for the comment, and kind words. I do love to see readers contribute to the topics I write about, and share their point of view as you have here.
      I believe radio can be a great resource for artists. It’s not anything to brag about, but it does provide additional, valuable exposure. Thanks to the Internet local radio shows that used to be isolated and only heard in their local areas has been expanded to reach a worldwide audience. In my opinion that makes radio just as important ( if not more ) as the helpful websites like BandCamp or SoundCloud etc.
      To me, much of SoundCloud has become too much of a favor exchange. A “Like” or comment, is treated like a currency. Many users arbitrarily follow, unfollow, “Like” and comment based largely on who reciprocates to their satisfaction. It’s that percentage of users who I believe dilute the overall stats which many place an exaggerated importance on.
      Artists should consider as many ways to be heard as possible.

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