I thought “Payola” Radio was Outlawed back in the 50′s!

We released a new single last week, and were immediately bombarded with emails telling us to submit our “great song” to various Internet radio stations. Apparently, there are over 100,000 Internet radio stations dying to play our song.

The catch? They all CHARGE to listen to the song, with no guarantee of making the radio’s rotation. Anywhere from $5 to $49 to submit a song that may never be played on the air.

My math says that would cost a songwriter between a half million dollars and 4.5 million dollars!

Now YOU do the math and determine how many downloads you’d need on iTunes to pay for that privilege! Basically, you’d have to sell as many songs as The Beatles just to break even :)

One of the first stations that emailed me had a listener base of… NINETEEN listeners! LOL – unless each of their listeners downloaded multiple copies of my song, I’d be in the hole!

As an Indie songwriter, I try to emulate some of my favorite artists. Would Taylor Swift PayPal every online radio station in the world five bucks to listen to her latest song? I think not!

So why do Online Radio Stations think they can get away with it from Indies?

The usual fine print says “We get so many submissions, we charge $5 for our wasted time”!

First off, if you’re in the radio business and don’t have time to listen to new songs, your business model is severely flawed! That would be the same as me recording a new song, but not having the time or resources to add the drums! It tells me – and hopefully all Indie artists – that your radio station isn’t ready for prime time.

All my songs have a picture of me in a Cowboy hat. My niche is listed as country. Yet I get requests to submit my songs to Hip Hop stations – and whatever the hec “trance” music is. Again, any station that doesn’t even offer your type of music should be avoided.

Some Internet radio stations claim they are so overwhelmed by submissions, that they charge $5 simply to weed out the non serious players. Again, that’s just a cop out by a station not ready for prime time.

That tells me they have no screening process whatsoever. If a band is trying to submit metal music to an easy listening station, that tells me the station did a poor job of branding. Even a check-box on the submit form that says “I declare my song is Hard Rock” would be a simple solution.

In theory, radio stations make their money from advertisements. If they charge a band to be on the radio, they shouldn’t have ads. Yet they all do. That’s “double-dipping” in my book.

Bottom line is that there are countless Internet radio stations wanting to play your songs – all over the world. If they haven’t done their job of letting you know what kind of music they play, or they want to charge you just to listen… you need to ask yourself if that’s a place you want your music heard.

Do your homework. Do they have a listener base (of more then 19 people)? Is it your niche of music? Listen to a show. Is it something YOU would listen to? Is the radio station social – do they have a presence on Twitter and Facebook? Is it active? Most importantly, does anyone respond to their tweets and posts? I’ve seen many stations that tweet all the time, yet no one ever responds or re-tweets. That should tell you something about the exposure you’d be getting for your investment.

That’s just my two cents on how to manage your time and money in the Indie music biz :)

Best,
Billy Kay

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Comment by Billy Kay on October 15, 2012 at 9:33am

Thanks Michael. By the way, I charge 5 bucks to read your response. You can PayPal it to me :) LOLOLOL

Comment by Michael Kay on October 15, 2012 at 8:23am
Probably the best blog ever written on NU! Well said

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