Getting Airplay on Internet Radio Stations
There are three levels of webcasting stations on the Internet: (1) commercial (mostly FM) stations that simulcast their programming, (2) large “pureplay” commercial webcasters (such as Pandora) that provide bundled, syndicated or subscription streaming audio services, and (3) the plethora of small hobbyist stations including those on services such as Live365 and SHOUTcast that allow music fans to operate their own stations.
Simulcast of Commercial Media Stations
Columnist John Taglieri commented that you can “literally travel around the globe … [and] still listen to your favorite radio station from home.” Taglieri went on to state that while this is advantageous for listeners, it has not helped independent music because the emerging artist still cannot break into the playlist for the Internet version of these commercial stations because the programming is not unique to the Internet broadcast, but is the same program broadcast commercially in the station’s geographic area. The advantage for major artists is that exposure is no longer limited to the geographic area of the station, and airplay on these stations could have an impact globally. The 2010 Arbitron report found that 31% of FM radio listeners have visited a station’s web site. Of those, more than half said it was to listen to the station online.
In his article “Radio Airplay 101: Traditional Radio vs. the Web,” radio promoter Bryan Farrish stated that in the future, it will be just as difficult to get airplay on a big web radio station as it is to get airplay on a popular terrestrial station now. Farrish stated that the competition will heat up for slots on the most popular web stations, with artists and labels competing for the coveted airplay slots as they do now on FM radio. He added that as more sales come through downloads, the money saved on manufacturing will shift to promotion. Farrish concluded that “the amount of work it takes to get your songs heard will always be directly proportional to how many listeners you are trying to reach.” A 2009 court ruling opened the way for terrestrial stations to simulcast without paying additional royalty payments. In March of 2011, the U.S. Copyright Office published the final decision of the Copyright Royalty Board on the statutory rates for Internet radio royalties.
Large Pure Play Commercial Webcasters
Pure Play stations are popular Internet radio stations that are online only, and are not a simulcast of an FM or AM signal. Pandora and AOL radio are among the top “web radio” services that have not evolved from traditional FM radio stations. These entities use a new business model that takes advantage of innovations in computer and mobile technology. Pandora accepts submissions from independent artists, with no guarantee of airplay.
Pure Play Webcasters per Performance Royalty Rates
- 2011—$.00102 per performance
- 2012—$.00110 per performance
- 2013—$.00120 per performance
- 2014—$.00130 per performance
- 2015—$.00140 per performance
An example of a successful commercial streaming radio station is from pop icon Jimmy Buffet, who sponsors a streaming radio station Margaritaville Radio at www.radiomargaritaville.com. The station started as webcast only in 1998 but was picked up by Sirius in 2005 and is now simulcast (Deitz, 2005).
For both media-sponsored webcasts and podcasts, getting on the playlist requires having some connection to the sponsoring organization, whether it’s through membership or just targeting the right webcast sites and submitting appropriate material. David Nevue suggested identifying stations that take outside material and match the genre, and then contacting them with a request to submit songs for consideration. Nevue stated, “some broadcasts receive a number of CDs to review, so it may take several weeks for them to get to yours.” Some of the more popular online radio services are Pandora, finetune, Grooveshark, Jango, Deezer, Slacker, and Songza.
Plethora of Small Hobbyist Stations
The smaller, less popular web stations are easier to break into if they are targeted correctly. It is necessary to identify those stations for which your music is appropriate. In his article “Web Radio Stations and Getting Played,” Bobby Borg (2005) wrote that the submission policy for these small stations is usually simple and involves emailing a music file to the webcaster. These small stations usually lack the exposure of larger, more popular stations, but getting airplay on these stations is inexpensive, and as more stations pick up the songs, the audience is cumulative. Borg stated, “SOME exposure is better than NO exposure—especially if it leads to a listener buying your record or coming out to one of your shows.” Many of these amateur stations can be found on the services Live365.com and SHOUTcast. SHOUTcast provides listenership data for all stations for a 30-day period under the “stats” menu item.
To find appropriate stations on Live365, select the genre from the list, select the appropriate stations (a broadcaster profile and broadcast schedule is provided), and contact the moderator of each. A free membership account is required to gain email access. If your inquiry receives a favorable response, email an MP3 file of the song you would like considered for broadcast. By all means, keep track of the stations on which you are receiving airplay. It helps to then promote the stations that support your music by including a link to them on your artist web site. To create your own station on Live365, you must pay a fee of $9.95 per month, which includes 150 MB of file storage and allows for up to 25 simultaneous listeners. SHOUTcast is free but requires that you use your own server and download the appropriate software. To request airplay, you must select the appropriate genre and scroll through the stations. A link to each station will send you to that station’s site. Submission policies may vary.
Excerpt from Web Marketing for the Music Business, 2nd edition by Tom Hutchinson © 2014 Taylor & Francis Group. All Rights Reserved.