Radio still plays key role for music industry

http://www.timesdaily.com/article/20080119/NEWS/801190332/-1/COMMUNITIES

By Russ Corey

Despite the growing popularity of the Internet as a means of distributing recorded music, radio still plays a major role in helping listeners discover new artists.Radio is no different from many businesses that are experiencing changes in the digital age, said Brian Rickman, programming director for URBan Radio Group in Tuscumbia.

Rickman said radio might not be the first place to turn to when someone wants to hear their favorite songs, but it is the primary medium where people will discover new music.

“They will be exposed to it here first,” Rickman said.

Once they discover the artist, a new fan will likely utilize the Internet to learn more about the artist or to download their music.

“There’s no doubt the Internet is incredibly important to artists these days,” Rickman said.

Record producer Rick Hall, who founded FAME Recording Studios in Muscle Shoals, agrees that radio is and will remain the primary means of bringing new artists to the public.

While he believes artists could have a hit recording by utilizing the Internet to distribute their music, “I don’t believe you can have a giant hit without radio.”

Shoals music business insider Dick Cooper said radio “is one of the places you as a fan can discover artists you like.”

Cooper, who recently became the chief operating officer of Rockin’ Camel Records in Gadsden, said radio today, whether it’s traditional radio, satellite radio or Internet radio, gives new artists more avenues to target their particular audience.

“Radio still plays an important role in the music business. It’s just more diverse,” he said.

Bob Garfrerick, director of the Entertainment Industry Center at the University of North Alabama, said radio is more important in bringing country music to the marketplace than it is to rock. He said country artists must have radio play “to be big.”

Like Cooper, Garfrerick said he sees a more fractured marketplace, and new artists that do their homework can use the Internet and other means to find their target audience.

“The key for the artist is to know where the potential buyers will be,” Garfrerick said.

The Drive-By Truckers, an Athens, Ga., band with roots in the Shoals, have used the Internet, word of mouth and a grueling touring schedule to take their alt-rock country sound to the masses with very limited radio play.

“If you’re getting played on the radio, I think it’s still relevant,” said Truckers’ founder Patterson Hood, who grew up in the Shoals. “It has not been very relevant in my band’s career. There are so many bands I like that don’t get played on the radio, but find ways to make up for it.”

Hood said he can count on his fingers the number of stations that are playing the Truckers’ music.

In the markets where the music does receive radio play, places like Seattle, Wash., and Charleston, S.C., there are more people attending Truckers’ shows, Hood said.

But that leaves a large portion of the country where the Truckers have had to find other methods of getting their music noticed.

“The Internet has been a saving grace for us,” Hood said.

The Truckers recently have been broadcast from the airwaves of WLAY 92.3 “The Sound,” URBan’s all-Shoals music.

Hood said the press has also helped, whether it be in the form of an interview or a record review. Hood said he believes if someone has read something good about the band, they’re likely to come to a show.

And then there are the live shows, which Hood admits has been the best way for the Truckers to spread their music.

“We’ve sold more records playing live, more than any other thing,” he said.

Even without widespread radio play or a new album to tour behind, Hood said the band enjoyed one of it’s most successful tours this year.

“It’s like chasing a dragon. I’m not sure I believe in dragons,” Hood said. “Our band has had our biggest successes when we’ve done things most people said we couldn’t.”

The indie band Glossary of Murfreesboro, Tenn., utilized the Internet to release its fifth album, “The Better Angels of Our Nature,” and invited fans to download it for free.

Download demands crashed the band’s Web site the first day. The album is also available on compact disc and a vinyl version will be offered in January.

The British rock band Radiohead, which is no longer signed to a major record label, released its new album “In Rainbows” on its Web site and allowed fans to download it for whatever price they chose to pay.

Garfrerick said producing and recording your music and releasing it on the Internet or selling discs at shows is a good business model used by young bands because they retain the profits.

Hall said he plans to integrate the Internet in his business model for the resurrected FAME Records label.

It will basically remain true to the old school way of producing records and getting them played on the radio. A big difference from the early days: he will be utilizing the Internet to allow fans to download the music.

Rickman said for traditional radio stations to keep up with the changing times, they will also have to embrace the Internet and offer features such as streaming audio to reach listeners outside the range of their AM or FM signal.

Getting music on the radio is still done in relatively the same way, Rickman said. A record label’s promotional people must convince programmers and consultants to play their artist’s music.

Cooper said there are still stations that will accept independent music from artists, such as Mighty Field of Vision Internet radio.

“What they emphasize is independently produced and recorded music,” Cooper said.

URBan’s “The Sound” will also accept music created by local artists.

Hall said as long as there is music, and he’s assured there will be, there will always be radio to bring it to the masses.

“I don’t see it diminishing at all,” Cooper said. “What I see is it broadening its base.”

3 Responses to “Radio still plays key role for music industry”

  1. Radio is still a great source of music for millions of Indians who tune into the various FM Radio stations every day. With the rise in FM Channels, music has definitely become accessible to the common man like never before!
    http://www.musicalescapades.com/useful-articles/role-of-radio.htm

  2. YouTube – GM Paterson Interview with Raechel Donahue
    Hi.I came across this guy on my travels , thought his original music was awesome. . I am trying to find out how other truckers could find out about his music .I know they would love listening to his highway songs as they a rolling along the blacktop in their trucks.
    GM Paterson is a Highway Rock Artist,Trucker/ Singer/Songwriter,. GM writes all his own songs. GM was born in Manitoulin Island Ontario and was raised in Sudbury Ontario now lives in Hamilton Ontario. He is a father to one boy named Mitch and he is the pride of his life. GM is not a typical air brushed Country Artist he is the real deal Trucker, Horseman and Performer.I would appreciate any advice you could give me .Many Thanks
    Regards
    Pat

  3. YouTube – GM Paterson Interview with Raechel Donahue
    Hi.I came across this guy on my travels , thought his original music was awesome. . I am trying to find out how other truckers could find out about his music .I know they would love listening to his highway songs as they a rolling along the blacktop in their trucks.
    GM Paterson is a Highway Rock Artist,Trucker/ Singer/Songwriter,. GM writes all his own songs. GM was born in Manitoulin Island Ontario and was raised in Sudbury Ontario now lives in Hamilton Ontario. He is a father to one boy named Mitch and he is the pride of his life. GM is not a typical air brushed Country Artist he is the real deal Trucker, Horseman and Performer would appreciate any advice you could give me .Many Thanks
    Regards
    Pat

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