This week’s Music Monday Feature highlights insight from radio personality and terrestrial radio veteran, Andy “Crash” Kelly. Affectionately known to many simply as Crash, here are some insights into his perception of the relationship between music and radio.
You’ve been a DJ for 30 years and have seen a great many changes in radio. Can we ever go back to the way things were?
Thanks so much Janet, for this opportunity to be a part of your blog. To be fair, I’ve been involved with the radio industry since 1976….but only on-air for 23 of those years. Other radio station positions during that time were programming, operations manager, and promotions director. As far as going back to the way things were, technically no way.
AM radio just doesn’t have the sound quality we enjoy and expect today. The analog days are gone. With compelling content, local market service features, making new music stars from unknown indie artists, engaging and involved listeners, and advertisers — radio can and should be that platform. It’s certainly “real-time” and the most relevant medium available.
Corporate radio for the most part has become cookie cutter jukeboxes. To me it’s just background noise. There ARE a select few broadcast companies and local operators still around that not only make a big impact in their markets, but also put some nice coin in the bank.
How significant is the relationship radio plays to promoting new music?
That’s tough to answer. As little as 5 years ago, I would have said very significant. But I fear that most traditional radio stations today are playing it safe with only “proven stars” when it comes to introducing and playing new music. In other words, artists and songs that have proven themselves in other venues first. Traditional radio used to be the first introduction to audiences of new product. In my opinion, most radio stations are now just “fulfilling the need, instead of creating it.” Again, there are exceptions in select markets.
In days past, socially speaking, if we liked a new song we heard on the radio we’d tell our friends and sure enough, it would play on their favorite station in a timely manner. Today, most new songs are being passed around to your center-of-influence through Smartphone text messages or apps, Twitter or Facebook posts.
Can radio re-establish its place in the music industry or has all hope and trust been lost?
Oh YES, YES, YES! We all want radio to give us that privilege. We still have radios in our cars, clock radios, radios in the workplace… what’s going to happen? One day soon is there going to be a huge truck parked down the road with a sign that says, AM/FM RADIO RECYCLING COLLECTIONS HERE?
I feel most broadcasters are still in a mode of thinking, “if we will build it, they will come,” seeing the Internet opportunities and Internet portable devices as “something those kids will outgrow.” I’m not a kid and I get my music from my laptop and cell phone. I don’t think I’ll outgrow this anytime soon.
I’m still trying to figure out why most traditional media broadcasters are not making it their top priority to embrace the Internet and take ownership back. If if wasn’t for radio, there wouldn’t be an Internet. Radio created that need. Who told you about the Internet, your parents? How did we in the traditional radio industry let it get away from us? However this is also true for other media industries though, right?
For emerging artists, what advice would you give them to get their music on stations that can help promote their music?
Most will stop reading this in a few moments because it calls for investing in their career. It takes money, time, and patience. But here goes: You must find a proven and reputable marketing specialist to help you build your brand (yes, you and your music are a product) and promote it properly, so you can stand out above the rest. Do you sound like someone else or are you one-of-a-kind!? Are you marketable? Don’t guess. It doesn’t matter what your friends or family think, unless they own a record company.
You must be willing to be outgoing, aggressive, and eager to promote yourself in a competitive marketplace. You have talent, concentrate on that. Let a professional do the rest. Life isn’t American Idol. You have a better chance of getting a recording contract by singing daily at the local airport (who knows, maybe a famous record producer is laying over in your city for a flight somewhere else) than getting a shot to audition in front of Steven Tyler, JLo, and Randy next season. American Idol isn’t there for any other reasons than to promote their sponsors: You can imagine how much money Coca-Cola is dumping into each show and upcoming tours. Everything else is viral serindipity.
I believe that radio is the only real-time social media network. The way to
build listener loyalty isn’t “better music” or “less talk”, in fact, it’s
not a format war at all. True, there have been great music heritage radio
stations, but music was only one of the entertainment elements, not the
entire focus for success. That’s why two radio stations in a market can play
the same songs, and one will be great, while the other one fails.
You can’t have a successful radio station with just a loyal listening audience. To serve your market and advertisers, your listeners must actively participate in your network. A radio station has an arsenal of talented personalities, the Internet, and a great signal to reach its users. If your audience is just listening and not actively participating, and emotionally invested, you’re wasting air time and your advertisers’ trust.
Anyone who’d like more information can contact me through @AndyCrash on Twitter or visit my site, http://www.crashkelly.com.