Does Radio Airplay Matter?


Posted on May 7th, 2012 by Kristin Thomson in What We're Learning. 5 Comments

What is radio’s impact on a musician’s earning capacity? It varies.

The interviewees’ responses about radio’s impact on income and earnings seem to vary by genre. Some people state unequivocally that radio is essential to success in recorded music sales and concert attendance.  This is especially true of urban music representatives.

It’s huge. You still need your song to be played on the radio for people to go buy it.  It’s a marketing tool and you’re getting publishing income from it as well—really good publishing income—so the more your song is played on the radio the greater your check from the PRO. In addition to that you want for your record company to be happy.  So you want people to hear it so much they want to buy it.
– Urban Artist Attorney A

I think it has a huge impact on revenue.  I was getting a lot of play a couple of years ago on a single I had in Washington, DC and a little bit in LA. I could see directly the impact of it. I was booking more shows in those two markets. I could also see, on CD Baby for instance, where people were buying the CD.
 – Singer-Songwriter B

Commercial airplay definitely [makes a difference].  I was in the UK and [my single] gets played on the biggest radio station and you suddenly have access to millions of people.  Out of that millions of people most of them will have never heard of me, but then they search out my music and find out that I’m playing a show.  And they come to the show based on that one song.
– Independent Hip Hop Emcee

Commercial radio is still important to the audience of some of my clients. I know [music fans are] learning about music from a variety of sources but they still listen to the radio. I believe that it does drive opportunities for revenue from recorded music, from touring, et cetera.
 – Urban Artist Attorney B

Established jazz and classical artists have also seen an impact, but primarily from noncommercial stations.

Radio has been hugely helpful to us as we get a great deal of radio play. The last two recordings released by my artist were in rotation in four of the largest US markets for several weeks.  Public Radio stations were playing the disc quite a lot and two of the stations asked to buy the CDs for use as their premiums for donor renewals. To date we have had radio play on about 90 stations across the country and a great deal overseas. I am pretty sure that this radio play drives traffic to purchase the discs.  I know how I am, if I hear something I like on the radio I immediately go and buy it, I hope other people do too.
– Classical Manager B

We do, all the time, especially on public radio.  Our Christmas program is broadcast on about 300 member stations of American Public Media’s network and I think that has a good effect on our CD sales at Christmas. I think in our own neighborhood our attendance at our Christmas concerts is vastly helped by our exposure on the local classical radio station.
 – Chanticleer

I think it might. Certainly NPR does, and I’ve been in NPR’s good graces over the last year so I think that made a difference.
– Jazz Bandleader A

When we got played on NPR, the biggest single spike in record sales that we ever had was some hundreds of records… because NPR links to Amazon.  We got radio airplay in Atlanta, Georgia and all of the sudden I’m getting either CD orders or sheet music orders from one specific region of the country.
– Jazz Bandleader C

Next: Radio’s impact on a musician’s earning capacity, continued





5 responses to “Does Radio Airplay Matter?”

  1. […] extent. Our artist revenue streams study found that significant commercial radio airplay remains out of reach for all but a tiny handful of artists.  And our earlier radio-centric research demonstrates that […]

  2. […] extent. Our artist revenue streams study found that significant commercial radio airplay remains out of reach for all but a tiny handful of artists.  And our earlier radio-centric research demonstrates that […]

  3. […] extent. Our artist revenue streams study found that significant commercial radio airplay remains out of reach for all but a tiny handful of artists.  And our earlier radio-centric research demonstrates that […]

  4. […] extent. Our artist revenue streams study found that significant commercial radio airplay remains out of reach for all but a tiny handful of artists.  And our earlier radio-centric research demonstrates that […]

  5. […] of music, from live performances to digital video (especially in the noncommercial sector, as a recent Future of Music study illustrates). The presentation suggests that there are new ways for radio to expand into both […]