Does Radio Airplay Matter?


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

For some genres, radio airplay is perceived as a major driver of other revenue streams

A number of interviewees thought that radio airplay is a significant factor in other revenue streams.

In the country format I think that terrestrial radio is the primary driver of sales. I’m not so sure that’s the case in Top 40 radio and pop radio but I think it is a driver. I think that as time passes that social networking and sponsorships and those kinds of activities are going be more significant and I think that radio is going to become less significant in terms of sales as time passes.
– Nashville Songwriter B

Without radio success it is a slower and more difficult process to build a level of fan base that is supportive enough to do nationwide touring, and to find revenue opportunities online, and develop a true merchandise business, et cetera. So we focus on the fact that our artists need to prioritize radio and be successful in that format.  And a lot of our efforts are building a direct relationship between our artist and the radio programming community.  Radio can lead to an increase across all revenue streams.
– Artist Manager A

Radio airplay also leads to royalties

Many interviewees mentioned that satellite radio, SoundExchange royalties, and PRO royalties are a steady or growing income stream for themselves, or their artists.

As far as terrestrial radio goes I think that still is helpful because I think it attracts meaningful performance royalties. I think those are still the most significant revenues.
  – Professional Songwriter

Royalties collected for featured artists for digital broadcast by SoundExchange has become a real source of income, comparable for many artists to their other performing rights [PRO] income.  It’s not a huge source of revenue but I’m sure that it will increase over time as it becomes the dominant model.
– Music Publisher

The development of satellite radio and the tracking of satellite radio by the performance rights organizations has really improved and it makes up a significant percentage of my ASCAP checks.
– Singer-Songwriter A

[…] the popularity of satellite radio has seriously increased that revenue stream for us because it’s a platform for heavy music and if the DJs who are in there like your band then they can make you a lot of money…. we do really well with college radio, but the increase the money I’ve really seen is from satellite radio.
– Hard Rock Band Guitarist

We also see in our financial case studies that for artists who compose, radio royalties appear as part of their overall revenue stream. For the Jazz Bandleader (who is also a composer), PRO royalties accounted for 2% of his income.  For the Jazz Sideman, PRO money from his compositions accounted for 4% of his income. And for the Indie Rock Composer-Performer, it was over 6%.

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





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 […]