As Nashville gears up for the Country Radio Seminar that begins Wednesday, Warner Music Nashville CEO John Esposito was interviewed by The Tennessean about the event. And, of course, the typical question about whether terrestrial radio had any power anymore was one of the questions asked by reporter Nate Rau. The answer Esposito gave will not disappoint you.
With all the new streaming services in the marketplace today, and record labels spending more money targeting those services for airplay, Rau wanted to know if radio was “less important” because there are other avenues for people to discover artists now? Esposito said radio is just as important now than it ever has been. “And we’ve done everything in our words and actions to make sure radio is clear they’re not less important. And we’ve had virtually no pushback on it. We’ve had people try to make sure they understand. terrestrial radio is still the number one discovery method for new music in the country genre.”
Two years earlier, in an interview in the same newspaper just as CRS was getting ready to begin, former Sony Music Nashville CEO Gary Overton said, “If you’re not on Country radio, you don’t exist.”
And in the current issue of Radio Ink magazine, UMG Nashville Chairman/CEO Mike Dungan said radio is still key. “It’s still the biggest driver that we have in our business and for our business. Things have changed; it’s not the only driver now, but it’s still the quickest way to connect the lines and connect the dots between A and B. I recognize that radio has a different task. Their job is not to break records, break artists, or help me make money. Their job is to develop a listenership and draw revenue off of that listenership, and I try to give them everything that we can from our end to accomplish their goals. It’s very symbiotic for us. It can be frustrating sometimes, but for the most part, some of my best friends have come from the radio world. I started as a radio promotion guy in late 1979, and I still have relationships with people that I dealt with then.”