(By Loyd Ford) You already know that 70% of what happens on a music station IS the music. That’s why music is so important.
Let’s break down a few things.
The music business vs. the radio business.
The music business is hard, difficult and frustrating. Music labels can invest millions before knowing they don’t really have anything. Literally. That business is about art, commercial music and high risk. They try to find unique and compelling artists, songwriters, producers that create artistic (or at least commercial) magic. Once they feel they have done that….
Their promotion teams get paid to lure radio to play ALL OF THEIR SONGS to see which ones are hits. They don’t know any more than you or me if they have a hit at any given moment (and that is the truth).
Music also flows.
There are good years and bad years and even the big experts don’t know how to predict when a valley is coming. Music Directors are often left high and dry when the valleys arrive because they don’t see them coming either and their ratings sag.
So that brings us directly to the radio business. And to the Music Director and his or her job and philosophy. I will suggest you reverse what most people do. Don’t be the Music Director seeking to pick the hits. Instead, reverse it. Seek to eliminate the songs that you can prove are not hits early and often. If you do this, you will be left with stone cold hits that people have high passion for and love.
That’s a path to success in our business today.
What about the Radio Business?
A lot of people in our business think we are in the radio business.
We are not. We are in the advertising business. If you work in the radio business, advertising pays your income. We are just fortunate that our part of that business happens to be on the radio.
You’ve heard it: There is an art and a science to radio.
The art is spoken content from personalities, promotions, events, image liners, positioning and the overall creative branding of the stations.
The science is the selection of music, rotations, song elimination and other architectural elements surrounding how we use the music business to produce great advertising vehicles with large audiences. We shouldn’t mix these two things up. Music people are in one business; radio people are in another.
Of course, strategy plays a role in how all this is done, but that is the Program Director role.
As the Music Director, you are the gate keeper. You don’t get paid to play all the songs the record companies want you to play so they can see which ones are hits. You’ve heard this before: It’s not what you play; it’s what you don’t play that makes you successful.
Mass Audience Vs Early Adopters
Mass audience is EVERYONE.
The at home young mom.
The late night partier.
The business people.
The delivery people.
The factory workers.
Armed forces enlistees.
The secret of everybody is everybody is busy.
Early adopters are those people who rapidly adapt to new music, new trends, new happenings in pop culture.
You Can Be Passionate & Still Do Your Job
To be a truly amazing Music Director, you must divorce yourself from the emotion of music.
You must be able to distance yourself from the early adopters and focus on everybody.
The mainstream. Not the fringes. Fringes (early adopters in this case) are the loudest.
The main center is where the opportunity to grow audience exists in the largest way.
But How Do We Focus On Everybody?
First, everyone for you is the target audience of your radio station. You probably know that to be really effective you must also know about the average 5 to 7 minutes of actual tune in every time ‘the busy everybody’ gets to flip on the radio. We want to be smart and be the biggest mass appeal station in your market and boost our CUME (people coming to the station) and TSL (how long they stay).
Every time someone in your target audience flips on your station, we want the biggest and most familiar songs playing for them.
That’s winning music philosophy.
Don’t get caught up in picking the hits. That appeals to your ego. That’s really worth nothing in our business. Be smart and look to eliminate the bad songs all the time. Do that, you are guaranteed to go somewhere great. The hits will rise and so will you.
In developing your true music philosophy, may I recommend that you see yourself as a music detective focused on finding the truth? The truth may not set you free, but when you focus on the truth to play only the hits, it’s very likely to lead to higher ratings. All. The. Time.
Loyd Ford consults radio stations, coaches personalities, and provides behavioral and strategic programming to radio that propel ratings (and revenue) with RPC. Reach him anytime. 864.448.4169 or [email protected]