I’ve been reading Jerry’s emails for years. He’s got some suggestions worth considering for local radio.
CORPORATE PAYOLA: MADONNA AND THE BAIN CAPITAL/CLEAR CHANNEL SUPER BOWL
Monday, February 6, 2012
By Jerry Del Colliano
Used to be that music started from the ground up and found its way to local radio stations.
Then, when regional stations could show results, major market stations would pick up the song.
Once a new song or artist broke in one region of the country, the others would be tracking it.
Did the song get its bullet in Billboard or did it lose momentum.
That system served the record industry and radio well prior to consolidation and the arrival of peer-to-peer file sharing.
Once consolidation came along – and we tend to forget this now – the major consolidators like Cumulus, Clear Channel and a handful of others tried to pull highway robbery on the record industry by charging them for access to their program directors – yes, they had program directors back in the ancient days of 1998.
They also told the labels that they would give them a several hour advance notice before the music trades were notified about which songs corporate radio would be adding – wink/wink.
That’s what I call corporate payola.
The labels didn’t like it and I don’t blame them.
Old-fashioned payola was better.
The jocks paid money to play songs or the PDs got favors or the stations got free albums to give away.
When Bain Capital arrived on the scene all that changed.
It took then New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer to scare the sh#t out of the labels and some radio groups for the practice of giving labels useless information and access in return for money.
Believe it or not, things have gotten worse for radio and records.
Take that Super Bowl performance of Madonna yesterday.
Madonna, the aging icon of materialism, is ready for her third reincarnation. You can’t blame her for trying.
She already got a lucrative deal with Live Nation for touring and a not so lucrative deal to distribute her new single “Give Me All Your Luvin” at $1 million per album.
The video of the Madonna single debuted at the Super Bowl is all too footballish – what a coincidence!
I’m an ex-program director and maybe I’ve developed a tin ear but I sure would like to see how this song plays in Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton and Reading first if I am programming a station in Philadelphia.
Or see how it is playing with peer groups online.
Maybe “Give Me All Your Luvin” is a hit.
Or maybe it’s just the latest in corporate rape of the music industry.
A custom-made football video before a major football game.
Madonna’s name sprinkled in the song almost as much as the world “luvin’”.
And Clear Channel with its pre-eminent MTV Zen Master Bob Pittman is guaranteeing airplay on 60 Clear Channel stations even if Madonna’s song turns out to be a stiff.
Again, time will tell and that’s not the point.
The point is – what the hell is Pittman and Madonna and even the NFL doing to the music industry?
Now that Clear Channel Media + Entertainment is going to leverage (excuse the word) every last aspect of Clear Channel’s existence for promotional consideration and/or money, you have to feel that the dying music industry will join the dying radio industry sooner rather than later.
Because Bob Pitchman has his global view of Bain Capital and it’s his party and he will sellout if he wants to.
Meanwhile, I’d love to be a competitor of Clear Channel right now.
Here’s how I’d wipe Clear Channel all over the floor as they think they’ve reinvented music and entertainment:
1. No corporate playlists. None. Every song is added by a local PD and that means I’d need to have a local program director, which I would. Radio is nothing without a local PD. And if the local PD wanted to add some local acts, do it. Music lovers love discovery.
2. Wake up America, the music buying (and stealing) public doesn’t look to radio or even The Super Bowl to figure out its musical tastes. They look to each other. They share files and share what is cool and new. The NFL’s choice of Madonna was for the old folks at half-time but if it had been Bruno Mars instead, the corporization (if there is such a word, and if not there should be) of music falls on its face because it is driven by corporate partnerships, needs and profits and not true musical tastes. So, I’d start a local social media network and feed it with new local artists and empower the people who turn away from corporate music to determine their tastes.
3. While Clear Channel is forcing local stations to promote its iHeartRadio app more than anything else locally, I’d have my station exploit it with a local concert that isn’t in Vegas and doesn’t have Lady Gaga performing. I’d look for the next local Gaga and bask in local music.
4. Every night at 12 midnight I would play 3 or 4 new songs and artists in my format genre (including local or regional) to get exposure. They may not remain on the playlist but I’ll bet you’ll get more input from music discovery than one more rotating of your top 25.
5. Do a Bain Capital promotion. Make the audience a $10,000 Mitt Romney bet that they can’t find the next hot artist in your genre. Imagine in a social media age what would happen if you put out a call to the radio and cyberspace audience to find the next big act.
Of course, I would have been fired right after I tried step 1.
And maybe the People Meter wouldn’t like 3-4 new songs at midnight. We know PPM loves the same hit music over and over.
But I’d win the hearts of music lovers.
I’d be the go to place for music discovery in my market.
I’d own that brand.
Or, sit back and wait for the next innocuous Bob Pittman corporate partnership, which shows the former hip MTV creator is as out of touch with the common person as pundits say the original Bain Capital man Mitt Romney is.
Radio and music thrives from the street up not the skyscraper down.
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