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Internet Radio---the New Age of Airplay
By John Taglieri - 06/06/2007 - 10:52 AM EDT

Hey All! How are you all doing this month?? I hope that everyone is gigging steadily, hitting those open jam sessions (those are a lot of fun!!!), writing lots of songs, and reading every article on this website! I appreciate you indulging me last month with my little rambling story and rant. I hope that it helped some of you who are where I was a year ago. I got a lot of nice email feedback, and actually got some good advice back from a few of you!! Thanks to everyone who emailed me!

Soooooo, now back to our regular scheduled programming!

I want to talk this month about Internet Radio, and how it is affecting today's market. There has been an amazing boom in the last few months, of internet radio stations. Less then a year ago, there were only a handful. There were a bunch of standard major radio stations who began broadcasting their regular radio signal over the net. But there were very few true "Internet" radio stations. That has all changed.

As I sat to research for this story, I was truly amazed at the growth and current amount of internet radio stations. Today, every major Gavin, AAA, College, and minor market radio station transmit their signal over the net, simulcasting with their on-air shows. You can literally travel around the globe and as long as you can get to a computer, you can still listen to your favorite radio station from home. While this has been fantastic for standard radio listeners, it hasn't meant much for independent or small label bands and performers. We still can't get into any kind of major rotation on these stations because when you boil it all down, they are still major stations who have limited spots for new artists and new songs, perhaps 2-3 per week, and have to cater to who the major labels want them to play. There is very little room for independent and small label acts to break major radio. College radio is much more accessible and friendly to independent artists. Many college stations actually go out of their way to play a lot of new music and have new artist in the studio for interviews and performances. There are literally hundreds of college stations, and with a lot of legwork, or a good radio campaign firm and a decent budget, you can get a nice solid base of stations who will play your music. But, Internet radio is another animal altogether. Totally accessible, totally open to new stuff, and totally free of any conventional constraints, it is a new playing field where Indie artists seem to usually have the upper hand for a change.

In the last year, close to 2,000 bona fide internet only radio stations have come along. Since they don't have to conform to the standard limitations placed on standard radio stations by the FCC, they are free and very willing to play just about anything. The selection is completely up to the program director. The best part of that is that that can wind up being anyone from seasoned pros who start their stations to help indie acts that they can't help on the air, to the guy next door to you who loves music and wants to hear what he wants to hear! Most are quite daring and very obliging to independent and small label artists. Most "program directors" at these stations are just people who felt like having their own station. It's as easy as downloading the correct broadcasting software, installing it and away you go. The software is freely available from many places on the net, easy to install and fairly easy to learn to use. A fast internet connection such as DSL or cable modem is the preferred connection for this type of venture, and make broadcasting much easier.

The nice thing is that because anyone can have a radio station, it has created a true diversity of music to chose from for your listening pleasure! What this means is that, if you look hard enough, you can find stations that cater to any kind, if not all kinds of music. Many of the bigger firms that have station setups will have dozens of stations, each for a specific genre. All you have to do is search them out.

This has created a big window of opportunity for independent artists to get their music heard by many people. More and more people are tuning into these stations while surfing and enjoy the fact that it's not "mainstream" music that they are hearing. Let's face it, people are spending more and more time on the net. More and more people are getting tired of the 25 overplayed songs on the radio. They want something new and exciting. These people are also getting high speed connections such as cable modems and DSL lines. These give the users the ability to surf for whatever they are looking for and at the same time, take their pick of thousands of opportunities to listen to music they just can't get anywhere else.

One nice thing is that you can listen to music and stations from around the world. Munichs Hardest Hits (www.munichshardesthits.com) is a station from Germany that broadcasts live for half of the week and then plays archived shows the rest of the week. And they play all rock, the kind you simply can't hear on mainstream anymore, with tons of indie artists in the mix with the major players. Any indie artist that releases their own CD, and gets it onto the good internet stations around the world can truly say that they have an internationally released CD and that they are getting airplay around the world! The cool part is that the DJ's speak in German in-between songs, so you can take in some culture while you listen too!

Real Player has a whole jukebox of stations programmed right into their player. Broadcast America has dozens of channels, and more coming everyday. On Mp3.com, users can simply create their stations using whatever music they want from the site. It gives them access to thousands of songs to choose from. There are internet radio stations that are huge, like Radio Free Kansas, which is a true internet station. Most websites that were once just plain old news/reviews sites now have their own stations. There are so many options now for you to get your music out and to the internet stations that there's no excuse not to. And many of them will take an MP3 file that you can upload or email to them, saving you the cost and expense of having to mail out CD's.

The only downside to the whole thing is that 99.9% of these stations are not regulated, so therefore, not surveyed by the PRO's like ASCAP or BMI. So while you may literally get hundreds of spins per day or week, you won't be getting any royalties from it. What you do get is potentially a lot more exposure, and to most indie acts, that's the really important thing.

For singers and songwriters, you can hear new music for inspiration. For music lovers, you get to hear stuff you'd otherwise never hear in your life. For net surfers, you get the best soundtrack you could ever hope for to play while you work.

Log on, go into a search engine and type "Internet Radio" and see what you come up with. It's an amazing new world out there! Play it!!!

Keep the Faith!
-- John




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