Monday, October 19, 2009

Spins And Spin

Spanish Broadcasting System sent out a press release last week announcing that it is finalizing plans to roll out a network-style, legal pay-for-play program in overnight hours at its 21 radio stations.

Chief revenue officer Frank Flores says the Musical Infomercial program is intended to monetize fringe dayparts and level the playing field for independent artists.

The bundled airplay has been approved by the company’s legal department, including one package of roughly 48 plays a week per station. Each song will be billboarded with an announcement that it is ”brought to you by” the sponsoring entity from 11 pm-6 am and Saturday-Sunday from 11 pm-10 am.

"Ideally this could serve as a launching pad for new artists.” Flores says that SBS hopes to gain more buy-in from indie labels and artists.

Decoded: 48 plays a week on enough stations means that it could be possible to "buy" a top ten chart hit, which actually could receive no airplay at all at times when the sun is shining and the majority of listeners could hear it. This will be a launching pad for new artists and indie labels whose bank accounts are larger than their talent.

The irony: this comes at the same time the music industry is pushing for radio stations to pay labels and artists a performance royalty for airing their music.

Decoded: we'll pay you lots of money to play the songs and artists whose quality won't justify airplay without the paid spins. If you want to play songs and artists your listeners like and enjoy, radio needs to pay us for that.

Premiere’s “After Midnight” is also after record label dollars. Blair Garner’s new web video feature “Fresh Catch” gives new and emerging artists a chance to promote their music.
Garner sees it more about helping break new artists. “This new web feature gives the public a chance to check out the best new talent, learn more about them and even buy their music online.”

Decoded: ... if they have the money to pay for it. The FCC has no pay-for-play rules online, just on air. I do have to say that since this approach won't distort airplay charts, it's more acceptable to me than paid "group" spins. If Blair's listeners like the new artist music online and the songs start to test well enough for broadcast airplay, that could prove to be a win for everyone.

ARB CEO Michael Skarzynski: “Over the past nine months, Arbitron has made significant advancements to improve sample quality,”

Decoded: Total installed persons in New York in September are at their lowest levels all year, down by over 300 meters since last December. Arbitron is having long-term difficulty with 35-44 year-olds. In another PPM market, for example, I just printed out a ranker on 35-44 and 45-54 women and out came five or more pages of stations with zeros in their audience estimates! What are buyers supposed to do with that information, just not buy any radio during the end-of-summer weeks and the Labor Day holiday?

H.R. 1147 (The Local Radio Community Act) directs the FCC to “ensure that licenses are available to both FM translator stations and Low Power FM stations. And that such decisions are made on the needs of the local community.”

Decoded: interference is acceptable to lawmakers if it comes from schools, churches and other community-based organizations? Sounds like another Docket 80-90.


Joe Knapp said...

We all know that paying radio to play records isn't a new concept! If the record companies pay a single penny to buy airplay, that's a clear admission that radio promotes their product, and that should be the end of the "performance tax" debate. If radio stations are forced to pay the artists, the artists should also be forced to pay the radio stations for the airtime. After all, what's fair is fair, right? Besides, wasn't it record companies who FOUNDED and OWNED the first radio stations and networks? I have a basement full of old 78 RPM records on labels like Victor (aks RCA, RADIO Corporation of America) and Columbia (aka CBS, Columbia BROADCASTING System)

Adrian Michaels VP Promotion Curb Records said...

"Label Partnerships: How to Achieve the Results You Want for Your Station" is going to be a session at CRS, 2010. More info:

Mark Allen said...

Actually, the first commercial stations were owned by department stores whose business model for radio was to use it to sell...radios! In today's (Monday, 10-19) Radio Business Reprort or Broadcasting & Cable morning electronic newsletter was an article about Spanish Broadcasting System stations already taking orders for pay for spins from 10 or 11 pm to 6 am (depending on the day of the week). It has always been legal as long as the song is announced as sponsored. When I was at KJR in Seattle (1976), Columbia Records bought tons of time to advertise the latest Chicago album. A :60 with some music in it and probably co-op from Tower Records. Everything old is new again. Record companies (and artists') obsession with airplay makes the case against the performance tax. We still need to continue the advocacy on behalf of local broadcasters. [ Full disclosure, I'm the Pres/CEO of the WA St Assn of Broadcasters and their congressional lobbyist on this and lots of other issues.]