[George Howard Artist’s Team: Indie Radio Promotion]
The other kind of Indie that you may deal with is an Indie promotions person, a radio person. For an emerging band, especially if you fall into the Indie rock vein, hiring somebody to service your records to what they call the CMJ panel, the College Music Panel (500 or so stations around the country that are affiliated with colleges that play a similar type of music), can be the best money you have ever spent. You pay a promoter around $500 a month for 3 months, which sounds like a lot, but if you don’t have that and you’re not making that kind of income from gigs and sales of your CDs and merchandise, you’re not ready for it anyway.
This person has relationships with these CMJ stations, and will make sure your music is paid attention to. They can’t guarantee that it will get played, but it will get in the right person’s hands at the station, and they will talk about it. And that can build followings in different markets.
For example, say you start getting airplay in Nebraska at the college station, and they just start banging it for some reason. Well, now all of a sudden, you’ve got another stop on your tour market where you can go play and do a live show on the college station.
College Radio is one of the few low barriers of entry that hasn’t been completely co-opted by the majors. Once you start going up the totem pole in radio formats, even to the triple A (Adult Album Alternative), it’s largely the territory of the major labels and certainly above that into Adult Contemporary and Hot AC. But the college stations, the non-profit stations, which can really, really sell you records, can still be accessed without being singed to a major (or any label).
And it’s not just hipster/rock; these stations play everything from singer-songwriters to folk to hip hop. There are Indie promoters out there that just do blues, that just do jazz, that just do folk. And they know the stations, they know where they can get it played, and they’ll give you some bang for your buck.
It has to be part of an overall campaign, but there’s no reason in the world to sign to a label to get this service because the labels these days are just going to hire those exact same people because they can’t afford to keep people on staff.