We have let it happen.
There was a time in the “old days” when radio had all the power. There was no other outlet to hear what was new and what was the hottest thing going. But things have changed.
This past week I flew to L.A. to see Pistol Annies at the House of Blues. If you don’t know them, that is OK. They are a new band composed of three songwriters: Angaleena Presley, Ashley Monroe, and, oh yeah–Miranda Lambert. That’s right, Miranda Lambert, who was voted last year’s Top Female Vocalist by the Academy of Country Music! They did this offshoot from Miranda’s normal touring, and sold a bunch of records–with no airplay at all. They only did four shows, and sold them out. And the crowd reaction? HUGE. Here in a non-traditional country venue, and in a non-traditional country market, there were 1,000 people singing every word to every song. Not a one of the songs had they heard on the radio. That is the power of the Internet and word-of-mouth.
The biggest mistake our media made was ignoring Pistol Annies. Now it is too late. Most stations stay away from new music and new artists. Their reasoning has to do with the audience not wanting that which is unfamiliar. They believe the audience wants what they know and are familiar with, and our job is to deliver that. I say WRONG!!
Seems to me, the Pistol Annies proved that theory wrong. And there are many other acts that prove it wrong every day–but yet the stations stand by their guns to the end. All the while, folks are moving away from the product we grew up with. I submit that it doesn’t have to be this way. We can still be the new music experts and play the hottest, newest stuff, as long as two things are true:
It’s good. And we say who it is.
Nothing is more frustrating than hearing a song that you like on the radio (a new song, or even one that is just new to you), and then not being able to find out the name of the artist. Some cars have that info built into the in-car receiver, but not all of them do. Our job is to make the artist familiar to the audience. We at KRTY (95.3 FM) do that in several ways: we play new stuff at all times of the day; we identify the artist and title; and we bring them in to play live. Yes, old school stuff. Building fans, one at a time, through the radio and through live performance. It may be out of fashion, but I think it is the right way to go.
I’d be interested in knowing how you learn about new music and new artists. Please write me at Nate@BamMagazine.com.