When programming music stations back in the day, our internal slogan was “Music Is The Star”. It was meant to make a point, that the music was critical to our success. Hits get you ratings.
In recent years I have amended that slogan to, “Respect The Music”. Playing the hits, no matter the format is job one, but the personalities providing entertainment, companionship and topical content are just as important. Between streaming music services, satellite music, playlists on your devices, video channels and radio, the hits are everywhere.
What separates us from these other services, what is our advantage? It’s the ability to talk about the music, the artists and the culture.
So often I hear stations playing new music with no introduction or set up, and back selling seems to be a lost art. The music isn’t a utility, it’s the foundation of your brand and the talent should sound invested, they should talk about the music as if every song is their favorite, share their passion even though they have played it 1500 times. Listeners used to think the DJ was actually handpicking every song. This was before playlist curation.
Not so long ago our radio stations were Shazam….providing that song and artist metadata. Now we are helping the growth of Shazam by not front and back selling music, specifically new titles. There is a period of time where a song is new and unfamiliar to a segment of your audience. And who better to tell the consumer about that new song than your friend on the radio. Think about this, in your real life how many times have you been frustrated that a radio station doesn’t give you song and artist info and it’s not on the RDS feed. So you find yourself Shazaming it…and you’re in the business!
The streaming services would give anything to have the footprint we have reaching millions of listeners with both music AND talent. They’re trying as we speak with Apple Music Hits and Apple Music Country.
Our talent has the ability to tell stories about the songs and the artists as well as their backstory.
My request is simple; please don’t take the music for granted. All talent, local and syndicated need to Respect The Music; tell your listeners what you are playing, be excited about it, tell stories about it, be invested in the music and make it part of the fabric of your station and each show.
As Aretha said, R-E-S-P-E-C-T!