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WHAT MAKES
KAREN RANT?

 

This was the first year I watched the Grammy Awards with my eight-year-old son. His takeaway was (a) I let him stay up past his bedtime (yay), and (b) Metallica really didn’t need Lady Gaga and backup dancers (eesh!) to prove they’re the greatest metal band of all time.  Julian might have had some coaxing on “(b),” but only a minimal amount. My favorite performance was Beyoncé’s medley of “Love Drought” and “Sandcastles,” with its gorgeous, dream-like choreography, reminiscent of Pina Bausch’s work. Also, the sight of a pregnant woman, surrounded by other women, tends to make many men uncomfortable, perhaps because their status in the process, post-conception, is minimal to nonexistent. I may not have felt at the height of my “power” during my pregnancy, but I can’t hold a candle to Queen Bey, who ruled supreme on Grammy night…

If I had $1million to spare, I’d give every station the maximum profit they could (optimistically) generate for their radio show, allowing my label friends and me the opportunity to go back to the business of working records and breaking bands. Most of our days are spent trying to route our artists into your shows, so that you can meet the NTR line item, and we can hope for a few spins for our (and the band’s) efforts. Unless a song is an unmitigated, one-listen smash, like Missio’s “Middle Fingers,” the point of entry at radio for new artists is unfathomably (to our bosses) difficult.

I’ve always harbored a twisted fantasy about being an agent—one of my favorite books, after all, is What Makes Sammy Run?—so any excuse to have conversations with “real” agents (who loathe radio shows, fwiw) is fine with me.  Didn’t “we” (labels/management) vow to stop “feeding the beast” at the beginning of the year? All right, which one of us caved first? There are certain programmers (and their names appear bold-faced in this column at least monthly) whose loyalty to artists and market impact is worthy of Herculean effort on our part, and whose radio shows should be written in ink as part of the band’s marketing plan. Otherwise, the labels, desperate for call letters on an add date, make deals that cost too much money, putting their artist in a potential “Johnny Bravo” situation (i.e., they “fit the suit,” which is a Brady Bunch reference)…

Music-discovery programs initiated by radio groups need to pick ARTISTS they want to break, not just songs that get a weeklong shot. Losing those spins after a week of exposure, especially in the early stages of a song, could kill the record before it has a chance to prove itself! My favorite record, Lo Moon’s “Loveless” (now at 2.5 million Spotify streams), is Shazaming in Portland and Seattle from “7x7” exposure. It is my greatest hope that KNRK and KNDD will put the record into rotation right away, as a response to these incredible “metrics” (Brady’s favorite word). Other programs, like iHeart’s On the Verge, should make a commitment to an artist beyond their first single, since the groundwork has already been set from multi-week exposure. Judah & the Lion’s next single, “Suit and Jacket,” is a stone-cold smash, and should solidify their growth as a core artist for Modern Rock….

Radio is still the #1 way to break new artists, with Spotify, Apple Music and other streaming services providing valuable early exposure that Modern Rock programmers need to use to their advantage. Spoon’s “Hot Thoughts” is at 2 million Spotify streams in less than a month AND is Top 5 at AAA AND has had massive SiriusXM support (XMU and Spectrum). No further convincing should be needed!...

SONG TO HEAR: Sundara Karma “She Said” (as heard on Alt Nation’s “Advanced Placement” and WEQX).

THE STRINGER ERA BEGINS
Rob picks up his keys to the kingdom on 4/3. (3/28a)
FISHER KING
ACM boss talks Nashville (3/27a)
UNDERWOOD MOVES TO CAPITOL NASHVILLE
Grainge and Dungan lure the superstar (3/28a)
STREAMING SONGS: UNIVERSALLY DOMINANT
75% marketshare ... that's good, right? (3/24a)
SPOTIFY DEALS
If they don't come soon, what happens to the IPO?
LORDE'S NEXT LEVEL
How Melodrama took shape.
LABEL BIGWIGS SPILL THE BEANS
We go deep with a couple of top execs.
THE STRINGER ASCENDENCY
This adventure coming soon to a trade website near you.
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