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With few exceptions, radio doesn’t want to break your band.

IVANA: WHAT MAKES A HIT IN 2012

A Weird Confluence of Events, a Rock Odyssey
HOW TO BE MEANINGFUL: A sudden family death, keeping it together for my four-year-old, and a cathartic Patti Smith show (she’s my “higher power”), had me questioning everything this week. Such a weird confluence of events, both numbing and life-affirming, with gratitude being the overwhelming sentiment, especially in matters of family (my son Julian is amazing) and career (I’m 30 years deep into truly “living the dream”). In a vacuum, it seems perfect, but many of our peers have lost sight of their passion for music, and certainly have lost the plot when it comes to behaving like a human being. The never-ending rollercoaster of the Modern Rock format (Hello WRXP! Goodbye WRXP! Hello WRXP! Goodbye WRXP!) makes even the sturdiest among us queasy with vertigo. I never thought the format would become so sync-reliant, but the counter-intuitiveness of PPM and the supposedly dwindling audience (which I don’t believe) necessitates outside exposure to make a song “work” on the radio. I’ve had countless conversations with artist managers and labels about how to break a song at radio, and the first thing I ask now is whether or not there’s a corresponding commercial or visible TV placement happening. With few exceptions, radio doesn’t want to break your band. Give them something that is familiar, or has a sales base, or a touring base, or can be slotted into an Xmas show, or is just “magic” (like The Lumineers), and they’ll more than participate in making the song a hit (or bail quickly at the first sign of vulnerability). Even a band like Passion Pit, who had more than proven itself on the last go-round, probably owes the airplay success of “Take a Walk” to Taco Bell. Talk about a weird confluence of events!... I take a project’s success and failure very personally. We’re in the business of promoting other people’s art, and knowing that you can have a meaningful role in another person’s career is something I take seriously. We are lucky. If you’re reading this (that makes one of you), chances are you’re still employed in the music business. Congratulations, seriously. So what have you done today that’s meaningful? Small victories are critical—one radio add can set off a chain reaction. Getting the KROQ call last week (the single best phone call in the business) that they were adding Garbage’s “Control” was the catalyst we needed to launch the record at the format. Research on The Heavy’s “What Makes a Good Man” gives us fuel to expand the song’s base of stations. Nick at Glassnote landing KFRR, WXDX and KJEE on Two Door Cinema Club’s “Sleep Alone” indicates that the record is closing out. Rob’s first week on Tegan and Sara’s “Closer,” which included CD102.5, KROQ, LIVE105 and Alt Nation, among others, signifies that this is “one to watch.” Blondfire’s “Where the Kids Are” was the only add at X-96, plus KRXP and three others, is also meaningful, especially in this climate. That Kasabian’s “Days Are Forgotten” was 91X’s biggest song for MONTHS is an indication that the band has a big future at the format, and band will make sure that the first single on the next record has the potential to work for every station. The Lumineers’ “Ho Hey” may be the first INDIE ROCK SONG to ever break big at pop radio. Crossing the record to another format wouldn’t even be an option had the song not first been a #1 hit at Modern Rock. Every song, if it’s a hit, can have its moment… Just got word that one of my favorites, The Chevin’s “Champion,” has been chosen by ESPN as the theme song for the Major League Soccer Playoffs. That should help!... As I’m sure you’ve now heard, KNDD MD Andrew Harms is leaving the station to find a different kind of meaning in his life. I’ve known and adored him since he started at KNDD when he was 19, and I’m excited to follow the next choices he makes in his life and career… Sometimes a “rock odyssey” is needed to clear one’s head. I’m off to Boston to see Divine Fits. And I get to call it “work.”
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