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Promo execs and station GMs and PDs are on the defensive when it comes to the business of working records at radio.
RADIO SUBTRACTS ADDS
Spitzer Suits Puts a Chill on Station Playlists, Makes Breaking Records More Difficult
Common record industry wisdom is that there will always be 10 songs in the Top 10, but radio airplay adds of new music are down significantly, according to figures supplied by Radio & Records. And that makes it much more difficult for already beleaguered label promotion staffs to get their new music on the air, and break records.

Insiders are saying N.Y. State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer’s stringent compliance regulations, now in place after his settlements with Sony BMG Entertainment for $10 million and WMG for $5 million, have promo execs and station GMs and PDs on the defensive when it comes to the business of working records at radio. Station programmers are forced to justify adds to more higher-ups than ever, as well as to their consultants, with every move scrutinized, which results in paralysis through analysis.

The Democratic gubernatorial candidate is currently in negotiations with the two remaining majors, UMG and EMI, as well as a quartet of broadcast chains, including Clear Channel, CBS, Entercom and Citadel, all of which have also come under scrutiny from the FCC, responding to pressure from Spitzer to launch their own investigation.

  • A total of 169 stations have reported no adds for Q1 2006, a rise of 48% over last year’s total of 114 in 2005.
  • Pop adds totaled 3,744 in Q1 2006, compared to 4,343 last year, a drop of 16%.
  • Rhythm adds totaled 2,964 in Q1 2006, compared to 3,050 last year, off just under 3%.
  • Urban adds numbered 2,587 in Q1 2006, compared to 3,078 last year, a drop of 19%.
  • Hot AC adds totaled 1,441 in Q1 2006, compared to 1,730 in 2005, a drop of 20%.
  • Active Rock adds dropped to 1,303 in Q1 2006, from 1,695, marking a deficit of 30%.
  • Alternative adds went to 2,106 in Q1 2006 from 2,261 the year before, a drop of 7%.
  • The only category not to show a decline in playlist adds is country, which was actually up from 3,408 in Q1 2005 to 3,634 through Q1 this year, a 6% rise.

Despite those figures, one veteran country radio promoter, who requested anonymity, insists the format is under the same constraints as any other genre under the new rules.

 “Every CD, every ticket, every promotion is being scrutinized, just like in the pop world. It’s absolutely the same. It’s not business as it was 12 months ago,” he says.

As for why adds to country playlists are up, this exec insists: “There are more new acts breaking in country than there have been in the last five years, as well as superstar singles from Kenny Chesney, Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban to Toby Keith, Dierks Bentley and Rascal Flatts. But I'm not really allowed to talk to you, so I'll deny this conversation ever took place. And Jared Paul Stern offered me a better deal anyway.”

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