Airplay 101: Why Clear Channel is Irrelevant for Indies

After endless concerns in the indie community about radio
consolidation and Clear Channel, I’m here to tell you that it should
be of no concern to you. Regular rotation on large stations (Clear
Channel or otherwise) in major or medium markets is not available
now… nor has it ever been… (for over 30 years) to small indie
releases and artists any more than McDonalds is available to you to market your indie toys.
Remember McDonalds’ 10-year
marketing agreement with Disney? Before it happened, do you
think you had any chance at all of getting your indie toy into McDonalds? That situation is the equivalent of you trying to get
your indie release into regular rotation on medium and major
Consolidation or no consolidation, trying to get a
product with entry-level marketing onto the largest media outlets
in the world is a terribly-misplanned idea. (This applies, of course,
to new acts/labels releasing their first or second record on their
So why all the hoopla? Because news outlets know that you’ll
read it. And when you read it, they get paid. News outlets (like
the LA Times and need to print things that you are
worried about, so you will log on and/or purchase copies, or else
they will close down. Since the worse fear of all musicians is not
having their music heard, if the publications tell you how the
biggest radio stations are not going to play you, they know you
will pay attention and read.
But just because you are just now learning how difficult the large
stations are, does not mean that it used to be any easier. Fact is,
if you were trying to release your own record (even on AM radio)
in the 60’s and 70’s, you would have been going directly up
against Capitol, RCA, ABC, Atlantic, CBS, and the other major
labels at the time. So even then (with no Clear Channel), you
would have had to start off with the smaller stations, just like you
have to today. And also back then (20 years before the
McDonalds-Disney agreement,) you would never have been able
to get McDonalds to carry/market your indie toy; but you can bet
that the toy industry publications back then did their best to paint
a depressing picture for the small toy manufacturers, despite the
fact that the best way for an indie toy makers to market it’s toys
(both then and now) is to work with the mom and pop toy stores
throughout the country.
What does this mean for your airplay? The same thing we’ve
been trying to get across for years: Start with small market
commercial stations (or college stations in any market,) and use
the results to book more and bigger gigs, all the while selling your
CDs and merch for full price at those gigs. You’ll never have to
deal with getting distribution (or getting paid from distribution),
much less have to worry that you won’t be getting any regular
rotation on a Clear Channel station. If you absolutely won’t rest
until you get some Clear Channel spins, however, then consider
commercial specialty/mix shows… These shows are available on
Clear Channel stations from New York on down, and with good
music and a good push, you can get a spin or two for a few


Bryan Farrish Radio Promotion is an independent radio airplay
promotion company. For further information contact Jackie Steele
(formerly of WQGN, WUXL, WSUB) at 818-905-8038 x22



Enjoy this website? Please spread the word :)