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  •  The EvO:R Street Journal

    The EvO:R Street Journal
    Editorial statement
    Dedicated to the culture, business and interests of the indie artist. EVJ delivers controversial points of view, hard-news commentary, Industry Insites, artistic prose and photography and welcomes responses (pro or con), feedback and topic suggestions from readers. If you would like to submit an opinionated article, inspired poem, photo or essay to EVJ, forward all copy to Editor ESJ and put To the Editor in the subject field.



    Future Of Music Coalition Releases Data-Driven Study On Independent Music Airplay On Radio

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 289, 2009
    CONTACT Casey Rae-Hunter
    Communications Director,
    Future of Music Coalition
    www.futureofmusic.org
    casey@futureofmusic.org
    p: 202-822-2051
    c: 301-642-6210


    “Same Old Song: An Analysis of Radio Playlists in a Post FCC-Consent Decree World” finds no appreciable change in station playlist composition in four years since the Rules of Engagement and Voluntary Agreements

    WASHINGTON, D.C. – Artist education, research and advocacy organization Future of Music Coalition (FMC) announces the release of a new report that analyzes radio playlists to determine whether the policy interventions resulting from 2003-2007 payola investigations have had any effect on the amount of independent music played on terrestrial radio.

    In April 2007, the Federal Communications Commission issued consent decrees against the nation’s four largest radio station group owners – Clear Channel, CBS Radio, Citadel and Entercom – as a response to collected evidence and widespread allegations about payola influencing what gets played on the radio. In addition to paying fines totaling $12.5 million, the station group owners also worked with the American Association of Independent Music (A2IM) to draft eight “Rules of Engagement” and an “indie set-aside,” in which these four group owners voluntarily agreed to collectively air 4,200 hours of local, regional and unsigned artists, and artists affiliated with independent labels.

    Using playlist data licensed from Mediaguide, FMC examined four years of airplay – 2005-2008 – from national playlists and from seven specific music formats: AC, Urban AC, Active Rock, Country, CHR Pop, Triple A Commercial and Triple A Noncommercial. FMC calculated the “airplay share” for five different categories of record labels to determine whether the major labels’ ratio of airplay share has changed at all in the past four years.

    “Same Old Song”
    http://www.futureofmusic.org/research/playlisttrackingstudy.cfm

    The data indicate almost no change in station playlist composition in this period. Specifically, the national playlist data indicated very little measurable change in airplay share from 2005-2008, with major label songs consistently securing 78 to 82 percent of airplay. The format data showed some modest increases in airplay for indies on some formats (Country and AAA Non-Commercial, in particular) but otherwise the data from year to year changed very little. An examination of airplay by release date showed that many formats leave only small portions of their playlist for new material, with current songs sprinkled in among well-worn hits. While such programming choices might make sense for a given station’s target audience, the outcome is that there are very few spaces left on most airplay charts for new music. Looking specifically at airplay for new releases, FMC found that new major label songs typically receive a higher proportion of spins than new indie label songs. Finally, FMC looked at the indie labels themselves, and found that only a handful of indies have enough resources and clout to garner airplay consistently. For the remainder of indies, airplay is infrequent and modest, if it happens at all.

    “Same Old Song” views these results through a broad lens, using the data to describe the state of radio thirteen years after the passage of the 1996 Telecommunications Act. The report underscores how radio’s long-standing relationships with major labels, its status quo programming practices and the permissive regulatory structure all work together to create an environment in which songs from major label artists continue to dominate. The major labels’ built-in advantage, combined with radio’s risk-averse programming practices, means there are very few spaces left on any playlist for independent labels, which comprise some 30 percent of the domestic music market.


    “Radio is still an incredibly vital public resource that’s worth fighting for,” says FMC Policy Director Michael Bracy. “Its ubiquitous and local nature make it unique in the media landscape, but unfortunately today’s commercial radio rarely reflects the communities where it is heard. There are so many artists who are successful by any other measure, but who still have enormous difficulty reaching the airwaves. Why is that? It’s important to understand how music is programmed at commercial radio. We also need regulators to devise clear and transparent rules so they can effectively oversee such a significant industry.”

    FMC believes that, by asking the right questions, expanding community radio and enforcing the law, the radio industry can regain its historic role and relevance to culture and community. The report also articulates a brief set of policy recommendations that will enhance the FCC’s oversight of the airwaves and improve the radio landscape for both listeners and the broader music industry. These include:

  •  A commitment to improved data collection


  •  A refocus on localism


  •  An expansion in the number of voices in on the public airwaves


  •  Select quotes about “Same Old Song”:


  • “As this report dramatically shows, we are still haunted by the ghost of payola, whether real or imagined. In an era when the music community is being forced to reinvent itself for the sake of its own survival, radio has the distinct advantage of existing in unique communities with unique voices. Yet by commercial radio’s one-size-fits-all approach to programming does not bear this out. Why not tap into these robust local and regional scenes and use that vitality as a way to energize and engage listeners? The independent community is more than ready to do its part, but we need a willing partner.”
    -Peter Gordon, Founder, Thirsty Ear Records/Lead Negotiator, Voluntary Agreements and Rules of Engagement

    “A2IM applauds FMC for being the leader in the fight to get independent music labels and their artists equal access to and playlist results from commercial AM/FM radio. We note that the FMC playlist study confirms the results of the A2IM label study released in October of 2008 — that independents are simply not receiving a fair shake from commercial over-the-air radio. Yet A2IM continues to remain hopeful, despite current evidence to the contrary, that commercial radio will finally recognize the value of playing independent music as a larger part of their music programming. Independent music accounts for approximately 38 percent of digital sales in the U.S. and over 40 percent of audience impressions at internet radio but consistently receives only slightly more than 10 percent of traditional commercial radio airplay. It’s obvious that music fans want independent music, and commercial radio programmers continue to ignore that demand at their own peril. We will continue to support FMC in their ongoing fight for parity on behalf of the entire independent artist and music label community.”
    -Rich Bengloff, President, American Association of Independent Music (A2IM)

    "FMC’s previous work questioned the benefits of consolidated ownership of radio stations. This put the burden on the large radio companies to justify further deregulation, which they couldn't do. FMC's valuable new study of radio playlists questions radio stations' openness to independent label music. The report shows that the FCC's attempt to discourage payola hasn't moved the needle on the percentage of airplay that goes the major labels. FMC has once again put the burden on the large radio companies — this time, to show how their supposed rejection of payola and payola-like practices has made any difference at all.”
    -Peter DiCola, Assistant Professor of Law, Northwestern University


    About Future of Music Coalition
    Future of Music Coalition is a national non-profit education, research and advocacy organization that seeks a bright future for creators and listeners. FMC works towards this goal through continuous interaction with its primary constituency — musicians — and in collaboration with other creator/public interest groups.


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