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Airplay Direct's New Digital Delivery System
By Anne Freeman
We've all been there on one side of the equation or the other: independent artists or their labels stuffing padded envelopes with CDs and cover letters, applying labels, stamps, or all of those time-consuming Customs=CN 22 Sender's Declaration forms for overseas mailings. Hoping we have the correct address for that DJ who promised to add track 2 to the playlist ... Rushing to make the post office in time, standing in line, shelling out yet gobs more money ... Making those follow-up phone calls (spending yet more money), hoping the CD arrived unharmed (if not, another mailing and yet more money!) Hoping the program hosts plays the song we're pushing - or any song at all, for that matter! Or, as a program host, being inundated with unsolicited CDs, so much so that we have trouble finding the ones we actually want ... searching for the correct track, burning the track, answering artists' phone calls, burning up endless time, time, time ...
Airplay Direct is a new digital delivery system for artists and record labels to safely, securely, efficiently, and cost-effectively deliver their music directly to radio stations around the world. The scene I just described above disappears when AirPlay Direct becomes your chosen method of distributing tracks to radio programs, or when you use AirPlay Direct as your method of previewing and securing tracks for your radio program. Co-founded by Robert Weingartz and R.W. Shamy, Jr. in the spring of 2005, AirPlay Direct services launch on September 5, 2005. In the following MusicDish interview with AirPlay Direct CEO Robert Wingartz, we'll learn more about how this new service will impact artists, labels, and radio programers:
[The Aspiring Songwriter] First, some general questions about AirPlay Direct, Robert. Why did you found AirPlay Direct?
Robert Weingartz Why ... I own an indie record label, and I was trying to find a more efficient and cost effective way to deliver music by my artists to radio programmers globally. I am also partnered in an Internet radio station, and our program director was looking for an easier way of receiving music more efficiently and hassle free. AirPlay Direct was created to make the entire radio promotion process more efficient and cost effective for all involved.
[The Aspiring Songwriter] AirPlay Direct uses a digital file transfer system that was developed to streamline radio promotion activities. Tell us about the AirPlay Direct system.
Robert Weingartz Quite simply, we use the power of the Internet to digitally deliver files globally, instead of artists and labels having to go through the time and expense of putting together costly artist packages and using the Post Office. We are a one-stop shop for radio programmers to visit, preview, and then download new music of all genres.
[The Aspiring Songwriter] I am an artist or record label promoter. What does AirPlay Direct look like from my end? How do I start? What are my costs?
Robert Weingartz For a limited time, AirPlay Direct has a "Special Introductory Offer" that allows artists and labels to register with AirPlay Direct, build a mini web site, and post three tracks ABSOLUTELY FREE! All they need to do is visit the AirPlay Direct site, register, and then send their CD to our Music Upload Centre and we handle the conversion and upload of their music, FREE OF CHARGE! Additional tracks can be posted for the modest fee of $10 a track.
[The Aspiring Songwriter] What happens to my songs once I upload them to my AirPlay Direct account? How do my tracks get to appropriate radio stations and program directors and hosts?
Robert Weingartz Once your tracks have been uploaded by our team, artists and labels can post photos, bio, contact information, etc., to their mini web site and they are ready to go. Keep in mind that AirPlay Direct is a digital delivery system, not a radio promotions firm. The very necessary work of radio promotions needs to be done by the artist, the label, or their radio promotions firm. They must contact radio programmers via e-mail and the phone and inform them that their "broadcast quality" tracks are being delivered via a new digital delivery system, AirPlay Direct, and are available for preview and download, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You need to go through the exact same radio promotion process as if you sent your artist package via the Post Office.
[The Aspiring Songwriter] I am a radio program director. What does Airplay Direct look like from my end? How do I start? What are my costs?
Robert Weingartz AirPlay Direct is a FREE service for all program directors and radio stations globally. All they need to do is visit the AirPlay Direct site and register. One of our team members will contact them to verify their information and a secure password will be issued.
[The Aspiring Songwriter] How do I get the tracks I select onto my playlist?
Robert Weingartz Once a program director has registered, been approved, and issued a secure password, they just go to AirPlay Direct to preview and download broadcast quality tracks to the station's hard drive. They can search our database by artist, song title, album title, record label or genre; preview music and artist info; and then download the tracks they would like to add to the station's playlist.
[The Aspiring Songwriter] Robert, let's talk a bit about technology. What specs must artists and labels have to upload tracks to the AirPlay Direct Services, if any? And for radio stations to download tracks?
Robert Weingartz There is no special software or hardware needed by the artists, labels, or radio stations. AirPlay Direct's submission process was designed to make it very easy for our artist and label members. To ensure our broadcast quality and customer service standards are met, we handle the conversion and upload of your tracks FREE OF CHARGE. Just register as a user and then send your CD and contact information to AirPlay Direct; we take care of the rest.
Radio programmers can rest assured that AirPlay Direct's submission process delivers all available music in a consistent broadcast quality format. We handle the conversion internally to ensure our rigid quality standards are met. All posted tracks are only available for download in a 320 kbps MP3 broadcast quality format.
[The Aspiring Songwriter] What security assurances can you give to artists, labels, porgram hosts, and radio stations using AirPlay Direct?
Robert Weingartz AirPlay Direct delivers your valuable music assets quickly and securely by:
* Screening and verifying all radio member applicants;
* Password protected downloads;
* Limiting and monitoring the number of downloads (2) of each track; and,
* Utilizing IP address tracking software that constantly monitors who enters the site and who downloads your music.
AirPlay Direct eliminates your music getting lost in the mail or going to the wrong person ... It is tracked! The bottom line, your music is more secure with us than it is if you are mailing out packages currently.
[The Aspiring Songwriter] Robert, what types of radio stations does AirPlay Direct serve, including format and delivery (land, Internet, satellite)?
Robert Weingartz AirPlay Direct provides our services FREE OF CHARGE to all terrestrial, satellite, and Internet radio stations. All music formats and genres of music are accepted and range from rock to rap to country to comedy to children's songs.
[The Aspiring Songwriter] How do you verify that they are "real" radio stations, instead of someone trying to obtain free music illegally?
Robert Weingartz AirPlay Direct's radio verification process includes an Internet search and a phone call to verify all appropriate information.
[The Aspiring Songwriter] Can individual program hosts sign up for services, or can only radio owners or program directors do so? What about amateur web radio program hosts, such as those webcasting through services like Live365? Can they register for AirPlay Direct services?
Robert Weingartz Yes, all individual DJs and program hosts can sign up as members. Remember, AirPlay Direct provides our services FREE OF CHARGE to all terrestrial, satellite, and Internet radio stations, and all formats and genres.
[The Aspiring Songwriter] Where do you anticipate your growth?
Robert WeingartzWith respect to growth, AirPlay Direct is currently delivering syndicated radio programming and is aggressively exploring digital delivery across many varied industries.
[The Aspiring Songwriter] Does AirPlay Direct have a rating system for radio stations of what might be considered "the best" or "the most popular" tracks?
Robert Weingartz AirPlay Direct has a cross-genre "Top 100" downloads chart. In the near future we will also make available download charts that are genre and territory specific (states, countries, etc.)
[The Aspiring Songwriter] How do you envision AirPlay Direct will fill artists' and labels' radio promotion needs? For example, can they structure releases to promote singles? Can they release entire albums?
Robert Weingartz With AirPlay Direct you can release singles, your entire album, or your whole catalogue. All your tracks can be uploaded and then made available as singles, as needed.
[The Aspiring Songwriter] Does AirPlay Direct permit videos to be bundled with tracks for web radio?
Robert Weingartz No, currently AirPlay Direct does not offer a service to deliver video. We are however looking at all digital delivery opportunities across varied industries.
[The Aspiring Songwriter] Although using AirPlay Direct would provide an immediate cost savings to artists and labels by reducing the need to send physical product to radio stations and program hosts, what percentage of radio stations accept digital files, say, in the U.S., including commercial and noncommercial stations?
Robert Weingartz All of the major North American broadcast companies (Clear Channel, Infinity Broadcasting, etc.) as well as a significant number of secondary market stations currently use digital delivery as their primary delivery method. Keep in mind that with the exception of a very small minority of small stations, radio broadcasts music from their station hard drives, not a CD player. So whether they download the music from AirPlay Direct or upload it from an artist's CD, it still ends up on the station's hard drive for broadcast.
[The Aspiring Songwriter] How about the European and Southeast Asia radio markets, which are dominated by numerous small, community-based radio stations?
Robert Weingartz The same is true for the international market place. Given the fact that most international stations are starving for new content (most independent artists aznd labels cannot afford to fully service the global marketplace), they have been very receptive to and have rapidly embraced digital delivery.
[The Aspiring Songwriter] What tracking information and activity reports are given to the artist and labels?
Robert Weingartz AirPlay Direct offers a weekly download tracking report that details who downloaded your music and when.
[The Aspiring Songwriter] Can artists, labels, and radio stations interact via AirPlay Direct?
Robert Weingartz Yes, artists and labels can post all of their current contact information and artist related info on their mini website, so that stations may contact them directly.
[The Aspiring Songwriter] Does Airplay Direct get involved in any way with reporting to performing rights organizations or other royalty collection agencies?
Robert Weingartz AirPlay Direct is a digital delivery service and does not get involved in reporting or collections.
[The Aspiring Songwriter] How is AirPlay Direct being promoted to the industry?
Robert Weingartz AirPlay Direct is working with a team of professional industry firms that specialize in all forms of marketing and media, which include the Internet, print, radio, and industry tradeshows.
[The Aspiring Songwriter] Tell us a little more about AirPlay Direct's special promotion to encourage artists, labels, and radio stations to sign up.
Robert Weingartz Currently, for a limited time, AirPlay Direct is extending a special offer to all artists and labels worldwide to try this revolutionary new service absolutely free! They can create a mini-web site and post three songs at no cost to them! AirPlay Direct will even handle the conversion and upload of their broadcast quality music tracks free of charge!
Artists and labels can start saving time and money today and gain valuable global exposure as never before. This offer is good for a limited time, so register today and deliver your broadcast quality tracks to radio programmers around the world ... absolutely free!
[The Aspiring Songwriter] Thanks, Robert, for talking with us about AirPlay Direct.
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