By: SwaGg of SwaGgNation
If you were a casual listener taking a spin through the radio dial you would think all radio stations are created the same. Yeah, you’ll notice that different stations play different kinds of music, but it’s more than that. Across that dial, there are two different kinds of radio stations: commercial radio and non-commercial radio (college). From the perspective of a musician trying to get their songs played on the radio or a radio promotion company, the difference in these stations comes down to a lot more than formatting.
Non-commercial radio, also called non-comm for short, combines college radio and community based radio stations, including local NPR affiliates. These stations may carry advertising, it is widely spaced and is not the main source of station funding. Commercial radio, on the other hand, is just the opposite. The commercials are frequent and commercial breaks between songs may be quite long. Advertising is the source of the station budget on these stations.
From The Outside looking in it sounds pretty simple, right? For any local artist doing radio promotion campaign, these facts can be important. Why? Because non-commercial radio tends to have a lot more flexibility in their playlists and tends to be much more willing to play music from up and coming artists and non-mainstream artists than commercial radio – meaning it is usually the doorway through which up and coming musicians break into radio, and in fact, it may be the only sector of radio on which some genres of music get played regularly. These notions are especially true for indie musicians and musicians operating in niche genres.
In addition to playlist flexibility, college radio is a start Point for Local Artist because there is less competition. Major labels tend to ignore college radio entirely, which means radio promoters have an easier time getting the attention the radio staff and getting them to check out new promos , events , and music.
The world of commercial radio is completely different. Commercial radio operates on the basis of ratings. They need to big listener numbers, and they need those numbers to be consistent, or indeed to be growing. These numbers are also used to price advertising. The more listeners a station has, the more they can charge for ad spots – and the more money they will have in their operating budget.
Because these stations need ratings so badly, they play music by Artist that can bring them those listeners. So they look for musicians with enough buzz and budget to be reaching their listeners outside of radio. They want to play artist that are getting major pieces of press – both nationally and in that radio station’s market.
Radio promoters use these differences between non-comm radio and commercial radio to decide which stations to target for their artists