Airplay 101 - Commercial Radio Charts
We've talked a lot so far about CMJ magazine/charts for college radio, since CMJ is a good starting place for most bands (and should be included even if you attempt commercial campaigns, GENRE PERMITTING.) We now progress on to the commercial radio charts. (Billboard is best not attempted at this point in your career, for reasons covered before. And Gavin, unfortunately, is gone.) There are other charts/magazines besides the ones listed below, but they are more non-commercial, and will be covered later.
If you are just moving into commercial radio for the first time (and all you've done so far is non-commercial radio,) then you need to start off with the specialty/mixshow charts first. Then if successful, you can proceed to the regular rotation charts (at a much higher cost.) You do not need to subscribe to these chart magazines, since your promoter will give you the pertinent information you need each week. You WILL need a promoter, however, since charting in these charts (regular rotation) is beyond the scope of the do-it-yourself artist/label.
FMQB: The name stands for Friday Morning Quarter Back, and it is available by subscription only. FMQB is a nice starting point for commercial radio for, since the specialty/mixshow charts and regular rotation charts use stations which, on the average, are smaller than those the other charts use (but by smaller, don't think they'll be easy.) Advertising in FMQB is reasonably priced and not over crowded. If all you do is chart in FMQB, then you have accomplished more than 99.9 percent of all artists out there. FMQB has an AC, a AAA, and a pop-mixshow chart in the printed magazine; an alternative-specialty chart available by email; and a metal-specialty chart available on their site.
HITS: It's available on many newsstands and by subscription, and since it sometimes includes specialty charts for alt, rock and urban, it is kind of a good all-in-one. Hits includes some of the larger stations that R&R includes (which makes it more difficult), along with some of the smaller stations that FMQB include (which makes it easier.) But make no mistake: It is difficult and very expensive to chart regular rotation in Hits.
RADIO & RECORDS: This is the biggie for commercial radio. This magazine does not include small stations in their charts; Therefore, you will have charted in all the other charts before you get into R&R. (This makes R&R almost as difficult and expensive to work as Billboard.) R&R is available at bigger newsstands in NY and LA, and of course by subscription. While it is possible to chart in R&R's specialty/mixshow charts, an indie band has very little chance of charting regular rotation in R&R without spending enough to buy an new house; competition is too fierce, and you are battling all the major labels. The only exception to this would be the Christian and Spanish charts.
Next topic: What is "Successful"?
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