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Radio Airplay 101 - Medium Market Commercial Regular Rotation

Once your regular rotation radio has taken a foothold in the small markets, you are ready to move to medium markets. In the case of hip hop or rap (regular rotation, not mixshow), you might actually have to start off in the medium markets, since you really have few small-markets to work with. Either way, for all formats, it is going to get expensive in the medium markets, and it's going to be difficult. Most medium market stations want to see small market regular rotation action before they will take you seriously. They also want to start seeing trade support. Trade support alone can cost more than your entire small market push did. Nevertheless, most labels and artists can live their entire existences in the small and medium markets. See the list of markets here...

There are two groups of medium markets... the mediums themselves, and the small-mediums. The small-mediums should be your first attack, since they will seem similar to the small markets. You can start the small-mediums right after (or during) your small market push, even if your retail, gigs and press are not set up yet. But the actual mediums will start looking hard at your retail, gigs, and press. You may not have all of these totally lined up when you start the mediums, but much of it needs to already be in motion. If it's not, you may not get far unless you have a huge radio push.

RETAIL: Medium market stations want in-store retail in their town. This means "on the shelf", not "in the system". The reason is that listeners complain if a song is heard but cannot be bought. And by "bought", they mean going into a store and walking out with a CD. The good news is that the radio campaigns that you do (to get on the medium market stations) can actually help you get into stores, since you have the option of using something which the stores and distributors have a tough time getting... spots. Spots cost a fortune, but if you have not managed to get into stores yet, spots can save the day. Your promoter can set things up so that part of the spot deal is that your CD gets on the shelf, and possibly, gets hooked up with a distributor too.

GIGS: All medium markets have tons of places to perform. Gigs are the first thing all artists do, so it is expected that the gigs will continue once radio begins. And by gigs, the stations mean gigs in their town, not yours. The more listeners that see you perform in their markets, the more those people will tune into the local station to hear you; this means more listeners (and more money) for the stations. More good news: The optional spots that are part of a medium market campaign can be used to get gigs in venues... venues that would normally never talk to you; your promoter may possibly even hook you up with a decent booking agency too (on a percentage basis.)

PRESS: The last requirement of the medium stations... press, is going to be a bit more difficult to get than the retail or the gigs. And by press, medium stations don't mean a fanzine or a calendar listing. They mean reviews with color pictures in the city newspaper, and also cable/broadcast TV appearances, preferably with appearances in the better-known regional and national music mags. And... they don't mean one review every once in a while... they mean lots of reviews in lots of different places at one time. This kind of press can only be done through a PR firm, although a spot campaign, if set up properly by the promoter to tag the press, can be used to get select reviews in those press. A national press campaign, over the period of six months, can produce 50 to 300 articles, reviews, and appearances, but can cost as much as the medium market radio campaign itself. You can work the small-medium stations without much press (or you can use them TO get press,) but the real mediums are just going to difficult until they see press action in their markets, or until you do a much larger radio push.


Next topic: Large Market Commercial Regular Rotation

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