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Radio Airplay 101 - Radio Compared To YouTube and Facebook, part 1:

The newest (and by far the biggest) red herring to hit indie artists yet is here now. (A red herring is a "fake fix" to a problem, which distracts you from finding the real fix). What is it? YouTube and Facebook.

"Wait! How can this be? All the biggest acts are now using YouTube, Facebook, MySpace etc. to get big in the first place! You must be wrong!". No, you are the one that's wrong. And this will be covered in this and the following articles. It's all based on the definition of what you just said: "Get big".

There have been many diversions over the past 15 years: Radio submission services, radio email databases, online radio stations, podcasts, CD radio mailing services, fake radio airplay charts, radio ad sales departments, user-programmed listening sites, etc. Some are still going, and some have faded. But all are designed to appear like they are getting your entire song heard by lots of people. Problem is, the entire song isn't geting heard by anyone. But this newest diversion, YouTube and MySpace, is such a gigantic distraction that it is causing more artist damage than all the other diversions put together.

The YouTube and MySpace problem can be found on any site that makes you think your song is being heard, but there is one main requirement: There must be a counter. Some kind of counter needs to be available, and visible, to make you think your song is being heard a certain number of times. A second requirement, although not nearly as important, is that the site is free. But since most (all?) of these types of sites are free, this requirement is not really needed. However the two requirements together (free, and a counter) set the stage for distracting hundreds of thousands of indie artists around the world. After seeing this distraction/diversion/red-herring develop into a monster over the last several years, it was decided that the situation needed to be spelled out so indie artists could finally understand why all their "views" and "plays" weren't doing anything for their careers. We'll detail how the diversion works in detail, and in separate catagorical steps, over the next several articles. But we'll start here.

First we must short-circuit something that we are hearing everyday: "Artist XYZ got HUGE because of YouTube (etc)! One of her songs has 10 million views/plays!". Well, I have news for you. If you think that a counter on YouTube or MySpace that says 10,000,000 is what caused Artist XYZ to get "big", then you need to put your indie career on hold for a year and do nothing but study how things really work. Because if you use that line of reasoning to direct your career, you are going to fail hard, and quick.

10,000,000 (which is 10 million) views or plays of a "hit" song is a joke. Actually, not just a joke, but a complete failure. If 10 million were the number that commercial AM/FM radio delivered, we would have no music stars at all. If commercial radio only delivered 10 million as it's top "hit", there would be no Elvis, no Beatles, no Stones, no Madonna, and yes... no GaGa. Do you know the number that commercial radio delivers a top "hit"? Do you really know?

1 Billion. That's right... 1,000,000,000. This is the number of radio "listens" that commercial AM/FM radio delivers one "hit" song. This is also one hundred times as many views or plays as all the YouTube and MySpace type websites combined. "But how can this be??!! Somebody would have surely said something about this if it were true!!" Hardly.

If you had ever worked in, or studied, commercial radio (or general media) audience measurement, you would just smile and say "duh". The people who do work in or study audience measurement, and especially the people who work in commercial radio, laugh about this. And they certainly don't care if indie artists know about it. And they absolutely are not going to take the time to tell indie artists about it.

So in the upcoming articles we'll explain how the 10 million views/plays of a YouTube and MySpace song is actually the RESULT of the 1 billion commercial radio "listens" of a single song. In the mean time, you can look at the chart for real, weekly numbers.

Next topic: Radio Compared To YouTube and Facebook, part 2: Sales Numbers

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