Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Saw this great article in today's issue of Country Aircheck and thought I'd share ... if you're an artist headed on your first radio tour or you've done a hundred, this advice comes right from radio's top honchos. Find out what will make you memorable in a good way and in a not so good way. Just go in, be yourself and be proud of your product. Don't oversell it, don't undersell it, just make the sale.

Source: Country Aircheck
Writer: Russ Penuell

An artist’s first radio tour has the potential to set the course for their entire career. If it goes well, it’s often a predictor of good things to come. If it doesn’t, well, at least radio folks get a fun story to tell. Country Aircheck spoke to a few programmers about how to keep (and how not to keep) artists in the former category, and why it all matters in the first place.

“Ownership is a powerful motivator for me,” says WQDR/Raleigh PD Lisa McKay. “I love knowing I was a part of an artist’s success story because it makes me feel invested as they become superstars.”

KCYE/Las Vegas PD Kris Daniels, who likes to involve listeners, agrees. “If I’m investing in an artist I like to see and hear the whole package,” she says. “When labels and radio stations can introduce listeners to a new artist and start building that relationship, it is good for everyone. The only time a radio tour doesn’t work well is if there is an artist without a personality, which rarely happens.”

WKLB/Boston PD Mike Brophey suggests a rough recipe for pulling off a great visit: “Tours that stand out have artists with robust personalities, great musicianship and commercially viable music
that I can hear more than once,” he says.

Getting out of the station can help. “My favorite time is on the bus with the artist,” adds McKay. “It’s nice to connect one-on-one and have some insight into what makes them tick.”

Practice makes perfect. “Work on the performance just like you would work on a concert tour,” says WMIL/Milwaukee PD Kerry Wolfe. And for labels, Wolfe says, “School the artists and players on the market.”

Finally, do your homework. “This artist isn’t around anymore, but they had a song that included our city’s name in the title,” recalls Daniels. “When the artist and team came in with a promotional shot glass showing the title of the song, the city’s name was misspelled. Details matter.

First impressions are important, especially first first impressions. “I remember a visit many years ago where the artist looked like they just fell out of bed,” Brophey says. “Poorly dressed, no makeup and functioning on fumes with no energy. I know it’s radio, but at least make an effort to look your best. Impressions are everything."

That’s not all to keep mind. “Less effective visits are ones where the artist isn’t really ready for the grind of a radio tour,” he continues. “These manifest themselves as nervousness, lack of dynamic personality, not playing ‘hit’ music, being late or even early, staying too long, or spouting off about some controversial subject. Oh, and not laughing at my jokes is a cardinal sin!” Among other things, take it easy on the rug-cutting. “One artist came by and didn’t have particularly good music and at the end broke into [Golden Earring’s] ‘Radar Love’ and began to dance around to room,” recalls Wolfe. “It was very uncomfortable. There was another who must have been told she needed to make eye contact with the PD and MD. It felt like she was burning holes in my soul or was out to have me for dinner!”

Other no-nos run the gamut. “It doesn’t happen often, but [it’s not good] when a rep puts you on the spot in front of the artist to see if you are going to add the song,” says Daniels. “Some are just too green,” adds McKay. “Forgetting words to their songs should never happen if they want to be taken seriously.” “But the biggest no-no is for radio stations,” warns KRTY/San Jose GM Nate Deaton. “We have a hard and fast rule: No phones. I can’t believe that people answer emails or texts during artist visits. No one in that room is important enough to have to look at their phone during that 20 minutes. It’s just plain rude.”

Sing-alongs can also be problematic. “One artist said they were too loud for the conference room, so we went outside,” Deaton says. “There was a kennel next door and as soon as he started singing the dogs howled for 20 minutes. The funny thing was he was so soft we could barely hear him!” Radio tours that go well stand out for different reasons. “Dustin Lynch had already performed in the market and had a following,” Daniels says. “Several listeners asked if they could come in and listen, so I cleared it with the label. He made the listeners happy, and when he came back to perform an acoustic show for us his following in the market had grown even more.”

Rascal Flatts stuck out in San Jose. “We had a receptionist who was particularly rude and sent a call to our promotions director in the conference room in the middle of Rascal Flatts set,” explains Deaton. “Gary [Levox] stopped mid-song, answered the phone, asked if Susan was [in the room], waited for her to finish [with the caller] and then picked up on the exact note they stopped on! It was the funniest [visit] ever. “ McKay has favorites, too. “Taylor, Lady A and Gloriana were all amazing,” she says. “Whether it was sheer superstar power or talent, the key was that there was an obvious something special that was immediately recognizable.” “Hunter Hayes is another,” adds Wolfe. “He brought all his instruments and re-created the single right in front of my eyes!” “Some artists and bands transcend the acoustic environment,” Brophey says. “Maggie Rose and her band is like that. The musicianship is outstanding and leaves quite an impression. That becomes part of the equation when thinking about adding their song.”

Ultimately, radio visits set a very important foundation. “I know they are expensive, but radio tours are a great way to get introduced to someone new,” says Deaton. “Some of my best relationships started with that first tour.” Brophey adds, “ An uninteresting radio visit sets an artist back a couple of steps. It’s not the end of the world, but it makes a difference.”

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