Why don’t you play ___________?

I know, I know. You hate me. I’m sending you a link to a generic response. I hate it when people do that too. But I’d rather not BS you. I’d rather give you the honest truth why the song/artist you asked me about isn’t one I can play… yet.

Allow me kiss your butt first.
You’re ahead of the curve. You’re a real music fan. You’re not one of the sheep that just listens to what everyone else listens to. You are the type that would rather support an up and coming starving artist at a smoky dive bar than pay hundreds to see some stadium show where you’re 3 zip codes away from the performer. I get you. I am you.

People are sheep.

Here’s what happens when radio stations play an unfamiliar song: they change the station. Know what happens when they change the station? That station goes out of business and ends up being another boring station that plays Justin Bieber every 30 minutes.

You, on the other hand, seek out new music. You have an open mind. Unfortunately, the casual listener (90% of our audience) isn’t as cool as you.

So it’s hopeless?

Here’s the deal. Radio stations have to be like that stadium that seats 100,000 people. That means they have to play the songs that all those 100,000 people know and love. There are plenty of auditoriums that seat 3,000 people. There are plenty of clubs that fit 100. Just because that artist isn’t filling stadiums doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy them at that club or auditorium. You just can’t see them at that stadium… yet.

So what can you do?
Share their music with your friends on Facebook. Post a concert clip or music video every couple weeks. When there’s a show near you, get a bunch of friends together. If the band is good, your friends will tell their friends. Music is viral. Bands that play to 20,000 started out playing to 20. Florida Georgia Line played the Round Up long before they sold out the Amphitheatre.

But I heard it on (insert small radio station/XM/online radio station here)!
Satellite radio stations don’t need to get ratings or keep listeners – you’ve already paid their rent by subscribing. Radio advertisers need the most ears possible. Satellite services, small radio stations, online radio… they can play obscure stuff because they’re not a stadium. They’re one of those little smoky clubs. Again – that’s not a bad thing. Once enough people catch on and the song hits the top of the charts, bigger radio stations will play it.

But it’s #22 on (insert chart that’s not Billboard here).
Guess I already answered my own question didn’t I? 🙂 I know it sounds lame, but no matter if we’re talking about a Top 40 station, rock station… country is no different. Radio stations have to play the songs that most people want to hear.

Go see AM Taxi the next time you’re in Chicago.

One of my favorite bands is AM Taxi. You’ve never heard of them have you? Don’t worry. Not many have. That’s why they play little clubs in Chicago. The fact they’ll never play the Ray J doesn’t make me like their music any less. Nor should the fact that mainstream America hasn’t caught on to this song / band you like yet make you like their music any less. In fact, you really should enjoy this period while they aren’t overexposed. Green Day was my favorite band until radio stations played “Time Of Your Life” over and over. They got so successful that a fat old bald guy wearing a Hawaiian shirt dancing to their songs at a concert ruined the band for me forever. (More on that story here if you want to read it.)