So, as I learned from this post on the Future of Music Coalition blog, another hurdle that indie musicians face is that even their method of submitting music to commercial radio stations (CD in a padded envelope) can put them at a disadvantage. The posting discusses a recent piece in Wired about Yangaroo's digital media distribution technology, which is designed to help indie artists who are submitting music to automation-oriented commercial stations.
According to the piece in Wired:
"At this point, most people probably know that many radio stations are programmed by centralized computers rather than DJs cuing up each track from vinyl or CD. Indie musicians have been at a disadvantage when it comes to delivering music to larger stations that operate like this, because the major labels use something called Digital Media Distribution System (DMDS) to send new tracks to stations digitally and securely (to minimize leaks). If you work at a radio station with this system in place, you're less likely to open brown padded envelops from indie bands and integrate them into your playlists."
The folks at FMC argue that in addition to the method of distribution, payola is also another factor hurting indie artists who are seeking commercial airplay. In discussing the article FMC writes:
"That's not the only reason indie musicians have had difficulty getting on the corporate airwaves. Payola, both institutional and in-your-face, has made it near-impossible for anyone but the best financed (and ethically compromised) musicians and labels to breach the commercial radio wall. Even when compelled by the FCC to air independent acts, massive radio conglomerates have tried to require artists to sign away their rights to digital royalties in exchange for airplay consideration. FMC exposed such behavior by Clear Channel in a series of blog posts last year.
According to Wired, a company called Yangaroo (which also services major labels) is now offering an indie-centric version of its DMDS technology. The general understanding is that most folks at commercial radio are loathe to open padded brown envelopes, so digital delivery could result in more spins for the indies."
When I was a Noise Pop recently a college radio music director mentioned that he still preferred getting music in the mail (vs. digitally), so the padded envelope is certainly not dead yet in some quarters.
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