It’s been an interesting week. Monday, I got a call from a man representing a record label I had never heard of. He went on to tell me that he was working a single from an artist I vaguely remember from last year’s charts, and like all others that have called here for 20 years, or one week, I told him until I had the product in my hand I really couldn’t do or say much about the possibility of playing it. He then went on to ask about promoters. Who are some good ones, he wanted to know. Stop right there. Red flag time. He asked the question as if he had been through this once already by using a promoter, and his single didn’t do as well as he thought it would. That’s par for the course, my friend. Most artists believe they have a top ten hit on their hands if they’ve recorded professionally, promoted right, and spent considerable cash doing so. But the more he talked, the more he kept putting the blame on his lack of success of being at number one with a bullet on the promoter. And, that’s not a fair assessment. As music directors, we all have ears. We all have material that comes across our desk that either simply doesn’t fit our particular station, or is something we think we heard the past week in a karaoke bar. Not to be Simon Cowell-ish here, but, everybody thinks they’re going to be the next Fergie, James Blunt, Alan Jackson, etc. This person went further and told me he had re-mastered his original single that “didn’t do so well” the first time around, gave it more kick, and was going to promote the song himself. So, from the beginning of the conversation, I was led to believe I was speaking with a promoter either from the label or a hired hand. And the conversation quickly evolved into finding out that this person, the label, and the promoter, were all one human being. The artist didn’t have the money to hire a promoter, he said, but felt the song would “kick ass” on its own merit. I’m not saying it can’t be done. I’ve just never seen an artist record, write, promote, and chart their own record single-handedly. Ever. And I’ve reported to Gavin, R&R, and many other trades that have come and gone. Yeah, even the trades dwindle down to nearly nothing sometimes. It is logical and beneficial for stations to report their list to a trade. We chose this one because of the independent flair it offers programmers, so your station can see others out there with open minds. This caller had a tracking sheet, and noted, as the conversation lumbered on, that his song only got to 12 spins a week from a compilation disc that was sent out, but another song from the same disc got twice as many spins. He thought his song was better. I told him that in his mind, he was right. But, so was I with the selection I made to keep his song at a low level spin count. It didn’t fit my station, and apparently not too many others either. The moral of the story? Everybody’s a star until they jump as a big fish in a small pond into the swimming pool with the big boys and girls. Then, the talent is easily separated. You want to get noticed? HIRE A PROMOTER. You want stations to play your song? LOOK FOR STATIONS THAT REPORT TO TRADES. Respect the program and music director’s call times- in this day and age of radio, it’s usually one program director for multiple stations, and contrary to what might be the picture in your mind, we have much more to do than meets the eye. Network. Do your best to find the best people to help you achieve your goal. But, don’t expect radio station PD’s to buy your story that you represent an artist when YOU ARE the artist. Don’t expect us to favor one promoter over another, because word travels fast in this industry and in my opinion, they’re all good…..that said, they have to have the material, and that is a bonafide, playable, radio friendly record to work…..that is professionally recorded and is mixed well. They are the middle men in this picture, and successful artists need successful and knowledgeable promoters, who are acquainted with radio folks on a first name basis.