Amazon, Apple Music, iHeartRadio, Pandora and Spotify are all fighting for space on your smartphone’s homescreen. The stats on these companies are held under lock and key, but if you take the amount of subscribers platforms like Apple Music and Spotify have (Spotify reported 70 million; Apple reported 40 million) and multiply that by the amount they charge their subscribers (somewhere around $9.99 per month) then you realize that their combined revenue is close to $13 billion. Although those numbers are impressive, I'm not so quick to believe that there isn't life left in traditional radio - especially for up-and-coming artists.
Written By: Ashley Coffey
May 3, 2018
Streaming platforms like Tidal and Apple Music have openly stated that most of that money goes back to labels, publishers and music owners, which is admirable. But for an artist that receives 95,000 plays they make about $1500 a month. That’s minimum wage for those of you doing the math. So that artists don’t have to resort to eating sardines for dinner, like a wise philosopher by the name of Biggie Smalls once said, it would be a good idea for them to also become friends with the DJs at their local radio stations.
For up-and-coming artists with audiences on the brink of the Gen Z and millennial generation, their fans turn to traditional radio as a last resort in today’s digital world ruled by the aux cable. It’s safe to say it’s one of the last places they’d expect to discover new music. But, streaming hasn’t killed radio just yet.
Why? Because radio is a tried and true medium with a broad reach that promotes artists as they work to secure gigs at local venues. Music publishing companies like BMI even dish out a bonus after an artist’s hit song reaches 95,000 radio plays in a quarter. But not all radio stations are created equal. They'd be better off with an independent station like KCRW, one that’s owned by a reputable parent company like Power 106 in Los Angeles or a local station known for highlighting talent in their area.
Plus their goal as a performer is to perform, right? While artists like Drake (whose Apple Music streaming record was just broken by J.Cole) makes a portion of his $94 million from platforms like Apple Music, artists on the rise have a better chance (at least initially) performing at a concert hosted by their local radio station like Power 106’s Powerhouse or Cali Christmas. Because not everyone can be like Beyoncè who racked in $105 million for Formation Tour. Plus the majority of a rising artist’s fans attend local concerts; the lineups are always well-curated and feature a mixture of well-established artists with artists like Uno the Activist who will be gracing the Powerhouse stage May 12.
Then once thry get a few performances under their belt at a local gigs or artist showcase hosted by KCRW they'll have no problem booking a mid-day performance on the Tidal Stage at Made in America. At that point they will successfully have a foot in both the streaming and radio worlds. Then they'll ready themselves for world domination like Drake (in theory). As an up-and-coming artist in the game the biggest asset they have is their determination so they just need to make sure they push themselves to make streamable music, but don’t discount their local DJs along the way.