Commercial Positioning in the Spot Breaks

It is an eight minute drive from my house to the gym. I’m on the way back to the house just before 7am on a weekday. KVET is in a spot break as I start the engine, it is still in the spot break when I pull into my garage. Now that’s just stupid on so many levels; too many to get into here and any argument I make is like spitting into a hurricane anyway. All the corporate-owned biggies do it. But I will take on one factor here that a local PD might be able to control.

Stupid/Ignorant Scheduling: The spot break opened with four, maybe five of those crappy barter ads in a row. One tells me how I can get rich quick flipping houses. Another is pushing a pill you can take a night when you’re hungry and instead of raiding the fridge; you swallow this pill and lose weight while you sleep. One guy slept off eight full pounds. And after this drivel, THEN comes the local advertisers. The Austin auto dealer and the Austin plumber’s spots are at the END of the friggin’ spot block. The guys who are paying the highest rate are put at the back of the bus. The local advertisers radio’s most important clients. Why treat them that way?! Local spots should be FIRST in the cluster. Isn’t that obvious to any monkey?

Is nobody at corporate radio thinking about programming anymore? This is an iHeart station, of course.

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Slacker Gets Disc Jockeys

Today’s (6.24.16) news brief from the RAIN newsletter has an article about what’s called “the discovery wars”. That’s the competition between Spotify, Slacker, SoundCloud, Pandora, as they try to hook more listening. The biggest draw for listening is new music. Quoting Edison research, over 50% of the population is interested in “keeping up to date” with new music. For the 12-24 demo, it’s 80%. Since everything ever recorded is now available to anyone all the time, NEW music is certainly a Thing. These new-delivery systems trying to replace broadcast radio are facing the age-old music radio program director’s conundrum is: Which new music? Which new songs?

These guys will work their algorithms this way and that but it is great to learn that Slacker has stumbled into the missing element is: The Disc Jockey. A live person playing the songs and saying things about them. Music boxes, playlists, “curated” lists are all the same things; electronic jukeboxes, some (Spotify) better than others (SoundCloud). People, listeners crave human communication. A voice, a friend, a guy/gal with common interests (the music), happily talking about that music. Saying: “Here’s a new one that I really like.” Now that Slacker’s done it, I expect others of today’s IT/Media honcho class will get to it, as well.

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Lights Come On – Jason Aldean (Broken Bow)

Sorry, but it’s little more than an exercise in self-indulgence. Another song about partying. Ahem, concert-attending. Ain’t it great? Well, yes it is. If you’re half-drunk. Maybe if you’re high, although I haven’t heard much from the boy that would fit a weed groove. If, on the other hand, you are in the car and this repetetive crock of noise comes through the speakers, well that’ll be one of the 22 times that the average commuter changes stations on the average daily commute. This isn’t a record with legs.

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Think A Little Less – Michael Ray (Warners/Atlantic)

Ever since “I’d Love To Lay You Down”, songwriters have been trying to match, use, emulate, to include with different twists of phrasing some line about the her dress hitting the floor, being removed, etc. Hard thing to do and make it sound fresh. Alan Jackson did it a good turn with “I’ll Go On Loving You”. This record, however, blows. It isn’t about love. It’s not about commitment. It is pure young man horn-dog. He wants to get naked and screw, that’s all he’s saying. Making no bones about it: “Tomorrow you can say we’re just friends.” Cause that’s sure as shit what he’s going to do. So keep your wits about you, young lady. We’re coming to the end of this bro-country (little c) phase now. It’s gone trite and tired and mediocre records with plastic hooks aren’t going to help anybody.

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Song Number 7 – Randy Houser (Stoney Creek)

Why did this get chosen as a single? I challenge anyone to listen to it three times in a row. It sounds like it’s got a hook. But that’s all there is to it. That faux-hook. To make up for the unfinished idea, some gimmicky sound effects and reverb are added to it. Like tossing in an extra two spoons of sugar to gas-station coffee. The hit on the album is: We Went.

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Jesus and Jones – Trace Adkins (BBR Music Group)

He still sounds great but the sales went south for him and Capitol/EMI and he’s over at BBR now; one of the best of the smaller labels. With a title like this, I usually get ready to hold my nose before pushing the play-button. So rarely do they get it right when The Big Guy is announced in the title as being part of the song. But sometimes it works. Works here. The song’s basically the well trod path of confession where the singer/songwriter is talking about struggling with the bottle on one hand and bein’ sober on the other, between hard partying with the boys and more sensible domesticity. The song is uptempo and (fortunately) ain’t whiny like so many of this ilk are. There’s some ear ticklers in the arrangement and production making it an interesting listen. I don’t yet think we are looking at a Top 10 record here, but it’s worth some spins to find out what the folks thing of it.

Another thought about Trace and his former label. There are some excellent Country songs on those albums that never saw radio single-dom. If anybody’s particularly dissatisfied with the line-up of pretty-boys singing wannabe ‘country’ (with a small c) and is looking for some real life tunes, I got a half dozen or so in my list of good’uns from him.

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Damn Country Music – Tim McGraw (Big Machine)

i’m still around folks. not lazy, just kinda been bored with what all’s been coming at me from nashville of late and later. waiting on the next big thing, the next wave. you know. something to excite the ear and soul and the root chakra. especially that one. plus, my software business is consuming most of my time now. the nest egg, chill’un, gotta give it some attention. strange times a’comin’ and you never know do you. now:
Tim McGraw’s new album hit my desk last week. tracked it first time with half an ear. nothing grabbed the nads listening that way. that happens rarely but i’m always searching for the next one that does that to me. so now i’ve tracked it with full attention and what i like are Hear Tonight, a song with a quick rolling beat, something of a fast march pace. it opens with a scottish/irish flute that then weaves its way throughout the song. interesting ending it has. out of nowhere, a woman’s soft laugh. How I’ll Always Be feels to me like a pretty solid Country record. it’s an ode to the simple life. these are the words of a man who now knows who he is and is pretty well satisfied with it. California is real radio friendly. the full phrase, the hook being sung is: she’s in love with california and breakin’ my heart.

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