HITS Daily Double
By Karen Glauber April 1 was the anniversary of two milestones: My 27th anniversary at HITS (aka “the career cul-de-sac”) and my 25th sober birthday. From what I can remember, my first two years were spent either at my desk or hiding underneath it. Klonopin is what finally did me in—I was a trendsetter with a full-blown benzo addiction years before most rehabs had a clue how treat the detox and recovery. Rehab was certainly memorable, and an experience I choose to never repeat. Chris Whitley visited, clearly under the influence, and serenaded me with his guitar. R.E.M. sent flowers, as did many other work associates, until my room (which I shared with one of the American Gladiators, whose nose was blown out from coke) resembled a morgue. After 30 sleepless days and nights, I emerged, looking like a praying mantis and completely “shut down” from detoxing too quickly (I could put a cigarette out on my arm and not feel it). In the early months of recovery, I was resolutely unwilling to accept that there was a power greater than myself. Not that I thought that I was all that great, mind you, but I’m a wee bit Type A (which sobriety has yet to quell). Someone suggested using gravity as my higher power, which seemed too obtuse for my very literal mind to wrap my head around. Instead, I chose Patti Smith as the embodiment of true grace, strength, talent and female power. Horses was my 12x12 and, later, Just Kids became my bible. Since Patti’s “comeback” after the death of her husband, I haven’t missed an L.A. show. This is my version of church, and her 4/5 show at the Teragram Ballroom was no exception. I’m grateful for my job, my sobriety, my kid, and for the opportunity to break new artists, regardless of how difficult you radio programmers make it for us… FACTS DON’T LIE (unless you’re the President): Spoon’s latest single, “Hot Thoughts,” hit 5 million streams on Spotify April 6. This far exceeds the streaming numbers for most every other song you’re playing, like Dreamers and Andrew McMahon, for example. I know that your playlist is almost wholly made up of bands playing your radio show, but there has to be an exception made for artists like Spoon! Taking the macro view: Why should bands that can command a significant payday at festivals be penalized because their summer touring plans don’t coincide with your radio show? Why not make the commitment now and reap the benefit of the band’s ability to sell tickets for your Xmas show? I’ve been told multiple times in the past few weeks that my priorities and your priorities are not the same, to which I answer that our priorities are, in fact, identical, if keeping our jobs remains high on both of our lists. Or, as 27 years at HITS might suggest, it’s in my best interest to do right by your radio station and the artists on whose behalf I toil… I invited 98.7 PD Mike Kaplan to a show, but I wouldn’t tell him where we were going or whom we were going to see. On the rare nights when I’m not wrestling my son to do his homework, I would much rather watch Vanderpump Rules and order Postmates than go out and see bands. At SXSW or Coachella, I’ll willingly stay out until the last note, but not so much on a school night. Knowing this, Mike agreed to this “blind date,” although his best efforts at advance detective work revealed nothing. After dinner, we arrived at the Echoplex and I introduced him to an artist named Dario and his manager Jesse. The venue was packed with an attractive crowd of music savvy early adopters, dance kids and twenty-something males. Yeah, I was old enough to be their mom, but I was the one hugging Dario (oh, is he gorgeous!) and not them. Way past my bedtime, he introduced himself as Youngr and proceeded to play a succession of instruments: Keyboards, guitar, bass, drums, plus triggered samples, with his brother and another bandmember on stage filling out the parts. The soon-to-be hit “Out of My System” was the crowd-pleaser (it’s at 24mil Spotify streams, fwiw), and 98.7 and KKDO both added the record this week. Dario’s father, btw, is Kid Creole and the Coconuts founder August Darnell. “Cherchez la Femme,” darlings…
Caroline and Arts & Crafts—the Toronto-based independent artist services company—just announced a U.S. distribution partnership for Arts & Crafts Records, which will continue to be distributed in Canada by Universal Music Canada.“We are extremely proud of our renewed partnership with Arts & Crafts," Caroline/Harvest Records General Manager Piero Giramonti said at lightning speed in between his daily fifth and sixth espresso shots. "They have consistently been the preeminent independent Canadian label, exhibiting impeccable taste throughout their history, with an unwavering commitment to artistry of the highest order. We are also psyched to begin our renewed relationship with the release of the new Broken Social Scene album, a set from the label's cornerstone artist (pictured)."FYI, since its launch in 2002, A&C has gone on to release north of 130 albums from more than 70 artists, earning 24 Juno Awards and 10 Polaris Music Prize shortlist nominations.
Or, as I call it, just another day in the music business. In honor of yesterday’s “protest,” I asked my female coworkers to wear red (it hadn’t occurred to any of us to take the day off) and join me for lunch (paid for by the bosses) in the HITS conference room. Some of the women gathered hadn’t been born when I started at HITS nearly 27 years ago. THIS is what the “career cul-de-sac” looks like, ladies. I’m big on five-year plans, even if I’ve never had one for myself. I asked my colleagues to set short-term and long-range goals for themselves. I’m my own harshest critic, but even I would follow the advice I offered, which included: (1) BE THE MENTOR YOU WISH YOU HAD: I “came up” in the business without female (or male) guidance—I flailed until I figured it out. Women in the music business (and elsewhere) are frequently made to feel disrespected, demeaned and excluded by their colleagues, and it’s important for them to know that we have their back(s). (2) IF YOU WANT TO HAVE CHILDREN, DO IT: Many women’s careers are penalized once they become mothers. While there’s never a perfect balance between career and parenthood, do not let anyone talk you out of it. I had my son at 47 (I certainly don’t recommend waiting that long), and where there’s the proverbial way, you can figure it out. Or, as Lenny advised me during one of our many conversations about whether or not I could do both, “There are stupider people than you who have both a career and a child.” (3) MANAGE UP: This advice was courtesy of my coworker Michelle Santosuosso, along with the equally sage counsel of “Don’t shit where you eat” (self-explanatory)… On Monday, I’ll be heading to Austin for my 31st SXSW. I was among the few hundred who attended the first one, and, at this rate, they’ll have to pry my cold, dead body away from the last one. My favorite band Spoon will be headlining SXSW’s first-ever residency, with three consecutive nights at the old Emo’s. I’ll be there for each of those nights; 1am set time be damned. Their new album Hot Thoughts will be out on March 17, hence the added fanfare of the band being in their city of origin for release date… Every year, a band emerges from SXSW as the clear “buzz band,” such as Wolf Alice, The Lumineers, Franz Ferdinand, Arctic Monkeys, Veruca Salt, The Strumbellas, Aurora, Jack Garratt, Broken Bells and Hozier, to name a few. This year, without question, Sundara Karma will be the band cited as everybody’s new favorite. Where they go, there I’ll be… My other SXSW must-sees include Lo Moon (oh, swoon), Youngr, Zipper Club, In the Valley Below, Bishop Briggs and, of course, the Big Star “3” performance… I rarely travel in the Alternative Radio wolf pack in Austin. It isn’t personal—I just prefer to follow my own itinerary. OK, yes, it’s personal. Although, after granting Columbia’s Brady Bedard “plus one” status at last year’s Iggy Pop/QOTSA show, he’s now welcome to tag along. He’ll be celebrating Rag’N’Bone Man’s ascension to #1 at Alternative with “Human,” and I’ll be there to remind him that he’s #1 because Ted and I “let” The Lumineers drop to #2. His Dreamcar single, “Kill for Candy” was Most Added this week. Maybe they’ll be the most successful band to lose a lead singer since Joy Division morphed into New Order (I refuse to acknowledge that Genesis existed once Peter Gabriel departed)… I absolutely love “Green Light,” the new Lorde single. I hope radio stops overthinking whether or not it’s “Alternative” and let the song reach its rightful place at #1. I’m the (self-appointed) arbiter of whether or not a song is right for the format, and I declare it so…. Please find me in Austin. I’ll definitely show up for the panel I’m moderating on Thursday at 2pm. This will be my umpteenth annual songwriters panel/performance, with a stellar lineup that includes Britt Daniel from Spoon, Mac McCaughan from Superchunk/Merge Records, Matthew Caws from Nada Surf, Chris Stamey from The dB’s/Big Star 3, Mike Mills from R.E.M. and an array of surprise guests. Despite the moderator, it’s always a SXSW highlight for those who attend. Say hi: Karen.Glauber@hitsmagazine.com
By Karen Glauber Spoon Thirty years ago today, on the occasion of my twin sister’s wedding (to a current editor of Billboard, I might add), my father had a heart attack and dropped dead. The wedding ceremony/luncheon was held at a stately penthouse ballroom on the Columbia University campus, complete with a wraparound view of upper NYC and the Hudson River. This mostly family gathering was to be followed by a “friends” reception at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, where Yo La Tengo, Antietam, Great Plains and Salem 66 were scheduled to play. My father was 55 (my current age) and I was 25. I had just moved to L.A., lured by the promise of being able to sign Robyn Hitchcock, to replace my departing boss Mark Williams (currently President of A&R at Columbia Records) at A&M Records. My father and I didn’t know each other very well, but he loved that I worked for Herb Alpert and that I was in “showbiz” (which meant he had to occasionally supplement my $400/week salary). The opening lyric to The Lumineers’ “Cleopatra” sums up how one unexpected incident can change the course of your life: “I was Cleopatra, I was young and an actress/When you knelt by my mattress, and asked for my hand/But I was sad you asked it, as I laid in a black dress/With my father in a casket, I had no plans.” In my father’s honor, there’s a yarhzeit candle flickering in my peripheral vision, and I’ve been listening to Whipped Cream & Other Delights on Spotify… I’m too Type-A to wax poetic about what “might have been.” Besides, that would mean I’d have to take my steely-eyed focus away from RealTime Mediabase, which will be my constant companion (or nemesis) until Saturday night. Will “Cleopatra” unseat Green Day’s “Still Breathing” at #1, making them one of very few artists (and certainly the only indie-label artist, at least in the Mediabase era) to have the first two singles from each of their debut and sophomore albums reach #1? [Ed note: "Cleopatra" has indeed hit #1 since this column was written.Ted and I are still incredulous that there are six stations that WON’T play this record. It’s what keeps me awake at night (plus well-placed fear of the impending apocalypse)—when empirical evidence AND my best efforts still prove futile. In the throes of insomnia, my favorite lyric from “Cleopatra” plays on repeat in my head: “But I was late for this, late for that, late for the love of my life/And when I die alone, when I die alone, when I die I’ll be on time.” I’ve always expressed myself through the lyrics of others—somewhere in the attic is an AP English paper that used the lyrics to Billy Joel’s “Vienna” to make my thesis… While Mike DePippa and I were going through Republic and Island’s most recent and upcoming releases, he remarked that with the label group’s roster, which includes Lorde, Bishop Briggs, Phantogram, Marian Hill, Grace Mitchell, Florence + the Machine and Misterwives, “The Future Is Female” should be emblazoned on every piece of label merch. I’m sure at least a few of our radio friends (thankfully) would be proud to wear a T-shirt with that sentiment. Mike and Amanda had a spectacular first week with Incubus’ “Nimble Bastard” and continue to find believers for Mondo Cozmo’s “Shine” (which I’ll finally get to hear live during next week’s L.A. show)… These are the songs I believe, with every fiber of my being, will be massive hits: Sundara Karma, “She Said”; The xx, “On Hold”; Spoon, “Hot Thoughts”; Lo Moon, “Loveless”; The Strumbellas, “Young & Wild”; and Cold War Kids, “Love Is Mystical.” The hit potential of these songs won’t necessarily be realized after 150 spins (75% in the overnights), so stay the course… I’ve been obsessed for months with Youngr’s “Out of My System,” which will soon be released on Island. For the uninitiated, Youngr is U.K. artist Dario Darnell, whose father, August Darnell, fronted Kid Creole and the Coconuts. Youngr reminds me of Robert DeLong and Jack Garratt with his one-man-band approach (although his SXSW performances will include his brother). The music and performance both feel very modern to me—I’m excited for you to hear/see it. Let’s hang out at SXSW: karen.glauber@hitsmagazine.com
By Karen Glauber This was the first year I watched the Grammy Awards with my eight-year-old son. His takeaway was (a) I let him stay up past his bedtime (yay), and (b) Metallica really didn’t need Lady Gaga and backup dancers (eesh!) to prove they’re the greatest metal band of all time.  Julian might have had some coaxing on “(b),” but only a minimal amount. My favorite performance was Beyoncé’s medley of “Love Drought” and “Sandcastles,” with its gorgeous, dream-like choreography, reminiscent of Pina Bausch’s work. Also, the sight of a pregnant woman, surrounded by other women, tends to make many men uncomfortable, perhaps because their status in the process, post-conception, is minimal to nonexistent. I may not have felt at the height of my “power” during my pregnancy, but I can’t hold a candle to Queen Bey, who ruled supreme on Grammy night… ...Read the rest here.
By Karen Glauber I need a hobby. I don’t suppose insomnia counts, despite increased pre-dawn texting from friends also reeling from this ongoing bout of “Are you fucking kidding me?” that appears to be our pervasive post-inauguration state of being. When it’s 3am and I’m using real-time Mediabase as a diversion from the Huffington Post, then I know it’s time to start the day. Why only work 12 hours a day when you can work 18 hours a day?...   I’m in NYC for two sold-out Lumineers shows at Madison Square Garden. “Cleopatra” could be the band’s next #1 Modern Rock hit (fingers crossed), while my favorite song, “Angela,” is starting its ascent at Triple A. While you weren’t paying attention, The Lumineers have become a core band for Modern Rock, although there are still a few programmers who remain oblivious to the band’s mass appeal, adding fuel to 2017 being The Year of Are You Fucking Kidding Me?... I woke up (too) early this morning to the news of the CBS Radio/Entercom merger. What it means is still unclear—Entercom’s David Field will run the show, but CBS shareholders will retain 72% of the stock. Will there be a designated sports station in San Diego now, rather than having Modern Rock KBZT run the Padres games, as previously announced?... Ted often speaks of Modern Rock as a “niche” format. Founded as a musical destination for “freaks and outcasts” (to paraphrase David K. Harbour’s speech at the SAG Awards), these stations were programmed by music fans who understood firsthand how a song could change someone’s life. No need to revisit how the format evolved into a profitable piece of a major radio group’s pie—I’ve been writing about that very thing for 20+ years.  Here’s my concern: There’s a precariously thin line between niche and, to put it bluntly, irrelevance. It’s unfathomable that the majority of radio (with a few notable exceptions) hasn’t embraced The xx’s “On Hold,” which is outselling and out-streaming nearly every other song being played. The reward of playing a song from a band the demo clearly loves far outweighs the risk… I am well aware that there’s an enormous source of frustration among both my label and radio peers due to the pressure of booking radio shows, which are REQUIRED as a source of income. These shows are now 90% of the conversation, further complicated by festival radius clauses and limited talent budgets. It often puts the promotion person in a no-win situation, as they are neither manager nor agent for the artists they promote. Are these shows worth it? Is there an alternative money-generating solution?... It seems like every year begins with a song from a new artist that catapults to the top: KONGOS, Gotye and Bishop Briggs are a few examples, off the top of my head. This year, MISSIO’s “Middle Fingers,” a slacker anthem for the ages, is that record. Of course, its trajectory began at SiriusXM’s Alt Nation, since Jeff Regan is almost always the earliest adopter of the format’s biggest hits (see Rag’n’Bone Man, among others). Adds at KROQ, WRFF, Live105, DC101, WWCD, 91X, WLKK, KRZQ, WSFS, KXRK and WLZX soon followed, which set the course for “Middle Fingers” to be #1 Most Added this week. Smash… For those programmers still playing Cold War Kids “First” in Power rotation (even Adult Contemporary, the ultimate “aftermarket” format, moves faster than you), please be aware that the band’s new single, “Love Is Mystical,” is available for airplay NOW. Gary Gorman is at the helm following the band’s signing to Capitol. What a brilliant song! I love this band so much… Modern Rock radio has the opportunity—wait, I mean the RESPONSIBILITY—to provide a community and haven for the aforementioned “freaks and outcasts.” It’s a scary time, bound to get worse, as the Narcissist-in-Chief wreaks havoc. Be inclusive and openhearted, community-minded and compassionate. And never forget that a song can change a life… SONG TO HEAR: Sundara Karma’s “She Said.”
By Karen Glauber On Tuesday, I drove to San Diego to do my missionary work at KBZT and 91X, bringing both stations the gospel according to Britt Daniel (aka the new Spoon single), which was received joyously and with the fanfare expected of those who have supported this band for the past decade. Spoon’s first single, arriving 1/17, is the title track of the band’s new album, which, if I believe Pitchfork, is called Hot Thoughts. Spoon has delivered the swagger that has been missing in the absence of recent music from Jack White, Queens of the Stone Age and Arctic Monkeys (although I’ll argue to the death that Bishop Briggs, Phantogram and K. Flay have filled the void rather handily, you know, “for girls”). Because Spoon is one of my Top 5 bands in life, it seemed perfectly invigorating-not-exhausting to fly to Chicago (and back) the following day to spread the word to Troy and Walt at WKQX and forever-fans Kelly and Marty at WXRT. Running in the freezing rain between the two stations (minus appropriate winter gear), I read a text that Mike Halloran, whose office I had spent an hour in the previous day, accompanied by my girl-crush Hilary and dear friend Garett, had just left 91X. I don’t know the full story, and his response to my text, “Was it something I said?” was vague, but this feels Shakespearean, especially with Garett’s very recent exit from KFMB. Will Garett proceed with his new consultancy (which includes 91X) or be named the new PD of 91X? Even at his most curmudgeonly, Halloran is a rare talent with whom I’ve had the pleasure of sharing countless Iggy stories since we first crossed paths in 1982. The tenure of a 91X PD seems to be around three years (Christy, Capone, Phil, etc., etc.), so maybe it was inevitable. A belated but emphatically heartfelt congratulations to Jacqueline Saturn and the Caroline team for having the first #1 of 2017 with Judah & the Lion’s “Take It All Back.” The band and the label have worked around the clock to break this song at radio, with special acknowledgement due to Brad Hardin, John Allers and Mike Kaplan (among others) for anointing the song as one of iHeart’s On the Verge picks. iHeart’s track record in 2016 was impeccable: Bishop Briggs and The Strumbellas were the other two artists chosen. The radio group’s first choice for 2017 is Rag’n’Bone Man’s “Human,” currently galloping up the chart. Brady and Darice have a surefire #1 smash on their hands! Ask them about Lo Moon, whose debut (out this year) makes my heart soar. Jeff Regan is currently playing “Loveless” on SiriusXM Alt Nation’s “Advanced Placement” feature. Among the other songs given the “Advanced Placement” distinction is Sundara Karma’s “She Said,” which we’re currently setting up for a 2/14 add-date. Ask me about them (I’m obsessed). Last year, we learned two important lessons: (1) Polling methodology, whether it’s determining the outcome of an election or the measure of a song’s hit potential via MScores, is deeply, deeply flawed, perhaps to the point of irrelevance. “There’s NO WAY that man can be elected President” was our outcry, as we pored over polling data that supported our indignation. Nor could your declaration that “Ophelia” wasn’t a hit be regarded with anything other than incredulity. (2) Abandoning the premise on which the Modern Rock format was built—namely, new-music discovery (as many of you did at the advice of the “Format Killer”) didn’t help your ratings. There are 100 million PAID streaming music subscriptions worldwide. The passion for music has never been stronger! I look at the BuzzAngle reports from key radio markets that show the Top 100 streaming songs of that week. There is a definite correlation between the biggest Modern Rock radio bands, like The Lumineers, The 1975 and blink-182, and streaming, but the biggest story is what you’re MISSING. For example, The xx’s “On Hold” is consistently tops in every market (90% of the Top 100 is hip-hop and pop), so where are you??? Their name is at the top of every festival poster you share on FB, and the song couldn’t be more accessible (Hall & Oates—hello!) Failure to support artists who are already THIS BIG is unfathomable to me. SONG OF THE WEEK: The Shins’ “Name for You” (James Mercer’s female-empowerment anthem for his daughters. The perfect song at the perfect time.)
By Karen Glauber I sometimes joke that the best music-business employees are adult children of alcoholics (myself included). By nature or nurture, we tend to be perfectionists and are quick to take the blame for anything that doesn’t go 100% according to plan, even if we had nothing to do with the outcome. Schedule a second weekly shrink appointment and give that employee a raise if said parent(s) was also a raging narcissist. The impulse to succeed is unrelenting, and the expectation of approval is nonexistent (although we’ll certainly seek it out, if within our periphery.) For those of us who do promotion, we accept the unacceptable from our radio partners, allowing them to perpetuate their own mythology that it was they who single-handedly broke (artist name) and therefore they are owed having (artist name) play their Xmas show at below market value. Since we promotion people are judged by a real-time report card called Mediabase, too many of us make ridiculous promises to keep the tantrums (from radio and our bosses) at bay. We grew up in chaos and will therefore do almost anything to quell it, even though the economics of the deals we make are nothing short of satanic. But the devil you know… Even a cursory glance at a BuzzAngle market streaming chart reveals the deep, abiding challenges of breaking Alternative records in 2016: “Our” records are barely visible in the Top 1000 streams in any given market. Our benchmark for sales is now 500/week, which is hard to swallow when the #1 record at the format has an approximate audience of 12 million. But yet, as my fearless leader Lenny always says, there are still “10 records in the Top 10,” some of which are real format-exclusive hits, like The Lumineers’ “Ophelia” and (see photo above) The Strumbellas’ “Spirits,” which is now a GOLD single! Our favorite Canadians (besides Justin Trudeau and the judge on Masterchef Canada who looks like Elliot Easton) have worked tirelessly this year, commencing with “Spirits” being anointed iHeart’s On the Verge up until now, with their second single “We Don’t Know” on pace to be even bigger. Many congratulations to Glassnote and the band for proving to the naysayers that Alternative music can find its audience with (1) a great song, (2) meaningful partnerships with radio, (3) constant touring, (4) the right syncs like Wednesday night’s World Series for “Spirits”), (5) press and (6) great management. Yes, #6 is KEY, and if radio programmers read the interviews/roundtables with managers in this issue, they might leave with some insight that while they are a truly important part of the puzzle, there are many other factors in play when it comes to having a hit… Gary Gorman is a lock for #1 next week with Bastille’s “Good Grief,” after conceding the top spot last week to Green Day’s “Bang Bang,” which enjoyed a brief one-week run at the top. Will The Head and the Heart leap over Kings of Leon to #1? Will the year end with Judah & the Lion in the lead? Those three records have the “sound” that’s working best at the format right now, and keep an eye on upstarts Sundara Karma, whose “Loveblood” has been called “the best Kings of Leon-meets-Arcade Fire song we’ve ever heard.”… Despite what the “format killer” has been advising his stations (more Milky Chance/less new music), it’s been a banner year for new bands. Kaleo, Bishop Briggs, Glass Animals and the aforementioned Judah & the Lion are among the newer bands that are selling tickets and having radio hits. Even without radio (yet), artists like Aurora, The Lemon Twigs, Lo Moon, Banks & Steelz and Mansionair (just looking at my most recent Spotify playlist) are inspiring the next generation. All I’ve ever wanted to do in my career is break artists and, by doing so, shift culture. If Alternative radio doesn’t embrace that goal, within the greater context of making these songs hits for the format, then that thing I’ve spent the past three decades doing will have no value.   
By Karen Glauber The endless jokes about sophomore albums are funny because they’re usually true. An artist has their whole life to make their debut record, which, if huge, means the follow-up is usually rushed-to-completion by the record company, eager to cash in on the band’s success. Most bands tour relentlessly, especially when a big record creates the demand for shows. “Tickets and T-shirts” is how they make money, after all. Songwriting is relegated to the back of the tour bus, hence the stereotypical sophomore theme: Being on the road. This theme can be divided into multiple subsets, such as: (1) Missing family/loved ones. (2) Seeing a million new faces (and rocking them all). (3) The artist’s mission to save the world because they’ve played festivals in multiple countries and have a deep understanding of “people” (file under “Bono”). (4) Falling in love every night (see #2). (5) The artist’s fragile disposition/nervous breakdown/drug addiction (countless examples).  The resulting album rarely fulfills the promise of the artist’s debut (unless their names are Adele or Amy Winehouse), and there are very few examples where the follow-up is universally regarded as an aesthetic and commercial triumph after a break-thru debut. Since the exception is always more interesting than the rule, let’s take a close look at Cleopatra, The Lumineers’ latest. The first single, “Ophelia” is the most-played song at Alternative to be released in 2016. Although in Recurrent and no longer on the chart, “Ophelia” is #2 in overall audience this week. The song peaked at #1 at Alternative (for four weeks) and #1 at Triple A (for 12 weeks) but was not worked at Top 40. “Ophelia” had 2 MILLION streams this week, and single sales are nearing 400k. This is absolutely incredible, especially for a song that was a hit at two radio formats that supposedly don’t matter. In support of “Ophelia,” the band played a sold-out worldwide tour, culminating in an epic night at the Hollywood Bowl. Early next year (and remember, this is only album #2), The Lumineers will embark on an arena tour, with Madison Square Garden selling out within an hour of the onsale. Single #2, “Cleopatra,” is #2 at Triple A, with #1 an absolute certainty within a few weeks. This week, it was #1 Most Added at Alternative (#2 Most Added last week), which should be strong enough for a chart debut in the vicinity of Top 30 this Monday. Our friend in the Northwest, Mark Hamilton, bumped “Cleopatra” to Power at KNRK, based on callout with his P1s, and the album sales increased 146%, from #76 in Portland to #24. “Callout + sales = SMASH,” was his quote to me. I know how much you love “metrics,” so here’s another one: “Cleopatra,” which is still an infant in terms of airplay, is already streaming 600k/week. Cleopatra is #17 on the iTunes album chart. Here’s what you need to know: YOUR AUDIENCE LOVES THE LUMINEERS. They are the #1 indie label band at the format! It really isn’t that complicated. As my fearless leader Lenny Beer always says, “People like what they like.” These songs will live in your library forever. You’re welcome. I was at the scenic Kansas City Airport Hampton Inn late last Friday night, trying desperately to fall asleep before my unfathomably early flight back to LA, when I heard a familiar song intro on the TV (I have to sleep with it on). I lifted my head off the pillow and saw (I also sleep with my glasses on) the Acura commercial that uses Beck’s “Wow” as the music. WOW, indeed. The single best way to break a song at Alternative radio is through car ads: Empire of the Sun, X Ambassadors, Fitz and the Tantrums and, now, Beck! I hope my Alternative radio friends will put “Wow” back into rotation today. Seriously. You’ve been handed a hit song on a silver platter. Don’t fuck this up… Speaking of X Ambassadors, their initial fanbase was made up of college kids—not the early-adopter, blog-reading hipsters, but the not-so-cool kids who drew inspiration from Sam’s incredible songwriting and relatable presence. A band I love, The Arkells, have a similarly fanatical base of support. Their new single, “My Heart’s Always Yours,” is being played on some key northeast stations. Their fanbase is your audience.
By Karen Glauber Far more often than my delicate constitution can handle, someone in a position of authority points a disapproving finger my way and declares, “Your format is a shit show. You don’t sell records or break acts.” I could laugh at being held accountable for the current state of Modern Rock radio for the same reason I make fun of my coworkers for saying “We won” or “We suck” when recapping the success/failure of their favorite teams. “We” had nothing to do with the Dodgers’ latest victory, no matter how many games we’ve attended. However, I’ve been neck-deep in the format for 30+ years, so the accusation feels personal. Yes, it’s a Sisyphean challenge to break new acts at Modern Rock for a myriad of reasons. The only accurate thing an MScore measures is our septic frustration when a PD uses it as an excuse to drop a record. To quote my friend Amanda Dobbins, “I can’t even.” There’s also a phantom menace I call “the format killer,” who, when in the presence of programmers far and wide, advises them that the key to ratings gold is to STOP PLAYING NEW MUSIC. Yes, clients pay to be told that the format that was founded (and has thrived) on the premise of NEW MUSIC DISCOVERY should no longer play new music. Welp. If most of the format decides to take the wait-until-the-song-is-Top-20 approach before adding, then these stations should get out of the concert business. The demand for bands for radio station festivals far exceeds the development of bands that can sell enough tickets for these shows to generate expected NTR. God bless Weezer and blink-182 (and their collective catalog of Modern Rock hits) for bailing you out in 2016. Without them, you would’ve been “totally fucked” (to reference my favorite song from the Duncan Sheik-composed musical Spring Awakening)… “Playing new music is good business,” said one of the programmers who had been otherwise advised to do the opposite. Indeed, because artist managers and agents aren’t in the habit of giving radio stations their artists at way below market value without a potential upside. Adding a few records a month before a holiday show has appeased labels in the past, since those of us who work records are looking for an opportunity to take a song as high up the chart as possible. It’s a cynical strategy on part of the programmer, but we live in a world of false hope. My approach (not that you asked) is to reward loyalty and super-serve the stations that consistently support our efforts to break bands, whether it’s John Allers in Philly or Lesley James in Columbus. There have been only THREE new artists to go Top 10 at Modern Rock in 2016: The Strumbellas, Kaleo and Bishop Briggs. All three were chosen by iHeart for its On the Verge program. The Strumbellas and Kaleo had #1 songs, and Bishop Briggs peaked at #3 (and she’s the only female to go Top 5 in 2016.) Clearly, iHeart’s influence on the chart is formidable, and the songs they picked this year have been smashes. Judah & the Lion, signed by Harvest’s Jacqueline Saturn, is the current On the Verge. I’ve already declared to the band and their management that “Take It All Back” is a surefire #1, so that’s that… How do you measure a hit song at Modern Rock? Let’s recalibrate what we used to believe was the sales baseline: Last year’s measurement of 1,500 singles/week is now 500 singles/week. The Modern Rock audience will pay $.69 for a song, but they won’t pay $.99 (and they’ll pay $12 for a beer at a radio station festival, but, you know, priorities)… You can’t tell me that there just aren’t any hits. A song needs exposure to measure its true potential. In my perfect world, Glass Animals had the hit of the summer with “Life Itself,” and Warpaint’s “New Song” is the song I want to hear on my favorite station. This week, SiriusXM’s Jeff Regan added “Loveblood” from my favorite new U.K. band Sundara Karma. In my opinion, AltNation is the most accurate barometer of a song’s hit potential. New music is the lifeblood of our format. And, with or without you, there will be hundreds of bands each year that will release music that has an impact on popular culture. Are you in, or are you out? 
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