HITS Daily Double
AVANT GARDNER: In honor of this week’s New and Developing Artists issue of HITS, I will shift the typical focus of this column away from me. This is temporary, I promise. Let’s first address the proverbial elephant in the room: NEW MUSIC DOESN’T CALL OUT. Please accept that as a given and find some other ways to measure a song’s “success” on your radio station, like single sales in the market, ticket sales for the band, the “balance” it brings to the overall sound of the station and, dare I say, the enthusiasm your DJs and staff show for the song. Summer is a tricky time for programming because of the need/mandate to book radio shows that will sell tickets, while the market for regional festivals has expanded exponentially. The promoters of these festivals tend to pay the acts more than market value, and protect their investment by imposing a radius clause on the area, thereby eliminating the avail­ability of first-tier talent for area radio shows. Live105’s BFD is a spec­tacularly branded annual cultural event—it can sell out before a lineup is announced because the audience trusts that Aaron Axelsen (the heart and soul of the station) and the station staff will always strive to deliver a better “experience” than the year before. This is the first radio festival go-round for KONGOS, and so far it’s been fantastic—the audience sure loves a hit song! “Come With Me Now” is back to #1 at Modern Rock (4 weeks, but who’s counting?), and is also Top 5 at Triple A, and nearing Top 15 at Active. Of course I’ll be with them for BFD on June 1… It’s no secret that Lazlo at KRBZ is one of my all-time favorite people. Did you know that he’s on Twitter most nights, answering questions from his audience for up to two hours? He’s created a community of listeners that have forged their own friendships, based on their shared passion for the radio station. Three listeners, who wouldn’t have met otherwise, decided to drive from Kansas City to Coachella—bought their tickets and found a hotel room—and sent reports back to Lazlo. He asked if I’d keep an eye on them—so I tracked down Jennifer, Kyle and Alan (aka “the listeners”) and brought them backstage with me, where I told Jennifer she was going to interview Tim from Arcade Fire, knowing that Lazlo would air the interview the morning before the band’s sold-out show in KC. How did I find them in the sea of 70,000? Both Kyle and Alan were wearing their “Church of Lazlo” shirts—hard not to recognize Lazlo’s face in a crowd. Then my new pals and I watched the set in the area reserved for band guests, next to Emma Stone and other familiar faces. Did my new friends also have tickets to see Arcade Fire in KC? Of course they did... Which new bands have you chosen to support because their music evokes an emotional response in you? I have a few current obsessions, first of which is NO, whose “Leave the Door Wide Open” absolutely slays me. Another song that I’m absolutely certain is a format game-changer is Courtney Barnett’s “Avant Gardner,” especially after seeing her on The Tonight Show last week. She’s the love child of Jack White and Patti Smith—watch this one closely. Speaking of Jack White, “Lazaretto” is a much-needed blast of swagger for the format. It should be entrenched in the Top 10 within minutes…. On the pop-leaning side, single sales for Bleachers’ “I Wanna Get Better” have really picked up, and both Big Data and Somekindawonderful had their best add-week yet. I adore Foster the People (they were fantastic at Coachella), and “Best Friend” should be a huge hit. The sleeper hit of the summer is still Beck’s “Blue Moon.” I challenge you to find a more poignant and important song than this to play… Kurt Steffek is crossing the #1 Active hit by Pretty Reckless, “Heaven Knows” to Modern Rock. With every test spin, Shazam explodes in the market. As Gary Spivack used to say, “this could be something for the format”…. The new Spoon and Interpol records… that is all.
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