HITS Daily Double

By Karen Glauber

Please allow me to introduce you to my good friend Lisa Sonkin, the newly appointed SVP of Rock Formats and Public Radio Promotion at Columbia Records, where she was most recently as the SVP of Triple A and Public Radio Promotion. Lisa has worked at Sony Music for the past 14 years, which followed a decade at Elektra, which was preceded by her “radio years” as MD at WTMX in her hometown of Chicago. Darice Lee is adding Triple A promotion to her CV and will remain in L.A., where she will continue to be both awesome and invaluable.

In addition to a pending Vampire Weekend record (can’t wait!), Lisa and Darice will have new music from MO featuring Mark Foster, Coin (produced by Mark Foster) and yes, new music from Foster the People, whose “Sit Next to Me” is the #2 most played song of the YEAR thus far at Modern Rock. I’ve told Lisa all about you—how accessible you are and how easy you are to promote—oh, and what a wonderful partner you are, not to mention those golden ears of yours! Truth be told, consider yourself lucky that you get to work with this team…

Every time a station is added to the panel of reporters, an angel gets its wings. No, that’s not it. What really happens is that the cost of promotion goes up exponentially with each new station because most of these stations have no ratings (I have more Facebook friends than these stations have listeners). But a spin is a spin is a spin, so the indie vultures descend and place an exorbitant bounty on each add. There are a few rakish fiends who are charging $2,000 per add for overnight airplay. I would blame them, but their fees are merely a reflection of what the market (namely, those of us seeking adds) is willing to bear.

At this time of the year, when most on-air real estate is tied into Xmas shows, adds on new artists are few and far between. Of course, it’s counterintuitive to overpay for a point of entry in a market where the airplay has zero impact. I’ll work with any station, reporter or not, if they want to play new music, as would most of my colleagues. Indie labels can’t afford to pay for this level of insanity, which is a definite barrier to their records having success at the format. The costs have escalated, but it isn’t like radio is breaking more new artists. What are we doing to change that?

The answer, my friends, is not the Xmas show. Oh, how stations are struggling to sell tickets this season. The bands you thought would sell out your show when you booked them six months ago have been through your market already (sometimes twice), and those songs of theirs—the “hits” you just knew were going to help you pack your show—have been off the air for a month. So it’s early November—now what? I know, let’s forget about the pending Xmas-show disaster and start getting commitments from bands for summer ’19!

90% of the artists I work with are grateful to be included in the radio-show conversation. Without question, they appreciate the impact radio has had on their careers, and the last thing they want is to be perceived as “failing” you by your show not selling out. From my perspective, the radio show as a profitable NTR line item needs to be reinvented…

What song is currently outselling Billie Eilish, Mumford & Sons and AJR? You’re right, it’s Badflower’s “Ghost!” You win Julian’s Halloween candy and my soon-to-be-received “I Voted” sticker. Also selling (besides a dozen Billie Eilish songs—don’t let call-out deter you—she’s the fucking future), is Flora Cash’s “You’re Somebody Else,” now Top 10 at Modern Rock!... Bob Moses’ “Back Down” and Mumford & Sons’ “Guiding Light” are two truly extraordinary songs. Please listen to each of them four times in succession, and then do the same with Tom Morello’s “Every Breath That I Take.” Congratulations, you’ve just taken a master class in songwriting…




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