study indie music gets only 10 percent radio airplay

The Future of Music Coalition (FMC) has conducted a study called “Same Old Song” to determine the amount of independent music played on terrestrial radio. It turns out that from 2005 to 2008, indie music received only slightly more than 10 percent of traditional commercial radio airplay, with major label artists securing 78 to 82 percent. The results are somewhat expected, but grossly unfair, as indie music accounts for 30 percent of total music sales in the US.

“(…) Independents are simply not receiving a fair shake from commercial over-the-air radio,” said Rich Bengloff, President of the American Association of Independent Music (A2IM). “It’s obvious that music fans want independent music, and commercial radio programmers continue to ignore that demand.”

The FMC are known proponents of furthering artist compensation rights, and FMC Policy Director Michael Bracy says that in order for independent artists to reach the airwaves, there is a need for “regulators to devise clear and transparent rules [to] oversee such a significant industry.”

What Bracy is referring to is the common practice of major labels paying large sums of cash in exchange for airplay, which was proved by an investigation in 2007 by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The four largest U.S. radio groups (Clear Channel, CBS, Citadel and Entercom) were ordered to pay $12.5 million in fines and work with A2IM to draft 8 “Rules of Engagement” and an “indie set-aside” including 4,200 hours of unsigned and indie label music. Apparently, the intervention didn’t change anything.

The FMC calls for a “refocus on localism”, and the expansion of community radio. The digital era is democratizing music, and gives artists a chance to be heard based not on money given under the table to radio owners, but on the will of the people. Can the FMC force traditional radios to establish more balanced playlists?

Besides buying their music, how can we help our favorite artists get on the radio?

Read the full report at