Hey everyone ... spring is on it's way ... or did I speak too soon !
This week I wanted to paint a picture .....
My daily routine can vary but more often than not my first job is to collect the mail and see what music has been sent through to us at Blues & Roots Radio. With over fifty shows on the network the best way to have music featured on individual shows is to contact the hosts directly, they are responsible for their own content, it works best that way. As head of programming at the station I do curate the playlists for Under The Radar, The Secret Garden, the Daily Featured Artist Show and Album Of The Week, to be considered for any of those shows then our HQ in Canada is the place to send the music. It can be sent via download link or physically, we leave that decision to the artists as we are conscious that they have tight budgets.
So the mail has arrived, coffee time, I sit down and see what's been sent in from wherever in the world it may be, I put the CD's in piles of genre ( Blues, Roots, Folk or a general cross genre pile ), I set aside the ones that are asking to be considered for reviews, featured slots on the station and any albums that are looking for specific show airings. I receive upwards of twenty albums weekly, just to give an idea.
It does not take long to do, and time is very valuable to me, I have to schedule fifty plus shows on two channels, I have help to do this on a part time basis, but mostly, it's me. I have to record three main radio shows a week, write reviews for any artists that have requested them, and when I can, I eat and sleep :)
The albums now neatly in order, I insert to our media player and download the tracks to MP3 format for upload if and when required to the Blues and Roots Radio system.
Albums that do not require immediate attention are placed on a shelf for me to come back to, they are placed with one page bio sheets and any other info included, sometimes I receive neat little gifts like place mats, plectrums, stickers and I really appreciate that, it's not necessary, but it does bring a smile and is a neat marketing thing to do, some artists are very creative, one very special gift I received was from a First Nations artist, they sent me a beautiful dream catcher which still hangs in my window and I see it from my desk every day. Even now ( three years later ) I remember vividly the album cover, the note, the dream catcher and I still play tracks from the album.
Once the downloads are complete and the music in folders on my system, I am ready to return to the folders, when ready to record shows, to choose tracks for inclusion on the specific shows, or to download to our drives where some of that music is shared with hosts from around the world.
Hopefully you are still with me ! There is an important point to all of this... I am getting to it ....
I am on my second or third cup now, all is going pretty well and I carry on with reading / answering mails, updating website pages and the usual routine.
My days for recording shows are normally Tuesdays and Thursdays, they seem to be the days when I am most productive on that front, I set times for each on my schedule, recording starts at Noon and generally finished by 5pm on each day, I don't answer the phone, reply to mails and I get off social media between those times, time is precious and I don't need the distractions.
Normally I have a set plan in my head of how the shows will go, Album Of The Week shows are completed in liaison with the artists, these normally run smoothly with all tracks received ahead of time, and take a couple of hours to record and pull together, a little longer if interviews are included.
The weekly shows like Under The Radar and The Secret Garden are more spontaneous as far as playlists are concerned, I look for what's new, what gigs or festivals are happening, who is touring etc ...
I start to pull together tracks for the playlist into a folder, I do this as I record, the reason being is I record LIVE, and I am never sure of the script, I go with how I feel each show and choose tracks accordingly, sometimes a track will remind me of another and I will pull it into the mix, I normally have a couple of tracks that I know I will include, but that's as far as it goes. I collate the playlists and write them down for reporting purposes as i am doing the show.
That's my routine for recording, not everyone works that way, but I do, they are my shows, and I work best like that, all good so far then ....
We are sailing through the show, the flow is good and I have an idea, I was sent an album yesterday and it would fit nicely into this playlist, I have it downloaded into a folder under the artist name and album title ( The system does this for me ), it's located in my New Releases folder, I click on the folder and have a look inside ( This is generally the first time I have been inside the folder ) I look for a track, but wait a minute, all I have is Track 1, Track 2, Track 3..... I have no idea what the track listings are !
I then have to stop recording mid flow, I look out the album from the shelf, find what the title of the track is, how long it runs, type that into the file where the track is, and, if I am doing one track from the album I may as well complete the entire track listing ... or should I !
Just my thoughts .....
You have spent a fair bit of money on your album
You have spent a fair bit of money getting that album out in your campaign
You have probably paid a publicist a lot of money to get your album into the right hands of radio hosts / reviewers
If you've done all of the above yourself, I commend you, that is a lot of work ... and money !
The last piece in the puzzle of this crazy old business is the radio host, at whatever level, it does not matter. If they like the album / tracks / artwork, you are half way there, you get included on their show and their regular listeners appreciate the music and the comments from the radio host, they decide to visit a platform and purchase a tune or an album, or they decide to come and see you play live .... result !
Well not so in the case of the albums with no track listings, for many hosts this has become so frustrating that they will not play tracks from an album with no listings, I am one of those hosts. I have a busy schedule and I refuse to do the work of someone else, especially when that person has just been paid big bucks to do that.
Instead, If and when I come across a track I was going to include, I simply move on to another track that has all the information I require, I change my script to suit and I move on with recording.
Very little thought goes into the very important role of the DJ, it is in itself an art form,you should consider it, to me personally it's simple, time is money, I run a business, my business is to connect people through music, and the easier it is for me to be able to record and move on then all the better for everyone.
Many hosts do presenting as a hobby, their time is very valuable, so please consider this when finalizing your album, it's a small detail , but an important one if you are looking for the coverage.
I often see references to ' Making an album ', never do I see reference to track listings on the adivce pages, whose responsibility is it ? Where I am sitting, I don't really care who takes the responsibility, all I am saying is if you value the work that you have just created, and paid money for, it's a pretty important part of the equation to make sure that your creation reaches as many ears as possible,.
Give your music the best chance possible !
Until next time